Coconut Cupcake Recipe

coconut cupcake recipe mom envy cover

Years ago I became known for my cupcakes; I took them to every event I went to. Cupcakes became so synonymous with me that I started receiving adorable cupcake ornaments and tchotchkes from friends and family. People have always asked me for my recipes and until now, I have always kept them a secret. One of the main reasons I have kept this coconut cupcake recipe a secret is because I didn’t want anyone to know that the secret ingredient is box cake mix. I know, box cake mix is frowned upon by real bakers. But I’m not a real baker. I’m just a Mom looking for a shortcut. Plus, once you taste them, you’d never guess that these cupcakes started with box cake mix.

This is my Mom’s all-time favorite recipe of mine (at least I think it is). She has me make these cupcakes whenever she has the chance and even freezes the extras (they freeze really well). And a certain Uncle of mine likes to eat more than his fair share of these at events (it’s become a running joke to see how many cupcakes he’s eaten by the end of a party).

So for all of my friends and family that have been waiting to get their hands on this recipe, here it is. Although coconut may seem like a more exotic flavor for children, my guys love these cupcakes. Here’s a behind-the-scenes picture of my oldest trying to sneak a taste of the frosting while I was taking my pictures.


Here’s a quick little video of the steps to making the cupcakes.


Coconut Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients for Cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (oil, not butter)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 – 15 oz can of cream of coconut (you can get it cheaper in stores – make sure it’s cream of coconut and not coconut milk)
  • 1 – 8 oz container of sour cream

Ingredients for Filling (modified version of Domino Sugar’s recipe)

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter at room temperature (important)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 2 tbsp cream of coconut
  • 1 lb of confectioners sugar (or about 3 1/2 to 4 cups of sugar)
  • 3-4 tbsp milk or cream (start with 3 and add more if needed to get a smooth consistency)
  • 1 pinch of salt (trust me)

Ingredients for Frosting (modified version of Domino Sugar’s recipe)

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter at room temperature (important)
  • 1/2 cup of Crisco
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp coconut extract
  • 4 tbsp cream of coconut
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 lbs of confectioners sugar (or about 7-8 cups of sugar)
  • 6-8 tbsp milk or cream (start with 6 and add more if needed to get a good consistency)
  • 1/2 bag of Sweetened shredded coconut for topping


  • Mixer (I love my Kitchenaid but a handheld works just as well)
  • Cupcake tins
  • Cupcake liners
  • Cupcake scoop (if you haven’t bought one of these yet for cupcakes, you’re missing out. This is the exact one I have in an 8.75 in for cupcakes and the smaller one for cookies)
  • Cupcake corer (or an apple corer works well, too. That’s what I use right now).

For cupcakes decorated like mine, you’ll also need:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix cake mix, oil, cream of coconut.
  3. Mix in sour cream.
  4. Mix in the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Line cupcake tins (will make approximately 26-28 cupcakes).
  6. Using a cupcake scoop, scoop about 3/4 full scoop of batter into each well.
  7. Bake for 18-21 minutes.
  8. Do not overbake. The cupcakes should still be light on top. Use a toothpick inserted into the middle. If it comes out clean or with just a little bit of cake crumbs on it, then they’re done.

Make the cupcake filling.

  1. Beat butter until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla, coconut extract, one pinch of salt, and cream of coconut. Beat.
  3. Add in 3 tablespoons of milk.
  4. Add confectioners sugar in slowly.
  5. Once the confectioners sugar is incorporated, increase the speed of the mixer.
  6. Add additional tablespoon of milk of too thick.
  7. Core cupcakes after they’ve cooled. Keep the cored piece off to the side.
  8. Use a piping bag to fill each cupcake (pretty much any smaller tip will work for this).
  9. Place the cupcake cored piece back on top.

Make the frosting.

  1. No need to clean the bowl or remove remaining filling. Simply place the bowl back on the mixer, and add the ingredients for the frosting (they’re basically the same).
  2. Beat butter until smooth.
  3. Add Crisco. Beat.
  4. Add vanilla, coconut extract, pinch of salt, and cream of coconut. Beat.
  5. Add in 6 tablespoons of milk.
  6. Add confectioners sugar in slowly.
  7. Once the confectioners sugar is incorporated, increase the speed of the mixer.
  8. Add additional tablespoon or 2 of milk of too thick.
  9. Beat the frosting for 5-10 minutes. This will add additional air making it lighter and “fluffier.”
  10. Use a large pastry bag, large coupler, 1M tip.
  11. Pipe one layer of frosting starting from the outside and working your way in. Stop in the center.
  12. Pipe a second layer of frosting but don’t start it all the way at the edge. Start the frosting in slightly away from edge to create a layered look by revealing the layer underneath.
  13. Sprinkle on some shredded coconut (if desired).

I’ll add a video on how I pipe my cupcakes at a later time. Recently, I broke my main camera while assisting at a wedding shoot. I won’t have a video camera until it’s fixed (turns out dropping a camera half a story onto concrete isn’t good for it).



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