Coconut Carrot Cake

5 from 10 votes

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This coconut carrot cake is a classic southern recipe that you can make anywhere, regardless of which side of the Mason-Dixon line you find yourself. To prove our point, we put this moist carrot cake together in the hinterlands of Wisconsin. Toasted coconut adds a sweet, nutty flavor to this cake. If you don’t like coconut, just leave it out of the recipe. It tastes wonderful either way.

I must say that even Scarlett O’Hara would swoon over this homemade cake recipe.

coconut carrot cake sliced open, showing rich layers of crumbs and frosting.
Coconut Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

About this dessert

This carrot cake recipe from scratch showcases the decadent results of baking in your kitchen at home. It is perfect for a holiday dinner, a birthday celebration, a pot luck church social, or just because you love cake.

This carrot and coconut cake is a winner every time.

homemade carrot cake on a pedistal with toasted coconut cream cheese frosting.
Coconut Carrot Cake from Platter Talk

Cinnamon and ginger lend warm supporting roles of flavor to this Classic Carrot Cake recipe. And delicate, toasted coconut flakes add a level of understated sweetness and depth of flavor that you are going to love.

What’s in it

  • Shredded coconut
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Baking soda
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Carrots
  • Buttermilk
  • Eggs
  • Sugar granulated and brown
  • Vanilla
  • Oil
Slice of homemade carrot cake and cut cake in the background.
Make this carrot cake from scratch.

How to make it

Start by gently toasting some shredded coconut on a baking sheet for three to five minutes at 350° until lightly brown. Be sure not to skip this critical step as it will enhance the flavor of the coconut and make its aromatic oils stand out. This will add an extra layer of flavor and structure to your carrot cake.  Do the same thing with any recipe that has nuts. Salads, cookies, and other desserts that have nuts in the recipe will all taste better if you give the nuts a quick toast in the oven first!

Showing the steps to make a carrot cake from scratch.

1. After the coconut is toasted, combine the flour, spices, and the leavening agents in a mixing bowl.

2. And then stir in the toasted coconut.

3. In a separate bowl, add the carrots and buttermilk.

4. Then stir the carrot and buttermilk together.

Five steps to make homemade carrot cake.

5. Combine the eggs and sugar, along with the vanilla.

6. Use an electric mixer and beat the eggs and sugar mixture on high speed until pale and thick,  then stir in the oil.

7. Alternate adding the dry ingredients.

8. Along with the carrot mixture into the beaten eggs and sugar.

9. Beat the carrot cake batter until smooth.

Cooking Tip: Be sure that the eggs are at room temperature before making the batter. Read:  Why use room temperature eggs when baking.

Spreading a classic cream cheese frosting on a homemade layer cake.

10.  Bake the carrot cake layers at 350° for 40-45 minutes and after cooling,  place the first layer, dome (top) side-down, onto a serving dish.

11.   Apply a layer of ice to the first cake layer.

12.   Place the second layer on top of the first, dome side down, and spread a couple of cups of the frosting on top and sides.

Now, chill the carrot cake for a half an hour to allow the frosting to set.

Homemade cocount carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Next, spread the remaining frosting over the carrot cake, giving it a few swirls to make it look pretty like my sister, Chef Kat.

Sprinling coconut flakes. over carrort cake and cream cheese frosting.

Sprinkle more coconut on the top and sides of your beautiful carrot cake and maybe add a few more shredded carrots to the top as we did in these photos.

Plate holding a big slice of homemade cake.

FAQ

Can I use regular flour for this cake?

You can use all-purpose flour for this recipe.  It may turn out slightly “heavier” than if you use cake flour.

What is the difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour?

  • Cake flour has a lower protein amount than regular four and thus is lighter in texture and ultimately crumb after the cake comes out of the oven.

How long will carrot cake last?

  • Stored properly in the refrigerator, this cake should be good to eat for a week.

How do I store this cake?

  • Cover any leftover carrot cake with foil or plastic wrap to prevent from drying out.
  • Then refrigerate the leftover cake. It should keep well up to one week if stored properly in the fridge.

Can I freeze carrot cake?

Yes, you can freeze this cake for later use.

  • To freeze, wrap the cake tightly, in foil or plastic wrap. It should store well for 4 to 6 months if wrapped and frozen properly.

Make this carrot cake soon and be sure and let us know how you like it!

Dan from Platter Talk standing in the kitchen.
Dan

More Cake Recipes from Scratch

With over 35 cake and cupcake recipes, you’re sure to find one to drool over. These are our three most popular cake recipes.

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Moist Carrot Cake Recipe

5 from 10 votes
This coconut carrot cake is a delicious and easy carrot cake from scratch that your friends and family will love!
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 12

Ingredients 

For the Coconut Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup Shredded coconut, Unsweetened
  • 2.5 cups Flour, Cake flour is best!
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tbsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp Ground ginger
  • 1 lb Carrots, Peeled, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup Buttermilk, Room temperature
  • 4 Eggs, Room temperature
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Vegetable oil

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz Cream cheese, Room temperature
  • 1 cup Butter, Room temperature
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt
  • 3 cups Powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Shredded coconut, Half toasted, half raw.

Instructions 

For the Coconut Carrot Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Using a rimmed baking sheet, evenly distribute the shredded coconut in a single layer and toast on center rack of the oven for 5 minutes or until golden-brown.
  • Using two 9-inch cake pans, grease and flour them, using a parchment paper cut-out for the bottom of the pans. (See recipe notes).
  • Combine the toasted coconut, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon in a medium-size mixing bowl and stir well. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the shredded carrots and buttermilk and mix well.
  • Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually stream in oil. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with carrot mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; beat until smooth. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth top.
    In a large mixing bowl, use a hand-held mixer and beat the eggs with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract, on high for 4 minutes until the mixture is pale and thick. Reduce mixer speed and alternately add the dry ingredients and carrot mixture, a little at a time and beat until smooth. Evenly divide and distribute the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the top.
  • Place cake pans on the center rack inside of the oven and then bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be sure to rotate the cake pans, halfway through. Remove the cake pans from the oven and place on a wire rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Use a paring knife so separate sides of cake from the pan and then invert the cakes onto the wire cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. Allow the cake layers to cool completely.
  • While the cake layers are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
    Place cream cheese and butter in a medium-size mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until mixture is smooth, about a minute. Stir in the vanilla extract and then gradually add the powdered sugar. Use an electric mixer and beat until cream cheese frosting is light and fluffy. This should take about two minutes.
  • Spread a  spoonful of the frosting on a serving platter and then place the bottom layer of the cake, dome-side (top) down. Spread about a cup of frosting evenly over the top. Place the second layer of cake on top of first, again, dome-side down. Spread about two cups of frosting over the top and sides and then chill the cake for 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set.
  • Finally, spread the rest of the frosting over the sides and top of the cake and swirl it to make it pretty. Sprinkle the top of the cake with additional coconut shreds and press some of them into the sides of the cake. Garnish center of cake with a small amount of shredded carrots if desired.  Allow cake to chill for a least 30 minutes, or overnight to allow the frosting to set.

Notes

See Scott's great video demonstration on how to grease and flour cake pan.
May substitute coconut oil or olive oil for the vegetable oil.
For a gluten-free version, substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour for the regular (or cake) flour and add a teaspoon of xantham gum.
Make cupcakes from this recipe and bake at 350° F. for 18 minutes.
Convert this carrot cake into a sheet cake using a 9" x 13" greased baking dish. Reduce baking time to 35 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 843kcal, Carbohydrates: 94g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 49g, Saturated Fat: 33g, Cholesterol: 139mg, Sodium: 671mg, Potassium: 411mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 70g, Vitamin A: 7405IU, Vitamin C: 2.2mg, Calcium: 145mg, Iron: 2.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!
Updated from the original post of May 18, 2019

Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is seriously the best carrot cake I’ve seen a long time. Love carrot cake and simply love the coconut. With cream cheese frosting, it’s a real treat, healthy treat!

  2. 5 stars
    Carrot cake is such a classic comfort food for me , it reminds be of summers’ past and family get togethers. Thought i never had a recipe, I will try yours !

  3. 5 stars
    I love carrot cake and I love coconut but I had never thought about pairing coconut flakes and carrot cake. Must taste amazing, will definitely keep this in mind next time I make carrot cake.

  4. 5 stars
    I love carrot cake and I love coconut but it has never occurred to me to combine these two! I have to give it a try for sure.

  5. 5 stars
    You’ve got the secret to coconut down pat. Yep!! You’ve got to toast some of it to get to that delicious flavor. I noticed you use ginger in the cake — how yummy. My recipe isn’t quite like that and I’m really liking your version. The cake looks so moist – my mouth is watering. This is going to be my next dessert recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to make this for my dad’s birthday this year! Love the addition of the coconut right in the cake! Thanks for sharing!

  7. 5 stars
    It is such a great way to describe a cake! Makes you want to make it ASAP and no matter what! 🙂 Delicious and super flavorful recipe – just what I need for this weekend!

  8. I am trying not to drool on my keyboard. This is perfect for spring dessert season. I love all the coconut you added to enhance the flavor.

  9. 5 stars
    I happen to love carrot cake. Adding the coconut takes it to the next level. This would be a great cake for entertaining. What a stunning presentation.