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Southern Coconut Cake

In this post I’m sharing how to make a layered Southern Coconut Cake.

In my beloved home state of South Carolina it seems to be very well received that coconut cake is the official dessert, although technically we don’t have an “official” state dessert.

Personally, I would have thought that peach cobbler would be the state dessert if we had one since South Carolina produces so many peaches

Coconut cake it is though and I’m okay with that too because I love a delicious scratch made cake.

I know as home cooks that we like to put our own twist on things but when it comes to baking, it is recommended to follow the recipe.

This simple coconut cake recipe is easy to follow and you’ll be rewarded with the best coconut cake ever. 

Old Fashioned Southern Coconut Cake Recipe

Coconut Cake Frosting with flaked coconut topping on a marble cake plate

What are the best tips for baking a cake?

  • Preparing the cake pans – grease cake pans well with shortening or butter and line the bottom of the pan with a cut out round of parchment paper.
  • Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature – this includes eggs, butter and any other dairy the recipe might call for.
  • Bake cakes at the recommended temperature but check them early to avoid over baking. Ovens vary so it’s a good idea to check on a cake 10 minutes earlier to test for doneness.
  • Test a cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If the toothpick comes out clean then the cake is done.
  • Cool cakes in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 
  • Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  • Always read the entire recipe through before you begin mixing ingredients together.


Homemade Cake Recipe

Delicious layered Southern coconut cake recipe with frosting topped with flaked coconut

What makes a cake moist? Fats like butter and oil help ensure a moist cake so don’t skimp on them in the recipe. 

What do I serve with cake? It depends on the cake. Most cakes are perfect to serve a slice just as they are. If you like, you can always add whipped cream or serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Tender Coconut Cake

4 layered coconut cake recipe

Let’s bake this cake y’all! Add this recipe to your baking recipes to enjoy for dessert. It’s a great addition to your holiday menu plan too.

How to make a Coconut Cake

Yield: One layered cake

Southern Coconut Cake Recipe

The ultimate Southern Coconut Cake Recipe

Tender and moist baked from scratch coconut cake

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes



  • 24 oz Unsweetened Flaked Coconut
  • 2 1/4 c Cake Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1.5 Sticks of Butter, softened to room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1/4 c Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1.5 c Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/4 c Buttermilk


  • 2 c Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tbs Honey
  • 3/4 c Water
  • 6 Large Egg Whites
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C)
  2. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, cream 1.5 sticks of butter with the coconut oil, sugar, salt, and cardamom at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until incorporated. At low speed, mix in the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cakes are deep golden and springy.
  7. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool 5-10 minutes in the pan then turn the layers out onto the cooling racks, remove the parchment, and allow to cool completely.
  8. Cut each cake in half horizontally to create 4 layers.
  9. To make the frosting: In a large saucepan, boil the sugar, honey and 3/4 c of water over moderately high heat until the syrup registers 240°F (115°C).
  10. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy then beat in the salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, carefully drizzle the hot syrup down the side of the bowl. Once all of the syrup has been added, beat the frosting at high speed until shiny and thick, 11 minutes. Allow the frosting to cool.
  11. Frosting the Cake: Set a cake layer cut side up on a plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting over the top; repeat with two more layers.
  12. Top with the last layer then coat the cake with the remaining frosting. Coat with the flaked coconut. Coconut can be toasted, if desired, before covering the cake.


How to toast coconut? Spread the coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in a 325°F oven 5 to 8 minutes, or until toasted as desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 773Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 627mgCarbohydrates: 114gFiber: 6gSugar: 85gProtein: 8g

Y’all check out this scrumptious recipe for Campfire S’mores Cupcakes from Grits and Gouda.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope that you enjoy this amazing coconut cake as much as we do. 

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Also see this recipe shared at Weekend Potluck and Meal Plan Monday.

Meet Julia

Author of Julia's Simply Southern

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Thursday 18th of November 2021

Ok I think my search is over. Grew up in Charleston. My Great GM had 4 layer coconut thick yellow cake with a coconut drizzle that was fresh coconut cooked with condensed milk added heavy allover. The recipe was lost the cake ingredients sound so close. To just taste this 1 more time would be a gift in itself. Fingers crossed!

Julia Jordan

Friday 19th of November 2021

I hope that you enjoy this delicious cake recipe, Marie! ~Julia


Wednesday 18th of September 2019

I need help about the butter is that 1 1/2 stick?

Julia Jordan

Wednesday 18th of September 2019

Yes ma'am, that is correct.


Tuesday 17th of September 2019

Can you believe a cake lover such as myself has never had a proper coconut cake? I really need to change that! This looks fabulous.

Julia Jordan

Tuesday 17th of September 2019

Thank you, Carlee! I hope you get to enjoy a big slice of coconut cake soon. I think you're gonna love it.

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