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Gluten-Free Coconut Cupcakes (Dairy-Free)

Sensationally scrumptious, these easy gluten-free coconut cupcakes are soft, fluffy, and full of real coconut flavor. Topped with whipped coconut cream cheese frosting, it will be love at first bite. Bonus: the recipe can be made gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, or just plain “regular.”

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The Best Recipe for Gluten-Free Coconut Cupcakes

A lightly sweet and tender coconut cupcake baked to fluffy perfection. Topped with an airy whipped coconut cream cheese buttercream frosting, these dairy-free and gluten-free coconut cupcakes are the perfect handheld celebration sweet treat for any and every occasion. Here’s why you’ll love them:

Easy To Make: All you need is 1 bowl and 10 ingredients!

Great Texture: So soft and fluffy.

Real Coconut Flavor: No extracts or emulsion needed. Just 100% real genuine coconut.

Easy To Double: Twelve cupcakes not enough? No problem! This recipe can double, even triple, without a problem.

Dietary/Lifestyle Friendly: Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, lactose-free, egg-free, or “regular” this recipe can be easily adjusted to suit your specific lifestyle or dietary needs.

Gluten-Free Coconut Cupcakes Ingredients & Substitutions

As always this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. With that said, I test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives or swaps so that everyone can enjoy it. 

Here are a few key ingredients for these gluten-free coconut cupcakes, but scroll to the bottom of the recipe card for the complete ingredient list.

Dry Ingredients

Flour: I made this cake with XO Baking gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. If you are not gluten-free, swap the flour with regular all-purpose flour. Note that gluten-free flour blends can vary in weight so I recommend measuring by the cup.

Granulated Sugar: Sugar not only adds sweetness but moisture as well. It can be replaced with organic cane sugar, date sugar, and coconut sugar but know that the color and texture of the cupcake will change.

Shredded Coconut: Make sure you get shredded coconut and not flaked. I prefer unsweetened but if you enjoy a sweeter cupcake, go with the sweetened shredded coconut.

Powdered Sugar: If you are vegan, double check the brand of powdered sugar you use as some are processed with bone char.

Wet Ingredients

Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil for best results but any neutral-tasting oil will work. This can be switched with applesauce but note that the cupcakes will not be nearly as moist.

Coconut Milk: Make sure you use full-fat canned coconut milk and not the carton kind. There is a huge difference in flavor and consistency.

Eggs: If you are vegan or egg-free, the eggs can be replaced with a liquid egg replacer, vegan or regular sour cream, mashed banana, or aquafaba. Note: the cupcake will be more dense in texture.

Butter: I love baking with Becel plant-based bricks. Any butter that fits your dietary/lifestyle needs will work as long as it’s in brick form. Don’t use a spreadable margarine-type butter.

Cream Cheese: Violife is my favorite dairy-free cream cheese. Use whatever kind/brand you prefer that fits your specific needs. Note that it should be full-fat and in brick form.

Coconut Cupcakes: Step-by-Step Instructions

Grab a large mixing bowl, a spatula, measuring cups, and a cupcake pan with liners. Let’s bake up some amazing gluten-free coconut cupcakes.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare a cupcake pan with 12 liners.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine coconut milk, eggs, oil, and granulated sugar.

3. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined, then gently fold in the shredded coconut.

4. Divide the batter evenly and bake at 350º for 18-20 minutes.

5. While the cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting by combining the butter and cream cheese and beating until light and fluffy.

6. Add in the remaining buttercream ingredients and mix until combined.

7. Decorate and enjoy!

Light golden coconut cupcakes topped with white whipped cream cheese frosting with some toasted coconut sprinkled on top.

Dairy-Free Coconut Cupcake Options & Variations

A classic coconut cupcake, in my opinion, is hard to beat. If, however, you are looking for a fun flavorful twist here are a few fun ideas to try:

Fun Fillings: Jam, jelly, pudding, or ganache are all delicious options. I love raspberry filling with these easy coconut cupcakes. Here’s my raspberry filling recipe.

Tasty Add-Ins: Level up with a handful of toffee bits, chocolate chips, or even fresh blueberries mixed right into the cupcake batter for a tasty add-in.

Sprinkles: Nothing says “party” like sprinkles. Add a splash of sprinkles instead of, or alongside, the toasted coconut for a fun festive cupcake.

Light golden coconut cupcakes topped with white whipped cream cheese frosting with some toasted coconut sprinkled on top.

Coconut Cupcake Tips & Tricks

Portion The Batter: I use a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop to measure the batter into each cupcake liner. This helps keep them uniform and prevents me from overfilling. You want each liner approximately ⅔ to ¾ full.

Let Them Cool: Always make sure the cupcakes are fully cooled before frosting and decorating. Even if just a tad bit warm, the frosting will fall right off. Whomp whomp. 

Room Temperature Ingredients: It sounds repetitive but it truly is important that all the ingredients are at room temperature. This allows everything to be incorporated and baked evenly. Did you forget to take your eggs out? No sweat! Place the eggs in a bowl and cover with hot water for 5 minutes. Voila… room-temperature eggs!

Light golden coconut cupcakes topped with white whipped cream cheese frosting with some toasted coconut sprinkled on top.

Allergy-Friendly Coconut Cupcakes FAQs

Do I Have To Use Shredded Coconut?

Nope. If you don’t like the texture of shredded coconut, simply omit it from the cupcake batter.

How Do I Store Gluten-Free Cupcakes?

These cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note that as each day passes, the cupcakes will further dry out.

If stored in the fridge, allow the cupcakes 20-30 minutes to sit at room temperature for the frosting to soften back up a bit before serving.

Can I Freeze Gluten-Free Cupcakes?

Yes, you can bake and freeze the undecorated or decorated cupcakes in advance. Remove them from the freezer the night before and slowly let the cupcakes thaw overnight in the fridge.

Will The Recipe Double?

Double it, triple it, whatever. You’ll find this recipe translates beautifully into larger quantities. However, I advise baking cupcake trays one at a time in the oven to ensure even baking.

If you want to bake a double batch, which will give you 2 dozen chocolate cupcakes, I highly recommend using this large cupcake pan.

What’s The Secret To Moist Gluten-Free Cupcakes?

To bake a moist gluten-free cupcake, fat is key. This recipe calls for oil which is the main fat source and coconut milk, the secondary fat source. Both are key to creating incredibly moist cupcakes that are gluten-free.

Light golden coconut cupcakes topped with white whipped cream cheese frosting with some toasted coconut sprinkled on top.

The Best Gluten-Free Coconut Cupcakes

Bring on summer and all the fresh tropical patio feels with these easy flavorful gluten-free coconut cupcakes. Made with 100% real coconut flavor, no extracts or baking emulsions needed, and topped with the most incredible whipped coconut cream cheese frosting.

I know you’re going to go crazy for these coconut cupcakes and I can’t wait to hear all about it. Tag me on social media @cakedbykatie so I can ogle over your spectacular coconut cupcakes and make sure to leave the recipe a star rating and review below.

Tasty Gluten-Free Summer Recipes

Summer should be spent outside enjoying sunshine, family, and friends. Here are a few of my favorite summer-inspired treats that are perfect for sharing.

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Light golden coconut cupcakes topped with white whipped cream cheese frosting with some toasted coconut sprinkled on top.

Gluten-Free Coconut Cupcakes (Dairy-Free)


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  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 40 Minutes
  • Yield: 12 Cupcakes 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Sensationally scrumptious, these easy gluten-free coconut cupcakes are soft, fluffy, and full of real coconut flavor. Topped with whipped coconut cream cheese frosting, it will be love at first bite. Bonus: the recipe can be made gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, or just plain “regular.”


Ingredients

Units Scale

Coconut Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) dairy-free sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canned full-fat coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) gluten-free flour 1:1 baking blend
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (47g) shredded coconut

Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 6 tablespoons (84g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (113g) dairy-free cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • optional: Cocorolls for decor
  • optional: toasted shredded coconut for decor

Instructions

Coconut Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare a cupcake pan with 12 liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine the granulated sugar, sour cream, coconut milk, oil, and eggs and whisk until fully combined and smooth.
  3. Measure in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined.
  4. Gently fold in the shredded coconut.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. 
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing and placing on a wire rack to fully cool. 

Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream

  1. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese and beat together on high speed until light and fluffy. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Measure in the powdered sugar, coconut milk, and salt and mix on low until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer up to high and allow it to beat for another 5 minutes.

Cupcake Assembly

  1. Fit a piping bag with a Wilton 1m piping tip and transfer the frosting into the bag.
  2. Pipe a swirl on top of the cupcake starting in the center and working around and up. If the frosting feels too soft, stop what you are doing and allow it to chill in the fridge before continuing to decorate.
  3. Place a Cocoroll on top and sprinkle on toasted shredded coconut if desired. Enjoy!
  4. Store leftover cupcakes at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days, in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 6 months.
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

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