Easy Vegan Coconut Cake

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.

A slice of vegan coconut cake on a plate with the rest of the cake behind it.

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!
Looking down on a slice of cake on a plate with a fork holding a bite.

Ingredients

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

  1. Cream Butter and Sugar: Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then cream in the sugar, followed by the rest of the wet ingredients.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients: Stir together the dry ingredients. Beat together the flour and coconut milk mixture.
  3. Pour Batter: Divide the batter equally among prepared pans.
  4. Bake the Cakes: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.
  5. Cool and Invert: Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then invert them onto racks to cool completely.

Step-by-Step Instructions

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.

Vegan butter has been combined in a mixing bowl with sugar. The prongs of the mixer are coated with the mixture too.

Then add the sugar and cream this with the butter. The goal is to get it nice and fluffy.

A can of fun fat coconut is being poured into a mixing bowl.

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.

A flour mixture is being poured in with cake batter.

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.

Cake batter is being poured into a round cake pan.

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.
A creamy filling is being spread on top of a round cake layer.

Coconut Frosting

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.
A golden cake has white frosting smeared over the top.

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.

A slice of vegan coconut cake on a plate with the rest of the cake behind it.

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.

Marly’s Tips

  • 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!

A slice of coconut cake is on a plate with a fork. The fork has a bite of cake on it. The rest of the cake is behind it all.
A slice of vegan coconut cake on a plate with the rest of the cake 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!
4.9 from 28 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 526kcal

Ingredients

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

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

Instructions

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.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

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.
Calories: 526kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 168mg | Potassium: 219mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 543IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 3mg

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.

89 Responses to Easy Vegan Coconut Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBeth Reply

    5 stars
    This is our favorite cake!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Beth! So glad you liked it!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCharlotte Reply

    Hi I made this cake for Easter tomorrow, and it turned out great! We used coconut cream with some water instead and it was still fabulous. The middle sunl in a little, any ideas why? I was very precise with the measurements. I also added coconut flakes to the batter. Regardless, the cake is wonderful and I cut off the edges that burnt a little and frosted it with chocolate whipped cream frosting!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Charlotte. I’m so glad you like this cake and it turned out for your Easter dinner! The main reason a cake sinks in the middle is that might have been slightly underbaked. Chocolate whipped cream frosting on a coconut cake sounds amazing! Enjoy your day!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySusan Wright Reply

    5 stars
    Happy Birthday mine was in February and I made a apple pie for that

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Susan! I love that you made an apple pie for your birthday. What a great idea! ❤️

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKathy Reply

    5 stars
    I made this cake for the Super Bowl – kept it as two layers but did a rectangular pan to make it look like a turf field – haha! SO DELICIOUS!! My fiancé said let’s def add this to the rotation. We froze the leftovers and they defrost perfectly with 40 secs in the microwave.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I’m so glad you liked this cake Kathy! It’s one of my favorites, too! 🙂

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKate Reply

    Thanks for this great recipe! I am excited about the cashew cream filling but I don’t have any agave nectar on hand. Would you suggest maple syrup or honey (non-vegan) as a substitute?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Kate. This is one of my favorite cakes! Yes, you can substitute a syrup sweetener like maple or honey.

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnita Reply

    Hi. I looked through previous messages to you from others, but I haven’t seen my issue. I misread it when it said 2 cups of canned coconut milk, I put in 2 cans, it doesn’t really seem that bad, it need to bake a bit longer. I put an additional 7 minutes on, was almost there, I tried another couple minutes, hopefully I didn’t ruin it, just checked it again and the tester came out clean… hopefully it’s ok
    Well, I just checked it again and tester came out clean. Hopefully it tastes OK

    Anita

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Anita. I sent you a direct email to discuss this.

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJenny Reply

    4 stars
    Great recipe – I cut it in half for a one layer cake and proportions worked. I added 1/4c cocoa and used lite coconut milk. I did have to bake the cake 15 min longer. Cake was extremely moist. Not sure why it took so long – would the fat content of the coconut milk have made a difference?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Jenny. There are lots of things that can contribute to a longer baking time, such as the oven temperature being off (this is common). I’m glad you like the cake. I’ve never tried halving it before so I’m glad that worked for you!

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCindy Reply

    Do you think I should decrease some of the flour when adding the cocoa so as not to impact the moistness or density of the cake? I’m planning to attempt a chocolate version this weekend!

  9. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCindy Reply

    Hi Marly, I’ve made this cake twice now and everyone who has tried it says it’s the best cake they’ve ever eaten! I’ve had a request to try to make it chocolate. Can you recommend a way to modify it to retain the wonderful taste and texture of the cake but also make it a chocolate coconut cake? Thanks!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Cindy! First, I’m glad you and your people have enjoyed this cake so much. It’s one of my favorites too! Regarding making it chocolate, I just want you to know I have not tried this myself, but you’ve got my attention because chocolate and coconut are my favorite flavors! So, my first thought on this would be to simply add 1/2 to 2/3 cups of cocoa powder to the flour ingredients. I’m going to have to give this a try myself. It’s the sort of experiment that makes me happy!

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