This moist Lemon Coconut Cake has a tangy hint of lemon and is topped with extra fluffy coconut frosting. The perfect easy cake recipe with a fun flavor combo!
Lemon Coconut Cake From Scratch
It’s absolutely no secret that I love lemon desserts. I’ve already shared some of my favorite lemon recipes here on Oh Sweet Basil (like this lemon poppy seed cake recipe and these lemon cheesecake squares). But I wanted to try a new lemon cake recipe.
Something a little different. But still filled with that tangy, bright, lemon flavor.
And that’s exactly how the idea for this lemon cake with coconut frosting came about. The lemon cake is moist, buttery, and filled with delicious fresh lemon flavor. Then the coconut buttercream frosting is sweet, fluffy, and completely addictive. The tanginess of the lemon complements the sweet coconut perfectly, and I think the flavors are perfect for spring and summer.
Or whenever you’re in a sunshine-y mood.
What’s Needed for Lemon Coconut Cake?
Both the lemon cake from scratch and the coconut buttercream frosting require ingredients you likely have in your pantry:
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Lemon zest and juice
- Canned coconut milk
- Coconut extract
- Powdered sugar
- Toasted coconut flakes
How to Make Lemon Coconut Cake
This lemon coconut cake is made even easier by baking it in a 9×13-inch baking pan rather than making it as a layer cake. You’re welcome!
- Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Mix in the vanilla and eggs.
- Add in the dry ingredients and buttermilk.
- Gently fold in the lemon zest and juice.
- Turn the batter into a greased baking pan and bake until done.
- Once cooled completely, top with coconut frosting and toasted coconut.
How to Make Coconut Frosting
Oh man, is this coconut frosting ever delicious! It’s super fluffy, deliciously sweet, and filled with coconut.
- Beat the butter until no lumps remain.
- Mix in the coconut milk.
- Mix in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time until you get the desired sweetness.
Can I Use a Buttermilk Substitute?
Using buttermilk gives the homemade lemon cake the softest texture. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (in addition to what you’re using in the recipe) to a measuring cup, then fill with milk (1% fat or higher) to the 3/4 cup line. Give it a stir and let it sit for 5 minutes to sour.
Can I Freeze Lemon Coconut Cake?
Yes, you can freeze the unfrosted lemon cake once it’s cooled completely. You can also freeze the coconut buttercream frosting separately, or wait to make a fresh batch once you’ve thawed the frozen cake.
Tips for Making Lemon Coconut Cake
Although this from scratch lemon cake and coconut cake frosting are easy to make, there are few things to keep in mind when baking this cake:
Use real butter. Make sure to use real butter that’ s been softened to room temperature. Real butter gives the cake so much flavor and ensures that it doesn’t taste oily.
Use fresh lemon juice. You want to use lemon zest and lemon juice from real lemons. You’ll need about 2 medium to large lemons total. Make sure to zest them then squeeze the juice (they’re hard to zest after you’ve squeezed the juice out.
Shake the coconut milk. Make sure to give your coconut milk a good shake first so that you don’t just get the water-y part or the thick, creamy part. Make sure to use coconut milk and not coconut water. Coconut cream works too, it’ll just be extra creamy and rich in flavor.
Have everything at room temperature. Having room temperature ingredients helps the cake mix together evenly without over mixing the batter. Over mixing can lead to a dry cake.
More LEMON DESSERT RECIPES:
- Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Sweet Glazed Lemon Cookies
- The Best Lemon Jello Cake
- Classic Lemon Bars
- Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
- Lemon Cheesecake Mousse Cups
More COCONUT DESSERT RECIPES:
- White Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie
- Banana Coconut Cream Bites
- Samoa Cupcakes
- White Chocolate Mousse Nests
Lemon Cake with Coconut Frosting
Lemon Coconut Cake
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, , room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, , sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, (use 1/4 cup for a lighter lemon flavor)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 4-5 tablespoons canned coconut milk, (mix well before measuring)
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract, (optional)
- 3 - 3.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup toasted coconut, *
For the Lemon Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Mix in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix about 1/2 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by about 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat with the rest of the flour mixture and buttermilk, turning off the mixture and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Gently fold in the lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 27-33 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool fully. (You can speed up this process by placing the cake in the fridge.
For the Coconut Frosting:
- Beat the butter until fluffy. Then beat in 4 tablespoons coconut milk, and optional coconut extract.
- Mix in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time until the desired sweetness is reached, adding a little more coconut milk as necessary.
- Frost the cooled cake and decorate with coconut.
I’m going to try this for July 4th. Is the coconut milk sweetened or unsweetened, please?
Hi Ruth! Unsweetened. Enjoy!
Haven’t made this yet, but it looks delicious and my husband loves lemon! I am wondering if you could make this as a layer cake? If so, how long to bake and would you need to increase the frosting if also used in between the layers?
Hi Susan! These are great questions! It would make a great layer cake! You could divide the batter into two 8 inch rounds or into three 6 inch rounds. The baking time would be reduced to about 22-25 minutes. I would double the frosting for a layer cake. Enjoy!!
This may be a delicious cake but all the pop-up ads make it impossible to watch. I gave up!!
Hi Jerry! All of our posts have a “Jump to Recipe” button at the top that allows you to jump right down to the recipe card where you can print or save it. Sorry for the frustration!
This cake looks so fluffy and delicious! Can’t wait to try this recipe!
You’re going to love it!!
Hey!!! is there any other ways to make frosting without butter or frosting??? I love this recipe but someone I know won’t eat it because it’s coconut.
You can top it with any kind of frosting you want. Just use regular milk and a different flavor extract.
Is it supposed to be 3/4 cup butter in the frosting? It tastes disgusting. I keep adding powered sugar AND more coconut milk and it still tastes like butter. It’s still a light yellow, too. Not white like the frosting in your picture.
Hi Briana! It is a buttercream frosting, so it will have a buttery flavor. If you whip it longer, the butter will lighten up and become extra creamy.