Coconut Buttercream Frosting

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There’s nothing better than this recipe for homemade Coconut Buttercream Frosting. It’s a made from scratch, simple recipe that is perfect slathered on cakes, cupcakes, or right from the spoon.

This post has been updated with new content and photos. The original post was first published May 6, 2015.

Coconut buttercream frosting swirled on top of a vanilla cupcake.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting with Coconut Milk

I have for you the best Coconut Buttercream Frosting recipe! It’s creamy and silky. It’s stiff and pipe-able. It’s darn right delicious.

It’s made with powdered sugar, butter, and coconut milk. The end result has a thick, silky texture with a light coconut taste, making it great for any tropical dessert.

Do you see how fluffy it looks? All those air pockets?

This was achieved by beating with my electric mixer for an extra five minutes. It whips up into a thick and fluffy consistency.

Coconut buttercream frosting on a spoon held over a bowl of frosting.

I’ve made cookie butter frosting, salted caramel frosting, and 7-minute frosting. Each one was great but they come nowhere near as delectable as today’s frosting.

This version of easy coconut frosting uses coconut milk instead of coconut extract. The result is a lusciously silky texture that glides across the tongue.

I seriously love how smooth it is.

If you need more coconut flavor, add half a teaspoon of coconut extract.

I’ve updated the recipe with instructions on how to use coconut cream instead of milk for even more flavor.

A stick of butter with a finger print in the top to show how soft it is.

Pro tip – Make sure the butter is super soft! Set the butter on the counter 1-2 hours prior to use.

This is now my new favorite frosting. I want to put it on top of everything.

I’m certain you are going to feel the same way too!

Try it on pineapple cupcakespineapple coconut cake, or this pineapple poke cake!

What tropical dessert would you pair this frosting with? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Or, if you’ve already made it and really enjoyed, I’d like to hear that too!

Whipped coconut buttercream frosting in a stainless steel bowl.

Common questions about coconut buttercream

Do I have to use canned coconut milk?

You must use canned coconut milk. Refrigerated coconut milk is a beverage and is watered down. You can typically find canned coconut milk in the Asian food aisle of the grocery store.

What kind of coconut milk do you recommend?

Regular/full-fat canned coconut milk is best for this recipe.

Can you use coconut cream?

You certainly can! This will give you a richer coconut flavor.

Does the frosting need to be refrigerated or can it be stored at room temp for a couple of hours?

It would be safe for a couple of hours at room temp but definitely no longer than that.

If you plan to use it the next day, refrigerate it and then let it sit for 30 mins to soften before use. You may have to re-whip it if you refrigerate it.

Can I add shredded coconut to the frosting?

You certainly can! Keep in mind the frosting may be difficult to pipe through small piping tips due to the coconut flakes.

Can I use coconut sugar?

I don’t recommend this. Coconut sugar is very coarse and will not work like confectioner’s sugar. Confectioner’s sugar is ground to a powder consistency and mixed with cornstarch. This is what thickens the frosting.

Can I use salted butter?

There’s absolutely no way to tell how much salt is in the butter. You run the risk of having super salty frosting. For best results, use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt if needed.

Can I color this frosting?

Yes! Use a high-quality gel food coloring such as AmeriColor.

Helpful Tools

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Coconut Buttercream Frosting Recipe Image

Coconut Buttercream Frosting

There’s nothing better than this recipe for homemade Coconut Buttercream Frosting. It’s a made from scratch, simple recipe that is perfect slathered on cakes, cupcakes, or right from the spoon.
4.81 from 26 votes
Print Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Calories: 177
Author: Jen Sobjack


  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 tablespoons canned coconut milk, or 2-3 tablespoons of coconut cream*


  • Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups of confectioner's sugar, beat on medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened. Gradually add in the remaining sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • And the salt and the coconut milk, one tablespoon at a time, beating on medium speed until fully incorporated. You may need more or less of the coconut milk depending on how strong you'd like the flavor.
  • Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Make ahead tip

  • Frosting will keep for up to 4 days stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Let stand at room temperature to soften before use.
  • Or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to use, place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Let stand at room temperature to soften before use.


*You can use coconut cream with this recipe also. I've tested it and it yields so much more coconut flavor. You will need less coconut cream so be sure to add just one tablespoon at a time until the frosting reaches the desired taste and texture.

1. Soften the butter by allowing it to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours prior to making the frosting. DO NOT soften the butter by heating it in the microwave!!

2. It is important to shake the can of coconut milk/cream vigorously before opening it. The fats and liquids separate in the can after sitting. You want a combination of both for the frosting, so mix it very well.

3. If the coconut flavor isn't as strong as you'd like, try adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coconut extract.

4. You can also add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for more flavor.

Updated 6/4/2018 with new ingredient ratios and instructions so everyone can have success with the recipe.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 11mg | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 6.1% | Vitamin C: 0.1% | Calcium: 0.3% | Iron: 0.4%

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

Tried this recipe? Share it on Instagram!Mention @introvertbaker or tag #bakedbyanintrovert!


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    • Isabelle

      I’m fructose intolerant, which makes it so I cannot eat anything with sucrose in it. There’s a brand called “Swerve” which makes a powder sugar substitute. I’ve only used the cane sugar substitute but I plan on trying that for the frosting!

  • Karen

    Hi Jen, I’m interested with your pineappke cupcakes recipe. But I want to confirm with you the coconut buttercream frosting the 1 and 1/2 cup of butter come with 5 cups of sugar or 5 tbsp of sugar. Will 5 cup of sugar too sweet for the frosting. Thks.

    • Jen Sobjack

      Yes, that is correct. The trick to making sure American buttercream isn’t overly sweet is to whip it well once everything is combined. This helps to dissolve the sugar and add air which will make frosting taste less sweet.

  • Kerry

    Can you cover the coconut butter cream in sugar paste if you use the coconut milk or am I better to use the coconut extract? Want to ask before I try. Thanks x

  • Trudy

    I tried this recipe with my pineapple cupcakes. It tastes great. Sprinkled some sweetened shredded coconut on top of iced cupcakes. Perfect! Thanks for sharing.

  • Alice

    I followed the recipe but used only 4 cups of sugar and the buttercream came out almost disgustingly sweet and gritty. I can’t even imagine what would happen at 5 cups… I don’t know if Americans like it so sweet or what. I’m from Europe and most of my guests did not want to finish the buttercream (decoration) layer because it was too sweet to them aswell. The consistency of cream was good for piping the rosettes on cake though. Can anyone recommend me decorating cream with way less sugar? Thanks!

    • Jen Sobjack

      I hear that a lot with American buttercream. I find the longer you whip it at the end the less sweet it becomes because you’re adding more air and dissolving the sugar. The final product shouldn’t feel gritty at all unless you’re using something other than icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar.

  • Jeannette

    I am hooked on coconut anything, so this will be added to my list. I just have one question: In regard to the canned coconut milk, after refrigerating it, there’s a thick substance on top and a watery substance on the bottom; which one do you recommend I use?
    Thank you.

    • Jen Sobjack

      For this recipe, the canned coconut milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated. You want a combination of both the liquid and the solid so shake the can vigorously before opening it. This is stated in the notes of the recipe.

  • Richard Kent

    Jen, Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will try it for my birthday cake and maybe make some tweaks. I can see how substituting granular or coconut sugar will change the consistency. Have you tried palm sugar? If not I will share my experiment. Also, the brand of coconut milk does matter. I have used the Thai Kitchen brand and it whips up beautifully while the local organic brand doesn’t. I’ve also read that it is better to whip the cream separately and fold it in later. What is your opinion? Thank you again, Richard

    • Jen Sobjack

      Hi Richard! This is a buttercream frosting and must use confectioners’ sugar. No other sugar will work. The brand of coconut milk/cream actually doesn’t matter so much with this recipe since it is only being used to flavor and to thin out the creamed butter and confectioners’ sugar. It’s just like making a regular buttercream frosting but you’re using coconut milk or cream instead of heaving cream. As far as folding whipped cream in last when making buttercream frosting, I’ve never heard of this before. I’m afraid the frosting will turn into a curdled mess with this method.

  • Nikki

    I made this today for my twins birthday tomorrow! The frosting came out amazing! I used the coconut cream! I used the pure coconut cream. So good! Thank you!

  • Madisen

    I made this with coconut cream, & added extra for flavor. This frosting is perfect! I put it on a Passionfruit Cupcake with a mango spice garnish. Will use again!

  • Holly

    Hi, I’m making a 3 layer 6 inch cake. Do you think one batch would be enough to do a crumb coat as well as a final coat or do you think I would need to double it?
    Thank you!

  • Joey

    After adding the coconut cream to the whipped butter, it separated and would not come back together, no matter how much icing sugar I threw at it.

  • Miss Heidi

    Oh This is SOOO good! I agree, whip it a lot! The coconut milk is just right and I was surprised about how little it took.

  • Steviee

    My frosting came out overly sweet, I only used 2 cups of sugar and its reallllyyyyy sweet. Like hurting your teeth sweet ☹ im not sure what I did wrong

    • Jen Sobjack

      Unfortunately, that’s a common complaint with American buttercream. I’ve learned the longer you whip the frosting the less sweet it will be. Or you can try an Italian or Swiss meringue buttercream instead.

  • Melanie

    This looks absolutely scrumptious. I think it might also be good with virgin coconut oil subbed for some of the butter–yet another layer of coconut goodness.

    Question: I want to use this to frost a coconut layer cake. Can you tell me how much this will frost? I don’t think it will be enough, however, doubling it would probably be too much. Thanks!

  • JW

    Hi! I make a buttercream frosting using 1/2 butter & 1/2 high ratio shortening. Do you think this would work ok with your recipe instead of just using all butter? Thanks for any tips you can offer. Plan to frost coconut cupcakes with this frosting (& add some shredded coconut that has been shredded a little extra in food processor) & top with a stemmed maraschino cherry (drained).

    • Jen Sobjack

      I’ve never used a combination of butter and shortening for buttercream so unfortunately, I have no idea how it would turn out. I imagine it would be fine but I can’t say for sure.

      • JW

        Ok. Thanks. The HIGH RATIO Shortening is different from Crisco, as High Ratio Shortening is a quality product that when used in icing, makes the icing easier to work with. The shortening is sturdier than standard shortenings and keeps the icing from not breaking down as quickly. Plus, you do NOT have the “after taste” like you do with Crisco type products. It’s fabulous! Once you try it, you’ll always want to use it &, like I said before, I use 1/2 real butter & 1/2 High Ratio Shortening. Thanks again for great recipes!

  • Suzanne

    This was delicious! Had made a pineapple cake and this frosting on top just made the cake! I did add some dedicated coconut to it and some crushed pineapple as well. Came out amazing! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Carley

    Hello, looks good! I am planning on making a cake for my grandfathers birthday, he loves coconut anything! I am making a 3 layerd 9inch cake and I am wondering if I will have enough buttercream to crumb coat and then smooth out as this resipe calls for? Otherwise I maybe should double it. Thanks!

  • Joyce

    This sounds amazing. Can’t wait to make it with my grandson. He is a beginner baker and loves to fuss with baked items. We go through a lot of flour at our house!

  • Sadie

    So here’s my two cents: this icing is sweet, cloyingly over-sweet in my opinion. It whipped up great and has nice volume… but the texture to me is off. It’s almost slightly gritty because there’s Soo Much confectioners sugar in it and it is the only ingredient that is stabilizing the buttercream. I’m actually going to try using a small amount of coconut cream in a classic French buttercream icing which is cooked in order to get a coconut flavor without the overuse of confectioners sugar.

  • Jessica

    I just came across this recipe and would like to make it for my son’s birthday cake. The only thing is he is dairy free so I was thinking of using a vegan butter in place of the normal butter. Do you think this would work? I am eagerly awaiting your reply. Thank you 😉

  • Goodness

    Good day, Please i’d love to ask if i can make my own coconut milk as i can’t easily get it around in my part of the country.

  • Foodtastic

    Your recipe inspired me (as my coconut banana bread bakes) I am in a crunch so used what I had on hand: butter, coconut oil, creamed coconut, cream, and icing sugar. It whipped up SO fluffy that I couldn’t help dipping a spoon in. AMAZINGLY YUMMY!!! I then added shredded coconut for a bit of texture. Is it wrong that the banana bread is still ten minutes from being done and I’ve eaten at least 4 big spoonfuls of icing?? Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Michael

    I had a box of plain sugar cookies that I needed to jazz up for a faculty meeting. I made the frosting and used it as a filling between two cookies. The coconut sandwich cookies were a hit. One of my colleagues even suggested dipping half of each sandwich cookie into melted dark chocolate. I might try that next.

  • Lola

    Recipe says 2-4 cup confectioners sugar. So does it mean that I can add 2-4cups of sugar depending on the sweetness I want? Does using 2cups sugar rather than 4cups make it more runny?

  • Dee

    Can I make this frosting ahead of time, store in the refrigerator, and use to frost 1-2 days later? Just wondering how it holds up in the refrigerator. Thanks!!

    • Jen Sobjack

      I’ve never made it and then refrigerated it but I have topped cakes and cupcakes that were later stored in the refrigerator. The frosting held up nicely for a couple days so I imagine the result would be the same.

  • brianni

    I may have over whipped the frosting :/ it was fluffy and now its a little more watery then I would’ve liked…. did i do something wrong? how can i fix it?


  • Rachel

    I made this icing yesterday to put on a coconut cake. It turned out perfectly. It is a very nice icing with a nice coconut butter cream flavor .

  • Maria

    I made this and while I was creaming the butter and coconut milk, I started to see water in the bowl? I kept mixing and it went away, but took about 7 minutes. After it seemed like it came together it basically stayed runny. I didn’t want to add more sugar as it was getting sweet. It was good, we enjoyed it. Any suggestions on why it could be runny and wet? Oh! Yes, I did make sure the coconut milk was completely mixed. Thanks for your time, I’d love to make this again, but I’d like a better turn out if you have a suggestion.

    • Jen Sobjack

      Try using a different brand of butter. Different butters have varying liquid content. Also, make sure the butter isn’t runny. It should sit at room temperature for just around 30 minutes. Any longer and it will become too soft. You can also try refrigerating the runny frosting. As the butter hardens it will thicken up.

  • Alecia

    We made this icing last year to top a coconut cake with raspberry filling. Oh my gosh….so good. I’ve been waiting a year to serve it again for Christmas!! So yummy!

  • Michell

    OMG!!!! I just made this and put it in yellow cake cupcakes. Aldo’s added sliced strawberries to the top. Sooooo gooooood!!! Thank you for this recipes.

    • Jen

      Certainly. Just keep in mind omitting the vanilla will affect the flavor and decreasing the powdered sugar will affect the consistency of the frosting.

  • Kaelin

    Hi, I was just wondering how much frosting this recipe makes. Would it be way too much to fill just 12 cupcakes? Should I half the recipe?

  • Andrea

    I’ve made this coconut buttercream twice now and it is PERFECTION. Not too sweet, and just the right amount of REAL coconut flavor. Not artificial tasting. I’ve put it on a couple of cakes, and today I’m going to put a little dollup on top of key lime pie bars!

  • Larissa

    Does the brand of coconut milk matter? I’m making this for my sister’s birthday and would hate to mess it up!

    • Jen

      I don’t recommend using light coconut milk because it is super light in coconut flavor. The coconut milk is what flavors the buttercream. If you absolutely must use light coconut milk, you may want to consider adding coconut extract as well.

  • Misty

    I am thinking of using this on my son’s birthday cake next week. Do you think that fondant cut outs would stick to it?

    • Jen

      That’s a tricky question, Misty. I’ve never worked with fondant so I can’t say for sure. I did do a little research and found that you can lightly press fondant shapes into the buttercream after they’ve been brushed with water. Do this as soon as you ice the cake then pop it into the refrigerator to make sure it sets and stays in place.

  • Mona

    Can this whipped topping be stabilized with gelatin in the same way that whipped cream is stabilized for use as a frosting and filling?

  • Bree

    Hi there, do you think this would color well? My daughter wants a coconut cake for her birthday, but i need to dye the frosting.

    • Jen

      I’ve never tried it but I’ve seen recipes that call for all coconut oil, so I imagine it would work. If you choose to do it, remember that coconut oil will melt quicker than butter. Make sure anything you put the frosting on is cool and keep frosted items in the refrigerator until a few minutes before serving.

  • Nicole

    Okay…. There have been three adventures on my mind weighing heavy lately, and the first is unattainable at the moment- buying an RV and hijacking my family from society to explore the entire country… The second is spending time with a SLOTH, in which we will be doing before school lets back in :-), and the third, THIS! I’ve been salivating over creating a pineapple cake with a heavenly frosting, and you, my dear, have made it possible. So, my entire family thanks you in advance! GOD BLESS 🙂

  • Jen

    YUM! Is it possible to make the frosting ahead of time, store in refrigerator and then pipe onto cupcakes the next day?

    • Jen

      Yes, that should be fine. Just pull it out of the fridge to soften before piping. You may need to run the mixer through it for a few seconds once it has softened.

  • Emily

    I’m using this frosting as rosettes on a birthday cake serving 20. Does it hold up well if frost the cake the day before, refrigerate it one day before serving? How soon before the party would you recommend taking it out of the fridge? Any recommendation on the type of coconut milk? Some have guar gum and sometimes it is recommended not to use those. Thanks!

    • Jen

      It should hold up just fine. I piped it onto cupcakes and it held for a couple days in the refrigerator. I would let it sit out for about 30 minutes before serving. And, any coconut milk will work as long as it’s unsweetened and in a can. The one I used has guar gum in it and there were no issues.

  • Sabrina

    I’m making an “Almond Joy” cake, would I need to double this recipe to cover it? I’m doing two 8-inch rounds, and want the frosting between layers and covering the outside. Thank you!!

  • Frances

    Hi! looks absolutely delicious!!!
    Im not sure if this is a silly question, but do you think it’s possible to NOT add any sugar?

  • Nanci

    Just double checking before I make this recipe to go with a Coconut cake with Rum Syrup and Pineapple filling: You said you whipped this icing for an extra 5 minutes… is that the 5 minutes in the actual recipe or did you whip it for 10 minutes total please? I have made my daughter coconut cake for her birthday ever since she was 5. This year, for her 25th we are upping the game to a new more “grown up” version of the cake and I am looking to replace the old buttercream frosting and thinking this one looks divine but I want to get it absolutely perfect! Thank you so much for posting your recipe and thanks for the help in advance!

      • Debbie

        I followed recipe but my frosting kept sliding off the cake. The video shows you putting a ring of frosting on top of cake layers but recipe didn’t specify this.

        • Jen Sobjack

          It sounds like your frosting was too warm. It is buttercream which is butter based and butter will melt when it’s too warm causing it to slide off the cake. I know the frosting works great on cakes and cupcakes because I’ve used it for both. So have others! For best results, store frosted cakes in the refrigerator until 30 prior to use.

  • Leslie

    What happens if I use salted butter? That’s the only one we have around. Also, it says the recipe yields two. What does that mean? Is it more than enough to put on 20 cupcakes? If that’s the case, can I just cut the recipe in half?

    Thank you!

    • Jen

      Your frosting could end up being salty if you use salted butter. Here’s a great video on the difference between unsalted and salted butter.
      The recipe makes 2 cups, which is enough for 12 cupcakes.

    • Jodi Taylor

      I made it tonight with salted butter and my husband says it gave the icing another dimension of flavor.. I also added 1 tsp coconut extract along with 1/2 tsp almond emulsion and it was heavenly!!!

  • Rebekah

    This look SOOO yummy! Question: Have you tried making frosting using coconut sugar? We have to eliminate sugar from our diet, but coconut sugar IS allowed. I’m trying to find a good recipe for cake icing for my son’s upcoming birthday party! This looks so yummy, I just wondered if you’ve experimented with it yet since I think coconut sugar might be a relatively “new thing” (at least for us it is). Thanks in advance!

    • Jen

      I’ve used coconut sugar in baking by have never tried it for frosting. The only way I can see it working is if it is ground super fine like powdered sugar. But I’ve not tested that for myself so I can’t guarantee the success. I wish I could be more helpful.

  • Brad

    Made this substituting the coconut milk with instant coconut milk powder and regular milk. Awesome topping for my moist coconut cake, paired with passionfruit/pineapple curd as the sandwiching layer.

    • Jen Sobjack

      I haven’t used it on a cake yet, only cupcakes. However, it held up nicely when piped in tall swirls so I imagine it would hold up on a cake. It is “buttercream frosting” which is common for frosting cakes.

  • Samantha Kohalisky

    I made this frosting the other day along with your Pineapple Cupcake recipe, but I tweaked both just a little, and wanted to share!

    For the frosting, instead of using coconut milk, I used Coco Lopez (cream of coconut).
    For the Pineapple cupcakes, I used your original recipe, but spooned a small amount of the batter into the cupcake tin, then put a small amount of Cherry Pie Filling in the middle, topped with another spoonful of cupcake batter.
    The sweet cupcake combined with the tarty cherry filling was delightful!
    Will forever use these recipes.

    • Jen Sobjack

      Thanks for sharing your adaptations! The cherry pie filling in the center of the cupcakes sounds like a delicious idea! I’ll have to try the frosting with coconut cream the next time I make it!

  • Sara

    Hi Jen! This coconut buttercream frosting looks amazing. 🙂 I was just wondering if this frosting needs to be refrigerated or can it be stored at room temp for a couple of hours? Thank you very much


    • Jen Sobjack

      It would be safe for a couple of hours at room temp but definitely no longer than that. If you plan to use it the next day, refrigerate it and then let it sit for 30 mins to soften before use. You may have to re-whip it if you refrigerate it.

  • Dani

    I made this yesterday with the pineapple cupcakes- all I can say is outstanding! Absolutely amazing! The icing was light, fluffy and irresistible! I can’t wait to eat more!!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

    To all followers, please rate this recipe. It is worthy of 5 stars!

      • Dani

        Ditto Jen. I hope your followers come back and share how the icing blessed them! Many reported that they would try it! Great day all 🙂

  • Vanessa

    I have one question I didn’t read the recipe the right way does the coconut milk have to be from a can or any coconut milk

    • Jen

      I only tested the recipe with coconut milk from a can. I don’t see why any coconut milk wouldn’t work though. Just make sure it is well mixed before adding it to the frosting and add only one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. You could need more or less than what the recipe calls for.

  • Blair @ The Seasoned Mom

    If I could only eat one dessert for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure that it would be coconut cake. I love the stuff!!! This frosting would be “the icing on the cake.” Literally. 🙂

    Looks delicious, Jen!

  • Mir

    This looks seriously creamy, Jen. Just the way frosting should be! And it goes with so much…or just by itself, with a spoon. I could get into that! 🙂