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Coconut Cupcakes

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Coconut Cupcakes on a cake stand
These coconut cupcakes are bursting with so much coconut flavor between the coconut-flavored cake and the velvety cream cheese frosting.
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Table of Contents
  1. Coconut Cupcakes Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Coconut Cupcakes Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

Coconut lovers will adore these homemade coconut cupcakes that are the perfect sweet treat. Simple and easy to make from scratch, these moist cupcakes are baked to fluffy perfection and then topped with a creamy coconut cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with sweet coconut flakes.

a Coconut Cupcake topped with frosting a coconut flakes

Coconut Cupcakes Ingredients

Coconut Cupcakes raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

For the Cupcakes

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box vanilla cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist brand)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut milk, canned (NOT cream of coconut)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

For the Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk (NOT cream of coconut)
  • ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut

PRO TIP:

DO NOT use canned cream of coconut in this recipe. It’s not the same as canned coconut milk. Cream of coconut will have a thick layer of coconut fat that sits on top of a very sweet coconut liquid. This is best used to make tropical cocktails and not for baking. Coconut milk will resemble heavy cream in texture and looks. It is usually found unsweetened or in a light version. They are typically found in the same area in your grocery store so you will want to read your can carefully.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

COCONUT: Make sure that you are using sweetened shredded coconut flakes. These are typically found in your baking aisle near the chocolate chips and nuts. Some stores do offer an unsweetened variety. You can use the unsweetened if you prefer, but it will alter the taste of these cupcakes.

CAKE MIX: You can substitute a white cake mix for the vanilla in this recipe. A yellow cake mix, however, will make your cupcakes a much darker yellow color and not what a traditional coconut cake or cupcake would look like.

COCONUT MILK: If you do not want to add the canned coconut milk to your cupcake batter, you will just replace it with a cup of water. Also, for the frosting recipe, you would replace the canned coconut milk with heavy cream or half & half.

How To Make This Coconut Cupcakes Recipe

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with 18 cupcake paper liners. 

STEP TWO: In a large bowl, add the vanilla cake mix, eggs, canned coconut milk, vegetable oil, and coconut extract. Beat on medium speed with a hand mixer for 2 minutes or until the batter is smooth.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

For an easier way to pour and measure your can of coconut milk, you can use an old-fashioned bottle/can opener (the kind with the point on the end that pokes a hole in the top of a can). Place a hole on opposite sides of the top lid of the can then that will make it very easy to pour out the coconut milk into your measuring cup.

Vanilla cake mix, eggs, coconut milk oil and coconut extract blended together in a bowl

STEP THREE: Add the sweetened shredded coconut and stir to fully combine.

shredded coconut folded with the vanilla cake mix mixture in a bowl

STEP FOUR: Fill the cupcake liners ¾ full with the batter and bake cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

PRO TIP:

Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to check your cupcakes at the lower end of the recommended baking time.

baked cupcake in a cupcake tin pan

STEP FIVE: Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting. You can make the frosting while your cupcakes are cooling.

STEP SIX: To make the frosting, add the cream cheese and unsalted butter to a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

cream cheese and butter blended in a bowl

STEP SEVEN: Beat the butter and cream cheese for 1 to 2 minutes or until fluffy and smooth.

STEP EIGHT: Add the coconut extract, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat for an additional 30 seconds to combine.

coconut extract, vanilla extract, and salt blended in a bowl

STEP NINE: Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, to the cream cheese mixture, beating to incorporate between each addition.

powder sugar added to the coconut extract mixture in a bowl and blended

STEP TEN: Add the canned coconut milk and beat the frosting for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. If your frosting is too thick, you can add an additional 1 tablespoon of canned coconut milk.

coconut milk added to the powdered sugar mixture in a bowl

STEP ELEVEN: Transfer your coconut frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe your frosting onto each cooled cupcake and garnish with a sprinkle of sweetened shredded coconut.

PRO TIP:

You can lightly toast your ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut for the garnish on the top of your cupcakes. It will enhance the coconut flavor and add a nice texture to your cupcake.

How To Serve

Enjoy these fluffy coconut cupcakes when you are looking for a bit of a tropical twist to your dessert. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side of your plate and a nice cold glass of iced tea to wash it all down.

For more of our best coconut recipes, check out our decadent coconut brownies and our amazing coconut cream pie.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Store your coconut cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one weekIf you will be serving these cupcakes on a warm day then I suggest keeping them refrigerated until about 30 minutes prior to serving as this is a cream cheese frosting that may start to get too soft in the heat.

IN THE FREEZER: You can freeze these cupcakes unfrosted in an airtight container for up to a month. Thaw on the counter and add frosting before serving.

a Coconut Cupcake topped with frosting a coconut flakes with a bite take out on a plate

Light, moist, and delicious, these homemade coconut cupcakes are an easy and simple dessert. Vanilla cake mix is combined with shredded coconut, and coconut milk, and topped with creamy frosting for a fluffy, yummy treat.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I store these cupcakes?

Since the cupcakes contain dairy products in the cream cheese icing, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days.

Can I freeze these cupcakes?

These fluffy cupcakes can be frozen unfrosted for up to a month. Thaw and add the frosting and coconut once you are ready to enjoy them.

How can I stop my cupcakes from sticking to the liner?

To avoid the cupcake sticking to your cupcake liner, you can spray the inside of your liner with baking spray or purchase non-stick liners. These usually are specifically labeled as non-stick.

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Coconut Cupcakes on a cake stand

Coconut Cupcakes

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These coconut cupcakes are bursting with so much coconut flavor between the coconut-flavored cake and the velvety cream cheese frosting.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 18

Ingredients
  

Cupcakes

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix (15.25 ounces)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut milk, canned (NOT cream of coconut)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk (NOT cream of coconut)
  • ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with 18 cupcake paper liners. 
  • In a large bowl, add the vanilla cake mix, eggs, canned coconut milk, vegetable oil, and coconut extract. Beat on medium speed with a hand mixer for 2 minutes or until the batter is smooth.
  • Add the sweetened shredded coconut and stir to fully combine.
  • Fill the cupcake liners ¾ full with the batter and bake cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting. You can make the frosting while your cupcakes are cooling.
  • To make the frosting, add the cream cheese and unsalted butter to a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  • Beat the butter and cream cheese for 1 to 2 minutes or until fluffy and smooth.
  • Add the coconut extract, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat for an additional 30 seconds to combine.
  • Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, to the cream cheese mixture, beating to incorporate between each addition.
  • Add the canned coconut milk and beat the frosting for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. If your frosting is too thick, you can add an additional 1 tablespoon of canned coconut milk.
  • Transfer your coconut frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe your frosting onto each cooled cupcake and garnish with a sprinkle of sweetened shredded coconut.

Notes

  • DO NOT use canned cream of coconut in this recipe. It’s not the same as canned coconut milk. Cream of coconut will have a thick layer of coconut fat that sits on top of a very sweet coconut liquid. This is best used to make tropical cocktails and not for baking. Coconut milk will resemble heavy cream in texture and looks. It is typically found unsweetened or in a light version. They are typically found in the same area in your grocery store so you will want to read your can carefully.
  • For an easier way to pour and measure your can of coconut milk, you can use an old-fashioned bottle/can opener (the kind with the point on the end that pokes a hole in the top of a can). Place a hole on opposite sides of the top lid of the can then that will make it very easy to pour out the coconut milk into your measuring cup.
  • Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to check your cupcakes at the lower end of the recommended baking time.
  • You can lightly toast your ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut for the garnish on the top of your cupcakes. It will enhance the coconut flavor and add a nice texture to your cupcake.

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 304mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 366IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 1mg
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