Gluten-Free Coconut Cake

This gluten-free cake is is light, fluffy, sweet, and loaded with coconut flavor!

gluten free coconut layer cake cream cheese frosting

Coconut Cake is my favorite. Now, I love Chocolate Fudge Cake and Sherry Spice Cake and French Apple Cake too – but coconut is my favorite. 

I think it might be because, at least until my daughter was born, everyone else in my family hated coconut. So I got all kinds of other cakes, but I could never choose coconut cake if I wanted everyone else to like the cake too. Now, both my husband and the kiddo like coconut – so gluten-free coconut for me too!

I suppose I could have kept my childhood cakes all to myself – but a tummy ache is less fun then a party, in my opinion.

how to make gluten-free coconut cake

In any event, here we are with my favorite cake. It’s light, fluffy, sweet, and loaded with coconut flavor. I think the proper way to serve this cake is covered in cream cheese icing and coconut. It should essentially look like a snowball got in a fight with a white shag rug. However, if you are partial to “naked” cakes or sheet cakes or want to toast the coconut, do it your way. Just promise me you’ll enjoy the cake when you’re done baking. And maybe snap a picture & share it with me. I’m always so excited when someone makes one of my favorite recipes.

I usually cream cheese icing, just like Ina Garten – who’s recipe I’ve adapted here. But this cake is also delicious covered in chocolate icing & toasted coconut. If you’re a fan of Mounds bars, have at it. Put some almond silvers between the layers and on top too if you’re an Almond Joy fan. Ina actually uses a bit of almond extract in her icing – I swap it for coconut extract for added coconut flavor.  You can also use lemon extract and add some lemon zest to the cake and the frosting  – that’s my husband’s favorite version.

I suggest trying the recipe once my way and then making it your own.  If you love it half as much as I do, it’ll be your favorite too. If you want a dairy-free version, make the cake with a butter substitute, and top it with my Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Corn Free Frosting.

gluten-free coconut cake recipe
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3.63 from 8 votes

Coconut Cake

This gluten-free Coconut Cake recipe is light, fluffy, sweet, and loaded with coconut flavor. It's my favorite cake, and it could be your favorite too!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, cake recipes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 1201kcal
Author: K.C. Cornwell


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter or butter flavored substitute, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract extract
  • 3 cups Gluten Free flour blend plus more for dusting the pans
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or baking binder* *unless your blend already contains it
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk or non-dairy milk I use coconut milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the Cream Cheese frosting:


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the Gluten Free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 55 to 65 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
  • For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and coconut extract on low speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just smooth (don’t whip!).
  • To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. 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.


Recipe Conversion of an original by Ina Garten.
Makes 8 healthy serving or 10-12 smaller slices.


Calories: 1201kcal | Carbohydrates: 128g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 75g | Saturated Fat: 48g | Cholesterol: 256mg | Sodium: 469mg | Potassium: 276mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 101g | Vitamin A: 2169IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 144mg | Iron: 2mg

Photos: Meg van der Kruik

Gluten-Free Coconut Layer Cake. Yes, friends. YES.

gluten-free coconut cake recipe

Frequently Asked Questions about Gluten-Free Coconut Cake:

How do you keep a gluten free cake moist?

Don’t overbake the cake, and don’t overmix the batter. If possible, do almost all of your mixing when creaming butter and sugar or adding eggs, and sift together dry ingredients. Then only mix the better enough to combine the wet & dry. Also, it’s a good idea to fully frost gluten-free instead of leaving open edges.

Which flour is the best for gluten-free cake?

Pamela’s Gluten-Free Artisan Blend or King Arthur Measure for Measure blend both make light, fluffy gluten-free cakes. If you’re making your own blend, use gum free baking binder instead of xanthan or guar gum.

Does coconut cake need to be refrigerated?

If the cake is covered with a cream cheese icing, yes. The plain cake itself does not need to be refrigerated.

How long does coconut cake last in fridge?

The cake should last for four days when fully covered and refrigerated.

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