Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord who shares his recipe for some of the best cupcakes we’ve ever had. ~Elise

Most coconut cupcakes are often a bit too dense and flavorless in my opinion, often presenting bland cake with a avalanche of coconut plopped on top. Tired of coconut cupcake posers, I decided to develop a recipe that would rally in the flavor of coconut in a cupcake.

This one uses coconut milk in place of milk, and butter instead of oil, and has shredded coconut through and through giving it a divine taste that puts other coconut cupcakes to shame.

Coconut Cupcakes

In light of that, the cupcake itself is surprisingly light in texture compared to other coconut cupcakes. The coconut cream cheese frosting enhances the cupcake so each bite is just sweet and exotic, leaving whispers of flavor behind. It is, in my opinion, the ultimate coconut cupcake recipe.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 20 cupcakes

These are wonderful topped off with some freshly cut pineapple (not canned) or even mango. Also, this is a recipe in which I would not suggest using light coconut milk, as it would only diminish the flavor. The brand I prefer is Chaokoh, which is readily available in most stores but go with what you can find.



Cupcake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup of canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut


Cupcake Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and cream till light and fluffy again, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.

2 Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each to ensure mixing. Be sure to scrape down the sides after each egg to ensure even mixing.

3 Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in one bowl. In another add 1 cup of a well shaken can of coconut milk and a teaspoon of vanilla. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix, then add 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Continue alternating with the wet and dry mixtures, ending with the dry. Stop mixing once just as the ingredients become incorporated; do not overbeat.

4 Fold in the coconut. Scoop into cupcake papers about one half to three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15 to ensure even baking. Be sure to check with a toothpick to see if the cupcakes are done. If the toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean, then they're ready. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or two in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Method

1 Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scraped down the sides and bottom.

2 Slowly add the powdered sugar, taste as you go adding more sugar until you have reached the desired sweetness.

3 Fold in the coconut. Spread onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle on a bit of extra shredded coconut on top and serve.

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Showing 4 of 77 Comments

  • Mary

    Yum! I’ve never been a huge fan of most coconut cakes — I agree with you that they often don’t have enough coconut flavor, but I love the idea of using coconut milk instead of regular milk and adding shredded to the batter to make it really coconutty. And if this is the penultimate coconut cupcake recipe, I can’t wait to see what you’re still hiding up your sleeve!

  • Kristina

    I have a coconut cake recipe similar to this, except I use cake flour to make it extra light and delicate. Also, freshly grated and lightly toasted coconut is a much better addition than that cloyingly sweet pre-shredded stuff (I did find a decent unsweetened brand at Whole Foods).

    True, fresh coconut is always better, but it’s not always doable due to time restraints, lack of equipment, lack of access to fresh coconuts, or whatever. If you can get a hold of fresh coconut go for it, but the packaged stuff is great too for this recipe. ~Garrett

  • Amanda

    I love coconut cupcakes! I always do the same thing and use coconut milk rather than regular milk or buttermilk like other recipes. Makes them taste so much sweeter!

  • Ashley

    My wedding cake was a coconut pound cake with coconut cream cheese frosting (great recipe from Moosewood catering cookbook that my husband and I made ourselves). This sounds like it would be close to that recipe. I can’t wait to try these!

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