Coconut cupcakes are made with desiccated coconut and coconut milk. The soft coconut buttercream frosting is garnished with toasted coconut!
Coconut is a unique flavor that deserves a spotlight when it comes to desserts. Coconut cupcakes are the perfect way to enjoy the sweet taste of coconut. The fluffy cake and silky smooth frosting highlight the star ingredient and you can’t miss the toasted coconut garnish! A touch of vanilla adds the perfect balance of sweetness.
While I love Ina Garten’s recipe and even Mary Berry’s recipe, I think these are the perfect coconut cupcakes because they turn out fluffier! Something about the use of desiccated coconut and coconut milk makes these vanilla coconut cupcakes taste irresistible.
Why this recipe works
Both the cupcake batter and frosting feature full-fat coconut milk, which adds a rich flavor without it being overwhelming. Desiccated coconut provides taste as well while keeping a light and soft cake texture.
Coconut cupcakes are a popular Easter dessert, but this recipe can also have a tropical twist—just add a pineapple slice or lime slice as a garnish!
How to make coconut cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture and the coconut milk. Mix just until combined.
- Divide batter among paper liners and bake cupcakes for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool competely.
- Make the coconut buttercream frosting: Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Add salt and vanilla extract, then mix again. Finally add coconut milk until desired frosting consistency is reached.
- Frost cupcakes and garnish with toasted coconut.
Cupcakes are a more delicate dessert that requires accurate measurements. Use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients for the best accuracy. Make sure to use room temperature ingredients for a smooth, consistent batter.
Shake the coconut milk well before opening the can to ensure there are no lumps in it. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them (or else the frosting will melt!)
This recipe calls for desiccated coconut, which is finely shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes. This helps keep the cupcakes nice and fluffy without big shreds of coconut sticking out of the cupcakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Desiccated coconut is superfine shredded coconut that is usually unsweetened. If you can’t find desiccated coconut, I suggest using Let’s Do Organic unsweetened shredded coconut, which is pretty finely shredded, or you can use regular shredded coconut in this recipe.
For stronger coconut flavor, you can use 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract in the cupcake batter and/or frosting.
No. Coconut flour has a much higher fat content than all purpose flour, which is used in this recipe. The ratio of ingredients will not work well with coconut flour.
Coconut cupcakes will last up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
As I stated before, coconut is a wonderful flavor to use in baking. My favorite coconut dessert is macaroons. Dip the bottoms in chocolate and you have a perfect bite-sized treat! You can also add shredded coconut to these almond butter cookies or a coconut cream pie.
For a quick and easy dessert bar, you have to try these pecan coconut blondies. If you like no-bake recipes, my mom’s coconut apricot balls are popular around the holidays.
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Get the Recipe: Coconut Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups (187 g) all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 ml) full fat canned coconut milk, well shaken
- ½ cup (50 g) unsweetened desiccated coconut, (see notes)
- 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
- 3-4 tablespoons (45-60 ml) full fat canned coconut milk, well shaken
- Toasted coconut, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds.
- Mix in one-third of the flour mixture on low speed, followed by half of the coconut milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining coconut milk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the coconut.
- Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ of the way, then bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Place cupcakes on a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
Coconut Buttercream Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter using the whisk attachment (the paddle works too). Beat until fluffy and pale yellow, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually sift in the confectioners' sugar until completely incorporated.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the extracts and salt, and beat for a minute, until fluffy. Add coconut milk until desired consistency and taste is reached.
- Transfer the buttercream to a frosting bag fitted with a star tip and pipe on to cooled cupcakes. Garnish with toasted coconut and serve.