Serve These Vegan Vanilla Coconut Cupcakes for Your Next Celebration

I know at least one of you will be throwing a party soon. And every party needs cake.

Vertical image of mini desserts topped with frosting swirls and toasted garnishes, with text on the bottom and top of the image.

You have quite a selection to choose from, lucky duck: there are layered cakes, cookie cakes, and cheesecakes, just to name a select few.

But if you’re on the hunt for something specific, say, a dairy-free cupcake with a bit of flavor and texture, I have exactly what you need!

Vertical image of part of a cupcake topped with a swirl of frosting, in front of a black background and white towel.

Vegan vanilla coconut cupcakes are moist and sweet, with creamy coconut milk and flecks of coconut throughout each bite.

Topped with a little mountain of fluffy vegan vanilla frosting and garnished with pretty toasted coconut flakes, birthday candles are close to irrelevant.

They’re beautiful, aren’t they?

Vertical top-down image of a series of decorated vanilla baked goods on a slate surrounded by golden-brown garnishes.

It’s a surprisingly simple and easy recipe – with no crazy alternative ingredients to replace the dairy and eggs, don’t be shocked if you already have everything you need in your fridge and pantry.

The recipe uses a small handful of essential kitchen ingredients, like oil, flour, sugar, and vanilla extract, with just a few specialty ingredients like canned coconut milk and flakes, and vegan butter.

Vertical image of vanilla baked goods topped with white frosting and golden-brown garnishes in front of empty muffin liners.

It was a HUGE relief when I found out I had all of the ingredients at home!

I kissed that unnecessary trip to the grocery store goodbye, and unwanted nuisance after a tiring day of work.

Vertical close-up top-down image of a dessert with a swirly mound of frosting and a golden-brown garnish.

And this was incredibly lucky for me since, since I already had my sweatpants on and a chilled glass of sangria in my hand.

Serve and enjoy these on their own, or with a few spoonfuls of fresh raspberries on the side for a pop of delightful color.

Vertical close-up image of a swirly mound of white frosting with a golden-brown topping.

The glass of sangria is optional. Or a necessity, depending on your perspective is. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.

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Horizontal image of decorated cupcakes with toasted coconut garnishes.

Vegan Vanilla Coconut Cupcakes

  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x


Need a vegan dessert recipe worthy of any fun celebration? Make these moist and fluffy vegan vanilla coconut cupcakes.



For the Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegan granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Frosting and Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) vegan margarine, room temperature
  • 33 1/2 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, shredded coconut, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the remaining liquid ingredients, and mix just until incorporated.
  4. Pour batter into cupcake liners.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and allow to cool.

For the Frosting and Garnish:

  1. In a small skillet, toast the coconut flakes on medium-high heat until golden brown, tossing continually. Set aside to cool.
  2. While the coconut flakes are cooling, beat the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until whipped.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar a little at a time, starting at a low speed and slowly increasing to high speed, until light and fluffy.
  4. Mix in the salt, milk, and vanilla until completely incorporated, adding more milk and sugar as needed to adjust the consistency.
  5. When cupcakes are completely cool, pipe the icing on top, and garnish with a couple of the toasted coconut flakes. Serve and enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: coconut, coconut milk, cupcakes, vanilla, vegan

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep

Horizontal image of assorted dry and wet ingredients in bowls on a dark surface surrounded by white flakes and a white towel.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Set aside.

Measure all of the ingredients for the batter.

Step 2 – Combine Dry Ingredients

Horizontal image of a white bowl with white dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, vegan granulated sugar, coconut shreds, baking soda, and salt.

All-purpose flour is great, but if you want a slightly lighter and fluffier final product, consider using cake flour instead.

Step 3 – Add the Liquid Ingredients

Horizontal image of a thick light yellow batter in a white bowl.

Add the coconut milk, canola oil, vanilla extract, and white vinegar to the bowl of dry ingredients. Only mix until just combined, which will prevent the cake from becoming tough and chewy.

Step 4 – Divide Batter in Muffin Pan

Horizontal image of a muffin tin with each cup lined and filled with a light yellow batter.

Evenly divide the batter among the 12 liners in the prepared muffin pan. I like using a large cookie scoop to get the most uniform amount of batter, which will promote even baking.

Step 5 – Bake

Horizontal image of baked light yellow muffins in a pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the they are puffy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove immediately from the oven, and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.

Step 6 – Toast the Flakes

Horizontal image of a pan with orange handle, with toasted coconut flakes.

While the cupcakes are cooling, place the 1/2 cup of coconut flakes in a small skillet. Toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until they reach a golden-brown color.

Immediately remove from the heat and let cool completely before garnishing.

Step 7 – Make Frosting

Horizontal image of frosted cupcakes on a slate.

Measure all of the ingredients for the vegan frosting, being sure your vegan stick margarine is at room temperature for easier mixing.

Mix the margarine sticks in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until whipped.

Slowly and gradually add the powdered sugar, starting at a low speed and slowly increasing to high speed, until light and fluffy.

Mix in the salt, non-dairy milk, and vanilla until completely incorporated.

The mixture should be thick, but still easy to spread. If it is too thick, add more milk. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.

Place in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (we used a star tip), and pipe the frosting on top of each cupcake.

Step 8 – Decorate and Serve

Horizontal image of decorated cupcakes with toasted coconut garnishes.

Garnish the top of the frosting with one or two pieces of the toasted flakes. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Enjoy every bite!

You Might Never Go Back to Plain Ol’ Vanilla Cake!

Oh, yes, I’m serious! For someone who consumes A LOT of dairy and eggs (no shame!) I’m head over heels for this vegan dessert recipe.

Vertical image of one single decorated cupcake with vanilla frosting, next to toasted garnishes.

And once you taste it, you’ll know why:

It’s moist, it’s fluffy, it’s soft… and with the most tantalizing texture of flaked coconut!

Sure, there are tons of options to serve all kinds of vegan cake at a party (hello, quick and easy chocolate cake!). But you betcha I’ll be making this cupcake recipe over and over again.

How do you celebrate a fun shindig while sticking with a vegan diet? What are some of your favorite recipes to bake as a sweet showstopper? Let me know in the comment section below!

For more vegan sweets, take a look at some of our other favorite cake recipes:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on June 18, 2009. Last updated: June 15, 2022 at 12:52 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

18 thoughts on “Serve These Vegan Vanilla Coconut Cupcakes for Your Next Celebration”

    • Seriously, Kimmy, it’s a DEFINITE go-to that you can make quickly and easily. Just made a big batch for all of my co-workers last week!

  1. Looks great, & I can’t wait to try it! However, I only have oat milk. Can I use oat milk in place of the canned coconut milk?

    • Oat milk is higher in sugar/carbs, higher in fiber, and lower in fat than canned coconut milk. You should be able to use it as a 1:1 substitute in this recipe, but your cupcakes might come out a bit darker than the ones pictured here, since the sugar will likely caramelize a bit more. Please let us know how they turn out!

    • Hey, Nicol! Not baking powder – that is a different product. Baking soda is a common name for soda bicarbonate, or bicarbonate of soda.

    • Hey, Yazmin! If the coconut milk has separated, I recommend mixing them together to get a thick and creamy homogenous liquid before adding to the recipe.

  2. Super easy and delicious!! I only bake the cake ..I used organic virgin coconut oil instead of canola (not available). I sprinkle some sugar and coco flakes on top and broil it very quick to caramelize the top ????. Turned out great!!! Quick snack for today’s warm weather in NJ. THANK YOU!!

  3. I NEVER leave recipe ratings but these cupcakes turned out even better than I could have imagined!!

    The only changes I made were adding more flavours, core of the recipe unchanged, just added some brandy flavour to the base and… OK, dramatically changed the flavours in the icing, don’t look at me, what I did was not salient to this review.

    The *point is*. The cupcake itself is dense and rich and flavourful as hell. The icing is sweet and a great texture (I really struggle with vegan buttercream and this was good). I was really expecting the non-vegans to turn their noses up but they got stuck in 🙂

    Thank-you so much for this. I am printing this off and keeping it in my “no seriously This One” recipe book.


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