Coconut Layer Cake

This coconut layer cake is made up of delicate, moist vanilla cake layers, creamy coconut filling, and a fluffy seven-minute frosting. On top is a sprinkling of shredded coconut. An excellent cake for any celebration.

A white coconut layer cake, with 7-minute frosting topped with shredded coconut on a green cake stand

Allysa has had this coconut layer cake recipe for years. It’s originally from a woman named Kathy who lives in the Midwest. It’s a wonderful cake and has become one of the all-time favorites among customers at the Magnolia Bakery.

–David Leite

How long will my coconut cake last?

This cake is best served the day it’s filled and frosted. But if we’re to be honest, we’ve had a slice 48 hours later, and it was perfectly fine. Or if you’re anticipating making it in advance, you can wrap and freeze the unfrosted layers for up to 4 months.

Coconut layer cake with white meringue frosting topped with shredded coconut on a white cake stand on a red table

Coconut Layer Cake

A white coconut layer cake, with 7-minute frosting topped with shredded coconut on a green cake stand
This coconut layer cake is made up of delicate, moist vanilla cake layers, creamy coconut filling, and a fluffy seven-minute frosting. On top is a sprinkling of shredded coconut. An excellent cake for any celebration.

Prep 45 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
12 servings
632 kcal
4.84 / 12 votes
Print RecipeBuy the The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook cookbook

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For the cake

  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One (7-ounce) package sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the garnish

  • Sweetened shredded coconut for sprinkling


Make the coconut layer cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and lightly flour three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
  • In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and then add them to the batter in 4 additions, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Divide the batter among the cake pans.
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Make the coconut filling

  • In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the milk with the sugar and the flour until thoroughly combined. Cook and stir constantly over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the coconut and then stir in the vanilla extract. Cool to room temperature.
  • When the coconut cake has cooled, spread half the filling between the first 2 layers of cake, then the other half between the second and third layers. There. You’ve assembled the cake.  Now make the frosting, which needs to be used immediately after it’s mixed.

Make the meringue frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and the vanilla extract.
  • In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the water with the sugar and the cream of tartar. As the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, stir once to make sure the sugar is dissolved completely, then let it come to a rolling boll, which will take 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat.
  • Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and the vanilla extract on medium-high speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
  • Without turning off the mixer, pour the sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Continue beating constantly on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form but the frosting is still creamy. Frost top and sides of cake immediately, being generous with your swoops and swirls and flourishes. Generously sprinkle the top of the cake with shredded coconut. Originally published April 21, 1999.
Print RecipeBuy the The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 632kcal (32%)Carbohydrates: 100g (33%)Protein: 8g (16%)Fat: 24g (37%)Saturated Fat: 16g (100%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 104mg (35%)Sodium: 232mg (10%)Potassium: 283mg (8%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 76g (84%)Vitamin A: 630IU (13%)Vitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 99mg (10%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

It’s hard to put into words just how wonderful this cake is. It’s moist, sweet, rich, and just pure decadence. I shared a slice with my goddaughter, and she said, “It’s so good that it doesn’t make sense!” It really is!

The filling was amazing and the frosting tastes SO good. (And I will admit that I sampled quite a bit of the frosting before it made it on the cake!) You make the frosting like you would an Italian meringue, except you don’t add any butter. It tastes like the best marshmallow you have ever tasted! The recipe was spot on as written; the only deviation I made was to toast the coconut before putting it on the cake, which gave it a somewhat nutty taste that was really well received.

I always use a little of the batter to make a single cupcake so that I can taste the cake without having to cut into it, and I can tell you this recipe makes a really nice cupcake, too. I added a small layer of the filling to the top of the cupcake, then I added the frosting and the toasted coconut, and it turned out really cute! I can’t wait for another reason to make this cake again, as this is the kind of cake you need to make with an intent to share, otherwise you could definitely eat this entire cake by yourself.



  1. Sorry if this is a silly question, but why doesn’t the cake ingredients not include Baking soda or baking powder or both? Every other coconut cake recipe has those as apart of the ingredients.

    1. It’s not a silly question, Hyedi. Self rising flour has baking powder in it, so that’s where it’s hiding in the ingredients list.

  2. 5 stars
    This coconut cake is delightfully delicious. The frosting is fantastic! I made it last December for my 50th Birthday celebration and my family and friends loved it.

    1. That is absolutely gorgeous, Sylvia! Thank you for taking the time to share your photo and experience with us.

  3. 5 stars
    Has anyone ever tried to add chocolate to the frosting? I saw another 7 minute type frosting that said to melt 3 oz chocolate, let it cool and then blend it in after stiff peaks have formed but wasn’t confident it wouldn’t ruin the consistency of the frosting. Thanks.

    1. Julie, we haven’t tried this, so we really can’t say if it would work. I think you’re right to be concerned that any extra ingredients may impact the consistency of the frosting. If any of our readers have tried this, please do let us know.

  4. 5 stars
    This is the best cake ever! I really enjoyed preparing it. I have been baking for years , and quite good at it. But this is a very different cake mix and a pleasure to create.

  5. Has anyone made cupcakes with this recipe? I love this cake, but am I am wondering if I can use the filling to fill cupcakes instead of making a layer cake. I am making this for work, so cupcakes are just easier.


    1. Felicia, I personally haven’t, but many people have made cupcakes from the recipe. The filling is quite thick, so you won’t be able to pipe it into the center. You can try thinning the filling with a bit more milk, but we haven’t tested it that way, so I can’t guarantee the results.

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