I’m the first one to be skeptical about a recipe based on a boxed cake mix, but trust me when I say this is the best coconut cake I have ever tasted. It comes via Candy DeBartolo, aka Kiki, the mother of my wife’s oldest and dearest friend, Nikki. If you love coconut cake, give this one a try. I double the frosting recipe because we like a lot of frosting on our cakes.

Read more


  • 1 package yellow cake mix (one without pudding included)
  • 1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut


  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, and cups water. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until well combined. Stir in the coconut.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the Frosting

Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring once or twice to ensure it browns evenly. Let cool. Combine the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat until fluffy. Add the milk and beat until smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, then beat in the vanilla. Stir in all but ½ cup of the toasted coconut.

Place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread with some of the frosting. Add the 2 remaining layers, spreading frosting between the layers. Frost the top of the cake with the remaining frosting and sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.