Coconut cupcakes are made with desiccated coconut and coconut milk. The soft coconut buttercream frosting is garnished with toasted coconut!

coconut cupcakes garnished with toasted coconut with a bite taken out of cupcake

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 cupcakes 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.

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 cupcake ingredients in bowls labeled with text

Step by step summary

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the coconut milk. Mix just until combined.
  5. Divide batter among paper liners and bake cupcakes for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool competely.
  6. 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.
  7. Frost cupcakes and garnish with toasted coconut.
photo collage demonstrating how to make coconut cupcakes batter in a mixing bowl with butter and eggs
photo collage demonstrating how to make coconut cupcakes batter in a mixing bowl with coconut milk and desiccated coconut

Helpful recipe tips

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.

coconut buttercream frosting ingredients in bowls labeled with text
photo collage demonstrating how to make coconut buttercream frosting in a bowl with a hand mixer

Frequently Asked Questions

What is desiccated coconut?

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.

Can I use coconut extract?

For stronger coconut flavor, you can use 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract in the cupcake batter and/or frosting.

Can I use coconut flour?

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.

How long to coconut cupcakes last?

Coconut cupcakes will last up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

coconut cupcakes garnished with toasted coconut on a plate next to a kitchen cloth

Related recipes

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. It’s the perfect blend of flavors and textures. 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.

coconut cupcake with frosting and toasted coconut on an open brown paper cupcake liner

I think these are the perfect coconut cupcakes. While I love Ina Garten’s recipe and even Mary Berry’s recipe, I think these coconut cupcakes turn out fluffier! Something about the use of desiccated coconut and coconut milk makes these vanilla coconut cupcakes taste irresistible.

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! What occasion will you make these cupcakes for? Let me know in the comments and tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen when you bake!

coconut cupcake with brown paper liner and toasted coconut on top

Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut cupcakes are made with desiccated coconut and coconut milk. The soft coconut buttercream frosting is garnished with toasted coconut!
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Ingredients

Coconut Cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups (187 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (113 g or 2 sticks) 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)

Coconut Buttercream

  • 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

Instructions 

Coconut Cupcakes

  • 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.

Notes

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.
Coconut milk is used in this recipe. I suggest full-fat, canned coconut milk for the best flavor. Make sure to shake it up before using!
Store coconut cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Freeze coconut cupcakes unfrosted and completely cooled in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap. Cupcakes will keep for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator before frosting.
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 487kcal, Carbohydrates: 51g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 88mg, Sodium: 68mg, Potassium: 155mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 37g, Vitamin A: 749IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 2mg

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