Marly’s Vegan Coconut Cake

My affection for this Vegan Coconut Cake goes back to my childhood when my mom would make me a more traditional version (i.e., not vegan…I don’t think vegan was a thing then) on my birthday each year. I guess because there’s something about the moist cake topped with coconut that gets me every time. You know, if you like vegan cake recipes, check out my Vegan Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake. Delicious. Or how about my Vegan Chocolate Wacky Cake. So good!

Vegan Coconut Cake with creamy filling and lots of coconut flakes on top!

As I said above, my mom would make me a delicious coconut cake for my birthday when I was a kid. Then, one year my birthday fell at a time when my mom was in the hospital and the responsibility of preparing the cake fell upon my sister, Pam.

So, I guess Pam thought I was a bit too demanding about what exactly I wanted from my cake. Or maybe she was just being playful. Who knows. Anyway, my sister, Pam? She likes to do things her own way. So, she made the cake as I requested, but she put her own touch on it — she put purple food coloring in the cake and orange food color in the icing. The cake tasted the same as always, but it looked really weird.

Below is the recipe for my very own Marly’s Vegan Coconut Cake (sans food coloring). But before the recipe, a little tidbit about my sister’s name. The one very cool thing about her name is that her initials spelled Pam. I wonder how many people there are like this in the world? I’m sure it must be quite unique. I’ve read that having your initials spell a word can have a positive impact on a person’s life, but having your initials actually spell your name? That has to be much better.

Vegan Coconut cake in the making

Why You’ll Love This Vegan Coconut Cake

The flavor of coconut in a cake is undeniable good. On top of that if you enjoy a moist cake with creamy, sweet filling, topped with coconut, well, you are in the right place.

I love my easy vegan recipes, but every now and then it’s fun to prepare a dish that is a little more involved. This vegan coconut cake is not unlike most cakes, in that it takes a few minutes to put things together, but most of the time involved is in the baking.

Obviously, I’ve been craving coconut cake most of my life (see the story above), so I’m a little biased when it comes to my vegan coconut cake recipe. Because the cake is moist and the icing is so creamy, this is a favorite to share with people when they’re over for a dinner.

I have rarely run into someone who doesn’t like coconut. I’m sure there are some, but at least in my circles there aren’t many. And there’s nothing like adding coconut to a recipe to make it turn into an instant comfort food favorite. Here are some examples of my favorite coconut favorites:

From sweet to savory, there’s so much you can do with coconut. I even use coconut water in my smoothie recipes.

Is Coconut Healthy?

You know I love to look into the health benefits of certain ingredients, and coconut has been on the chopping block a few times over the years. There were periods where we looked at coconut as the devil, but that’s been called into question lately. According to Dr. Greger of Nutrition Facts, coconut water (the liquid found inside a coconut), can actually be used intravenously. Coconut oil, however, is one of the few sources of saturated fats found in the plant kingdom. There have been some studies showing the benefits of coconut oil in reducing inflammation markers and/or cholesterol. I like to use Dr. Greger as a resource and he recommends using coconut oil in moderation. I think that’s good advice for a lot of foods, except maybe green, leafy vegetables.

So, rather than eating the whole thing yourself, I recommend having a slice of this vegan coconut cake, and allow yourself to really enjoy and savor it. But be sure to keep it as a treat. I definitely like to make this cake when I can share it with others so that I get to enjoy my slice, and not have it around the house tempting me to eat it every day.

Putting the icing on this delicious vegan coconut cake

This Recipe Is So Messed Up

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, recipes are a little messed up. Also, it’s important to note that the recipe as we know it today hasn’t been around all that long. I mean, most people didn’t have a modern oven in their kitchen until the early 1900s. That means those early recipes were very general — a list of ingredients and quick instructions and that was about it. So, in my mind, we could look at all recipes like that. Use it as guideline, but adapt it so it reflects your own personal tastes.

So, here’s some ideas for how I’d change this recipe:

  • Add some lime zest to the cake or frosting for an exotic splash
  • Could you imagine some crumbled, toasted pecans on the top of this cake?
  • Try adding a little bit of raspberries to the frosting that goes between the cake layers
  • You could toast the coconut before sprinkling it over the top of the finished cake for some added flair and crunchiness.
  • Make it a chocolate coconut cake by adding some unsweetened cocoa powder to the cake. I’d say about a third of a cup or so should do it.

See? Wasn’t that fun! And now it’s your turn. What are the ways you can make this recipe your own? I say go for it!

When serving this cake, I would definitely think about having some vegan whipped cream on the side for added flair. You could also have a bowl of raspberries nearby as well. What is it about coconut and raspberries? I don’t know, I’m going with it for now.

Marly's Vegan Coconut Cake

We recently made this cake again so we could reshoot the photographs. The old photo is below the recipe. Clearly we’ve improved a lot over the years.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted an excuse to make this recipe again. OK, let me be even more honest. I wanted an excuse to eat this vegan coconut cake again. See? Coconut Cake really is my favorite!

Also, you may be interested in checking out my Raspberry Zinger Gluten-Free Coconut Cake. It’s kind of awesome too.

Marly's Vegan Coconut CakeMarly's Vegan Coconut Cake
So, we hope you love this Vegan Coconut Cake recipe as much as we do. If you decide to make it, snap a photo and share it with us using #namelymarly on Instagram. We love seeing your photos!

5 from 3 votes
Vegan Coconut Cake with creamy filling and lots of coconut flakes on top!
Vegan Coconut Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
55 mins
You can't deny this delicious, creamy Vegan Coconut Cake - it's the perfect combination of sweet coconut, vanilla cake, and creamy frosting!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16
Calories: 468 kcal
Author: Marly
  • 1 cup (2 stickdairy free margarine at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups coconut milk 1 can
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Vegan Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • cup dairy free margarine or coconut oil softened
  • 2-3 tablespoons soymilk
  • Topping: ½ cup flaked sweetened coconut
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two (or thre9-inch cake pans.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream together margarine, sugar, coconut milk, vinegar, vanilla, and coconut flavoring. Cream well for 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour to creamed mixture, beating until just mixed.
  4. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool Completely.

  6. In the meantime prepare frosting. In a bowl combine the powdered sugar and softened vegan butter or coconut oil. Stir until combined. It will be a powdery mix. Add the plant-based milk one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the desired, spreadable consistency.

  7. Fill and spread cake layers with frosting and garnish with coconut flakes.

Recipe Notes

As each layer is stacked, you can stick them with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting (just be sure to warn your guests).

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Coconut Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 468 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 34%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Sodium 208mg 9%
Potassium 145mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 66g 22%
Sugars 47g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 10.2%
Vitamin C 0.3%
Calcium 3.7%
Iron 11.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Finally, if you like vegan tropical-flavored cakes, you are definitely going to want to check these out:

Whatever cake you find yourself eyeballing, enjoy!

Here’s an example of one of our old photos. You know, I remember when we thought that was pretty snazzy. Life is all about improvement. 🙂

Marly's Vegan Coconut Cake




Updated by Marly · Permalink

33 Responses to Marly’s Vegan Coconut Cake

  1. Marly – that looks SOOOOO good! I will definitely be giving this recipe a try. After I lose about 10 pounds because I anticipate I would be eating the entire thing. =)

    • Oh, I agree so much. I don’t even want to put a new post up because I like looking at this picture so much. Maybe I should make it my screen saver? In fact, I think I’ve gained a couple of pounds just for thinking about this cake!

  2. Before I became a vegan coconut never really appealed to me, but as a vegan I’m seeings its wonderful appeal more and more. I might give this cake a whirl! Thanks for the great recipe.

    • I used to be that way with marshmallows. Maybe there’s something different about vegetarian marshmallows that make me like them more. I just know I used to hate the taste of chocolate and marshmallows and now I like it. So, I guess I know how you feel. Let me know what you think of the cake. Your site has some great recipes on it that I can’t wait to try as well!

  3. I have a huge coconut and don’t know what to do with it, your cake looks delicious, moist and fluffy! Great recipe!

  4. Cute story about your sister and the food coloring. I love coconut cake. Your cake looks beautiful!

    • It tastes so good too. I could eat this cake every day, but I guess it’s good to have variety so I force myself to make other things. Both of my sisters have that mischievous streak to them. Keeps life interesting!

  5. My initials are every other letter of my first name–RCE.

  6. I baked this cake last night for my daughter’s sixth birthday. Fantastic! I had to make one slight variation to the recipe because I was running low on flour, so I substituted 1 cup coconut flour for part of the flour measurement. (As a result I also had to add approximately 1 extra cup liquid to the recipe – I used almond milk.) The whole family was in heaven. This cake is a scrumptious slice of deliciousness! (And it looked just like the picture, too.) I will definitely make this again…soon. Thank you!

    • Oh, I’m so glad! I love this cake too. Now your daughter can share a similar experience with me – memories of coconut cake for her birthday!

  7. This looks great, can’t wait to try it. We are not vegan per se, but dd is allergic to milk and eggs. Would love for her to try this for birthday! I like your sister’s idea of making it purple and orange…lol. Do you think this would make good cupcakes too?

  8. I made this cake and it turned out great. You couldn’t even tell it was vegan. I’m making it again this year for a birthday and I’m wondering why the apple cider vinegar? I don’t know much about vegan baking, but I’m just curious!

    • Hi April! I’m so glad you liked the cake. It’s probably my all-time favorite cake! Having a coconut cake for my birthday was a tradition from my childhood. Sigh. Good times!

      OK. About the apple cider vinegar. Baking without eggs requires a little finesse…or strong-arming (however you want to look at it). I like to include something like apple cider vinegar to help activate the baking soda to make the cake rise a little more. I hope that helps to explain the craziness of adding vinegar to a cake!

  9. I made this Saturday night for my sister’s birthday. I only had wheat flour, so I used that. This was the easiest cake to make! And it was absolutely delicious!! Very moist. Thanks for the recipe!!

  10. Pingback: Raspberry Zinger Coconut Cake | Namely Marly

  11. The cake calls for ‘coconut’ but I don’t see an amount?

    • Hi Kanti and thanks for your comment! I looked at the recipe, the directions should have said “coconut flavoring” or extract. The recipe calls for coconut milk and I like to give it a little bit of extra punch with the coconut extract. And then there’s even more coconut flakes used in the icing. Yum!

  12. Kristine Mitchell

    This sounds delicious! My niece Zoe’s first name is also her initials! At least until she gets married! I told her to only date boys with last names that start with E. 😉

  13. Marly, what a fabulous cake! I love the story about the purple and orange cake! And how neat that your sisters initials spell out her name!!!

  14. hi marly
    and thank you for your great post
    i would like to ask you about mediterranean diet menu plan if you have any suggestion or advice to adopt it with this diet

    thank you

  15. How do you make the vegan fluffy vanilla frosting?

    • Tara, it’s everything below “Vegan Fluffy Vanilla Frosting” and then instruction #6. (When I scanned the recipe I wondered the same thing.)

  16. Its my bday tomorrow and I was looking for the perfect most special cake to make. this is the one! I cant wait, will be adding some lime zest to it, and maybe some raspberries in the middle that you suggested. thanks!

  17. Hello, I was looking forward to making your cake which looks delicious by the way, but my only concern is could I use coconut flour as the flour base in this recipe and if so then what would be the new liquid ratio.

    • Hi Ashley. I have tried using coconut oil, but it does have a drying effect on the finished product. I would suggest if you’re trying to go gluten-free with this recipe, using a gluten-free baking mix might work better. If you really want to use coconut flour, just be prepared for a dryer texture. Or maybe try adding a little coconut oil to the gluten-free baking mix. Maybe that might be a good balance.

    • Do you think that I possibly could make it more moist with still using the coconut flour if I added an egg replacer such as aquafaba or maybe more butter or even coconut milk?

    • Coconut flour is very absorbent so adding an egg replacer would help. I might try adding a banana or some mashed fruit like that too. I know that might change the flavor a little bit, but it would be a way to add moisture without added fat. However, if you’re not worried about adding fat, then I probably would increase the fat by increasing the coconut oil a little. Of course, it might mean you’ll have to pay closer attention to the baking time — it might need a little more. This sounds like a fun experiment, Ashley! Let me know how it goes!

    • Sure thing, and thank you for all the help. I just have two more questions, should I still use 3 cups of flour even though I’m using coconut flour? And could you describe to me what the normal cake batter looks like , just so I can know what consistency to look for.

    • I would probably cut it back to 2 1/2 cups of coconut flour, again noting that coconut flour is so absorbent. Typically, a vegan cake batter is much thicker than a cake made with eggs. It shouldn’t be as thick as a brownie mix, but not overly thin and runny either. Somewhere between the two. Does that help?

    • It does, thanks!

  18. I just made these in to cupcakes and I have no idea what I have done wrong!!! I have obviously stuffed it up somehow lol because everyone has left such positive comments!!

    I’m in Australia so I used 250ml measuring cups, 5lm teaspoons and 20ml tablespoons.. I didn’t have quite enough coconut milk (one can wasn’t enough) so I used a little bit of oil. They overflowed from the cupcake cases and then completely sunk in the middle and the taste of them is horrible.. like they are very very acidy. I used 3 tsp baking soda instead of baking powder (I have done this before in other cakes and it has worked perfectly)
    Please help!!

    • Hi Sarah
      Well, there’s a lot going on here. I don’t think the baking soda vs. the baking powder would be the problem here, so we can at least take that off the table. That would be a substitute I would make as well. What I’m wondering though is if the addition of the oil might have made the batter too dense. If I didn’t have enough coconut milk for this recipe, I would probably substitute whatever plant-based milk I had (or you could even use water) and add a little more coconut extract. The thing about a vegan cake batter that’s different than the others is that it’s usually very thick. I hope this information is helpful. This is my favorite cake. I request it for every birthday…and special occasions too!


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