These soft & fluffy Vegan Coconut Cupcakes are filled with real shredded coconut, can be made in 30 minutes or less, and are topped with a simple & delicious coconut buttercream frosting. For even more coconut flavor, they even have toasted coconut shreds on top!
I've always loved coconut, but when it comes to baked goods it can be hard to get that coconut flavor *just* right.
Last year I made these Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies that were perfect, so I wanted to make a coconut cupcake with that same subtle coconut flavor this year. After a few tries, I finally perfected these eggless & dairy-free coconut cupcakes!
- Coconut Paste: I used Taylor & Colledge coconut paste for this recipe, however any brand will work.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: This is essential to get the right texture in these cupcakes, however if you can't find any lemon juice can work as a 1:1 substitute.
- Vegan butter: I prefer Earth Balance buttery sticks or Country Crock sticks when it comes to making a vegan buttercream frosting.
- Pastry flour: I used a store bought pastry flour from Bob's Red Mill. To make a homemade pastry flour, substitute 2 Tbsp of every 1 cup of all purpose flour in a recipe with 1 Tbsp cornstarch.
Steps to make coconut cupcakes
Mix wet ingredients
The best part about these cupcakes is they can be made in one bowl! In fact, the recipe is actually based on my favorite Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes.
Grab a mixing bowl and then add all the wet ingredients in first including the plant-based milk, apple cider vinegar, oil, sugar, and coconut extract. Then, whisk together until combined.
Add in dry ingredients
To make this a one-bowl recipe, add the pastry flour to the bowl of wet ingredients and then add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt on top. I like to add the ingredients on top of the flour so that I can more evenly mix them into the batter.
GENTLY mix into batter
This step is VERY important. Please make sure to GENTLY mix the batter and don't overmix it- aka mix it just until any large streaks of flour are gone. One of the reasons you may have ended up with gummy or dense cupcakes in the past is from overmixing the batter. That's because, as you continue to mix everything together, more gluten forms.
The goal of a cupcake batter is to have one that is well mixed with minimal gluten formation so you can have a light, tender, fluffy, & moist coconut cupcake.
Fold in shredded coconut flakes
As a final step to make the batter, add in the coconut flakes and fold them in. I left the coconut flakes raw for the inside of the batter as I prefer the taste, but you can add in toasted coconut here too!
Add to muffin liners & bake
My best trick for filling up muffin liners with batter? Use a cookie scoop! It's honestly the BEST way to make sure your cupcakes are evenly filled and is less messy. You'll want to fill each cupcake liner about ⅔ full so that the cupcakes are nice and flat on top.
Bake the cupcakes & let them cool before frosting
Once the cupcake liners are filled with batter, add them to the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes until they and baked through, but not brown on top. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and immediately place them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Tips for vegan coconut frosting
This coconut frosting is really a twist of my traditional vegan vanilla buttercream where we are subbing vanilla bean paste for coconut extract. It's made with 3 simple ingredients including vegan butter, powdered sugar, and coconut paste/extract.
The trick to a really good vegan buttercream is to use COLD cubed butter and beat it until it's nice and fluffy. Then, add in the coconut paste/extract and gradually whisk in the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is all mixed in, continue to whip the frosting for another 2-3 minutes. This makes it extra light & fluffy!
Pro Tip: If your frosting gets a little too soft, just add it to a piping bag and pop the piping bag into the fridge for 5-10 minutes before frosting the cupcakes. The frosting should firm up just enough but still be pipeable!
FAQ & Tips:
Yes- but you'll have to use a 1:1 GF flour mix like Bob's Red Mill. Coconut or almond flour would not work in this recipe. Also, to keep things light, you can replace 2 Tbsp of the GF flour mix with 1 Tbsp cornstarch for flour that more closely resembles pastry flour.
Yes. Just substitute the cane sugar in the cupcakes for another granulated sugar like coconut sugar or maple sugar. It will change the texture/ sweetness of the cupcake, but should still work great. It is a little harder to make the frosting refined sugar-free, but if you can find a powdered sugar substitute it should work!
To toast coconut simply add it to a non-stick pan, turn the heat to medium, and then cook for 4-6 minutes until browned. You'll want to continually stir the coconut so it cooks evenly and does not burn. If you're looking for a more complete guide, here's more info on How to Toast Coconut-3 different ways.
If frosted, cupcakes are best stored in the freezer and will keep in a closed container for up to 1 month. If unfrosted, the cupcakes can be stored in a closed container at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. I do not recommend storing cupcakes in the fridge as it really dries them out.
I truly hope you love these simple, fluffy, & delicious Vegan Coconut Cupcakes! Dairy-free baking has never been easier & these homemade toasted coconut cupcakes are sure to be a crowd-pleaser all year long. Enjoy!
More Vegan Cupcake Recipes You will Love:
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Vegan Coconut Cupcakes
- ⅔ cup almond/coconut milk not canned coconut milk
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons oil olive oil preferred
- 1 teaspoon coconut paste or coconut extract
- 1 ⅓ cup pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup vegan butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 ½- 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- ¼ cup toasted shredded coconut optional, to top cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin tray with 10 cupcake liners.
- Add the plant-based milk and apple cider vinegar to a bowl and let sit about 2-3 minutes to curdle and create a vegan buttermilk. Then, add in the sugar, oil, and coconut extract/paste and whisk together.
- Next add in the dry ingredients starting with the pastry flour and then add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt on top. Gently whisk together into a batter until no streaks of flour remain. You can also sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding if you prefer. Finally, fold in the ¼ cup of shredded coconut.
- Fill the cupcake liners with the batter so each is about ⅔ full. Then, gently tap the muffin tin on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Add to the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes until cooked through.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven and place onto a wire rac to cool completely before frosting.
- Once cooled, make the frosting by adding the room temperature butter to a large bowl and whipping with an electric beater until smooth and fluffy. Then, add in the coconut extract and whip another 30 seconds. Gradually add in the sifted powdered sugar and continue beating until a fluffy and smooth frosting forms. I prefer 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, but feel free to add more or less depending on preference.
- Pipe the coconut frosting onto the cupcake and top with optional toasted coconut. Enjoy!
Can I use coconut oil instead of olive oil?
I don't usually recommend it for baking as it tends to seize up and solidify when mixed with colder ingredients, but if you can keep it melted it should work.
can you use whole wheat pastry flour??
Yes, however, it will change the end texture/ flavor/color slightly. But it will still taste great!