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.
4.84 from 37 votes
Print Save Recipe Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 3 cups
Calories: 177
Author: Jen Sobjack

Ingredients

  • 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*

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

*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.

Nutrition

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.

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203 Comments

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Jessica

    Hello,
    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.

  • 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.