Desserts | August 17, 2021

The Best Coconut Cake made with Box Mix

My friend Nan bakes the best Coconut Cake made with a box mix! I’ve been making Nan’s Coconut Cake for years. You won’t find a better tasting coconut cake anywhere!

The Best Coconut Cake made with Box Mix

Nan’s Coconut Cake 20 years and counting…

This cake is the most moist and delicious coconut cake you will ever make in minutes! My friend Nan (who is btw the kindest, most considerate and loving person you will ever meet in your lifetime) is an amazing cook. She shared this recipe with me over 20 years ago and it has been made more times in our kitchen than I can begin to count.

The Best Coconut Cake made with Box Mix

How to make a cake mix taste good!

Nothing is easier than opening a box mix and then adding eggs, water, oil, and throwing it in the oven, am I right? Add extra ingredients and you have a cake that is unforgettable. This cake is reminiscent of cakes served back in the day when no one really cared much about how a cake looked, but were very concerned about how a cake tasted!

Nan's Coconut Cake

If you grew up on box mixes like me, you know they are easy to make and bake in minutes. Doctoring up cake mixes became a thing in the mid 80’s and into the 90’s. Adding a few additional ingredients to a box cake mix makes a huge difference. Usually those ingredients include, but are not limited to: sour cream, sugar, butter, and dry pudding or even jello. This cake has a secret ingredient as well. Coconut milk! A bit of canned coconut milk takes this cake to the next level!

Moist and Easy Coconut Cake

What is the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream and cream of coconut?

I usually buy coconut milk in the Asian section of the grocery store. Coconut milk is different than coconut cream. They are both made from coconut and contain coconut and water. Coconut milk is lighter and has less fat than coconut cream, as one might guess. Cream of Coconut is another product altogether. It contains sugar and is quite a bit thicker and sweeter than coconut milk or coconut cream. This recipe calls for coconut milk, which I think works best!

Box Mix Coconut Cake made with coconut milk and sour cream

The Best Coconut Cake made with Box Mix tastes as good as it looks!

One clue that the Best Coconut Cake made with Box Mix is going to be your new favorite dessert is the fact that this cake looks moist even in photos! It is often difficult to detect a quality such as the moist crumb factor in a cake, but I can verify without reservations this cake is off the charts moist and delicious. If you have some fresh raspberries on hand, wash and dry thoroughly and pile them on top for a beautiful presentation just before serving!

Here are a few reviews you might find helpful for the most simple and delicious coconut cake recipe ever:

Just made this cake today for Valentine’s Day. Toasted some coconut for sprinkling on top as you suggested, and substituted a Pineapple Cake Mix because it looked good! Had to make it as a bundt cake. It turned out so well! Thank you for the recipe.


Made this cake today for a church fundraiser for the youth. It earned $180! Cake looked amazing and tasted super good! Thank you!


This is probably my favorite cake & since I won’t have any kids around this year on Mother’s Day I’M MAKING IT FOR MYSELF!! 


Other quick and easy cake mix recipes you will love…

Best German Chocolate Bundt Cake, Simple Lemon Almond Poppyseed Cake, and Foolproof Chocolate Bundt Cake.

Nan’s Coconut Cake originally posted in October 2010, updated with new content and photos 2021

1 from 1 vote

The Best Coconut Cake made with a Box Mix

Best Coconut Cake made with a box mix, iced with cream cheese frosting and topped with coconut!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, coconut, coconut cake, cream cheese frosting, frosting
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
cool and frost 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk see recipe notes*
  • 1 white cake mix I like Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker
  • 1 small package instant vanilla pudding

Frosting and decorating cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk or half and half
  • 1 7-10 oz coconut flakes, sweetened
  • 1-2 pints fresh raspberries washed, drained well


  1. Grease and line 2-9 inch cake pans, 3 8-inch pans or 24 muffin tin with parchment paper/cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set rack in center of oven.

for cake:

  1. Combine eggs, sour cream, vanilla, water and coconut milk until blended well.

  2. Add white cake mix and instant pudding. Mix till smooth. Do not over mix!

  3. Pour batter into 2-9 inch round pans. Sprinkle a little coconut on top of cakes, if desired. bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Invert onto cooling rack and let cool completely. For cupcakes, bake at 350 for about 18-20 minutes.


  1. Blend butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar, salt and milk until desired consistency. Mix well. Spread frosting on cooled cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut on top and sides of cake and gently press into frosting.

  2. Chill until serving. Remove about 30 minutes before serving for best results. Before serving, place fresh raspberries on top of cake if desired. Reserve some raspberries for sprinkling on each piece of cake when served. Store any leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

  • Coconut pudding may be used in place of vanilla pudding.
  • Nan’s recipe calls for coconut milk, which is sold on the shelf and often found in the Asian section of grocery stores. I have also used coconut cream which is thicker than coconut milk.
  • I do not usually add the coconut to the frosting while mixing, but Nan does.  When adding coconut to the frosting, add about 1/2 of a 7 oz package while mixing the frosting. 
  • If you like toasted coconut, place coconut on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 325-350 degrees until golden. Top cake with toasted coconut.
  • If  baking this cake in a high (over 50%) humidity, reduce the water to 1/4 cup and add 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour to the cake mix. 
  • This cake may be made in a jelly roll pan with great results! Place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan before spreading on the batter, for best results. Baking time is usually about 18 minutes. 
  • The layers of this cake freeze well. After baking, let cool and wrap each individual layer in plastic wrap, making sure to cover all of the cake. 

8 thoughts on “The Best Coconut Cake made with Box Mix

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Recipe Rating

  1. Recipe looks amazing— excited to try. As written the recipe does not explain what to do with the raspberries listed as an ingredient, although from the pics it looks like they go inside?

    1. Hi D!
      Thank you for your comment. The raspberries can be added to the top of the cake for a fruity flavor and decoration, but this cake is amazing without raspberries as well! Let me know how you like this recipe! Thanks for reading ABK.

  2. The flavor was wonderful but I baked as cupcakes and they shrunk up after cooling. Any idea what I did wrong?

    1. Hi Mandy,
      Shrinking usually is a result of over cooking! I made this recipe today for a birthday party. It yields 24 cupcakes. I baked at 350 for about 18 minutes on the center rack, hope this helps!

  3. 1 star
    I am sorry but this is not right. The cake batter was thick. The cake after baking came out gummy. I made a small pan and cupcakes. The cupcakes stuck to the paper. And the cake fell out of pan like a brick. The only change i made was using greek yogurt instead of sour cream and I forgot the vanilla.

    1. Cynthia,
      I made this cake today, and have made it many, many times over the years. Never has it turned out like a brick! Not sure what went wrong? To avoid cupcakes sticking to papers, let the cake cool completely before eating. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Si,

    This sounds amazing! I plan to use your recipe as a guide a veganize it. I’ll let you know how it turns out🤞🏻