Southern Coconut Cake Recipe

Birthdays are a big deal in my house. They always have been. From the time I was a little girl, I started planning my birthday before Christmas (my birthday is in January).

Now, I’ve somewhat transferred that to planning my son’s birthday and my husband, bless his heart, falls somewhere in there, too.

And this year, I wasn’t big on planning for my husband’s day. I’m not sure why I wasn’t. I just didn’t do much at all. As a matter of fact, you could say I didn’t do enough at all.

And you’d be right.

You could even say I was a pitiful wife for not doing more for him.

And you’d be right again.

So I decided to pull out all the stops and surprise him with a gorgeous birthday cake. He has three favorite cakes — strawberry, caramel, and coconut.

I decided on coconut for this year. It just sounded like a good surprise cake.

Here’s how I made it.

I started with my favorite Butter Cake recipe and then dolled it up with an over the top delicious Southern Coconut Frosting.

Can you say to die for?

Oh my word!!!

4.3 from 3 reviews
Southern Coconut Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A simple recipe for coconut frosting that will take your cake over the top!
Serves: 12
  • Butter Cake Recipe
  • 3 cups flour, all-purpose
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Southern Coconut Frosting
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract or coconut rum
  • 14 ounce bag coconut flake, unsweetened
  1. Butter Cake Recipe
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans with shortening and flour.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk in a large bowl. Set aside.
  5. Cream butter until fluffy and then add sugar. Cream together for about 8 more minutes.
  6. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream together after each.
  7. Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Combine each addition of flour and then turn mixer on high to add air into the batter.
  8. Add vanilla and beat well. Turn mixer on high once vanilla has been incorporated for about 10 seconds to lighten batter.
  9. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
  10. Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
  11. Southern Coconut Frosting
  12. Whip butter until it reaches light and fluffy stage.
  13. Slowly add sugar, beating well after each addition.
  14. When all sugar has been incorporated, the butter and sugar will look like crumbles.
  15. With mixer set on low speed, add in milk.
  16. Then, beat on high speed for few minutes.
  17. Add vanilla and coconut flavorings and beat on high speed until the frosting reaches a spreading consistency.
  18. If it is too dry, add milk a few drops at a time.
  19. If it is too wet, add powdered sugar a few sprinkles at a time until it reaches the correct consistency.
  20. Frost cake and then sprinkle with coconut flake.


I’m hoping he didn’t notice all of the other stuff I didn’t do for his birthday.

And… I sure hope he remembers mine!

26 comments on “Southern Coconut Cake Recipe”

  1. Hi there. I commented on your delicious chocolate cake recipe on Saturday (yet never published) … I made it for my husband’s birthday and it turned out great. So now, I have high hopes to make coconut cake for our 1st wedding anniversary. Our wedding cake was an amazing coconut cake and since we did a destination wedding in the Pacific Northwest – we didn’t save any. We just ate it on our travels. Since that chocolate cake recipe was so amazing, I thought I would start my coconut search with you.

    So thanks for both of the recipes!

  2. Hi, does the buttermilk serve any special purpose. Can I bake the cake without the buttermilk, also I wanted to bake the coconut cake without any frosting how can incorporate the coconut in the cake recipe.

  3. Love, love, love your recipes!

  4. Just stumbled across this and am making it for Thanksgiving! What kind of milk do you recommend using for the frosting? Thank you!

  5. Pingback: Coconut Dreams Cookies Recipe - Cooking | Add a Pinch | Robyn Stone

  6. Can you use cake flour instead of all purpose flour and if so, would i have to omit any of the other ingredients? Thank you

  7. Going to make this cake today and was wondering if it’s like a pound cake texture because I don’t like pound cake textured cakes.

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  9. I was looking for a good coconut cake recipe for Thanksgiving and came across this recipe.So I decided to try this one. This is a good recipe ,the cake was delicious and the icing is to die for.Thank you

  10. Great recipes!

  11. Hi. This sounds great. Could you estimate what the cooking time would be as cupcakes?

    • For cupcakes..15 minutes, check for doneness. no more than 20 minutes and drop the temp to 325° My cupcakes were delicious!!

  12. This recipe sounds good. I want to try it for Christmas eve. I just want to make sure there is enough frosting to frost all 3 layers of the cake?

  13. I added the cup of milk and it made my frosting incredibly runny!!!!!

  14. I’m planning to make this cake for a January 28th Birthday Party for three of my January Birthday friends.
    Could I substitute coconut milk for milk in the batter? A dash of coconut rum in the batter as well as the frosting?
    My very Southern Grandmother would have my very Southern Grandfather bang open a coconut and poke holes
    in her coconut cake and pour that fresh coconut milk over her cake and let it soak in for several days. It was a
    taste of heaven!

  15. I’m going to attempt to make this for my friend’s grandmother. . Sounds delicious. Substituting Coconut milk for milk. Here it goes! Details ……later.

  16. The Coconut milk was a Hit! The cake was moist, the Frosting….I added Cream Cheese. This cake was OUTSTANDING!

  17. Will this frosting frost a three layer cake?

  18. Can I make this in a 9×13 pan? If so how little NGOs would you bake at what temp? My church needs a coconut cake for a funeral and I said I would make one.

  19. Can this cake be frozen?

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