Vegan Coconut Cake

This fluffy and flavorful vegan coconut cake has a light, tender and moist crumb – with no eggs or dairy needed! It’s delicious to slather with a rich, perfectly sweet vegan buttercream frosting and crunchy bits of toasted coconut. You’ll go nuts over this easy plant-based recipe for classic coconut cake!

slice of vegan coconut cake on plate

It’s hard to believe that tender and moist coconut cake can be eggless and dairy-free. But it’s true! A simple, foolproof vegan “buttermilk” mixture gives the cake a perfect rise and incredible crumb. This vegan coconut cake gets its delicious sweet and nutty flavor from a combo of vanilla and coconut extract, plus coconut oil for even richer taste and just the right cake texture.

This recipe is super easy to make, and is scrumptious prepared as a stacked layer cake, simple sheet cake, or sweet little cupcakes. To me, coconut screams summertime, so I love to make these treats for picnics, potlucks, or backyard cookouts. However or whenever you whip up this vegan coconut cake it is sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike!

ingredients for vegan coconut cake on marble background

Ingredients

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Coconut oil
  • Raw or granulated sugar
  • Coconut extract
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt

Note: Do not swap the almond milk with canned coconut milk! This is very important because coconut milk is far too oily and heavy. It won’t make the nice vegan buttermilk mixture which gives the cake it’s tender crumb.

I love to frost this coconut cake with a vegan buttercream and toasted coconut for even more coconut-ty goodness. To make a perfect tried-and-true vegan frosting you need:

  • Plant-based butter: I like Miyokos or Earth Balance or Country Crock Plant Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Plus coconut flakes for topping
coconut in cake batter in mixing bowl

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN COCONUT CAKE

It’s easy to make this vegan version of classic coconut cake in under an hour!

  1. The first step is to make the vegan “buttermilk” from scratch: To do so, combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a glass mixing cup. Stir, and let sit for 5-10 minutes until it looks foamy and a bit lumpy. This means that the buttermilk has curdled, which creates a thick plant-based milk to help the cake rise and stay moist. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the buttermilk is doing its curdling thing.
  2. When the vegan buttermilk is ready, add the sugar, coconut and vanilla extracts, and melted coconut oil to the mixing cup. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Next, in a large bowl whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Slowly pour the sugar and buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, and gently stir to combine. Blend completely, but take care to not over mix the cake batter!
coconut cake batter in cake pan

HOW LONG TO BAKE EGGLESS AND DAIRY-FREE COCONUT CAKE

To make 24 cupcakes (fill about 3/4 of the way): Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For a 9 inch layered cake (fill two 2.5 inch tall cake pans about 3/4 of the way): Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

To make a 9×13 inch sheet cake: Bake 25-30 minutes. Note that metal or glass pans will vary the cook time. Start the cake at the lower end of the suggested cook time and keep your eye on it. Give the cake 2-3 minute increments more baking time until your toothpick comes out clean.

hands frosting coconut cake with vanilla frosting

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST VEGAN BUTTERCREAM-STYLE FROSTING

For the best frosting consistency, make sure that your plant-based butter is room temperature and slightly soft.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the butter until a little fluffy (30 seconds-ish). Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the frosting is creamy and fluffy. You want it to be stiff enough to stand up on the mixer paddle or beaters.

Now add vanilla extract, and beat for another minute or so. Add a bit of powdered sugar if the frosting is too loose. Continue to beat until it’s reached just the right consistency. Use a spatula or piping bags to cover the completely cooled cake or cupcakes with the frosting.

Tip: After frosting, I like to cover the cake with coconut flakes to give this cake more coconut flavor! You can even toast the coconut flakes too if you prefer.

overhead shot of coconut cake

VEGAN COCONUT CAKE RECIPE TIPS

  • You definitely need to use cake flour for this recipe. It’s what creates just the right fluffy, light and tender texture without any eggs. To make your own cake flour sift together 1 cup of regular all-purpose flour – minus 2 tablespoons of flour – with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. For the best results sift the flour and cornstarch twice to evenly distribute the cornstarch and break up any lumps. For this recipe you need 3.5 cups of flour, so that’s minus 7 tablespoons of flour and plus 7 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  • Cake pan thicknesses can vary. High sided bakery-style cake pans need twice the batter. This recipe was written for standard 9 inch layer cake pans. If you need to double the recipe, increase the baking time by a few minutes but keep your eyes on the cake to ensure it does not over bake.
  • The homemade vegan buttercream frosting recipe is enough for 24 cupcakes. However, if piping icing onto cupcakes with a large tip you will likely want to double the icing recipe.
  • For easy toasted coconut, simply bake coconut shavings on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. They will burn quickly so watch the coconut closely!
close up of coconut cake with slice taken out

STORAGE SUGGESTIONS

Homemade vegan coconut cake will keep well at room temperature for up to 3 days. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap, or keep in a sealed container.

For longer storage, you can keep the covered or sealed cake in the refrigerator for up to a week. However, the vegan buttercream will harden slightly in the fridge… So I suggest that you let the cake rest at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes before serving.

Freeze coconut cake for up to 3 months after tightly wrapping in plastic wrap and sealing in an airtight bag. Make the buttercream fresh when you’re ready to enjoy though for the best taste.

fork going into a slice of coconut cake

If you tried this vegan coconut cake recipe, let me know in the comments below and share a photo using #mindfulavocado. I’d love to hear from you! Want to see more recipes? Let’s get social! CONNECT WITH ME on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Pinterest to see what I’m currently cooking up!

Vegan Coconut Cake

Fluffy and flavorful vegan coconut cake is tender and moist, and perfect with vegan buttercream frosting and crunchy bits of coconut flakes.
Print Pin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vegan buttercream frosting, vegan cake recipe, vegan coconut cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 28 minutes
Total Time: 58 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 461kcal
Author: Amanda

Ingredients

For the Coconut Cake:

  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 cups cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted; be sure it's unrefined
  • 3.5 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes plus more for topping

For the Frosting:

  • 8 ounces vegan butter softened (I use Earth Balance or Country Crock Plant Butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar use organic to ensure it's vegan

Tools:

Instructions

To Make the Cake:

  • Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and set aside. See notes to make cupcakes or sheet pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Allow it to sit for 5-10  minutes until it looks curdled.
  • After you let the milk sit, add the sugar, coconut extract, vanilla extract, and oil to the mixing bowl and mix together until the sugar is dissolved.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  • Slowly pour in the wet mixture and mix with rubber spatula. Do not over mix.
  • Add coconut flakes and fold them into the cake batter.
  • Divide batter evenly among both cake pans. Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove cake from the oven and let cool before transferring to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely before assembling!

To Make the Frosting:

  • Whip the softened butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer until a little fluffy (about 30 seconds). Start to add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until frosting is fluffy and well incorporated. I used 4 cups.
  • Add in 2 Tablespoons of almond milk and vanilla. If you need more liquid, add the last Tablespoon of almond milk.
  • You’ll know it’s ready when it has a light fluffy texture that stands up nicely on the end of the whisk.

Assemble Cake:

  • Once cakes are cooled, add 1 cake to a cake stand and frost a thin layer on top using a butter knife or frosting knife.
  • Carefully place the second cake on top of the frosted cake and frost the top and sides of both cakes.
  • Cover tops and sides of cake with coconut flakes.

Video

Notes

For cupcakes: (fill 3/4 of the way): bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
For 9 inch Cake: fill about 3/4 of the way (note this is for a regular 9-inch cake pan that is around 2 inches tall): Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. 
For 9×13 inch Sheet Cake– Bake 25-30 minutes. Please note that glass or metal pans will vary in cook time. You should watch the cake by setting it to the lower end of the cooking instructions and give it 2-3 minute increments until your toothpick comes out clean. I used a dark non-stick metal pan and mine was done in 25 minutes. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice (1/12 cake) | Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 67.8g | Protein: 5.3g | Fat: 14.1g | Saturated Fat: 234g | Sodium: 234mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 48g | Calcium: 162mg | Iron: 2mg

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