Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

The most decadent, moist, and easy Coconut Cream Cake makes a perfect dessert for Easter, Christmas, or any other special occasion! Best of all, this simple coconut poke cake starts with a cake mix and doesn’t require any fancy layers or stacking. Prep it ahead for a festive, fancy, and delicious sweet treat!

A slice of coconut cream cake, frosted with a vanilla coconut icing on a blue plate with a silver fork slicing off a bite.
Table of Contents
  1. What is Coconut Cream Cake?
  2. Coconut Cream Cake Ingredients
  3. How to Make Coconut Cream Cake
  4. Preparation and Storage Tips
  5. Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations
  6. More Easy Cake Recipes:
  7. Coconut Cream Cake Recipe

A classic Southern coconut cake has been my favorite dessert for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, the time-consuming treat wasn’t something that I indulged in regularly because it just seemed too daunting and complicated to make from scratch. Instead, I created the ultimate coconut cake recipe that takes advantage of some store-bought shortcuts. It’s perfect for those of us who want to enjoy a delicious dessert without spending all day in the kitchen!

Dare I say, this Coconut Cream Cake is the best cake I’ve ever eaten?! Yep…better than the traditional layer cake, this sheet cake is so moist (thanks to cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk), you get rich, buttery coconut flavor in every bite…and not a dry crumb in sight!

What is Coconut Cream Cake?

This easy coconut cream cake is a yellow sheet cake that is soaked with cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk for a moist, rich, and creamy coconut poke cake that is quite similar to a tres leches cake. The dense, rich cake is topped with a light, fluffy Cool Whip frosting and sprinkled with another dusting of sweetened coconut. It’s so easy to prepare with the help of a boxed cake mix, and you can make it well in advance of your celebration to avoid any last-minute stress.

Two slices of coconut cream cake served on blue and white plates with silver forks.

Coconut Cream Cake Ingredients

Let’s start with the cake! You’ll need the following ingredients…

Ingredients for a semi-homemade coconut cake - sweetened coconut flakes, yellow cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil - laid out on a marble countertop/

How to Make Coconut Cream Cake

Mix the cake ingredients together on high speed for 2 minutes, and then gently fold in the coconut. Transfer the batter to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Coconut cake batter in a metal cake pan, sitting on a marble counter.

Coconut Cream Cake Filling

The creamy filling is what sets this cake apart from the rest of the coconut cakes you may have tried in the past! Here’s what you’ll need:

Don’t confuse cream of coconut with coconut milk or coconut cream. You do not want to use coconut milk or coconut cream in this recipe. While coconut milk has the liquid consistency of cow’s milk and is made from simmering one part shredded coconut in one part water, cream of coconut is rich, thick, and sweet — similar to sweetened condensed milk. It’s made with coconut milk, sugar, and other thickening agents. Find a can of coconut cream in the Hispanic foods section of your grocery store. It’s often used in Latin desserts, piña coladas, and other creamy drinks, or in ice cream.

A can of Sweetened condensed milk and a can of cream of coconut sit on a marble countertop.

To prepare the filling for the cake, simply whisk together the cream of coconut and the sweetened condensed milk until combined.

While the cake is still warm, use a fork to poke holes all over the top of the cake. Then slowly pour the milk mixture over the cake, using a spatula to spread it into the holes. It looks like a lot of liquid, but trust me — the cake will absorb all of that creamy filling as it sits!

Coconut cream cake filling, made with sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut, mixed together in a glass measuring cup with a small whisk.

Coconut Cream Cake Frosting

I considered topping this cake with a traditional cream cheese frosting that you’ll typically find on Southern layer cakes; however, I think this particular cake is best with a simple light and fluffy Cool Whip frosting. The whipped topping is a nice not-too-sweet, not-too-heavy contrast to balance out the rich, dense cake.

Two containers of sugar free cool whip stacked on top of each other, next to a measuring cup filled with sweetened coconut flakes.

With a final touch of coconut on top, it’s dessert perfection!

A single slice of coconut cream cake served on a blue and white plate with a silver fork.

Preparation and Storage Tips

This dessert can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. It just gets better as it chills! Coconut cream cake needs to be refrigerated, and leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

The coconut poke cake can be frozen before adding the frosting on top. Simply cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. I do not recommend freezing leftover coconut cream cake, since the texture of the whipped topping will be off when thawed.

Two slices of coconut cream cake served on plates with forks, next to a cake pan.

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations

  • Make sure to keep the cake refrigerated before and after serving.
  • For a golden, deeper flavor, you can toast (and cool) the shredded coconut before adding it to the top of the cake.
  • While it will have a slightly different taste, you can substitute a white cake mix for the yellow cake mix.
  • Any variety of Cool Whip (or other whipped topping will work here) — sugar-free, lite, or regular. Just make sure that you use 2 small containers or 1 large container to equal about 16 ounces.
Two slices of coconut cream cake served on blue plates. A fork holds a bite of cake, resting on the edge of the plate.

More Easy Cake Recipes:

Fork digging into a slice of easy moist coconut cream cake

Coconut Cream Cake

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Chilling Time 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 440.3 kcal
The most decadent coconut cream cake! A semi-homemade vanilla cake topped with a light and sweet coconut cream frosting. The perfect special occasion cake in a pinch!

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1 15.25 oz. box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 15 oz. can cream of coconut (such as Goya or Coco Lopez brand)
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • 16 ounces frozen whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Instructions

FOR THE CAKE:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, and water. Beat for 2 minutes on high speed, and then gently fold in the coconut. Pour batter into a prepared dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the cream of coconut with sweetened condensed milk and whisk until smooth.
  • While the cake is still warm, use a fork to poke holes all over the top. Slowly pour the condensed milk mixture over top, gently spread it with a spatula, and allow it to soak into the cake. This looks like a lot of liquid, but it will gradually absorb into the cake — just go slowly. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack — it will continue to soak up the liquid as it sits.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, prepare the frosting.

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • Spread whipped topping over cake. Sprinkle with coconut.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Make sure to keep the cake refrigerated before and after serving.
  • For a golden, deeper flavor, you can toast (and cool) the shredded coconut before adding it to the top of the cake.
  • While it will have a slightly different taste, you can substitute a white cake mix for the yellow cake mix.
  • Any variety of Cool Whip (or other whipped topping will work here) — sugar-free, lite, or regular. Just make sure that you use 2 small containers or 1 large container to equal about 16 ounces.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 440.3kcalCarbohydrates: 62.3gProtein: 5.9gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 10.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1.8gCholesterol: 41.4mgSodium: 267.7mgPotassium: 39.3mgFiber: 1.2gSugar: 40.8g
Keyword: coconut cake recipe, coconut cream cake, coconut poke cake
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks Blair! We had a similar cake for our wedding and have always tried to recreate it. This is the closest one we have tried and will now become our special occasion go-to cake. Mystery solved….thanks!!

  2. I have been looking for this recipe for years. I’m not a baker, but got this simple recipe many years ago when my children was small, 25 years ago. The only difference is I used a double boiler to cook the congence milk & coconut, don’t remember using whip topping, I like your way better. Thank you for posting, Carol ♥️

    1. That’s wonderful, Carol! I’m so glad that you found this recipe again. It’s one of my favorite cakes, so it makes me happy that you’ll be able to enjoy it again, too!