Coconut cupcakes are soft, fluffy cupcakes (I provide a both a from-scratch recipe and the option to use a box-mix!), topped off with a cream cheese based coconut buttercream frosting and then sprinkled with lightly toasted coconut!

Coconut cupcake unwrapped

I’m sure that pumpkin spice flavored everything is about to start rolling out at any moment now, but right now I’m taking the time to enjoy more tropical, summery flavors.  I’m currently obsessed with fresh fruit, pineapple upside-down cake, and, especially, coconut.  Particularly in the form of these easy coconut cupcakes.

For this recipe, I use coconut milk in the actual cupcakes, as well as in the frosting.  A small amount of coconut extract is added for the strongest coconut flavor, and everything is topped off with shredded coconut.  I prefer mine slightly toasted for a slight texture crunch against the creamy frosting and soft fluffy cupcake.

three coconut cupcakes on tray

These coconut cupcakes have quickly become one of my new favorite cupcakes (right next to my chocolate cupcakes or even lemon zucchini cupcakes).  You can use a white or vanilla box mix if you are in a rush, but be sure to add a half teaspoon of coconut extract into the batter before portioning it into your cupcake tins.

If you’re not in a rush, I highly recommend following my recipe for from-scratch coconut cupcake bases – it calls for coconut milk mixed with lemon juice, which serves nearly the same function as buttermilk and helps to make the cupcake bases extra light and fluffy.

coconut cupcake with bite taken out

If you are making your coconut cupcakes completely from scratch, do make sure to use all room-temperature ingredients and do not over-mix your ingredients – I always fold the wet ingredients into the dry by hand using a spatula rather than an electric mixer to ensure that they are not over-mixed, otherwise they may come out too dense or dry after baking.  When baking, make sure not to over-bake – when testing for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center.  It should come out with a few moist crumbs once the coconut cupcakes are finished baking.

Make them and let me know what you think!

Coconut cupcake unwrapped
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Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut cupcakes are soft, fluffy cupcakes (made from-scratch recipe or with a boxed mix!), topped off with a cream cheese based coconut buttercream frosting and then sprinkled with lightly toasted coconut!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Author Samantha
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  • ½ cup coconut milk room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • cup canola or vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut milk may substitute regular milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • toasted coconut for sprinkling on top optional


Coconut Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners.
  • Combine coconut milk and lemon juice in a large measuring glass and set aside.
  • In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter, oil, and sugar until ingredients are well-combined.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  • Stir in vanilla extract.
  • In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Gradually alternate adding coconut milk/lemon juice mixture and flour mixture until all ingredients are combined (TAKE CARE NOT TO OVER-MIX!).
  • Evenly divide cupcake batter into prepared muffin tin.
  • Bake on 350F for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  • Allow cupcakes to cool completely before covering with frosting.


  • In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Gradually add powdered sugar, until combined.
  • Add coconut milk until desired consistency is reached (don’t add too much milk or it will be too soft to pipe onto your cupcakes).
  • Stir in vanilla extract and coconut extract.
  • Pipe or spread frosting onto completely cooled cupcakes.
  • Sprinkle with toasted coconut (optional). Enjoy!


*You may substitute a box recipe for the cupcakes — Prepare according to instructions on box except stir in ½ teaspoon coconut extract before portioning into cupcake liners. A standard box-mix makes enough for 24 cupcakes so you will have to double the amount of frosting in order to have enough.
4.88 from 32 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 328 | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 85mg | Potassium: 107mg | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 255IU | Vitamin C: 0.6mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1.3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. I made your recipe, we absolutely loved it but I want to make a cake, by doubling the recipe should that work for a layered cake

    1. So happy you loved this recipe, Lucy! We haven’t tried it as a cake but other readers have with success. We would love to hear how it turns out for you with layering it!

  2. This is delicious but I was wondering if I can make the frosting while the cupcakes are in the oven and store the frosting in the fridge while I wait.4 stars

    1. This should be ok but if the frosting chills too long it can harden and be difficult to top the cupcakes.

  3. I want to make this recipe into a cake is it possible if I make a 6 inch cake with the same measurements?

    1. Hi Jiya, I would fill the cake pan ⅔ full and use the extra to make cupcakes to go along with it. I don’t think you would have enough for 2 6-inch cakes pans though.

  4. I made your Coconut Cupcakes for my friend’s 75th birthday and both the cupcake made from scratch and the frosting was excellent. I am looking forward to finding other recipes on your site.5 stars

  5. The texture of the cupcake was okay, however, the flavor tasted more like lemon than coconut; we did not like aftertaste.2 stars

    1. Hi Moraima, you could reduce the lemon juice or increase the coconut extract to adjust the flavor to your preference!

    1. Hi Alison, we only add the coconut flakes for garnish. The coconuty flavor in this recipe comes from the coconut milk in the batter and the coconut extract and milk in the frosting.