Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


One of the best cupcakes you can make! Rich and light coconut cupcakes with a creamy coconut frosting.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Featured in 12 Desserts for Your Easter Table

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

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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 humble opinion, the ultimate coconut cupcake recipe.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • 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.


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 (full fat is best)
  • 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, sifted
  • 1/4 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut


First make the cupcakes:

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 Beat butter and sugar: Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy again, another 3 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.

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

4 Combine dry ingredients: Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.

5 Combine coconut milk and vanilla: Stir together 1 cup of a well shaken can of coconut milk and a teaspoon of vanilla in a separate bowl.

6 Alternating dry ingredients and coconut milk mixture, add to butter sugar mixture, fold in coconut: Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter sugar mixture and mix, then add 1/2 of the coconut milk mixture.

Continue alternating with the wet and dry mixtures, ending with the dry. Stop mixing once just as the ingredients become incorporated; do not over-mix!

Fold in the sweetened desiccated coconut.

7 Fill cupcake liners: Place cupcake liner papers into muffin tins. Scoop the batter into the cupcake papers about one half to three-quarters of the way full.

8 Bake: Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking.

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.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting:

1 Beat cream cheese and butter: Beat the cream cheese for a minute. Then add the butter and beat an additional 3 minutes. Scraped down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

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

3 Add coconut, spread onto cupcakes: Fold in the coconut. Spread onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle on a bit of extra shredded coconut on top to serve.

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Apple Carrot Cupcakes here on Simply Recipes

Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting here on Simply Recipes

Coconut Cupcakes

Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

More from Garrett

80 Comments / Reviews

No ImageCoconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Solinh

    Hello, does this need to be made in a glass baking dish or can I use a 9 x 13 brownie dish?

    Noticed you wrote pan but under special equipment, it mentions glass dish?

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  2. Madeleine

    Could I use coconut cream instead?

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Jerome

    What if I do not want the desiccated coconut. How does that change the amounts in this recipe?

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  4. Bree

    I just made these as part of a pull apart cupcake cake for my daughter’s first birthday (the other kind was chocolate – also a recipe from this site!). I didn’t make the icing as listed, I made a buttercream one for both kinds of cupcakes. They were fabulous – light and coconutty, but not super sweet. I received quite a few compliments. I will be making these again.


  5. kenneth

    This does translate well to a 2 layer cake as well! I make it with “drunken pineapples” in between (pineapples cooked in coconut rum). My absolute favorite!!


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