These dreamy coconut cupcakes are moist and packed with shredded coconut both inside and out and frosted with a delicious cream cheese buttercream. Plus lots of options to customize it to your personal preferences!
Coconut. You either love it or hate it. For me, coconut has it’s place. I love it in certain foods, but not in others. For example, coconut shrimp. Eh, it’s oaky. But the Professor loves it.
Now. coconut cupcakes, bars and cookies? YUM! Pina coladas? Pour me a glass!
Coconut oil? Eh. When you cook with it, your food tastes like coconut! You know I prefer my extra virgin olive oil!
Why is this recipe so great?
When I first made these coconut cupcakes, I followed Ina Garten’s recipe. She uses butter as the cupcake base and yes, it was quite delicious. But I prefer baking with olive oil, so I’ve adapted the recipe.
This cupcakes are full of coconut flavor in the cupcake and topped over the dreamy cream cheese frosting. These are also baked with yogurt instead of buttermilk because I always have yogurt on hand. Yogurt makes these cupcakes incredibly moist.
They are really easy to make and not the usual run-of-the-mill chocolate and vanilla cupcake. I mean chocolate has a special place in my heart, but sometimes you want something different.
And different doesn’t mean difficult or expensive or boring. Just delicious sweet coconut goodness that are perfect for a picnic, birthday party or even a swanky cocktail party.
Ingredients you need
You can make just the cupcakes and frost them with regular buttercream or store-bought frosting. You can also use the cream cheese frosting for any of your cupcake recipes.
- Extra virgin olive oil: When baking cakes with olive oil choose a mild flavored oil. If you want to bake these cupcakes with butter use, 2 cups unsalted butter.
- Eggs: Large eggs are the standard size to use in most baking recipes
- Almond extract: A combination of vanilla extract and almond extract give these cupcakes a sweet and nutty flavor.
- Yogurt: Baking with yogurt yields a wonderfully moist cupcake. If you don’t have yogurt you can substitute with sour cream.
- Milk: Whole milk is used in this recipe.
- Unsweetened shredded coconut: This coconut is added directly into the cake batter. I chose to use unsweetened shredded coconut because I didn’t want the extra sugar as the cupcakes are sweet enough. You can use sweetened coconut, but note that the cupcakes will be sweeter.
- Pantry Staples: All Purpose Flour, Granulated Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Kosher Salt
- Unsalted Butter: Some people prefer to use salted butter in their frostings, but I prefer unsalted. You decide.
- Cream Cheese: If you are not a fan of cream cheese frostings, then just use all butter or a combination of butter and shortening.
- Powdered Sugar: For frostings, powdered sugar is used not granulated sugar. It dissolves quickly in the fat without that grittiness regular sugar has.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: This thins out the frosting a little bit. You can use milk, but it might thin it too much, so use less.
- Vanilla Extract and Almond Extract: Just like cupcakes, two flavor extracts together give the frosting a bit of nutty flavor.
- Sweetened Shredded Coconut: To top the cupcakes, I used sweetened coconut. You can also use unsweetened or even dust your unsweetened coconut with a little powder sugar.
Recipe Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Using a hand mixer or whisk, combine olive oil and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Mix in yogurt and milk until thoroughly combined.
3. Add eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract.
4. In a medium sized bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
5. Add the flour mixture into the oil mixture and whisk until just combined. Over mixing can cause the cupcakes to be dense.
6. Fold in the unsweetened shredded coconut.
7. Spray a 24-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper cups. Fill each muffin cup ¾ up to the top with batter.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a 350ºF oven, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pan and finish cooling on a cooling rack.
10. To make the frosting, use a stand mixer or hand mixer and whip up butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
11. Mix in heavy cream, vanilla and almond extract.
12. Add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth.
13. Frost cooled cupcakes any way you like, with a piping bag or a knife.
14. Top with sweetened shredded coconut.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQS
When mixing up any cake or cupcake batter, the key is not to over mix the batter once the flour is added. This can make the cupcakes dense and tough.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting any cupcake or cake. You don’t wan the frosting to melt.
- You can prepare the frosting ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Cold frosting is hard to pipe, so bring it to room temperature before pipings.
- To add the shredded coconut atop the frosted cupcake, you can just sprinkle it by hand or place the shredded coconut on a plate and tap the frosted cupcake over the coconut to adhere.
The acid in both buttermilk and yogurt helps the leavening and create a light and fluffy dessert. If you have a recipe using buttermilk, you can substitute every 1 cup of buttermilk with ¾ cup Greek yogurt and ¼ cup milk. If you don’t have yogurt on hand, you can also use sour cream or crème fraîche.
It all depends on how much sugar you want in your cupcakes. Since the cupcakes are already sweet, I personally preferred unsweetened coconut. But for the top of the cupcakes, I like sweetened coconut. You can toss your unsweetened coconut with some powdered sugar to sweeten them.
- 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ cup milk
- 7 oz unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¾ lb unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ½ lb powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 TBS heavy whipping cream or milk
- 4 oz sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350ºF Spray a 24-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper cups. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or whisk, combine olive oil and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in yogurt and milk until just combined.
- Add eggs, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 ½ teaspoon almond extract until just combined.
- In a medium-sized bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to the batter.
- Gently fold in unsweetened coconut.
- Fill each muffin cup ¾ up to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pan and finish cooling on a cooling rack.
- To make the frosting, use a stand mixer or hand mixer and whip up butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
- Mix in heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla and ½ teaspoon almond extract.
- Mix in powdered sugar on low speed until smooth.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and top with remaining sweetened coconut.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.
If you prefer baking with butter, then use ¾ lb of butter (1 cup) instead of olive oil. If you prefer baking with coconut oil and want more coconut flavor, use 1 cup of coconut oil.
I preferred using unsweetened coconut baked inside the cupcakes as I felt the cupcakes were sweet enough. You can use sweetened coconut, if you prefer sweeter cupcakes.
For the frosting, you can substitute coconut oil for butter or cream cheese or both. It all depends on the flavor you are looking for.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 621Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 198mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 2gSugar: 48gProtein: 6g
PS If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback.
You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram. Sign up for my eMail list, too!