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!

A slice of vegan coconut cake sits on a plate. A fork is preparing scoop a bite from the cake. The rest of the cake sits behind it.

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.

Mixer prongs sit over a white bowl full of cake batter.

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.

A golden cake has white frosting smeared over the top.

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.

Looking down on a vegan coconut cake with a slice cut out and partially pulled back from the 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!

If you’re into uniquely flavored cakes like me, you definitely want to check out my Vegan Carrot Cake. It’s kind of awesome too.

A fork holds a bite of coconut cake in front of the rest of the slice.A close-up of a vegan coconut cake with lots of flaked coconut.
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!

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

Vegan Coconut Cake

You can't deny this delicious, creamy Vegan Coconut Cake - it's the perfect combination of sweet coconut, vanilla cake, and creamy frosting!
4.88 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 18
Calories: 389kcal
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


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two (or thre9-inch cake pans.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream together margarine, sugar, coconut milk, vinegar, vanilla, and coconut flavoring. Cream well for 6 to 8 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour to creamed mixture, beating until just mixed.
  • 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.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool Completely.
  • 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.
  • Fill and spread cake layers with frosting and garnish with coconut flakes.


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

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!



Updated by Marly · Permalink