These light and fluffy coconut cupcakes are bursting with bright coconut flavor! With ground shredded coconut, coconut milk, and coconut extract these cupcakes have it all. Topped with coconut frosting, toasted shredded coconut, and candy eggs these adorable cupcakes make the perfect Easter treat!
For a long time, I was totally ambivalent about coconut. I could take or leave it. Most times, I left it in favor of things like chocolate and cheesecake. Over the last few years, however, I’ve begun to really appreciate the flavor of coconut. From pie, to cakes, to ice cream I have found coconut recipes that speak to my soul.
And these coconut cupcakes really are the coup de grace; aside from being supremely soft and fluffy, they are absolutely packed with coconut flavor. A long-time favorite recipe!
How to Make Coconut Cupcakes From Scratch
There are layers upon layers of coconut flavor built on top of one another in these cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves have both ground sweetened coconut and coconut milk in them, and they would actually be perfect as-is with a dollop of whipped cream on top, but we’re going to add even more coconut flavor in the frosting!
Coconut Cupcakes Ingredients
Flour: I use all-purpose flour for these coconut cupcakes.
Baking powder + Salt: Helps your cupcakes rise while adding a little flavor.
Shredded coconut: Sweetened shredded coconut is ground finely into a powder and adds a delightful coconut flavor to these cupcakes.
Butter + Sugar: Creamed together, the unsalted butter and sugar form the base of the batter.
Egg + Egg white: Room temperature eggs add structure and height to the cupcakes.
Vanilla: Adds a little flavor to the cupcakes.
Coconut milk: I used unsweetened coconut milk. Canned coconut milk tends to separate so be sure to stir it well before using.
Now that you have your ingredients for the cupcakes, let’s get baking!
Make the Coconut Cupcake Base
Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
Grind shredded coconut: In a food processor, pulse the shredded coconut until finely ground; set aside.
Mix dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the ground coconut and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar: With an electric mixer, on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add wet ingredients: Add the egg, egg white, and vanilla extract and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Alternate dry ingredients with coconut milk: Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of coconut milk, and beating until combined after each.
Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the lined cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
Cool the cupcakes: Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, move the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Toasted Coconut Frosting
My frosting-loving self couldn’t just stop at coconut cupcakes, so frosting it was! I whipped up my favorite vanilla frosting and added some coconut extract; it’s a perfectly light and clean-tasting frosting. Not too heavy and definitely not too sugary.
For this frosting you will need:
Butter: I use unsalted butter at room temperature.
Powdered Sugar: Gives the frosting all the sweetness it needs.
Vanilla+ coconut extract: Adds just the right balance of flavor.
Now that you have what you need to make the frosting, let’s get mixing!
Whip the butter: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl down once or twice.
Add the sugar: Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar.
Flavor the frosting: Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla and coconut extracts, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
Frost + Decorate your Cupcakes
Since we’re closing in on Easter, I decided to do a festive little decoration with toasted coconut to look like nests and topped the cupcakes with Whoppers Robin Eggs. To make your cupcakes look like these nests:
Hold the cupcake by the base and roll the top into toasted shredded coconut (see toasting directions below)
Place 3 Whoppers Robbin Eggs on top.
If you are wanting to make these coconut cupcakes for another celebration or a different time of year you can decorate them by:
Rolling the top in toasted coconut and leaving as is.
Sprinkling the top with large coconut flakes for a more dramatic look.
Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes using the open star Ateco #828 tip and sprinkle with shredded coconut.
Toasted Shredded Coconut
One of the easiest ways to add extra flavor and a slightly crunchy texture is by toasting your shredded coconut. This amplifies the coconut flavor and provides a slight crunch that adds a delightful contrast to the delicate crumb of these coconut cupcakes. To toast shredded coconut in the oven:
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Spread the coconut shreds in an even, thin layer on a baking sheet.
Bake for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the coconut as it will burn easily. Remove the pan immediately.
Dying Shredded Coconut
Instead of toasting you can also try dying the shredded coconut. I love to use green, pink, and blue to mimic the look of the grass you can find in easter baskets. To dye the shredded coconut:
Scoop shredded coconut into a bowl.
Drop 1-2 drops of the desired color and stir to coat. Add more dye to achieve the desired tint of the color.
Spread the dyed coconut on a piece of parchment paper and allow it to dry before using.
If you are not feeling an extra layer of coconut in the frosting, try out one of these delicious frostings to top these homemade cupcakes:
These freshly baked cupcakes loaded with coconut flavor and topped with heaping swirls of toasted coconut frosting are just for you! Top them with toasted coconut and candy eggs for a delightful Easter treat everyone will enjoy.
If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse the shredded coconut in a food processor until finely ground and whisk into the flour mixture; set aside.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, egg white and vanilla extract and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of coconut milk, and beating until combined after each.
Divide the batter evenly between the lined cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla and coconut extracts, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
Garnish the Cupcakes: Using an offset spatula, spread a mound of frosting on top of each cupcake and create a well in the center. Place the toasted coconut in a shallow bowl. Roll the sides of the cupcake in the toasted coconut, then top with a few Robin's Eggs malted milk balls. The cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Equipment: Any standard 12-cup muffin pan will work for these cupcakes. I’ve had the Wilton Everglide Avanti muffin pan for ages, but it is not readily available in most places anymore. If you can’t get your hands on one, my next recommendation is the USA Muffin Pan.
Coconut Extract: This is readily available in most grocery stores in the baking aisle, but can also be purchased online.
Whoppers Robin Eggs: Most grocery stores and places like Target stock these around Easter, but you can also buy them online.
Toasted Coconut: To toast the coconut for topping the cupcakes, spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 325 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes, watching closely so it doesn't burn. Remove from the pan immediately.
Storing: Keep these coconut cupcakes ultra-fresh by storing them in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Freezing: Planning to freeze the cupcakes for later is a great way to make them in advance. Freeze cooled and un-frosted cupcakes in a freezer-safe gallon ziplock for up to 3 months.
Thawing cupcakes: When you are ready to serve frozen cupcakes, remove them from the freezer and allow the cupcakes to sit at room temperature to thaw (about 2 hours).
Make-Ahead: You can bake these cupcakes fresh, up to 2 days in advance, or bake and freeze the cupcakes up to 3 months in advance and follow the thawing instructions before frosting and serving.