I made Ina Garten’s famous coconut cake recipe – and it’s worth all the hype

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Calling all coconut lovers! Ina Garten’s coconut cake is a must-have dessert for any occasion.

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

Ina Garten’s coconut cake recipe has developed a bit of a cult following. It can also be ordered by Goldbelly! But it is also an accessible recipe to cook at home.

Made with simple and easy to find ingredients, the method is not necessary. 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.

Ina Garten’s famous coconut cake recipe


Coconut cake Ina Garten

Molly Allen for Taste of Home

  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of 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 of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 4 ounces of sweetened shredded coconut


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


Step 1: cream butter and sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two 9-inch round pans. Grease with butter or cooking spray, line with parchment paper, grease 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 in a separate bowl. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.

Editor’s note: Ina says the mixture might look curdled at this point, so don’t worry.

Step 2: Add dry ingredients and milk

Ina Garten Coconut Cake

Molly 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 a third of the flour. Then add 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 dough is just combined. Do not overmix.

Step 3: Fold in coconut and coconut

at Garten Coconut Cake

Molly Allen for Taste of Home

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

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

Step 4: Make a cream cheese frosting

    Ina Garten Coconut Cake Cream Cheese Frosting

Molly Allen for Taste of Home

For the frosting, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl, or in 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 if it is necessary. Spread frosting on top. Place the second layer on top, the top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut on 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 Cake

Molly Allen for Taste of Home

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

The ingredient list is heavy, with all the 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 a heavy coconut cake.

The recipe provides enough dough to bake two 9-inch pies. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather, though. I baked my cakes for 35 minutes, and the edges were pretty brown by then.

There’s plenty of sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting for both the filling and the topping. The vanilla extract and almond extract play well with the whole coconut to enhance the flavor. In this recipe, Ina does not call for artificial coconut extract. Instead, let the shredded coconut speak for itself in every bite. This is definitely a dense cake, without a tremendous amount of moisture. It is heavy and on the drier side, but with so much juicy cream cheese, it becomes well balanced.

This Ina Garten Coconut Cake is simple and tasty, and it kept me coming back for more after that first slice!

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