Imagine the perfect coconut cupcake recipe – fluffy, moist, delicate and topped with delicious coconut buttercream. This is that recipe! The BEST coconut cupcakes ever, topped with coconut-flavored Italian Meringue Buttercream and toasted coconut flakes. These are perfect for birthdays, celebrations or just because you’re craving for a tropical dessert!
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How to Make Coconut Cupcakes
Cupcakes are always so much fun to make! These tropical flavored coconut cupcakes are no exception!
- Coconut Cake: I make these with a modified version of my ‘Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe’ – I add a teaspoon of coconut extract for real coconut flavor. I also make the batter with coconut milk, which adds even more flavor. If you want more coconut flavor, try adding shredded coconut flakes right into the cake batter, after the flour.
- Coconut Buttercream: Next, comes the coconut buttercream! When I think of tropical flavors, I envision something light and fluffy and my Italian Meringue Buttercream fits the bill perfectly. I flavor my basic recipe with a touch of coconut extract to give the buttercream the most flavor. To add more texture and flavor, I add toasted coconut flakes to the frosted cupcakes. Toasted coconut is always a good idea for any coconut dessert – it adds texture and flavor!
Italian Coconut Buttercream
For this cupcake recipe, I used my Italian Meringue Buttercream, the newest addition to my ‘Back to Cake Basics’ series! This frosting is very similar to Swiss meringue buttercream but made using a slightly different method. You can use a number of my other buttercream recipes for these cupcakes. Just make a batch of one of these frostings and add a teaspoon of coconut extract for the coconut flavor: ‘Basic Vanilla Buttercream’, ‘French Buttercream’, or ‘German Buttercream’. Watch my recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream here:
Scaling this Cupcake Recipe
This cupcake recipe yields 10 cupcakes. It’s a smaller recipe that can easily be doubled or tripled in size, depending on how many cupcakes you need. The frosting recipe I used is good for 20 cupcakes. If you don’t like a lot of frosting on your cupcakes, or you’re planning to make just 10 cupcakes, I recommend reducing the buttercream recipe in half.
Enjoyed this delicious cupcake recipe? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!
- Strawberry Cupcakes – with strawberry buttercream and loads of fresh berries!
- Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes – delicate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream and a lemon surprise!
- Chocolate Toffee Cucpakes – rich, chocolate cupcakes topped with the best caramel buttercream.
- Strawberry Basil Cupcakes – fruit cupcakes with fresh berries and basil buttercream!
- Maple Carrot Cake Cupcakes – sweetened with maple syrup, these cupcakes are so delicious, with cream cheese frosting!
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Need some supplies to make this recipe? You can get them here (Amazon affiliate links):
- This jumbo decorating set includes all my favorite cake decorating tips!
- Use this non-stick 12-count cupcake pan for perfect cupcakes every time! And don’t forget the cupcake liners!
- I love this Lorann Oils Coconut Extract – real coconut flavor!
- I always use my nesting glass mixing bowls for baking and cooking – keeps me organized!
Coconut Cupcakes with Italian Coconut Buttercream (video)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp EACH: coconut extract, vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut; optional
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut, for garnish
Italian Meringue Buttercream:
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- 2 tsp coconut extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F/177C and line a cupcake pan with liners.
- Into a large mixing bowl, add the softened butter and sugar. Whisk on medium to high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is fluffy. Add the extracts and eggs and whisk again for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth. Pour in the milk but don’t mix it in.
- In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the cake batter, then use a hand whisk or spatula to mix in the flour. Don’t over mix the batter; stir just until the flour is incorporated. If adding coconut flakes, add them into the batter at this time.
- Fill the cupcake liners with cake batter almost to the top, about 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 24 to 26 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting!
- As the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the Italian Meringue Buttercream; I have the video recipe linked above. Toast the 1/2 cup coconut flakes on the stove top or in the oven. If using stove, place the coconut flakes into a fry pan and heat over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until the flakes are toasted. If using oven, spread the flakes on a baking sheet and turn the broiler to ‘high’. Toast for a few minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Once cupcakes have cooled, transfer the coconut buttercream into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip; I used Ateco tip #847. Pipe generous dollops of frosting on top and garnish with toasted coconut flakes.
For Italian Meringue Buttercream:
- Before starting on this buttercream, it's crucial that your mixing bowl is super clean; otherwise, the egg whites will fall flat. Make sure to wash your mixing bowl with degreasing soap and white vinegar to rid of any residual grease.
- Place the egg whites into the stand mixer bowl and whisk on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, just until stiff peaks form; set aside. Into a separate sauce pan, add the sugar and water but do not stir! Cook the sugar over medium heat until it reaches soft ball stage or 238F, about 7 minutes. With the mixer running on medium speed, immediately pour the hot sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream into the egg whites.
- Once all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer from medium speed to high and continue whisking for 6 to 7 minutes. The egg whites will be super fluffy, firm and will be slightly shiny. Test the temperature of the bowl before adding the butter. Place your wrist against the bottom of the bowl; when it's just lukewarm, begin adding the butter.
- Add the softened butter 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, with 10 to 15 seconds between additions. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often to get everything incorporated. Once all the butter has been added, the buttercream will become more smooth. Turn the mixer to high speed and whisk for another 4 to 5 minutes. Add any extracts, chocolate or flavorings at this time.