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Light and fluffy coconut cupcakes are topped with a coconut-lime buttercream for one incredibly flavorful treat. No one would ever guess these cupcakes started off with a cake mix!

Close up of a coconut cupcake on a platter with other cupcakes.

I love coconut.

I know not everyone feels the same way. A lot of people are a big ol’ nope when it comes to coconut. And that’s ok!

But those of us that like it tend to be all-in on it, whether it’s in the form of coconut cream bars, coconut macaroons, impossible coconut pie, or coconut cheesecake.

So if that’s you, I know you’ll love these coconut cupcakes, packed with coconut flavor from the tender cupcake to the coconut-lime buttercream frosting.

And the best part? They’re totally easy to make with a cake mix!

Cake plate filled with coconut cupcakes topped with coconut-lime buttercream.


This coconut cupcake recipe is one of those that came about when I was trying to use up some random ingredients in my pantry one day.

I had a cake mix, some instant pudding mix, and a can of coconut milk. I knew I could make some magic happen with that! 

The cupcake base is made simple with my favorite doctored cake mix recipe

I don’t mind making cupcakes from scratch, like my funfetti cupcakes or my cherry cheesecake cupcakes. But sometimes you just wanna go simple and start with a cake mix, ya know?

The frosting for these coconut cupcakes is really where this recipe shines, though. I took my classic buttercream frosting recipe and made it even more amazing with coconut milk and some lime zest.

The flavors are summer-y and will make you feel like you’re vacationing on a beach, even if it’s cold and dreary where you are. 

Coconut cupcake batter in a white mixing bowl.


Dressing up cake mixes is one of my all-time favorite tricks. It’s great for beginner bakers or anyone who wants a bit of a shortcut but still wants a delicious cupcake in the end.

Making the cupcakes

To make these coconut cupcakes, you’ll need:

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box French Vanilla cake mix 
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant coconut cream pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (13 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk; divided use – Make sure you use canned coconut milk, not the coconut milk found in cartons in the refrigerated section
  • ⅔ cup sweetened shredded coconut
Coconut cupcake batter divided into lined cupcake wells, ready to go in the oven.

This recipe makes 24 cupcakes, so line 24 cupcake wells with paper liners.

With a mixer, beat together the cake mix and pudding mix with the sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, and ½ cup (equal to 4 ounces) of the coconut milk. Beat this for about 2 minutes.

Once the batter is well combined, fold in the shredded coconut. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake pans. 

Bake the cupcakes for 18-22 minutes. You’ll know they’re done with the tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick or taster inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Let the cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure they are fully cooled before you frost them.

Coconut-lime frosting ingredients next to coconut cupcakes on a wire cooling rack.

Making the coconut-lime frosting

While the cupcakes are baking, take the rest of the coconut milk (there should be 9 ounces left) and add it to a saucepan over medium heat. 

Bring the coconut milk to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let the milk reduce for about 20 minutes. Let the milk cool, then chill for about an hour – this entire process will thicken the coconut milk a bit.

Once the coconut milk has chilled and the coconut cupcakes are cool, make the frosting.

Coconut-lime frosting in a white mixing bowl.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter with the reduced and cooled coconut milk for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is well combined. Add some lime zest, vanilla, and a bit of coconut extract.

Slowly add the powdered sugar while the mixer is on low speed. Once all of the sugar is added, give the frosting a taste to check the flavor and texture. You can add more powdered sugar for a thicker frosting or a bit of whole milk or cream for a thinner texture. 

To finish the frosting, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for another 3-4 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and garnish as desired with some shredded coconut and/or additional lime zest.

Several coconut cupcakes arranged on a white platter.


You can store the finished cupcakes, covered, at room temperature for up to a day or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If your house is warm, I definitely recommend keeping them in the fridge to prevent the frosting from getting too soft.

Let the cupcakes come back to room temperature before serving.

If you want to make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them, freeze the cupcakes and frosting separately.

Unwrapped coconut cupcake on a white plate. More cupcakes are visible in the background.

Place the cooled cupcakes in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag. Place the frosting in a separate airtight container. Freeze for up to a month.

Let the frosting thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Let the cupcakes thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours. Bring the frosting to room temperature, then beat it with your mixer for a couple of minutes to revive the texture.

Now you can frost the coconut cupcakes and serve as you normally would!

Two coconut cupcakes on a white plate. One of the cupcakes is unwrapped and cut in half.
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Coconut Cupcakes

By: Jamie
4.54 from 15 ratings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Cooling/Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Easy-to-make coconut cupcakes start with a cake mix and end with a luscious coconut-lime buttercream frosting.


For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 package French Vanilla cake mix 15.25 ounces
  • 1 package instant coconut cream pudding mix 3.4 ounces
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 13 ounces unsweetened coconut milk 1 can; divided use (see notes below)
  • cup sweetened shredded coconut

For the Frosting:

  • remaining 9 ounces of coconut milk
  • 2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
  • zest of 2 medium limes
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 ½ pounds confectioners’ sugar about 5 ¾ cups


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners or spray wells with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs and 1/2 cup (4 ounces) coconut milk. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined. Fold in the shredded coconut.
  • Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Prepare the frosting.

For the Frosting

  • While the cupcakes bake, place the remaining coconut milk into a medium saucepan with high sides. Over medium heat, bring the coconut milk to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium-low heat and reduce the coconut milk for about 20 minutes. Turn the burner off and allow the coconut milk to cool completely. Cover and chill (about an hour); this will cause the coconut milk to thicken up a bit.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the reduced and cooled coconut milk on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. Add in the lime zest, vanilla, and coconut extract and mix to combine.
  • Turn the mixer down to low speed and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until it is completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer and check the buttercream for taste and texture. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat the mixture for about 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and if desired, garnish with a dusting of shredded coconut or additional lime zest.



If you ran out of powdered sugar for the frosting, learn how to make powdered sugar for a simple-to-use substitute.


Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 369kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 74mg, Sodium: 199mg, Potassium: 90mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 572IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 69mg, Iron: 1mg

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

4.54 from 15 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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  1. Jane Bennett says:

    The cupcakes came out beautiful and then they caved in while cooling. What can I do to keep that from happening again?

  2. Darlene says:

    What can I use to substitute sour cream?

    1. Jamie says:

      Hi Darlene – Plain greek yogurt would work fine! Happy baking –

  3. Susy says:

    2 questions for the coconut cupcakes : can you use the small muffin pans with this recipe of course to get more cupcakes from one recipe?
    Can they be frozen and if so how long are they good in the freezer

    1. Jamie says:

      Yes, you should be able to bake these in a mini muffin pan for mini cupcakes. You can freeze unfrosted cupcakes, wrapped well, for up to 3 months. Hope this helps!

  4. marie johson says:

    One of the best cupcakes i’ve ever tasted! thanks for this amazing recipe <3

  5. Sue says:

    I have made these three times for different events. People say they are the best cupcakes they have ever eaten and I have to agree. Thank you for posting the recipe.

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed the cupcakes, Sue! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!