I Made the Famous Ina Garten Coconut Cake Recipe—and It’s Worth All the Hype

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Calling all coconut lovers! Ina Garten's coconut cake should be a go-to dessert for any occasion.

If you love coconut, nothing is more satisfying than a slice of coconut cake. With layers of fluffy sponge, cream cheese frosting and plenty of coconut throughout, it’s a tried-and-true dessert that never fails to please.

Ina Garten’s coconut cake recipe has developed somewhat of a cult following. It can even be ordered from Goldbelly! But it’s an approachable recipe to bake at home, too.

Made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients, the method requires no fuss. It’s the ideal balance between simple and sophisticated, whether you need a dessert for a special occasion or a treat after a weeknight dinner.

The Famous Ina Garten Coconut Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Ina Garten coconut cakeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Frosting:

  • 2 (8-ounce) bricks cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Directions

Step 1: Cream butter and sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans. Grease them with butter or cooking spray, line them with parchment paper, grease them again and then dust the pans lightly with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light yellow and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl. With the mixer running on medium, add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.

Editor’s Tip: Ina says that the mixture might look curdled at this point, so don’t be concerned.

Step 2: Add dry ingredients and milk

Ina Garten Coconut CakeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer running on low, add in a third of the flour. Next add in half of the milk and another third of the flour. Add the remaining milk, and then finish with the rest of the flour. Mix until the batter is just combined. Do not overmix.

Step 3: Fold in coconut and bake

na Garten Coconut CakeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour batter evenly into the two prepared pans and smooth the top with a knife or flat spatula. Put the cakes in the center of the oven. Check the cakes after 35 minutes, and continue baking as needed. Bake for 45-55 minutes until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

Step 4: Make cream cheese frosting

 Ina Garten Coconut Cake cream cheese icing Molly Allen for Taste of Home

For the frosting, add the softened cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low until combined. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until just smooth.

Step 5: Assemble the cake

Place one cake layer on a flat serving plate or cake stand, top side down. Use a sharp knife to cut off the top; even it off if necessary. Spread frosting over top. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Here’s What I Thought

 Dsc7809 Edit Ina Garten Coconut CakeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

When you’re diving into a recipe, the first step is to always read through the list of ingredients to be sure you have everything. My first reaction? I was surprised that this cake called for five sticks of butter. Wow!

The ingredients list is heavy, with all that butter, a whole pound of cream cheese and five extra-large eggs. But I had to trust Ina Garten. And once everything was baked and frosted, it made sense. This is one hefty coconut cake.

The recipe provides enough batter to bake two 9-inch rounds. Be sure to keep an eye on the time, though. I baked my cakes for 35 minutes, and the edges were quite brown by that time.

There’s plenty of sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting for both filling and topping it all off. Vanilla extract and almond extract play well with all of the coconut to enhance the flavor. In this recipe, Ina doesn’t call for any artificial coconut extract. Instead, she lets the shredded coconut speak for itself in every bite. This is definitely a dense cake, without a tremendous amount of moisture. It’s heavy and on the drier side, but with so much luscious cream cheese frosting, it becomes well-balanced.

This Ina Garten coconut cake is simple and tasty, and kept me coming back for more after that first slice!

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Molly Allen
Molly Allen is a previous bakery owner and former event planner. Now, a freelance writer and editor focused on food and beverage, lifestyle, travel and parties, she brings her years of experience and industry knowledge to readers across a variety of platforms.