This coconut lime macadamia cake flaunts the classic tropical combo of lime and coconut and, because I love to overdo things, it’s also gilded with macadamia nuts. The cake is surprisingly light and fluffy despite also being incredibly satisfying. A drizzle of sweet-tart citrus icing balances the richness to impossible-to-resist effect.–David Leite

A coconut lime macadamia cake on a green platter with one slice cut out and placed on a yellow plate
A slice of coconut lime macadamia cake on a yellow plate with a fork resting beside it

Coconut Lime Macadamia Cake

5 / 10 votes
This coconut lime macadamia cake, adapted from a recipe by Aussie chef Bill Granger, is a simple dessert with ample tropical flavor that’s light and fluffy and made complete with a sweet-tart citrus icing.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories400 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


For the cake

  • Baking spray or butter
  • 7 ounces raw unsalted whole macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 2 limes
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, well-packed

For the lime glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt


Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line the bottom of a 9-by-2-inch cake pan or springform pan with parchment and generously coat with the baking spray or butter.
  • Dump the macadamia nuts, flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground but not paste-like and the mixture clumps together along the side of the bowl. Press a clump between your fingers; it should feel moist and stick together sorta like wet sand.
  • Add the granulated sugar and zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix for 30 seconds to release the essential oil from the zest.
  • Plop the egg yolks in the sugar mixture and beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and creamy, 3 minutes.
  • Gently fold the coconut and the nut mixture into the egg mixture.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: The batter will be thick. Panic not. That's how it's supposed to be.

  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. This can take several minutes. Stay calm and keep beating. Using a spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter.
  • Spoon the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden and firm to the touch.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool it in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Make the lime glaze

  • As the cake cools, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lime juice, zest, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl until smooth and glossy.
  • Turn the cake onto a cake stand or platter so the smooth bottom is facing up. Slather the glaze over the warm cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides. Devour.


Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 400 kcalCarbohydrates: 45 gProtein: 7 gFat: 24 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 16 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 123 mgSodium: 69 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 37 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 David Leite. Photos © 2019 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This cake combines three of my most favorite ingredients: coconut, lime, and macadamia nuts. It’s a dense cake and what I would consider a coffee cake. I like the texture of the nuts and coconut because it allows you to discern each flavor separately. The very simple glaze adds just a bit of sweetness and more lime flavor.

The mixture prior to adding the egg whites is very thick and sticky and the use of a metal spoon to mix in the whites is a must. It does take a few minutes to combine the two, but it will come together and the whites will deflate some but the cake will rise nicely in the oven.

This Coconut Lime Macadamia Cake is so light and fluffy. This was a slam dunk of a cake. We loved the icing in particular and agreed that we would consider doubling the amount of icing next time because we wanted more. The cake is delicious and I liked it better the second time that I made it.

The first time I made it, I used my stand mixer for the egg whites and my hand mixer for the egg yolk mixer. (I only have one stand mixer bowl right now). This worked perfectly.

It was so nice to find a recipe that made just a single 9-inch cake as it’s much more manageable for 2 people than a large layer cake. And it was so much simpler to make! Every step of the recipe worked exactly as written for us.

Watch the cake, as ours was finished in about 35 minutes instead of 40. Enjoy!

First of all, my kitchen smells AMAZING after making this recipe. I am so happy I made this cake. I had no idea what to expect as this cake is mostly macadamia nuts and eggs. And I was so surprised with the results!

After quickly and easily assembling the batter and tossing this in the oven, I was stunned at how much it rose. The cake I ended up with was moist, light, and fluffy. The texture had a beautiful crumb and tasted divine. The glaze was perfect. So simple and yet it packed such a punch.

This is definitely a cake I would bring to a summer pot luck or dinner party. Especially because the flavors are so special without being fussy.

I love the texture of this cake. I don’t know if this was a happy accident, but I couldn’t get a totally uniform grind on the macadamia nuts. It really makes the cake! The macadamia nut flavor makes for a very unique cake as well. More than one person asked me what spices I added because the coconut, lime, and macadamia come together for an altogether different experience.

I made the cake twice because I liked it so well the first time. I felt it needed a little more icing. In the second iteration, I ground the nuts more uniformly but still had some textured bits. I liked it this way and wouldn’t change it. Also, I doubled the icing the second go-around and it was awesome!

A recipe needs to be really good when it uses the stand mixer and the food processor, dirties every dish in the kitchen, and requires you separate and then beat egg whites. I loved the flavor. The macadamia nuts, coconut, and lime worked well together and didn’t taste like an annoying cocktail. The cake was pleasantly nutty and the lime flavor was just enough. The coconut was understated. The cake had the right sweetness and all the flavors were lovely and balanced.

And the cake is still delicious the day after baking. The glaze soaks in a bit more, which is fine. It’s taunting me from the other room.

When processing the nuts, pulse until they turn to peas and pulse, pulse, pulse until the clumps form. The clumps will stick together when you press between your fingers. Try not to play with it because it will remind you of Play-Doh.

Speaking of the whites, I whipped them in my mixer. Three minutes. Due to a really excited preschooler (something about a video showing a bunch of whoopee cushions; I cannot make this up) the egg whites were a bit overbeaten. The earth kept spinning and I noticed no ill effects while smashing the cake into my pie hole.

At 35 minutes, the cake was domed and golden, but didn’t spring back when I touched it. I pulled it out at 38 minutes since it was getting darker than I wanted it to be. My springform pan is a dark pan and I was worried about overbrowning.

The cake fell dramatically while cooling in the pan over those 10 minutes. I worried it would be super dense but it wasn’t.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This cake turned out so well. It is incredibly moist and perfectly dense. The instructions are easy to follow too. I used a bit more lime juice and the rind from only one lime but it turned out nicely and not too overpowering. You cant taste the macadamia too much so next time will add more. Coconut was perfect amount. I may add more baking powder and flour too so it rises more. I stored mine out of the fridge to keep it moist. Will definitely make again and maybe with almonds instead.

    1. I’m so glad this turned out spectacularly for you, Yasmin. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us.