This is truly the best Vegan Coconut Cake recipe with a divine cashew cream filling! This gorgeous, indulgent cake is topped with my favorite vanilla frosting and sprinkled with coconut flakes on top.
My mom made me a coconut sponge cake for my birthday when I was a kid and I’ve been hooked ever since! I loved that cake and missed it when I went vegan. It’s ok because now I make my own cake. In fact, this is the recipe for my very own Vegan Coconut Cake.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- A whole can of full-fat coconut milk is added to the vegan coconut cake batter, making a deliciously moist cake full of coconut flavor
- A cashew cream filling adds creamy goodness to every bite
- Adding vegan butter to the cake batter adds an undeniably delicious buttery flavor to the cake, making it a favorite for so many!
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
You’ll love this simple list of ingredients for this vegan coconut cake. Here are some of the key ingredients:
- Vegan butter — I used Earth Balance which I can find at the grocery store and health food stores too. You can substitute coconut oil.
- Sugar — Finding the right balance between sugar and fat in a vegan cake is important.
- Coconut milk — Look for full-fat coconut milk sold in a can. The nutrition information should indicate 12+ grams of fat.
- Apple cider vinegar — We’ll add just a bit to interact with the baking soda to add fluffiness.
- Coconut extract — for a boost of coconut flavor.
- All-purpose flour — I find all-purpose flour works best for this recipe. Whole wheat will change the flavor, appearance, and texture too much.
- Baking powder & Baking Soda — These two combined create rise and makes this cake fluffy.
The flavor of coconut in a cake is undeniably delicious. On top of that, you get to enjoy a moist vegan coconut cake with a creamy, sweet filling, topped with coconut flakes. It’s amazing!
How to Make Vegan Coconut Cake
- Cream Butter and Sugar: Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then cream in the sugar, followed by the rest of the wet ingredients.
- Combine Dry Ingredients: Stir together the dry ingredients. Beat together the flour and coconut milk mixture.
- Pour Batter: Divide the batter equally among prepared pans.
- Bake the Cakes: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.
- Cool and Invert: Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then invert them onto racks to cool completely.
Here’s a visual guide to help you make this delicious vegan coconut cake.
Step One: Cream Wet Ingredients
We’ll begin by creaming the butter using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
Then add the sugar and cream this with the butter. The goal is to get it nice and fluffy.
Then add the remaining wet ingredients, like the coconut milk, and mix again until well-combined.
Step Two: Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour with the other dry ingredients.
Add the flour mixture in with the wet ingredients and mix to combine it all together. Now you’ve got your batter ready to bake!
Step Three: Pour and Bake
Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and bake.
When the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to sit for 10 minutes before inverting them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Cashew Coconut Cream Filling
In the past, I’ve used vanilla frosting between the layers of this vegan coconut cake. Recently I created a tasty cashew coconut filling and it’s heavenly! Here’s how to make it:
- Combine soaked cashews, agave nectar, coconut oil, and coconut flakes in a food processor or blender.
- Pulse until it’s smooth.
- Spread it between the cake layers.
When it comes to frosting your vegan coconut cake, you have options.
- Add coconut flakes to the top of a vegan vanilla frosting.
- For a more intense coconut flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract to the frosting.
- Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
- You can use it as a filling between cake layers.
Desserts with Coconut Milk
It’s rare when I find someone who doesn’t like coconut. Adding coconut to a recipe can turn into an instant comfort food favorite. Here are some examples of my favorite recipes featuring coconut:
If you’re into indulgent cakes, you’ll want to check out my Vegan Carrot Cake.
Should you refrigerate coconut cake?
A coconut cake will keep up to 3 days at room temperature when stored properly. However, refrigerating the cake will help it keep up to 7 days. Individual slices can be frozen for up to 2 months.
- Add coconut flakes to the frosting while it’s still wet. Once the frosting sets, the coconut flakes will not stick.
- Because vegan butter is salted, there’s no need to add salt to the cake batter
- Substitute gluten-free baking flour to make a gluten-free vegan coconut cake
- Add a tablespoon of rum to the batter to make coconut rum cake
- Toast the coconut flakes before sprinkling them over the finished cake for added flair and crunchiness.
- Make it a vegan chocolate coconut cake by adding 1/4 to 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the batter.
Serving Vegan Coconut Cake
When serving vegan coconut cake slices, I sometimes like to add a dollop of vegan whipped cream on the side for added flair. You could also have a bowl of fresh raspberries nearby as well.
I hope you love this vegan coconut cake recipe as much as we do!
Vegan Coconut Cake
Cashew Coconut Cream Filling
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water at least 2 hours up to overnight)
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- ½ cup coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (see note)
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup vegan butter or coconut oil , softened
- 2-3 tablespoons plant-based milk
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes , sweetened
For the Vegan Coconut Cake
- Preheat oven to 350F° degrees. Grease and flour two round 9-inch cake pans. Cut circles of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pans. Place rounds in bottom of pans and top with additional vegetable spray.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream together for up to 2 minutes, until light. Add the coconut milk, vinegar and coconut flavoring. Cream well until combined.
- 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 for a more level cake.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool Completely.
For the Cashew Coconut Cream Filling
- For the filling between the cake layers, you can use frosting or this cashew cream coconut filling. To make the cashew filling, drain soaked cashews and add them to a blender or food processor. Add the agave nectar, coconut oil, and coconut flakes.
- Pulse in short bursts to break apart the cashews. Use a spatula to push down contents from the side of the bowl and pulse again in short bursts. Repeat this process until a cream begins to form. Then begin pulsing in longer periods to break down the cashew and coconut bits even more. Once this mixture is creamy to your liking, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- Add the vegan butter to a mixing bowl and use a mixer on medium speed to cream it. Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix that into the butter, until well combined. Repeat with the remaining powdered sugar. Once all the powdered sugar is added, it will be a crumbly mix. Add the plant-based milk one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the desired, spreadable consistency.
Assembling the Coconut Cake
- Once the cakes have cooled, place the bottom cake on a plate. Use a serrated knife to level the cake (if there is a dome or it's uneven on the top). Spread either the cashew coconut filling or a layer of icing over the top. Place the second cake on top of the frosting or cream filling. Add additional frosting on top and sides of cakes. Garnish the top and sides with coconut flakes.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2015 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.