You will feel like you’re on vacation the first time you take a bite of this sweet, delicate, and slightly nutty Tropical Pina Colada Cake. Coconut cake is frosted in a true Caribbean favorite with the combination of tangy bright pineapple and generous flakes of coconuts. This cake is like a bite of pure sunshine.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect dessert to serve at your next barbecue with Texas Style Smoked Brisket or just want to celebrate the flavors of summer, this is it. Tender and moist coconut cake is filled with a bright coconut and pineapple frosting before being hugged in thick, creamy, and decadent coconut buttercream. If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, this cake is for you!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Balance of Flavors and Textures – The bright tang of the pineapple and the nutty, buttery bite of the coconut not only bring a balance of flavors to this cake, making it not overly sweet, they also add texture to every bite. The fluffy, creamy coconut buttercream is the perfect accent.
- Make Ahead – The three components of this cake, the cake itself, the coconut pineapple frosting, and the coconut buttercream can all be made ahead of time. You can also assemble this cake a day or two in advance and it will be delicious!
- Easy Process – Skip the boxed mix! There is nothing complicated about any of the steps. This is a restaurant worthy cake that anyone can make!
- Accessible Ingredients – This cake uses all baking staples, many of which you probably already have. It’s just as easy to shop for as it is to make.
This Tropical Pina Colada Cake proves you can have your cocktail and eat it too. With just a few simple ingredients you can slice into a taste of the tropics. The key to the rich flavor and texture of this cake is quality ingredients.
- Eggs – Both eggs and egg yolks give this cake its rich flavor and buttery texture. Eggland’s Best Eggs have over 6x the vitamin D of other eggs. In addition they also have double the vitamin B12.
- Flour – No need for anything fancy! Regular all purpose flour works just fine in this recipe. To make it gluten free use a 1 to 1 flour such as Bob’s Red Mill.
- Sugar – Regular sugar gives the coconut cake its sweetness as well as the coconut-pineapple frosting. Powdered sugar easily dissolves into the coconut buttercream frosting.
- Vegetable Oil – This has a neutral flavor that gives the cake its moisture.
- Butter – Used in both the coconut cake to provide richness and moisture and the base for the coconut butter cream. Make sure that it is room temperature so it easily mixes in.
- Coconut Extract –
- Sweetened Coconut – This combined with the crushed pineapple brings all of the pina colada flavor to this cake.
- Crushed Pineapple – Creates the filling and topping along with the coconut for that tropical flavor.
- Limes – Lime zest adds a bright, citrusy note that enhances the pina colada flavor.
How to Make Tropical Pina Colada Cake
This cake comes together in just a few simple steps. If you are looking for the perfect summer dessert or a sweet treat that will make a cloudy day feel like pure sunshine, this is it. You will almost be able to feel that warm salty water breeze and hear the lapping azure waters when you take the first bite.
Time needed: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Sweet coconut cake it layered with a pineapple and coconut frosting and finished with a coconut buttercream.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8″ cake pans with nonstick baking spray or a 9×13 cake pan and set aside.
Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and mix on high for 3 minutes. Next add one egg at a time, followed by the oil, milk, and coconut extract. Mix until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth but be careful not to overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Allow the cakes to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.
- Pina Colada Frosting
Add all of the ingredients for the pina colada frosting to a saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer it to a container and let it cool completely.
- Coconut Buttercream
Add all of the ingredients for the buttercream frosting to a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.
Place a round cake onto a plate or cake dish, slicing the tops off to make it flat, or cut the 9×13 cake in half. Spread half of the pina colada frosting onto the first cake. Stack the second half on top. Spread the buttercream frosting all over the cake. Top the cake with the remaining pina colada frosting.
How to Make This Cake Gluten Free and Dairy Free
You can easily make this cake completely gluten free by using a 1 to 1 flour such as Bob’s Red Mill. The measurements will be the same and you won’t need to add any additional ingredients.
You can also make this recipe completely dairy free. Use your favorite plant based butter and a dairy free milk such as oat milk. Make sure that it’s an unflavored milk with no additional sugar added.
How to Make Tropical Pine Colada Cake Ahead
You can make all three components of this cake ahead of time. The cakes can not only be baked in advance, but you can also freeze them. Allow them to cool completely and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. They can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen up to three months. If frozen place the plastic wrapped cakes into freezer safe bags, making sure to let all of the excess air out. Let them gently defrost in the refrigerator overnight when ready to serve.
Both the pina colada frosting and the coconut buttercream can be made up to five days in advance. Make sure they are stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator. You will want to let them sit out for a few minutes to come to room temperature to make them easier to spread.
This cake can be made in two 8″ round cake pans or one 9×13 sheet cake pan. The choice is completely up to you. You could also make cupcakes and fill them with the pina colada frosting and then top them with the coconut butter cream.
Top Tip for Tropical Pina Colada Cake
When it comes to any cake the texture is as important as the flavors. Make sure that you don’t over mix your cake batter when making your cake. Also make sure that your butter is at room temperature for both the cake and the buttercream. This will allow everything to come together smoothly, quickly, and lump free.
Tropical Pina Colada Cake
- 1 mixing bowl/mixer
- 2 8" cake pans or 1 9×13 cake pan
- 1 saucepan
- 2 1/2 cups 1.1 gluten free flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp coconut extract
- 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
- 20 oz crushed pineapple
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 limes, zested
Coconut Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter. room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp coconut extract
Pina Colada Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8" cake pans or a 9×13 cake pan with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
- Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and mix on high for 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the oil, milk, and coconut extract and mix until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix on high until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix.
- Spread the batter into the prepared cake pans or pan.
- Allow the cakes to bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Slice the top of the cake off to create a flat surface.
- Add half of the coconut-pineapple frosting over the cake.
- Top with the second cake.
- Spread the buttercream frosting all over the cake. Top with the remaining coconut-pineapple frosting.
Coconut Pineapple Frosting
- Add all of the ingredients to a pot over medium heat.
- Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer to an airtight container and let cool completely.
- Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.