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!
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.
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.
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!
- ½ cup coconut milk room temperature
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- ⅓ 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
- 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!
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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These are so delicious! I made them for our sons birthday. I made the from scratch recipe. I must say I am happy/sad they make 1 dozen , otherwise I would have eaten more.
To make a double batch or not make a double batch is the question Diane… We are definitely rooting for the second batch! Enjoy :)
Made these cupcakes for a church gathering recently. They were a hit! A dozen was not enough, so definitely a double batch for next time. I did use coconut cream in place of milk. Oh, and the frosting…words can not describe the yumminess. Thanks so much for posting!
Ooh! Good idea on subbing in the coconut cream Kristina! That would be delicious.
I will never use another recipe again. Easy to follow and guaranteed to please.
So happy to share this recipe with you Arlene! Thanks!
These cupcakes are moist, light, fluffy, just right sweet. So delicious. Thanks a bunch for sharing.
So glad you loved them Jenn!
hi, are they any substitutes for coconut milk? totally forgot it at the store
I haven’t tried it but I do think milk/light cream will work in this recipe. Let us know how it goes!
Great recipe!!! I used buttermilk instead of butter and sugar cane! Worked great
We love it x
Happy that you love these coconut cupcakes so much!
Is the coconut milk in a can or one you drink readily in a carton?
This would be coconut milk in a can.
Really great recipe. Cupcakes were nice and fluffy and tasted great. Next time I’ll probably add more coconut extract and lessen the vanilla.
So glad you loved them Kathy!
Hi! I was wondering would heavy cream be ok as a substitute instead of coconut milk?
I’ve have only made this as written. Let us know how it works out if you try it.
Oh my gosh! I am a freaking coconut addict, coconut cake is one of my most favorite desserts of all time. Your coconut cupcakes look amazing and I will definitely be trying them.
I love how the coconut is woven throughout these cupcakes. And I just love coconut in general so these sound amazing!
I am with you, the pumpkin spice everything can wait a little longer, there still are beautiful berries at the market or beautiful fresh flavors like your coconut cupcakes. They look so moist and delicious!
Love how fluffy and airy these cupcakes look. Gotta make them soon.
Cream cheese AND coconut frosting…. I NEED. I love all the flavors of these cupcakes!
I love the coconut flavor! You make it really part of the cupcake, not just somethign sprinkled over the top!
These are SO pretty!
i just love these cupcakes and they are so light and fluffy. Cant wait to try.
I love coconut cake and I really love that you added coconut milk to the cream cheese frosting. It sounds so yummy.
i love all things coconut…i would love to make this recipe sometime soon.
Mmmm. Does this look yummy! I love coconut and these cupcakes look so fluffy and delicious!! I can’t wait to try them.
Growing up in the tropics we had everything with coconut. There was rice with coconut, octopus in coconut sauce, coconut ice cream and I could go on. I still love coconut and I need to make these for my family.