Coconut Lime Macadamia Cake

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.

A slice of coconut lime macadamia cake on a yellow plate with a fork resting beside it

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. Originally published April 21, 2005.David Leite

Coconut-Lime Macadamia Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (7)
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • Makes one 9-inch cake
5/5 - 7 reviews
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  • For the cake
  • For the lime glaze


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.

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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!


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  1. 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.

  2. Pack your patience, give yourself plenty of time, and enjoy the process. It’s all worth it! This cake is DELICIOUS! After reading the reviews, I doubled the glaze. SO good! Thank you, David, for another winner!

  3. I made this cake twice. I live in Santa Fe at an altitude of 7,500 feet—which requires a few changes in baking recipes. First, at this altitude, whipping egg whites to the stiff peak stage can make for a tough crumb so I generally do not go that far and limit myself to soft peaks.

    The flavor of this cake is terrific, but to get the level of lightness and tenderness the comments reflect, I added one egg’s worth of white. That said, I think this recipe ranks with the orange cake David developed and which is my all-time favorite.

  4. 1. I live in Morelia, Michoacán. Macadamia, sugar cane, and limón are grown extensively here, which makes the ingredients in the cake ideal for a locally grown dessert.

    2. The cake is completely simple to make and your directions are impeccable.

    3. At my altitude, it cooked a little faster than I would have liked; next time I will check it at 30 minutes. The sides and top are a bit too brown, but hey…

    4. Mexico does not grow lemons, so I made it with Key lime juice and zest. I have so far tasted just the glaze. Marvelous, tart and sweet and delicious!

    5. I don’t own a food processor, so I made the nut “flour” in my blender. I whizzed a third of the nuts and a third of the flour mixture, then the second third, then the last–each layer on top of the other–and it worked like a charm.

    This cake was out-of-this-world delicious. The sweet and tangy glaze, the macadamia/coconut/limón batter! The moist texture, and the way the cake soaked up the glaze that drizzled onto the plate. OMG. Everyone who tasted it (and believe me, there’s not one crumb left) thought it was stupendous

    Thank you, thank you, this will be a go-to for sure.

    1. Christina, I’m delighted you like the recipe. It’s been on the site for a long, long time and never got any love. we were THIS CLOSE to removing it. So I took a new picture and WHAM!–new fans.

  5. This recipe is a winner! It was simple to make, behaved well, and everyone liked it—even my son who doesn’t usually eat anything with nuts. The lime zest really made the dish. In my humble opinion, though, a microplane zester is an essential tool in the prep of the cake. The coconut was not a strong flavor, but definitely enlivened the taste of the cake. I will make this again soon.

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