Coconut Lime Cake Recipe

Coconut Lime Cake Slice

Every time I read a food magazine, I find tons of new recipes I’d like to try.  But very rarely do I get around to making any of them.  Most of the recipes I read in magazines and books just get filed away in my head somewhere and when I’m in the kitchen, I pull bits and pieces of information and inspiration from that jumbled library I call a brain.  But every once in a while, I find a recipe like the Key Lime Coconut Cake in the latest issue of Gourmet that must be made immediately.

There were so many things about the cake recipe that appealed to me: the simplicity, the flavor combination, the similarity to my favorite lemon cake.  But the main reason I made the cake was to give to my friends Amanda and Tyler as a thank you for helping me survive the first week of my husband’s deployment to Iraq.  I’ve spent as much time at their house as my own lately and have taken advantage of their open dinner invitation more times in the past week than they might have expected.  And if you’ve ever visited either of their food sites, you know that dinner made by Amanda is a special treat!

So, knowing how much Amanda loves coconut cake, I decided that I would follow through and actually give this recipe a try.  I did make some substitutions, such as using regular limes instead of key limes, and cake flour and leavening rather than self-rising flour.  I also used buttermilk rather than whole milk.  The result was a moist, tender and buttery cake with a hint of coconut and a tart lime glaze that penetrates down through the top inch of the cake.  Delicious!

Coconut Lime Cake on Plate

Whether you decide to try this version, or the original recipe at, I know you won’t be disappointed with this simple and delicious cake!  And thanks again, Amanda and Tyler, I hope you enjoyed the cake as much as I did!

Coconut Lime Cake
(adapted from Gourmet’s Key Lime Coconut Cake recipe)

2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, divided
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
5 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line bottom with a round of parchment paper then butter the parchment paper.

2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Measure out 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and process in a mini food processor until very finely chopped (you can also finely chop it with a knife). Stir the chopped coconut into the flour mixture and set aside.  Combine buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of lime juice; set aside.

3. Beat together butter, sugar, and lime zest with an electric mixer until very fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Turn mixer to low speed, add one third of the flour mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4. Spoon batter into the buttered cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake in the center of a preheated 350 degree oven until golden and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.  Cool to warm, then turn out of pan and discard parchment.

5. Whisk together powdered sugar and the remaining three tablespoons of lime juice.  Poke top of cake all over with a fork then pour glaze over the cake.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of coconut.

Recipe notes: Although I toasted the coconut for the cake you see pictured, I decided that I would have preferred it not toasted for this cake, as the above recipe reflects. If you prefer toasted coconut, spread it out on a baking sheet and place in the 350 degree oven for a few minutes. Watch closely, it goes quickly from light brown to burnt!  I like to finely chop the coconut that goes into the cake because I think the cake ends up with a better texture.  Mini food processors do a great job, but you could also chop it up with a knife, or just skip that step entirely.

Coconut Lime Cake

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  1. Sneh

    That looks so light and fluffy and scrumptious! Thnx for sharing the recipe 🙂

    5:35 pm  Mar 17th, 2009
  2. NAOmni

    I love coconut! Looks fantastic! Hope all is well with you 🙂


    6:02 pm  Mar 17th, 2009
  3. amanda

    O.M.G did we enjoy this cake! I couldn’t resist a slice for breakfast first thing this morning and a little nibble when i got home. think i could get away with not making dinner and just eating cake instead? 🙂

    6:23 pm  Mar 17th, 2009
  4. A&N

    Love it! A loves coconut and I love lime, so this is perfect for us!

    7:09 pm  Mar 17th, 2009
  5. Tammy Park

    I just might dream about this cake tonight, and it’s definitely going on ‘the list’. Coconut and lime is the best marriage of flavors. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    8:37 pm  Mar 17th, 2009
  6. Corinne

    That cake looks soooo good! I’m am so glad that you have such great friends to keep you busy while Justin is away. I know it must be REALLY hard. I love ya!

    9:13 pm  Mar 17th, 2009
  7. Pat

    Will certainly give this a try; love anything citrus and coconut. But really just wanted to say that Blessings on You and your Husband while he is doing his Duty and Serving Our Country. May he be home SOON and SAFE.

    10:32 pm  Mar 17th, 2009
  8. kickpleat

    Oooh, I love the sound of this cake soooo much!

    12:33 am  Mar 18th, 2009
  9. Beth

    I am trying to manage my way around baking here in Europe and haven’t found cake flour…is it much different than normal flour?

    1:21 am  Mar 18th, 2009
  10. E'beth Garren

    Oh nicole, my heart to you and your beloved guy. My taste buds love when you show up in my mailbox!

    7:26 am  Mar 18th, 2009
  11. michaela

    this has been on my list as well. i’m thankful for people like your husband, but am sorry you have to be without him. we have a friend who’s leaving his family for his third tour this summer.God bless.

    7:47 am  Mar 18th, 2009
  12. The Duo Dishes

    Wonderful photos and a delicious looking cake!

    12:40 pm  Mar 18th, 2009
  13. Susan

    Coconut and lime is probably my favorite new combo. Beautiful cake. Thanks for the mention.

    2:12 pm  Mar 18th, 2009
  14. Anna

    This looks beautiful and scrumptious. I love the simplicity of the recipe. May your husband be safe and well.

    7:23 pm  Mar 18th, 2009
  15. shivapriya

    Hi Nicole,

    Cake looks so moist, soft and yummy. I tempts me to bake one:). As usual pictures are amazing.


    6:40 am  Mar 19th, 2009
  16. Carla

    Looks scrumptious and an easy recipe. I can’t wait to try the recipe this weekend.

    4:51 pm  Mar 20th, 2009
  17. Libby

    This one definitely goes on my To Do List. Thanks for posting!

    10:13 pm  Mar 20th, 2009
  18. laureen picciani

    Picciani’s Pastry (me) also adds about two tablespoons dry coconut milk as part
    of the flour and Thai coconut extract which actually tastes like coconut and is not weird chemicals to any coconut cake as I really want to taste coconut. Your recipe looks yummy.

    5:22 pm  Mar 21st, 2009
  19. latifa

    nice shots! looks delicious!

    3:58 am  Mar 22nd, 2009
  20. potatochips

    absolutely DELICIOUS! moist, easy to make, and the lime was perfect. i used half coconut milk and half regular milk (instead of buttermilk). thank you so much!

    1:22 pm  Mar 23rd, 2009
  21. Teri @ Make A Whisk

    I made this recipe, with the toasted coconut and key limes, and really liked it. My husband’s favorite desserts are coconut cake and key lime pie, so I couldn’t go wrong, really!

    8:17 am  Mar 24th, 2009
  22. kellypea

    I’m partial to coconut cakes, too, so this sounds perfect — especially with the lime glaze. Having a very good friend certainly is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

    4:44 pm  Mar 24th, 2009
  23. John Miller

    This sounds delicious…mouthwatering…snapshots are great! I’m gonna get the ingredients from and try it right away. thanks for sharing the recipe.

    8:46 am  Mar 26th, 2009
  24. heidileon

    I really like the recipe and I feel the same way about food magazines, recipes and really making them. I used to have a huge collection of gourmet and ba mags that I just eat with my eyes, of course I do not complain since I love to read them and somehow it gives tons of great ideas even if you don’t want to follow an specific recipe.

    Thanks for sharing this one, I also find it very easy and personally I love the coconut-lime combination, it reminds me my country in a way (Mexico).

    best regards,


    5:41 am  Mar 27th, 2009
  25. Sandy

    Three of my favorite ingredients, lime, coconut, and buttermilk. It has to be good. Hey there, Nicole, how are you doing??

    2:14 pm  Mar 27th, 2009
  26. Sarah Caron

    Oooooh, that looks heavenly. I am a sucker for coconut … and lime. Mmmmmm.

    1:25 pm  Mar 29th, 2009
  27. Arianna

    I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday. It was delicious! He loved it! Thanks for the great idea.

    7:09 pm  Apr 3rd, 2009
  28. Jillian

    Coconut is my weakness and this sounds perfect!

    7:26 pm  Apr 4th, 2009
  29. Angela @ Spinach Tiger

    I am craving citrus, lemon, lime specifically, so this took me. Also, same flavors of TWD this past week and our cookies are all gone. So send me a nice piece of this cake with a big glass of milk. Thanks,

    10:52 am  Apr 5th, 2009
  30. Julie

    Wow! This cake looks really yummy. I can’t wait to try and make it! Thanks!

    8:45 pm  Apr 5th, 2009
  31. sara

    Mmmm, this cake looks “to-die-for”!

    11:07 am  Apr 17th, 2009
  32. shannon

    The picture is fantastic! Looks like a must make cake – would be great with a coconut flavoured cream cheese icing I imagine.

    8:23 pm  Apr 17th, 2009
  33. becky

    Made this tonight and it is one of the finest cakes I have ever made. I was worried about the glaze after I sopped up a drip with my finger and tasted it–TART–but it mellows beautifully on the cake. The cake itself has amazing texture. LOVE this cake, very simple and just what I was looking for–a simpler version of the classic coconut layer cake for a non-special occasion. Thanks!

    8:19 pm  Apr 19th, 2009
  34. thecatskillkiwi

    this cake looks and sounds delicious….. i only wish it were earlier, otherwise i would start baking it now!

    6:09 pm  Apr 20th, 2009
  35. Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food.

    Gorgeous cake. Yes! I think I’ll make it too as my weekend cake.
    And how wonderful to have such good friends!!!

    10:04 am  May 14th, 2009
  36. Blue Jean Gourmet

    This recipe caught my eye, too! I bookmarked it & now will move it up the “must-make” list 🙂 My best to you & your husband both.

    7:02 am  May 19th, 2009
  37. Lindsay

    I just made this cake as well….turned out kinda cumbly. I like your suggestion of the buttermilk instead. Love your photography!

    11:20 am  May 25th, 2009
  38. Elaine

    This looks dee-lish!
    I’ve scanned a couple of your recipes and everything looks so yummy!
    I have bookmarked it for later, when I have more time, but it looks really well put together.

    I love the blogs where people show the finished product in multiple ways – it really gives you a feel for the taste – yum!

    And I liked your “about me”, too – just enuf info for the curious – cuz’ a person likes to know who’s doing the talking – but not too much. (very nice pics of you and hubby, btw).

    Keep up the great work….I will be back! 🙂

    3:42 pm  Jun 22nd, 2009
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  40. Naailah

    Hi..i want to try this..but we dont usually use buttermilk here..wat can i use as substitiute?
    also do u use metric cup or US cup? i measure in grams

    7:33 am  Mar 3rd, 2010
  41. Naailah

    my flaked coconut is unsweetened, do u think i should add more sugar? plz reply..waiting for ur reply to make this cake

    10:40 am  Mar 5th, 2010
  42. Caroline

    I just made this yesterday and it’s fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

    7:23 am  Jun 20th, 2010
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  44. Crystal

    I saw this recipe on your site and was inspired to make it. My husband doesn’t like cake very much and I knew I didn’t want the whole thing for myself so I thought instead of making one large cake I could use my square cupcake pan and make 12 mini coconut lime cakes that I could easily share with my neighbors (without giving them a partially eaten cake). They turned out fabulous. I just reduced the baking time and cut 12 small squares of parchment paper for my pan. They were a hit and to my surprise even my husband enjoyed them. Thank you for sharing.

    7:11 am  Jul 5th, 2010
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  46. Libby

    This was the best My family and I love it, I will be making it again. It was so moist and the glaze was fabulous.

    6:35 pm  Sep 11th, 2010
  47. Noelle

    Instant favorite! We had company over for an outdoor dinner on our little Island of Saipan and it was a huge it. I used coconut from my trees and the freshness was unbelievable. I usually hesitate to try new recipes when I have people over but have not fear of this with the recipes on your site. Thank you!

    4:02 pm  Nov 26th, 2010
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