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Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Coconut lovers: These moist and tender Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting will thrill your palate with your first nibble. The decadent mound of cream cheese frosting guarantees that these will be unforgettable!

If you love a Coconut Cake Recipe, these delectable cupcakes provide built-in portion control. Though, I’d never fault anyone for going back for seconds. They’re just that irresistible!!!

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting on a silver tray

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

My mother had an immense influence as far as my palate is concerned. I was the oldest of four daughters. A rule follower. She’d eat sardines, I’d eat sardines. She’d eat chicken hearts, I’d eat chicken hearts. She’d eat liver, er…I’d, uh, taste liver.

When I was a wee first-grader, Mrs. McGinnis asked our moms to send in two favorite recipes which she used to compile a cookbook. One of my mom’s contributions was Mounds Bars; and, to this day, I treasure the stained mimeographed pages with our block print signatures. I think I could have eaten my weight in those rich, coconut gems back in the day. Maybe even now.

Coconut desserts still catch my eye. And making Coconut cupcakes is like having your own mini Coconut Cake! Built-in portion control is key when I’m around coconut. So when our Holiday Food Party group decided to cook up some Mother’s Day dishes to share with you all, I knew it had to be something coconut. This was my excuse to make a Coconut Cake Recipe!

Overhead view of Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting on a silver tray

Ina Garten Coconut Cake Recipe

This recipe was one of the first I made from Ina Garten’s original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Way back in 1999. Before many of my food blogger friends were even out of first grade. Before the Barefoot Contessa had her own Food Network TV show. When dinosaurs still roamed the land. Well, maybe that’s just me showing my age.

There must be something in the double X chromosomes as none of the guy folks in the family are as gung-ho about coconut as Katie and me. We were happy to hoard these babies in honor of Mother’s Day. Girl power and all that. And now for some more recipes from some of my very favorite food bloggers so you can treat the wonderful mothers in your life to some deliciousness. I know my mom would approve of me sharing a mini version of Coconut Cake. In fact, she’d eat one for breakfast!

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting on a small white plate

Tips for Making This Coconut Dessert

  • Have all your ingredients at room temperature for the best results. It’s much easier when you don’t have to cream the butter when it’s cold from the refrigerator.  So butter, eggs, cream cheese and buttermilk should be taken out of the fridge at least an hour before you start mixing.
  • Use the paddle attachment for mixing this cupcake batter. You do not want to whip air into the mixture.
  • PRO-Tip: If you’ve ever forgotten to purchase buttermilk, you can easily make it at home. To a one-cup liquid measuring cup, add either a tablespoon of lemon juice or a tablespoon of vinegar. White vinegar or apple cider vinegar provide the most neutral flavor. Fill  the rest of the cup with milk. Let rest for 5 minutes or so and it will start to thicken and curdle. Use as directed.
  • I like to use a large, 1/4 cup scoop to dish out the cupcake batter. This helps ensure the cupcakes are approximately the same size.

Holiday Food Blog Party

Check out all the marvelous recipes to celebrate Mother’s Day below. There’s something for everyone!!!

1. Coconut Cupcakes from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
2. German Apple Cake from Magnolia Days
3. Baked Lemon Pasta with Broccoli and Shrimp from What Smells So Good
4. Cinnamon Pear Cake from Roxana’s Home Baking
5. Strawberry Whiskey Sour from Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
6. Huevos Rancheros from Crumb Blog
7. Triple Lemon Cake from Created by Diane
8. Banana Chocolate Chip Bread from Chocolate Moosey
9. Lemon Thyme Shortbread from Jen’s Favorite Cookies
10. Pineapple Coconut Sweet Rolls from Pineapple and Coconut
11. Caramilk Stuffed No-Knead Brioche from Gotta Get Baked
12. Mom’s World Famous Sponge Cake from Hungry Couple NYC
13. Brown Butter Pecan Fudge Ripple No-Churn Ice Cream from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

More Coconut Recipes You’ll Love:

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Coconut Cupcakes

Moist and tender coconut cupcakes topped with a decadent mound of cream cheese icing!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yield 10 cupcakes


For cupcakes:

  • 6 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 7 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 pounds powdered sugar, sifted


  1. Preheat the oven to 325º.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 3½ ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.
  6. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.


Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cupcake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 721Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 152mgSodium: 501mgCarbohydrates: 81gFiber: 2gSugar: 62gProtein: 7g


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69 comments on “Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Stunning, as always, Liz! Thank you for sharing that about your mom. I think she did you a wonderful favor by expanding your palate and it is too bad the men-folk don’t share it. My offer to move in with you and eat all your food still stands! 🙂 BTW, I’m an only child but that’s very similar to an eldest. I did as my mom did.

  2. I’d be hoarding these cupcakes too. Oh how I LOVE coconut. And cream cheese frosting. Divine!

  3. What a great tribute to mother’s day Liz, those cupcakes are outstanding. Both JT and I love coconut but I love it slightly more than he does. I’m going to revisit those mars bars for sure…very tempting indeed.

  4. Oh, I love coconut! These look amazing Liz!

  5. These cupcakes look heavenly…I love coconut and this right on my alley…yes. Liz, these would be perfect for Mother’s Day.
    Hope you are enjoying your week 😀

  6. My mom and I love coconut and my dad and brother don’t. Funny huh? I love these and in 1999 I was in college so you’re not THAT old. Or does that make me old? ha ha. Love these cupcakes!

  7. Liz-I love reading your posts re family. I, too, did as my mom did, drawing the line at liver. Yuck!

    These cupcakes are my favorite, and the first thing I made from Ina’s cookbook too. All those years ago. Thanks for the reminder. 😉

  8. Gorgeous cupcakes, Liz! I’m such a sucker for coconut, though weirdly enough, my husband is not a fan. Must be a boy/girl thing. 🙂
    (BTW, in 1999, I was in my second-last year of university… so I guess that makes both of us old, huh?)

  9. What a lovely post and tribute to your mom, Liz! Seeing how incredible you are as a chef and baker, your mom must be proud to have played such a huge role in developing your palate. These coconut cupcakes look incredible, like lovely fluffy delicious clouds! I wasn’t a big coconut fan for most of my life but thankfully I’ve reformed in the last few years. I’d have to stop myself from eating this whole batch!

  10. I could eat my weight in the mounds bars and these I LOVE coconut 🙂 love the old mimeograph copies too

  11. I am a big fan of coconut and these cupcakes would fit the bill right now. Love the liver comment!

  12. My coconut obsession has been growing by the day and these cupcakes are perfect for my cravings!

  13. gorgeous coconut cupcakes.
    gorgeous story about your mother–! Priceless. xxx

  14. Great collection of recipes! Classic recipes are the best, especially when they bring back warm memories 🙂 Gorgeous cupcakes! Tweeting your post!

  15. This this this! These look SO good.

  16. I loved that you made these as a tribute to your mom – so sweet 🙂 These cupcakes look incredible! I am obsessed with coconut treats so these are right up my alley – love the cream cheese frosting too – pinning 🙂

  17. Hey now, at least I was graduating high school in 1999, that’s something right? Beautiful cupcakes as always Liz and I just love that you mimicked your mom when it came to trying all different foods.

  18. So beautifully presented Liz. I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes, but these do look very enticing!

  19. My mom’s a sucker for coconut, she’d have a ball with these

  20. Oh yea, these wouldn’t last long around me:@)

  21. These look so good. I love coconut. My mom does too! I think most of the foods I won’t eat are because of my mom too. Peas are just a no, no with her and with me.

  22. Coconut is one of my favorite flavors (in case you couldn’t tell from my blog lol). These cupcakes look so elegant for Mother’s Day.

  23. Being the second oldest of five daughters, I wasn’t as obedient as my older sister. And if my mother had put sardines, chicken hearts and liver in front of me, I’d only have eaten the liver! I would however, have eaten several of these cupcakes. These are so pretty, Liz, and I love the look of the frosting with the coconut xx

  24. These look absolutely heavenly, Liz!

  25. It is hard to go wrong with Ina. But I’m not sure you ever go wrong, either! Ah, Liz. You have the knack!

  26. Oh my, but your opening made me smile. I just idolized my mom, and if she ate it, well then I ate it. She loved sauteed liver, so I loved liver – well until I was about 10 anyway. She loved Mounds Bars and so did I. To this day I still enjoy them. Coconut Cake remains one of my favorite desserts, and so these are really tempting to me. Your cupcakes are beautiful, really a glory to behold. May I say, “Yes, please!” to this one.

  27. Lizzy your cupcakes always look beautiful!
    And look delicious!

  28. My mom and I share a love of coconut as well. She’d love these beautiful cupcakes as much as I would! 🙂

  29. These cupcakes look so dreamy and beautiful, Liz.

  30. These look so beautiful! Absolutely gorgeous! (What? No raspberries? I do see you slipped in a red knife. Tee hee hee.) Love Ina! I have everyone of her books – and I hear she has a new one coming out this year. Love the story as well.

  31. Sweet memories, Liz! Aren’t those the best. Looving these coconut beauties! 🙂 ela

  32. No wonder my mother and I didn’t get along all that well. I wouldn’t eat liver, hearts OR sardines. She would eat anything not tied down – she had the most curious palate. I became more adventurous as I got older but frankly, I’d still go for the cupcakes. These are beautiful.

  33. Great post Liz! You made me smile, laugh and hungry all at the same time.. Beautiful cupcakes. Take Care, BAM

  34. your cupcakes look perfect. I’d like one right now!

  35. I’m coo coo for coconut too! I would NOT be able to resist these cupcakes and I’m all over those Mounds Bars.

  36. They look beautiful Liz, I love how you can just about see the top of the cupcake underneath the icing and I also love the shredded coconut on top. Lovely!

  37. Cupcakes and coconut … such joyful, soulful words! And your recipe shows how beautifully those two things can synchronize and make my soul dance & sing!

    Lucius images! Useful links of Mother’s Day recipes. Thanks a bunch for this fun post 🙂

  38. LOL. Sure glad someone else was around when dinosaurs were roaming the earth. And mighty glad that you garnered this gorgeous cupcake recipe =)

    P.s. Very mouthwatering photos, Liz! Wish I could grab one just about now =)

  39. so sweet! Moms are the best <3 and so are coconut cupcakes!

  40. It is interesting how our tastes are so influenced by our parents. There are certain things I don’t ever make because my Mom didn’t like them and never made them. And my Dad likes some quirky things that his mom likes too. These cupcakes look fabulous – I may just have to make them for my birthday next month!

  41. I love coconut and it looks perfect on these cupcakes. 🙂

  42. These are absolutely gorgeous, Liz! I love coconut in all its forms and love the combo of cream cheese and coconut you’ve got going here!

  43. These are some beautiful cupcakes!!!

  44. Hi Liz, great story and even better cupcakes.I’ve featured these cupcakes on my blog, hoping that you don’t mind, but if you do, please contact me and I’ll remove it.
    All the best.

  45. Can I use your oven temps you write about today for high dome…425 then 325????

  46. As anyone made this… There’s a lot of coconut lovers posting but I haven’t seen any reviews on taste….

  47. I love a good coconut cake. And that mound of frosting is perfection.

  48. I just adore this icing! the cupcakes are calling my name!

  49. These coconut cupcakes look so light and fluffy – I’m drooling over my keyboard!

  50. These are so sweet! And yes to team coconut!

  51. Whenever I come to your page I think, YES she can bake because these look like I want to eat five!!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  52. Such beautiful sunshiny cupcakes!

  53. As a huge coconut desserts fan, I could eat at least 3 of these cupcakes! They look amazing!

  54. These look absolutely perfect!

  55. Well, my husband is definitely an exception to your rule in that he LOVES coconut desserts, despite not having much of a sweet tooth! 🙂 These coconut cupcakes look gorgeous and sound delicious! Thank you so much for sharing!

  56. This cupcakes look very flaky and airy ! Going to make them for my daughters birthday party

  57. Coconut is one of my all-time favorite dessert flavors. These cupcakes had just the right amount of coconut flavor, will make again! 

  58. Our favorite recipe for kids birthdays! Everybody love this cupcakes!

  59. Is it wrong that I ate 2? DELISH!!

  60. Coconut anything is the absolute best!

  61. These are incredible!

  62. These cupcakes are a dream for coconut lovers like me. So GOOD!

  63. Love the original recipe by Ina. You have solved the one challenge and that is to cut the recipe in half. I used this recipe today for mini cupcakes and it worked perfectly. I baked off 12 cupcakes and froze the remaining batter. Thank you!

  64. Approximately how many cups of powdered sugar is used to make the frosting?   A prompt  response will be appreciated.

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