Subscribe to get a free eCookbook with my top 10 recipes + new weekly recipes!

Honey’s Coconut Cupcakes

5 stars based on 4 votes

Coconut Cupcakes

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski

I’m so excited to share a special recipe from my new cookbook with you today. (I can’t believe the release is less than two weeks away!) And as a bonus I have a fun video to go along with the recipe that I hope you like.

They say that traits usually skip a generation, but in my case they skipped two. My great grandmother, who was called “Honey” by everyone who knew her, was a baker and caterer. She baked cakes for the whole city  of Buffalo, New York, and was especially well known for her coconut cake.

Unfortunately, there was no real recipe left when she passed, only scribbled notes on an old index card from my mom’s green tin recipe box. Once I became the family baker, I took it upon myself to recreate Honey’s famous coconut cake. I could never get it quite as “coconut-y” as the original but finally, I nailed it. The trick was adding a coconut milk and shredded coconut to both the cake and the frosting.

Here’s a little video showing how they’re made. You’ll find the recipe below the video. Enjoy!

Honey's Coconut Cupcakes

Servings: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes


For the Cupcakes

  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, for topping


For the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Lightly spray the top of the pans with a nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy or Pam Baking Spray with Flour, just in case the cupcake tops stick to the pan (don’t worry if the spray gets in the liners).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  5. Turn the speed down to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the coconut milk–lemon juice mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining coconut milk–lemon juice mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture, then scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is just combined. Quickly mix in the shredded coconut; do not overmix.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling each cup about three-fourths full. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until the cupcakes are set, lightly golden, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean (note that one pan may finish baking before the other). Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and well combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, and then beat in the vanilla, coconut milk, and salt.
  2. When the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to swirl the frosting lavishly over the top. Sprinkle with the shredded coconut, pressing it gently so it adheres, and serve.
  3. MAKE AHEAD: The cupcakes can be made and frosted up to 1 day ahead of time. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
  4. Note: The frosting ingredients in this recipe have been updated from the first printing of the book, so you'll notice a few minor tweaks. (This is the updated version.)
  5. Note: Adding cornstarch to the flour mimics cake flour, which makes a lighter and more delicate cake.
Once Upon a Chef Cookbook

New Cookbook

100 tested, perfected and family approved recipes

Pre-order now:

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (24 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 cupcake
  • Calories: 407
  • Fat: 21 g
  • Saturated fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 53 g
  • Sugar: 41 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 154 mg
  • Cholesterol: 69 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Made these today – just licking the frosting off my lips actually 🙂 They are truly outstanding. So moist and not as sweet as I was thinking they might be. They are perfect. Thank you for a great recipe.

    - Donna on April 18, 2018 Reply
  • Can these be made as mini cupcakes (using a mini cupcake tin)? Would there need to be any alterations or would the recipe be fine as is? Thanks!

    - Sara on April 16, 2018 Reply
    • I think that’d be fine, Sara – you’ll just need to reduce the baking time. I’d start checking around 8 to 10 min.

      - Jenn on April 16, 2018 Reply
      • Thank you so much for the quick reply! These will be perfect for a teacher appreciation week dessert bar! 🙂

        - Sara on April 16, 2018 Reply
  • Jenn,

    Shame on me for not reading the previous questions! You have already provided all the info I need for a cake. Thanks !


    - Gary on April 13, 2018 Reply
    • No worries! Please lmk how it turns out if you try it, Gary. 🙂

      - Jenn on April 13, 2018 Reply
  • I was planning to make these; then I noticed 41 grams of sugar/cupcake. Wow! By how much could the sugar be reduced and still retain a good tasting coconut cupcake?

    - Pearl on April 12, 2018 Reply
    • Hi Pearl, you could cut the sugar in the batter back to 1 3/4 cups. For the frosting, you could probably get away with using about 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar (you’ll very likely need less coconut milk for the frosting if you’re using less sugar, just play with the amounts until you get the right consistency). (You can also put less frosting on each cupcake. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on April 13, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Thank you for that great story about “ Honey”. And the step by step video. I WILL be making these cupcakes!!

    - Sharron Biccum on April 12, 2018 Reply
  • Question: Would the batter for Honey’s Triple Coconut Cupcakes be successful as a layer cake, 8 or 9 ” or other measurement? If so, would you suggest doubling the frosting recipe? Thanks so much. I love your weekly emails and eagerly wait to receive your book.
    Michele Hendrickson

    - Michele Hendrickson on April 12, 2018 Reply
    • Hi Michele, I think you could bake this batter in two 9-inch cake pans (spray them with baker’s joy, line the bottoms of the pans w/parchment, then spray them again). You’ll likely need to increase the frosting by 1.5x. I’d love to know how it turns out if you try it!

      - Jenn on April 12, 2018 Reply
  • “1 can of coconut milk” doesn’t tell us much. Stores carry cans of coconut milk in various sizes, right?
    It would be helpful to specify HOW MUCH (i.e., a useable measurement in ml, oz, etc.) coconut milk to use, rather than a vague mention of how many containers of unknown size to use.

    - HC on April 12, 2018 Reply
    • Hi HC, the recipe specifies that you’ll need 1 cup/8 fluid ounces of unsweetened coconut milk for the cupcakes and 1/4 cup/2 fluid ounces of it for the frosting. Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy the cupcakes if you make them!

      - Jenn on April 12, 2018 Reply
  • If I don’t want cupcakes, but prefer a cake, what are your suggestions for type of cake pan, pan prep and timing???
    This looks yummy!

    - Ruth Shuster on April 12, 2018 Reply
    • Hi Ruth, I think you could bake this batter in two 9-inch cake pans (be sure to spray them with Baker’s Joy or Pam with Flour, line the bottoms with parchment rounds, then spray again). I thinking you’ll probably need to increase the frosting by 1.5x. Hope that helps, and I’d love to know how it turns out if you try it.

      - Jenn on April 12, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I have leftover sweetened coconut flakes from another recipe and was looking for something to make with it. This is perfect!! Making it this weekend!!

    - Andreza Eberwein on April 12, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I love these so much!! Everyone in my family is a big coconut fan so they always freak out over them. I had the honor of testing these for your cookbook and have made them several times. Sometimes, I will lightly toast the coconut that I sprinkle on top to add a bit of contrast if I have time. A+ recipe that is delicious and reliable! Thank you!

    - Caroline Yaun on April 12, 2018 Reply

Add a Review or Question

Hungry for More?

Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter — where I share new recipes and seasonal menus for every occasion.

Your email address will never be used for any other purpose.
Curious? See a sample newsletter.