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.–David Leite

A coconut lime macadamia cake on a green platter with one slice cut out and placed on a yellow plate

Coconut Lime Macadamia Cake

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

Prep 20 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour 10 minutes
8 servings
400 kcal
5 / 10 votes
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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.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 400kcal (20%)Carbohydrates: 45g (15%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 24g (37%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 123mg (41%)Sodium: 69mg (3%)Potassium: 193mg (6%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 37g (41%)Vitamin A: 180IU (4%)Vitamin C: 2mg (2%)Calcium: 53mg (5%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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.

Originally published May 13, 2019


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  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.

  2. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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.

    1. Diane, thanks so much for sharing your altitude baking tips! Greatly appreciate it. And thrilled that you love this recipe as much as our testers and David do!

  4. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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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