Coconut Pineapple Cake

coconut pineapple cake

If you want a pretty, feed-a-crowd, moist, impressive coconut pineapple cake, look no further. You will, however, have to look for unsweetened coconut milk for the cake batter. This is not the same as cream of coconut, which is that extremely sweet ingredient in many Piña Colada recipes. Read the label. You want either 100% coconut milk or nearly so with maybe a small amount of preservative. No sweeteners, no thickeners. By using this instead of whole milk, your cake will be packed with extra coconut flavor. Look for it in the Asian aisle of your supermarket or at specialty stores.


Coconut Pineapple Cake
1 batch Italian Meringue Buttercream, vanilla variation, ready to use
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1, 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2¾ cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups 100% unsweetened coconut milk (not sweetened cream of coconut)
  • 13 tablespoons (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Italian meringue buttercream, vanilla variation
  • 3 cups sweetened long-shred coconut
  1. For the Filling: Place sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Drizzle a little bit of the juice from the pineapple over the dry mixture and whisk until smooth. Add remaining pineapple and juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for a couple of minutes, whisking occasionally until thickened and translucent. Whisk in the butter and cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled and firmed or in an airtight container for up to 3 days, if desired.
  2. For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Coat the insides of two 8-inch by 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line bottoms with parchment rounds, then spray parchment.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside. Whisk together the egg whites and milk in a small bowl; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Divide batter evenly in pans and smooth tops with offset spatula.
  6. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The cake will be tinged with light golden brown around the edges and the top and will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan.
  7. Cool pans on racks for about 10 minutes. Unmold, peel off parchment, and place directly on racks to cool completely. Layers are ready to fill and frost. Alternatively, place on layers on cardboards and double wrap in plastic wrap; store at room temperature if assembling within 24 hours.
  8. For the Assembly: Make sure buttercream is ready to go. It should be very soft - almost like mayonnaise. Place bottom layer on an 8-inch cardboard round (it will make covering it with coconut that much easier later on). Fill the cake with the pineapple filling (you might not need all of it, extra is great over ice cream). Frost the cake’s top and sides with the buttercream. Don't worry if your application job isn’t perfect - you will be covering the whole cake with coconut! See how imperfect it looks when you are still in the midst of it all?
  9. Make sure you have a nice thick layer of buttercream all over (you might still have some leftover, which can be frozen).
  10. Place coconut in a large bowl. Pick up cake (this is where that cardboard round comes in) and hold over bowl. Scoop up coconut with other hand and press generously all over top and sides of cake. Cake is ready to serve. May be refrigerated up to 2 days covered with a cake dome. Make sure to serve at room temperature.

Bakepedia Tips

  • The pineapple filling is optional. There is enough buttercream to use as filling, too.

47 Responses to Coconut Pineapple Cake

  1. Onetah vaden August 28, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    The cake looks wonderful.

    • Dede Wilson August 29, 2013 at 7:07 am #

      It is a great cake to make year round since the ingredients are always available. Let us know if you try it!

      • Patricia Wilson April 14, 2024 at 8:20 pm #

        I made it! Can’t wait to taste it tomorrow. I made it for work.

  2. Annette Fulmer September 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Sorry, but this cake is perttier than good tasting. Question no egg yolks in the cake?
    My family didn’t care for it.

    • Dede Wilson September 3, 2013 at 6:55 am #

      Annette, so sorry you were disappointed. It is a white cake, hence the lack of yolks, but made with coconut milk instead of whole milk. Perhaps our Yellow Cake will be more to your liking.

      • LaToria Chanel July 31, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        where can i get the yellow cake recipe?

        • Dede Wilson July 31, 2014 at 11:20 am #

          The cake is yellow due to all of the delicious pure butter but you can certainly use a Yellow Cake if you like. Your choice!

  3. debz carp October 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Hi there do you know if this cake is able to be stacked and cover and decorated with fondant? ? Thnx 🙂

    • Dede Wilson October 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      The cake itself could be covered with fondant, but to us the beauty of this cake is the buttercream and the shaggy coating of coconut. You could do it, but just don’t expect the same coconut-y experience.

  4. Candygirl7 November 23, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I could literally fall face first in this cake and not come up for air! I am making this for Thanksgiving —to heck with pies.

    • Dede Wilson November 24, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      Well, the pineapple is the sign of hospitality, so it still goes with the holiday:)

  5. Ivette December 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Hi dede for this cake do you just recommend the IMBC or can I use other buttercreams like French buttercream.

    • Dede Wilson December 16, 2013 at 8:21 am #

      You could use either. The point is to have a silky smooth, not-too-sweet buttercream to support all the coconut and add moistness and creaminess.

  6. del-floyd January 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Can you substitute unsweetened coconut milk for sweetened condensed milk in the batter?
    Just wondering if the batter will be soggy or too sweet, will it ruin the cake, don’t have the coconut milk, what can you substitute, or can you just leave it out completely? We are snowed in, husband really wants this cake!
    Please give me some feedback…

    • Dede Wilson January 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Hi! I am guessing you meant can you use sweetened condensed instead of unsweetened coconut milk? No, unfortunately that won’t work. You could make it with whole milk (cows milk) for a less coconut-y experience. What I would do in that case is sprinkle the layers with rum…

      Thank you for creating an account! Good luck and let us know what you decide to do.

  7. Consentida February 1, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    I want to make this cake-but after seeing comment about the white cake-because of no yolks & you suggesting the yellow cake, not sure which way to go. What is the difference flavor wise between the two cakes?

    • Dede Wilson February 2, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      A yellow cake has a rich color and flavor due to the yolks. By using a white cake recipe, the coconut milk flavor will be more pronounced.

  8. Consentida February 1, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

    Also if I go with the yellow cake would I use the coconut milk for more flavor?

    • Dede Wilson February 2, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      You could try it but the coconut flavor will be less pronounced than if you use the recipe I suggest.

  9. Mary Plata March 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    I would like to know how to increase the portions…instead of two 8″ round cakes that will serve upto 12, two larger cakes 9×13″ that will serve more people? Thanks, Mery

    • Dede Wilson March 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

      Mary, you could pour the whole recipe into a 13×9 pan. Then make again and make a second 13×9 pan. Did I understand correctly that you wanted two 13x9s?

      • Mary Plata March 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

        I would like a cake that feed around 24 people, that´s why I imagine a 9 x 13. Can you suggest me the correct pan size ?….Thank you

    • Dede Wilson March 11, 2014 at 9:07 am #

      Hi Mary, I would say you could bake one 9×13 and split in half for the filling, or you could make a super tall cake by baking two 9x13s and stacking them with the filling in the middle. Either way you will have enough of either slender or generous servings for your crowd! I would probably make 1 1/2x the batch and divide it into two 9x13s…

      • Mary Plata March 11, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

        Dede, thank you for your prompt response. Yes 11/2 sounds great! Thanks

  10. Vero Cabrera March 10, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    Looks SOOOOOO delicious! Def. I’m gonna try it. Thanks Dede! Warm regards from Spain <3

  11. Veronica Roy March 14, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Oh, this must be the best cake in the world.

  12. Sheila Medina March 17, 2014 at 9:19 pm #


  13. Judy-Phillipps March 18, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    Hi Dede, could I use another filling instead of pineapple?

    • Dede Wilson March 18, 2014 at 8:41 am #

      Absolutely! I have used more of the buttercream itself and I know of bakers who have taken a shortcut and used pineapple preserves. They aren’t always easy to find – and they are sweet – but it’s an option. Anything that goes with coconut would work. Let us know what you try.

  14. jabbaar evans April 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    could I substitute crushed pinapple with sliced round pineapple. I remember my grandma coconut cake with pineapple round slices. if I add extra sugar to the buttercream will it destroy the consistency

    • Dede Wilson April 23, 2014 at 7:23 am #

      The filling ends up with a crushed pineapple texture, so I am not sure how you mean to add the slices. I wouldn’t add more sugar to the IMBC. What you could do is use the IMBC outside and inside and lay the pineapple slices within the filling. Let us know what you try.

  15. Jessica Igarashi May 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    This cake looks delicious! Question: If I don’t mind having a yellow cake, can I just leave the egg yolks in, or would that alter the cake in other ways as well?

    • LaToria Chanel July 31, 2014 at 11:19 am #

      this never got a response, id like to know the same as well.

      • Dede Wilson July 31, 2014 at 11:25 am #

        You could try it although we have not tested it that way. I would try 3 whole eggs in lieu of the 5 whites. Let us know if you try it and how it turns out!

  16. LaToria Chanel July 31, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    This recipe sounds great and look’s very delicious, but i’m confused. If this ia a white cake and u omit egg yolks, why does the cake look so yellow in the picture??

  17. Lillian May 31, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    Not sure what I did…filling great….Italian butter cream ditto…. I made the cake as directed. All ingredients were fresh and at room temp. The cake didn’t raise. Any suggestions as to why?

    • Dede Wilson June 1, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Old leavener perhaps? Or maybe a lag time before getting into oven and leavener has already been “blown”? Or maybe not creaming properly? or maybe oven temp is off. Those are the areas I would look at first.

  18. Sabrina Gump Bilter June 8, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    It did not rise but the flavor is great. I sent you a personal email Dede.

  19. Annette McCou Stokes October 11, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    I Think I’ll try it today

  20. Dyshsa November 2, 2015 at 12:12 am #

    Please listen and save yourself time and money! This cake is awful. I’ve been baking for over 60 years. The cake is dry and lacks flavor! It has too much butter in it and so does the frosting! Grant it, the cake looks beautiful but who wants to eat it? I’m sorry to say but my expensive cake went in the garbage can! Generally, one can determine from the ingredients whether a cake will taste good, I acted against my better judgment!

    • Dede Wilson November 2, 2015 at 8:53 am #

      So sorry you didn’t enjoy it! This cake continues to be one of our most popular posts. Just last week I made a GF variation and it was loved by all – didn’t even tell people if was GF! The Italian Meringue Buttercream is a very buttery preparation. A classic that is what it is.

  21. Elsie May 8, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

    I wasn’t impressed with the cake, it had an “off” taste, perhaps I will try with a different recipe. I did like the filling and buttercream though.

  22. superdi1 May 15, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    I made this cake and it turned out very nice; however, I didn’t like the sweetness of the filling and wondered how to make it less intense. I thought about adding some pudding or whipped cream to it to see if that would help. I don’t know how that would work out as a filling though. Do you know how to do this or make it less sweet?

  23. Shirley Castillo Vanderau July 11, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

    This cake is excellent!! I love coconut and cake recipe ever!! Thank you!

    • Shirley Castillo Vanderau July 11, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

      you can always adjust it to your liking..I cut the sugar back and it still comes out wonderful.

  24. Erik Barbosa September 11, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    Made, and was the hit of the party, all loved, but cake was not yellow as in photo.

  25. Cindy Develle Bartlett December 30, 2016 at 8:37 am #

    This cake is fabulous!! I made this for my husband’s birthday & it was a hit! I never made a butter cream icing like this one before so I was somewhat worries but it was amazing & so fluffy!!! Thank you for the recipe!

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