This Vegan Coconut Cake recipe features a soft, fluffy cake with a cashew cream filling and a rich, creamy buttercream frosting. This indulgently moist cake is topped with vanilla frosting and coconut flakes. Make this cake for birthdays, special occasions, and weeknight affairs. It’s a crowd pleasure and one you’re sure to come back to time and time again!
For a different filling, try this Raspberry Coconut Cake with a colorful raspberry filling between the layers. You know, if you like vegan cake recipes, check out this Vegan Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake or this Vegan Chocolate Wacky Cake.
My mom made me a delicious dairy-free coconut cake for my birthday when I was a kid. Then, one year my mom was in the hospital on my birthday. That meant my older sister had to make the cake that year.
My sister has a reputation for doing things her way. So, she made the cake and put her own touch to it — she added purple food coloring in the cake and orange food color in the icing. The cake tasted the same, but it looked weird. Needless to say, my sister wasn’t asked to make my birthday cake again. Who knows, maybe that was her goal in the first place.
Mission accomplished, sis!
Below is the recipe for my very own Vegan Coconut Cream Cake (sans food coloring).
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- A whole can of full fat coconut milk is added to the cake, creating 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!
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, 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.
You’ll love this simple list of ingredients. 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.
- 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 little bit to create lift in the cake.
- 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 creates rise and makes this cake fluffy.
The flavor of coconut in a cake is undeniable delicious. On top of that you get to enjoy a moist cake with creamy, sweet filling, topped with coconut flakes. It’s amazing!
How to Make Vegan Coconut Cake
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!
- Cream Butter and Sugar: Use an electric mixer to cream the butter until light and fluffy. Then cream in the sugar. Finally, cream in the rest of the wet ingredients.
- Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Add flour to the coconut milk mixture and beat until well combined.
- Pour Batter: Divide the batter equally among prepared pans.
- Bake the Cakes: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
- Cool and Invert: Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool Completely.
See? That’s a relatively easy process!
Mix the vegan butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Then add the full fat coconut milk and mix it.
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!
Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and bake.
Cashew Coconut Cream Filling
In the past I’ve used a plain vanilla frosting between the layers of this cake. However, recently I created this tasty cashew coconut filling that is perfect!
Simply combine soaked cashews with a little agave nectar, coconut oil, and coconut flakes in a food processor or blender. Pulse that until it’s smooth and it’s ready to spread between your cake layers.
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 a more intense vegan coconut icing, add 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract to the frosting.
Spread this over the top of the cake and the sides. You can also 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, from sweet to savory:
- This Vegan Coconut Cream Pie is amazing
- I love this Vegan Pumpkin Pie made with coconut milk
- These Almond Joy Bites make a delicious dairy-free treat
- Let’s get healthy with these Chocolate Chip Energy Bites with Coconut
- Everyone falls head over heels for these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies!
From sweet to savory, there’s so much you can do with coconut. I even use coconut water in my smoothie recipes.
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.
- To make a coconut oil cake recipe, substitute virgin coconut oil for the vegan butter
- Add coconut flakes to frosting while the frosting is 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
- If you want to make a coconut flour cake, I recommend substituting 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for coconut flour.
- Substitute gluten free baking flour for the all purpose flour to make a vegan gluten free coconut cake
- Add a tablespoon or two of rum to the batter to make coconut rum cake!
- You could toast the coconut flakes 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.
Serving Coconut Cake
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 fresh raspberries nearby as well.
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.
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
- 1 cup vegan butter , softened
- 1¾ 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
- 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 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.
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 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.
We recently updated the photos for this post. Here are some of the old images.