This is truly the best vegan coconut cake I’ve ever had! So moist and fluffy, and full of fresh coconut and vanilla with a dairy free coconut cream cheese frosting that just sets this coconut cake apart from the rest!

amazing vegan coconut cake

Why you’ll love this vegan coconut cake

I’m so beyond excited to share this vegan coconut cake with you. I’ve tested it several times, and man, do we have a winner. Even my nearly 80 year old Italian grandmother (read: she’s not accustomed to eating vegan and gluten free!) loved this coconut cake. So much so, she had a second slice!

I just know you’re going to absolutely fall in love with this coconut cake, and for a few reasons:

  1. This cake is the definition of super moist and fluffy. I’m talking feels-like-you’re-eating-a-cloud fluffy and tender. Trust me, “dry cake” will be nowhere near your thought pattern.
  2. It’s shockingly easy to make. Forget the notion that making a layered cake, heck a vegan layered cake is hard. This vegan coconut cake is the definition of easy, so whether you’re a pro or beginner, you’re going to love this cake.
  3. The dairy free coconut cream cheese frosting is out of this world. I could easily eat that frosting alone, but paired with the fluffy coconut cake full of toasted coconut, you’re going to see why this coconut cake is award winning!
  4. This vegan coconut cake is full of flavor. Don’t for a second think that vegan baking is flavorless. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. Not only will you be overwhelmed with the bursting fresh flavor of coconut at the first bite, but it’s also paired with a subtle yet lovely vanilla undertone that really makes you speechless. With a slight tang from the dairy free cream cheese, you’ll go back for another bite. Trust me, it’s worth the calories.
  5. You don’t have to be vegan to love this cake. Or bake it! If my nearly 80 year old grandmother, who hadn’t tasted a vegan treat until she was 77 years old, can say she loves this cake, then I’m certain anyone will!
fluffy vegan coconut cake slice on a plate

Ingredients

I really wanted to keep this vegan coconut cake super simple and easy for everyone, so you only need a few key ingredients here:

  • Flour: you can use cake flour, all purpose flour with a bit of arrowroot powder, gluten free 1:1 baking flour, or even oat flour with a bit of arrowroot powder as well (listed in the ingredients).
  • Sugar: I used granulated sugar here, but you can also use coconut sugar. Just keep in mind that your cake will be more tan in color!
  • Vegan butter: you can also use coconut oil here, which will give this cake a more coconut flavor. I used Flora Plant Butter for a nut-free coconut cake.
  • Coconut milk or coconut cream: use the coconut cream from the can. Your cake will come out extra rich and tender! If you can’t find coconut cream, full fat coconut milk will also work!
  • Applesauce: this replaces the eggs found in traditional coconut cake so this is an egg free coconut cake!
  • Coconut and vanilla extract: this vegan coconut cake actually has a lot of coconut flavor already, so if you’d prefer not to add in the coconut, you can omit it. I will say, the vanilla with the coconut is a really nice flavor though, so keep the vanilla in!
  • Leavening agents: but of course we need something to rise our cakes!
coconut cake ingredients

How to make a coconut cake from scratch (overview)

As with all of my recipes, the full recipe to this dairy free coconut cake is found down below in the recipe card, along with the full ingredient measurements. However, let’s have an overview of how to bake this vegan cake!

This vegan coconut cake is actually based off of my vegan vanilla cake- one of my favorite recipes on the blog to date. It’s so light and tender, yet full of flavor. Plus, my entire family just loves it (not to mention my readers of course!). So much like my vanilla cake recipe, there’s actually two methods we can use to make it: the stand mixer method or the by hand method.

vegan coconut cake batter

Just for the record, up until recently, I baked all of my cakes without a stand mixer. Yes, you can truly make an amazing vegan cake without any fancy equipment- I even created, tested, and photographed over 120 vegan desserts for my cookbook without even touching a stand mixer! So know that either method that you choose, you’ll get an amazing coconut cake, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.

Stand Mixer Method: the first step is to make sure that the flour and leavening agents are whisked together. Then you’ll cream together the vegan butter and sugar. Once the sugar is essentially dissolved into the butter, you’ll add in the applesauce, along with the vanilla and coconut extracts. Then you’ll gently sift in the flour, along with the coconut cream, mixing until there are no more dry streaks. Fold in the coconut flakes, pour into your cake pans and bake!

By Hand Method: this method is slightly different, but again, works amazingly still. To start, you’ll whisk together the dry ingredients (this time including the sugar). Add in the wet ingredients and fold together. Then fold in the coconut flakes. Pour into the cake pans and bake! That’s it!

Dairy free coconut cream cheese frosting

This dairy free coconut cream cheese frosting is arguably the best vegan frosting I’ve ever had.

It’s so good, I feel like I could just eat it with a spoon. In fact, I might have taken a few bites! This is what really sets this vegan coconut cake apart.

The cream cheese frosting is made with vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar, and coconut flakes. If the frosting needs a bit more liquid, I like to add in a little more coconut cream, which also gives a bit more of a coconut flavor.

Much like my other vegan frostings, you’ll simply cream together the vegan butter and cream cheese. Add in the powdered sugar, and cream again until fluffy! If you’d like, you an also toast the coconut, which we’ll go over in the next section.

slice of vegan coconut cake

How to toast coconut

You can, of course, use raw and unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes, but I personally think that the toasted coconut adds so much depth to this vegan coconut cake and sets the bar high.

If you’d like to add toasted coconut to both the cake batter and the tops of the cake, simply toast the coconut prior to baking.

Spread the coconut flakes onto a large baking sheet and place the sheet into the oven at 350F to toast for 5-6 minutes. You want to check on the coconut to ensure it hasn’t burnt or toasted too much. When it starts to smell aromatic is when it’s done.

finished vegan coconut cake

How to make a layer cake

If you’re new to The Banana Diaries, hi, hello, I absolutely love making layer cakes and I love teaching others to make layer cakes as well- vegan ones!

To make a three layered coconut cake, I like to use a few different tools. Always in my layer cake arsenal, I have:

  • Cake turntable
  • Offset spatula
  • Bench scraper
  • Cake stand

You can grab a few pipings tips and bags too if you’d like to do designs on your cakes, but I like to keep it simple for the most part.

If you’re a new vegan cake baker, not to worry. You do not need these tools to make a beautiful cake. In fact, the only one I really find necessary if you’re just looking for an elegant yet rustic cake is an offset spatula and a spoon (for creating swoops in frosting!).

assembling the vegan coconut cake

The bench scraper and cake turntable are wonderful tools if you’d like that crisp and clean edge on the cake. The turntable helps you to continuously frost the cake without breaking the streak. Wonderful if you’re giving this cake as a birthday gift or even making your own wedding cake!

To make a layer cake, I start with the first layer on the bottom. Add about 1/3-1/2 cup of frosting (I lean more towards the generous side) and sprinkle a little coconut on top.

Place the second layer on top and repeat.

Then frost the edges of the cake and gently press the coconut onto the sides.

Recipe Q+A

Can I make this into a vegan coconut sheet cake? Or a vegan coconut loaf?

Absolutely! If you’re making a sheet cake, simply pour the batter into your prepared sheet cake pan and bake. The timing might be a little longer, so just check the cake after 27 minutes with a toothpick to gage how ready it is. For a vegan coconut loaf, you’ll need two loaf pans, or you can cut this recipe in half!

How do I make this a gluten free vegan coconut cake?

The only ingredient you’ll need to swap out here is the flour. I absolutely love this coconut cake with oat flour and a bit of arrowroot powder. It works wonderfully. You can also use cornstarch in place of the arrowroot. Alternatively, I’ve tested this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1:1 baking flour, and it works wonderfully!

slice of vegan coconut cake

Can I make this into coconut cupcakes?

Definitely! Much like the sheet cake, you’ll just need to check on the timing of everything. These coconut cupcakes should take around 22-24 minutes to bake, so check around that time. You’ll yield about 24 cupcakes.

How do I store leftovers?

If, in the rare situation, you have any leftovers of this dairy free coconut cake (trust me, it’s that good!), you can easily store them for later. I like to store the cake as whole as it is (so assuming it’s already sliced, don’t slice it anymore) and cover it tightly to prevent any air.

Then place it into the fridge to keep for up to 5 days or the freezer for up to 3 months. It will also stay good at room temperature for up to 2-3 days!

slice of eaten vegan coconut cake

I hope you love this vegan coconut cake as much as I do! It’s truly just the most tender and deliciously light vegan cake I’ve had to date. If you try this recipe let me know down below in the comment section, as well as giving it a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This helps more people find this recipe, especially if you really liked it!

As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there!

Happy coconut cake baking!

More amazingly vegan cake recipes

Best ever vegan vanilla cake

Super moist vegan chocolate cake

Easy vegan chocolate sheet cake

Vegan red velvet cake

Secretly vegan white chocolate cake

Vegan lemon blueberry cake

Want to save this recipe for later? Add it to your favorite recipe board on Pinterest!

Super Moist Vegan Coconut Cake (Gluten Free Option!)

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!

Print
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fluffy vegan coconut cake slice on a plate

Super Moist Vegan Coconut Cake (Gluten Free Option)

  • Author: thebananadiaries
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 27
  • Total Time: 42 minutes
  • Yield: 16 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This is truly the best vegan coconut cake I’ve ever had! So moist and fluffy, and full of fresh coconut and vanilla with a dairy free coconut cream cheese frosting that just sets this coconut cake apart from the rest!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour, all-purpose flour or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour, sifted (do NOT skip- add in 1 tsp arrowroot powder if using all-purpose flour or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour, see Note)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut cream, from a can*
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened (stand mixer method) or melted (by hand method)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 cup coconut shreds, unsweetened

Vegan Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 cup vegan butter
  • 1 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 cup toasted coconut

Instructions

No equipment version:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease three 6″ or 8″ cake pans with olive or coconut oil.
  2. In a small bowl, melt the vegan butter or coconut oil and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, add coconut cream, vegan butter or coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and coconut extract together. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Fold in the coconut flakes.
  6. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until there are no more clumps of batter. If your cake batter looks a little dry, you can add in by the tablespoon a little more coconut cream.
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the cake pans.
  8. Place cake pans into the oven and bake for 22-24 minutes (for 6″) or 27-30 minutes (for 8″), or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a drying rack to cool completely before frosting.

Stand mixer or hand mixer version:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease three 6″ or 8″ cake pans with olive or coconut oil.
  2. Whisk together just the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Next, you’ll cream together the softened vegan butter and sugar until the sugar dissolves into the butter about 3 minutes. I used the flat beater paddle. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  4. Then add in the unsweetened applesauce vanilla and coconut extract, and continue to beat again on medium-low speed, then increasing it to medium speed until combine, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  5. Gradually add in half of the flour mixture, followed by half of the coconut cream, and continue beating until the entire flour mixture and the coconut cream are in the batter. Beat until the dry ingredients are just incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  6. Fold in the coconut flakes.
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the cake pans.
  8. Place cake pans into the oven and bake for 22-24 minutes (for 6″) or 27-30 minutes (for 8″), or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a drying rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. When ready to frost the cakes, add vegan butter and cream cheese to a large bowl or stand mixer and cream for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, continuing the beat the mixture until it’s a thick buttercream.
  3. Add in vanilla and 2-4 tablespoons of coconut cream or milk and continue to beat until desired texture.
  4. In between each layer, add 1/8 cup coconut flakes. Frost the rest of the cake and top with coconut flakes. Slice and enjoy!

Notes

*make sure to shake the coconut cream can before beginning. Sometimes the fat can separate from the water. Shaking the can will help everything combine.

Keywords: vegan coconut cake, dairy free coconut cake, eggless coconut cake, coconut cake recipe