Cupcakes/ Dessert

Coconut Cupcakes

April 25, 2016

Delicate coconut cupcakes topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting and sweetened shredded coconut.

Coconut Cupcakes

I talk quite often about how picky I am when it comes to cupcakes because the overly-sweet frosting is not really my thing, although the phrase ‘overly-sweet’ is something you’ll rarely ever hear me say. Still, I can easily find myself eating 3 or more of these chocolate cupcakes, peanut butter cupcakes, or coconut cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong, they are still sweet, but in totally good and addictive way.

Not all coconut cupcakes have great coconut flavor, so to make sure these ones do, I use both coconut cream and shredded coconut in the batter, as well as top the frosting with additional shredded coconut. The photos don’t really do justice to the amount of coconut I usually add since it’s not uncommon for me to cover the frosting in it. With that said, you can add as much or as little as you like.

Coconut Cupcakes

The ingredients

I use my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe as the base and substitute the milk with coconut cream, but you can use whole milk or coconut milk instead.

Tangy cream cheese frosting complements the sweetened coconut well, making it the perfect choice in my opinion. If you’d rather use another one, try my classic vanilla buttercream or this satiny Swiss meringue buttercream.

In addition to shredded coconut, I like to add toasted coconut flakes or chips on top for visual appeal, but that’s definitely optional.

Coconut Cupcakes

5 from 4 votes
Coconut Cupcakes
Coconut Cupcakes
YIELD: 12 cupcakes
Delicate coconut cupcakes topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting and sweetened shredded coconut.

  • 1 ¼ cups (170 g/6 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g/7 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs , at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120 ml) canned coconut milk, or coconut cream, or whole milk
  • ½ cup (sweetened or unsweetened) shredded coconut
  • Cream cheese frosting*
  • 1-2 cups sweetened shredded coconut , for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. On medium speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients, followed by the coconut milk, and beat until combined. Add the other half of the dry ingredients and beat only until combined. Do not over mix—the less you mix, the lighter the cupcakes will be. Using a spatula, gently fold in shredded coconut.
  4. Divide batter evenly between liners, filling them about ¾ full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with sweetened shredded coconut—as much as you like!
Recipe Notes

*Pay attention to the quantities the frosting yields and adjust the recipe according to your number of cupcakes.
*Cupcakes are best the same day they are made.
*Unfrosted cupcakes can be kept tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw on the counter or overnight in the fridge.


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  • Reply
    Rachel @the dessert chronicles
    April 25, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    These cupcakes are so pretty and look so delicious!

  • Reply
    Jess @ What Jessica Baked Next
    April 26, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Yum – these cupcakes are gorgeous! Love the idea of using coconut milk in the cupcake batter! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 9, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Is there anything else which I can use instead of butter ? I don’t want to use so much butter… Not good for health at all! 😉

    • Reply
      August 12, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Hi Synthia, it’s possible to use coconut oil, but since I haven’t tried this recipe with something other than butter, I don’t know what the result would be.

    • Reply
      May 26, 2021 at 5:57 pm

      Coconut oil

  • Reply
    November 16, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Can I use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar?

    • Reply
      November 17, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Kennesha, I recommend using granulated sugar. You can replace some of it with powdered sugar if you like, but note that granulated sugar and powdered sugar don’t weigh the same. 1 cup granulated sugar = 200g, 1 cup powdered sugar = 115 g. You’ll need a total of 200 grams of sugar for this recipe.

  • Reply
    Jackie Krhoda
    December 17, 2020 at 11:36 am

    This were so easy to make and my husband gobbled them up. Great recipe!!!

  • Reply
    Kathleen Peralta
    March 2, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    How many cup cake can this recipe make?

    • Reply
      March 3, 2021 at 3:18 am

      About 12 cupcakes, depending on the pan size and how much batter is used. Each pan is a bit different in size.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    i made the coconut cupcakes with cake and pastry flour and i used light olive oil plus and extra cup of coconut ….mmmmm is all i can say

  • Reply
    July 11, 2021 at 9:28 am

    Can I reduce the amount of sugar for someone who’s diabetic?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      July 16, 2021 at 3:21 am

      Hi Lori, the recipe won’t come out the same if you simply reduce the sugar because the result is a balanced chemical reaction of all the ingredients. However, I completely understand the need for reduced sugar/sugar free desserts! While I have not recipe tested this myself so I can’t be sure of the result, you could try substituting Splenda or stevia for the sugar. While you can use the same amount of Splenda you would sugar (by volume) keep in mind that stevia is very sweet and 1 cup of sugar is equivalent to 1/3 cup of stevia, so you’ll need to make this adjustment in the recipe if you try this. Good luck! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 28, 2022 at 2:33 am

    Hi Can i use desiccated coconut instead of fresh shredded coconut

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      March 2, 2022 at 5:55 am

      Hi Vinithra, you can!

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