This vegan coconut cake is bursting with sweet coconut flavor. Slathered in dairy-free cream cheese frosting and sprinkled in shredded coconut, it's like a tropical getaway for your face!
I don't know about you guys, but I'm a big time coconut lover. Creating and testing this vegan coconut cake was such a pleasure! With shredded coconut sprinkled on the frosting, as well as in the batter, plus the addition of intensely flavorful coconut extract, this is one very coconutty cake.
What You'll Need
For the Cake
- Flour. I've only tested the recipe with all-purpose wheat flour, so try any other varieties at your own risk.
- Sugar. Use organic sugar to keep the recipe vegan.
- Baking powder.
- Baking soda.
- Non-dairy milk. Almost any variety that's unsweetened and unflavored will work, such as soy, cashew, or almond milk. Don't use canned coconut milk though! Canned coconut milk is super fatty and will mess with your cake's texture. Feel free to use products with names like "coconut milk beverage" that are sold in cartons near the soy and almond milk.
- Coconut oil. Preferably use unrefined coconut oil — it will add extra flavor to your cake.
- Apple cider vinegar. White vinegar can be substituted if that's what you have on hand.
- Vanilla extract.
- Coconut extract.
- Shredded coconut. I used sweetened coconut when developing this recipe, but unsweetened will work if that's what you can find. Be careful if using sweetened, as the sugar used may not be vegan. I used Wegman's brand, which indicates on the package that it's vegan.
For the Frosting
- Vegan cream cheese. Look for this in the natural foods section of your supermarket. I've had the best results making this frosting with Miyoko's brand, but Kite Hill works as well.
- Vegan butter. You can find this near the regular butter, or right next to that vegan cream cheese that you just picked up! Look for brands like Earth Balance, Miyoko's, and Melt.
- Coconut extract.
- Powdered sugar. Use organic to keep the recipe vegan.
- Shredded coconut.
How to Make Vegan Coconut Cake
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you'd like to skip right to the recipe!
Make the Cake
- Stir your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir your liquid ingredients together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup: milk, coconut oil, vinegar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Melt your coconut oil first if it's solid, and warm your milk up slightly (just above room temperature) so it doesn't resolidify the oil when you mix it up.
- Use a spoon to make a well in the middle of your dry ingredient mixture, then pour in the liquid mixture.
- Beat everything with an electric mixer just until blended.
- Fold the shredded coconut into the batter.
- Divide the batter among two oiled and parchment paper-lined 9-inch round cake pans. Tip: To get nice even layers, weigh the batter as you add it to ensure you're adding the same amount to each pan.
- Bake the layers until they're puffy and golden and a toothpick inserted into their centers comes out clean.
- While the cakes bake, mix up the frosting using an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar to the other ingredients just a bit at a time, stopping when your frosting reaches a thick and spreadable consistency.
- Let your cake layers cool completely before removing them from their pans. Layer and fill with frosting, then cover the outside of your layer cake with frosting.
- Tip: If you have time, start frosting your cakes with a crumb coat, which is a super thin coat used to seal up the crumbs. Chill and then apply the rest of your frosting.
- Cover the entire outside of your cake in shredded coconut before slicing and serving.
Leftovers & Storage
Seal your leftover cake up tightly and it will keep at room temperature for about 3 days, in the fridge for about 5 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven't tried making a gluten-free version, but if you'd like to give it a try I'd recommend using an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
I'm sure you can! But it will need less time in the oven and since I haven't tested a 3 layer version, I'm not sure how much less. Simply divide the batter among 3 pans instead of 2 and keep a close eye on them while they bake. You'll also want to increase the amount of frosting by a bit.
Usually this is the result of old baking powder and/or soda. Test your baking powder by sprinkling a pinch into a glass of water. Do the same for soda, but using vinegar. They both should fizz. If either doesn't, toss and replace it.
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Vegan Coconut Cake
This vegan coconut cake is bursting with flaky coconut and sweet coconut flavor. Slathered in dairy-free cream cheese frosting and sprinkled in shredded coconut, it's like a tropical getaway for your face!
For the Cake
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups organic granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups unsweetened and unflavored non-dairy milk (at room temperature)
- ⅔ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
For the Frosting
- 8 ounces vegan cream cheese (at room temperature)
- ½ cup vegan butter (at room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons coconut extract
- 4 cups organic powdered sugar, plus up to 1 additional cup, as needed
- 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
To Make the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lightly oil and line the bottoms of a couple 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper.
Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
In a smaller bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk, coconut oil, vinegar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
Beat the ingredients together using an electric mixer at high speed, just until combined, about 1 minute.
Fold in the coconut.
Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans.
Bake the cake layers for about 25 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
Transfer the cake layers to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
To Make the Frosting
Beat the cream cheese, butter, and coconut extract together using an electric mixer at high speed. Beat until creamy.
Begin beating in the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time. Add as much powdered sugar as you need to give the frosting a creamy, spreadable consistency.
Frost the Cake
Invert one of the cooled cake layers on a plate and peel off the parchment paper. Spread the top of the layer with a thick coat of frosting.
Invert the second cake layer over the first and peel off the parchment paper.
Spread the remaining frosting all over the outside of the cake.
Press shredded coconut evenly into the frosting.
Slice and serve.