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The Easiest Coconut Cake Recipe Ever

I have a confession: I love ALL things coconut (especially coconut cake). I could probably sit and eat a bowl of coconut flakes as a snack. Seriously, that’s how much I love coconut. For some reason, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the idea of baking a coconut cake though. I don’t know why, but I have put off making a coconut cake for years because it just seemed like such a big undertaking. 

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A few years ago, I decided to bite the bullet and make a cream of coconut cake for dessert. This is probably the easiest cake recipe on my blog, and it is so delicious.

How to Make Coconut Cake

No need for coconut extract or a fancy layer cake to get your fix, coconut lovers. This Is the best coconut cake recipe you’ll find and it uses simple ingredients (hello, box mix) you can easily find at a grocery store to make the perfect coconut cake for a baby shower, holiday celebration, or just to enjoy after a long week. Coconut cream poke cake… just the name makes your mouth water, doesn’t it?

coconut cake batter in a kitchen aid mixer

First, visit the baking aisle and pick out your favorite white boxed cake mix. Preheat the oven then prepare it according to the box instructions. Easy enough so far, right?

Pop the cake into the preheated oven. You’ll want to make sure the cake batter is cooked all the way through by making sure a knife or cake tester comes out clean when you poke it.

I used these adorable snowflake molds to make my cakes this time- they are so festive and fun. However, normally I would just use a 9×13″ rectangle glass dish for the cake. You can also use round cake pans or any other configuration you like!

As soon as the cake is out of the oven, take a fork and start poking holes in the warm cake. Yes, holes. Poke them everywhere- especially around the edges for even coverage. This is step is important!

coconut cake cut into snowflakes

Next, leave the cake to cool on a cooling rack. You can leave it in your pan.

I removed the snowflakes from the mold and cooled them on a wire rack because they were easier to handle that way. I’m also not going to serve them in the molds.

Now the fun begins! Mix Sweetened Condensed Milk with cream of coconut. Make sure you use cream of coconut. Not coconut milk. Not coconut water. Or anything else other than cream of coconut!

cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk in white mixing bowl with silver fork

Pour the coconut mixture over the top of your cake. Make sure the whole cake is saturated.

Although we set the simple coconut cake aside to cool, it can still be warm during this process. I have tried both ways and the process worked just fine either way.

coconut mixture getting poured on top of coconut cake snowflakes

Cover and place the airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (at least 3 hours). For best results, let the cake rest overnight.

coconut cake snowflake covered in coconut mixture

Once you have let the cream of coconut mixture infuse into your cake, it’s time to add your “icing”. Make sure that you use thawed (leave it in the fridge overnight) cool whip topping with a rubber spatula to evenly spread the frosting.

coconut cake snowflake topped with cool whip

Sprinkle shredded coconut over the top of the frosted cake and enjoy!

Now wasn’t that easy? This is not only an easy coconut cake recipe but it’s so delicious!

four coconut cake snowflakes on white plate with coconut icing and flakes on top

This easy coconut cake recipe is often called a pantry cake because you can keep most of the ingredients in your pantry. Then whenever you have a craving for a coconut cake, or you need to make a dessert and don’t have time to run to the store to gather ingredients. 

What’s the difference between coconut water, coconut milk, cream of coconut, and coconut cream? 

Coconut water is the clear juice that is found inside of the coconut. It does have a coconut flavor, and many health benefits. Coconut milk is the opaque white juice or “milk” that is extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts. 

Cream of coconut is a mixture of sugar and coconut pulp, in fact, it’s the main ingredient of a perfect pina colada. Coconut cream is really just coconut milk with extra coconut solids which makes it easy to whip into a high-fat, thick, creamy substance. 

Can you substitute cream of coconut with coconut cream?

Not for this recipe, and probably not for any recipe, because they are different ingredients. The cream of coconut is sweet and syrupy, and coconut cream is thick and not very sweet at all. 

Can you use homemade whipped cream for the frosting? 

While you can make homemade whipped cream for the frosting of this cake it is not the best choice for this recipe. Homemade whipped cream can separate which may cause your beautiful cake to fall apart. The store bought whipped cream is a little more stable and will work best for this coconut cake. 

Where do you find cream of coconut? 

Cream of coconut is often found on the aisle with alcoholic drink mixers because people use it to make pina Coladas. It does not contain any alcohol, that is just where many stores keep it. If you don’t find it there, try the Asian food aisle. 

Do I have to use a fork to poke holes in the cake? 

Of course not! If you have made a poke cake before you know that there are lots of different ways to make holes in your cake. You can use the handle of a wooden spoon, skewers, a toothpick, or a fork. Just make sure your cake has plenty of holes so that the liquid can soak in thoroughly to make a deliciously moist cake.

Can I use a yellow box cake mix? 

Of course! Some people don’t find the yellow box cake to be as visually appealing as the white cake, but the flavor is still going to be delicious and coconut! Use what you have on hand! 

Can you use a homemade white cake recipe? 

Yes, if you have a favorite homemade white cake recipe then you can absolutely make a white sheet cake from scratch. After you have baked it, poke your holes and follow the rest of the recipe as written. 

Variation for more coconut flavor

If you want to give your coconut cake even more coconut flavor, you can replace the water that the white cake mix calls for with coconut milk. Use the same amount of coconut milk as the directions call for water. This cake is delicious either way, so if you don’t have coconut milk on hand your cake will still be amazing. 

Can I toast the coconut for the top of the cake? 

If you like toasted coconut flakes, then sure, go ahead and toast them in the oven for a few minutes before you put them on the top of the cake. 

This easy coconut cake recipe is sure to be a hit with anyone who loves coconut. Perfect for serving during the holidays, or at a summer BBQ, it is an all around delicious and flavorful cake that is great year round! 

four coconut cake snowflakes on white plate with coconut icing and flakes on top
coconut cake cut into snowflakes
Yield: 12 servings

The Easiest Coconut Cake Recipe Ever


  • 1 Boxed White Cake Mix
  • 1/2 Cup of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 1/3 Cup of Cream Of Coconut
  • 1 16 oz Tub of Whipped Topping
  • 2 Cups of Shredded Coconut


    1. Prepare Cake Mix According to Instructions on Box
    2. Bake Cake Mix
    3. Remove from Oven and poke holes all over the cake with a fork
    4. Mix cream of coconut and Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk together in a bowl
    5. Pour mixture over cake
    6. Refrigerate for 3 hours (over night is preferable)
    7. Ice with whipped topping and sprinkle shredded coconut over the top
    8. Enjoy!

Want More Dessert Ideas?

Check out my all of my delicious dessert recipes!

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