Easy Vegan Coconut Cake Recipe

My affection for this easy Vegan Coconut Cake recipe 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.

A slice of vegan coconut cake sits on a plate. A fork is cutting a bite from the cake. The rest of the cake sits behind it.
It’s easy to make a coconut cake vegan! And pretty tasty too!

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!

As I said above, my mom would make me a delicious dairy-free 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 older sister, Pam. My sister Pam was 12 when I was born so she was more like a second mother to me.

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, likes doing 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 Cream 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.

Coconut Cake Recipes with Coconut Milk

Now, onto this coconut vegan cake. The first question I had when embarking on this recipe was this: can you make a coconut milk cake vegan? I was glad to discover the answer is a resounding Yes!

Then, next, I knew when I set about to perfect the recipe, I wanted to make this vegan coconut cake easy. That means not too many exotic ingredients and not too much time in the kitchen.

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 healthy coconut cake recipe 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 milk cake recipe most of my life (see the story above), so I’m a little biased when it comes to my dairy free 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.

Vegan Dessert Recipes with Coconut Milk

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.

I happen to be in the vegan coconut desserts camp. I love most everything sweet and coconut! Here are some examples of my favorite recipes featuring coconut, from sweet to savory:

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 eggless 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.

Expert Tips

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. Can you imagine that!

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, with that in mind, here are some of my favorite expert tips to make this recipe just right plus some ideas for how you can adapt this recipe to meet your needs:

  • This recipe calls for vegan butter. I used Earth Balanace
  • To make a coconut oil cake recipe, substitute virgin coconut oil for the vegan butter
  • Add some lime zest to the cake or vegan coconut frosting recipe for an exotic splash
  • If you want to make a coconut flour cake vegan, I recommend substituting 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for coconut flour. I wouldn’t add any more than that because coconut flour can impact the cake’s texture.
  • Substitute gluten free baking flour for the all purpose flour to make a vegan gluten free coconut cake
  • 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
  • Add a tablespoon or two of rum to the batter to make coconut rum cake! Yes, vegan rum cake is amazing, but you can stick with the recipe below if that doesn’t appeal to you.
  • 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.
Coconut cake with coconut milk makes a smooth, rich cake that’s delicious!

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.

When it comes to making coconut frosting vegan, I recommend simply adding coconut flakes to the top of a vanilla frosting. It works! If you want amore intense vegan coconut icing, add 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract to the frosting.

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!

A fork hovers over a slice of layered coconut cake, ready to cut a bite out. The rest of the cake is behind it.

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!
4.94 from 15 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Coconut Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 18
Calories: 389kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegan butter , softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups whole fat coconut milk (canned)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Vegan Vanilla Frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • cup vegan butter or coconut oil , softened
  • 2-3 tablespoons plant-based milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes , sweetened

Instructions

  • 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 together butter, 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 tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool Completely.

Vegan Vanilla 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.

Notes

Either ice the entire cake, sides and all, or ice only between the layers and top of the cake.
To reduce overall sugar in this recipe, substitute Swerve for sugar.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Coconut Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 389 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Sodium 174mg7%
Potassium 128mg4%
Carbohydrates 59g20%
Sugar 41g46%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 645IU13%
Vitamin C 0.3mg0%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 1.9mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

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!

This post may have affiliate links. See our full disclosure for more information.

72 Responses to Easy Vegan Coconut Cake Recipe

    • 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!

    • 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!

    • 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!

  1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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!

  4. 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!!

    • 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!

  5. 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. 😉

  6. 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!

  7. 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?

  8. 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!

  9. Hi,
    I made this for my big brother who is vegan and he was so pleased that I’m making it again. This was my first attempt and I know this time it will be even better. thanks for sharing your recipe.

  10. I made this cake for a family gathering and it was a hit! I do think the cake tasted a bit salty, is there a way to tame that down? Also, I made Coconut whip cream and folded in shaved coconut for the icing and it was delish!

    • Hi Laura, Thanks for your comment and I’m so glad you liked this cake. It’s my favorite too! It’s interesting that you noted a salty taste, because there’s actually no added sodium to the recipe. I wonder if you might be reacting to the baking powder? One idea would be to try an aluminum-free baking powder, because you might be sensitive to the bitter taste that comes from that kind of baking powder. You could also consider reducing the amount of baking powder, maybe going for 1 teaspoon of baking soda + 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Just so you know, I have not personally tried that with this recipe. It’s possible it might be a more dense cake as a result. You could also try reducing the apple cider vinegar to half. Let me know how it goes!

  11. Hi I absolutely love this cake made a few times now my vegan son adores it and non vegans too.
    My only thing is it always sinks a bit when I take it out of the oven not a big problame but it’s annoying …do you think maybe I should leave it in a bit longer ? When I test it the skewer comes out clean and cake is golden .
    I have followed it to the letter maybe you might have a few tips thanks in advance

  12. Haha my daughter Kaelyn’s initials are the first three letters of her name. I’m about to make this recipe for my birthday today! I’ve lost 60 pounds so I think this is a suitable reward!

    • Hi Sita. If you are not using vegan butter, and you want to use a vegetable oil, try using 1/2 to 3/4 cup in place of the 1 cup of vegan butter. I haven’t tried this in this recipe, but I use oil in other cakes and it works just fine. For the frosting, I think unrefined coconut oil would work just fine.

  13. Hello, i exactly followed this recipe apart from the fact that i used Coconut Cream instead of milk and a high baking tin with a diameter of 20cm and i poured all the batter in it at once (with the idea of slicing it up afterwards to fill iT with frosting)
    However, the cake came out extremely greasy. Like extremely. What can it be?

    • Hi Rowena. Thanks for your comments about this recipe. I’m going to reach out to you via email to walk through the recipe and trouble shoot. We’ll get it figured out so you can love this cake as much as we do!

  14. Dear Marly, help! I tried this recipe a couple of times because i really want to eat this one. Unfortunately i still haven’t. My cake comes out of the oven really really greasy. Not the dry, fluffy crumb like i see on your pictures.
    I have everything recalculated from units to metrics and instead of 3 low baking pans I used a high one of 20 cm ø. Had it in the oven for more than 2hours. Besides that I exactly followed your recipe. Can you tell me what went wrong? I really would like to be able to make this vegan coconut pie. Thanks in advance, Rowena

    • Hi Cindi. Every person who walks a vegan path has to make choices along the way. For me, white sugar wasn’t on my radar. It might help you to read my post 10 Ways to be Vegan. It’s one of the reasons I choose to call myself a secular vegan. However, if white sugar is an issue that matters to you, then coconut sugar I’ve found to be a good replacement. You can also use turbinado sugar, agave nectar, etc. Hope this is helpful!

  15. Hi Marly,
    Amazing recipe.
    could you please tell me the size of baking pan that you use?
    I have a 26cm round pan.
    How should I scale the recipe according to my pan?
    Many thanks,
    Ankita

  16. Omg! This cake is now one of my top ten favorite things in life!!! I made mine in a bundt pan and baked it for about 50 minutes. I made the mistake of not spraying my pan so some of the top was lost (but whatever… SNACKS!!!) I also opted for coconut oil in the frosting but mine was refined (aka doesn’t have the natural coconut flavor anymore) so I added 1/4 tsp. coconut extract and 1/8 tsp. salt. Also, my frosting, due to temperature and rushing, was more of a thick glaze than traditional frosting so I was kind of flopping it on and spreading and then rushing it to the freezer to set up. I repeated this 3-4 times til it was covered and kept it refrigerated between stuffing my face with it. I also only had unsweetened coconut and I toasted it in a pan before covering the cake. Omg, everything was just so good. I honestly had my doubts because I wasn’t able to follow the recipe EXACTLY and had some technical difficulties along the way but it was beyond worth it. My husband is forever grateful to you for sharing this. Oh, one last thing, since we had to keep it refrigerated, I would cut a slice (or three) and nuke it in the microwave for 45 secs on a low power level, just to warm it a bit…. $@&! SO PERFECT!

  17. Made this today and am very pleased with the result, so will see what my customer says !! Cake was a little hard around the outside but that’s down to me leaving it the oven a little longer, but the rest was soft and crumbly exactly like I anticipated so am very pleased. Only thing I would like to see is more suggestions for vegan marg ?? or equivalents, as Vitalite is a little dodge and sometimes a little wet. Lovely recipe though and thank you very much 😉 xx

  18. […] started baking more too.. starting with this vegan coconut cake that I made for when Mum came to […]

  19. I”m so glad you posted this! My family grew up on coconut cake and this Sunday is Mothers day and my moms birthday. I’m trying to bake and cook as much as I can for family gatherings because it gets harder to take part as the only vegan. I have one question before I give this a whirl – can I use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose?

    • Hi Saba! Sounds like a lovely family gathering! I have made this with whole wheat pastry flour and it’s turned out just fine. I hope you enjoy it!

  20. Amazing recipe! Thanks for sharing! I made it last night and it turned out to be super moist and delicious! I reduced the sugar to 1 3/4 cup and used coconut sugar instead. It still came out well!

  21. I made this cake for a 90 year-old’s birthday, since he had specially requested coconut cake. He had no idea it was vegan and loved it. That, for me, is the ultimate test and says it all. Amazing!

    • Hi Meredith! I love this story so much! Thanks for sharing about it and I agree with you — the ultimate test and reward is hearing from folks that they love a recipe, not realizing that it’s vegan! Sending you a virtual hug!

  22. I made this cake the other day for my oldest daughter for her 22nd birthday. It was so yummy! She asked me to make her a vegan coconut lemon cake. To add lemon to it I made lemon pudding and put it as a filling and I grated some lemon on top of the cake once I added the coconut. One other variation is I used almond milk instead of coconut milk and I added 1 tsp of coconut flavouring to the icing. . The cake turned out awesome except it didn’t rise as high as I was expecting it too. Everyone loved it! Thanks for the recipe! I wish I could post a pic 🙂

    My daughters have an Instagram page Marly if you want to check them out for recipes too 🙂 it’s called justsimplysisters

    • Thanks, Tammy! So glad you liked this cake and that it contributed to a happy birthday celebration for your daughter! Sending hugs your way!

    • He Lele. Yes, that should work. However, you could also make both layers and then bake them both and freeze one for later. I’ve done this and it works great!

  23. I have a little one that is allergic to many many things. The only thing i cant use from this recipe is the vinegar. What could i substitute for that that is vegetable free?

  24. Hi there! We don’t seem to have coconut flavouring in Australia. What can I use as a substitute? Does coconut cream or coconut milk work?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Toni! I would just use vanilla or rum extract. You’ll get some coconut flavoring from the coconut milk in the recipe itself and from the fresh coconut flakes on top.

  25. I didn’t have 9″ cake pans so I made a big sheet cake. It took a little longer to bake and came out dense, but it is still delicious.
    Also, I left out the coconut flavoring and traded it for actual coconut shavings, which may explain the texture. Will make again!

  26. This cake was AMAZING. I rarely review recipes, but I had to for this one because it was so.good. Even my husband, who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, loved it. The cake is extremely moist and tastes so good. I was worried at first about all of the ACV in it, but you really can’t taste it. I panicked because the batter tasted like the vinegar because I originally only used a quarter teaspoon of the coconut extract. I quickly added in a bit more (for a total of .75 tsp of coconut extract), and it was perfect. It wasn’t too coconutty tasting. It was subtle, and it was exactly what I was looking for. My omnivore family devoured it. Will definitely make again and again and again 🙂

  27. It was delicious but you need to cut the sugar in half for both the cake and the frosting. I made it in one pan and cut it, but next time I will make it in two pans as it crumbles easily.

    • Thanks Sim! So glad you liked this cake! Thanks for your feedback too. I know sugar is one of those ingredients that can be highly personalized. If you prefer lower sugar, I agree that cutting back is a great idea.

  28. Hi! Thanks for sharing! This looks yummy! I am going to make it, but I only have one 15cm / 6 inch baking tin. Can I reduce the amount of ingredients, and by how much? Thanks in advance! :)~

Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.