35 Coconut Desserts That'll Transport You Right to the Tropics
Craving a bit of sunshine? Dreaming about being somewhere on a beach? Transport your taste buds to the tropics with a little help from these coconut recipes. We love baking with coconut for its versatility and subtle, yet distinct flavor. Coconut pairs well with a variety of fruits, from strawberry to pineapple, and complements the richness of ingredients like chocolate and pecans. It brings lightness to decadent classics like German Chocolate Cake, creaminess to Custard Pies, and crunchy texture to classic Layer Cakes. Coconut is also a great option to replace butter when baking vegan desserts, like our Vegan Banana Bread or Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies. You can also use coconut to bring a bit of sweetness to savory recipes, like Coconut Fried Shrimp, or even to mellow out the spice when you go a little overboard with the hot sauce.
From coconut flakes and milk to oil, there are so many creative ways to use the different parts of this fruit. This weekend, treat yourself to a piña colada and bake some of our favorite coconut desserts. These recipes will make you feel like you’re on an endless vacation.
Mini Coconut-Key Lime Pies
Recipe: Mini Coconut-Key Lime Pies
These adorable miniature pies are perfect for any tea party or afternoon garden soiree.
Coconut Dream Bar
Recipe: Coconut Dream Bar
It isn't called a "dream bar" for nothing. With a browned butter-pecan shortbread crust, these bars are anything but ordinary.
Toasted Coconut-Pecan Cupcakes with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
Coconut and pecans are a match made in heaven. Drizzle these cupcakes with caramel for a supremely elegant finish.
Easy Coconut Macaroons
Recipe: Easy Coconut Macaroons
With a crisp, toasty exterior and fluffy center, these bite-sized desserts are the perfect addition to any dessert spread.
Chocolate-Coconut Pavlova Cake
Recipe: Chocolate-Coconut Pavlova Cake
Visually, this cake is a show-stopper. With layers of crisp chocolate-swirled meringue and coconut cream, its delicate flavors match its bold flavors.
Recipe: Millionaire Pie
This no-bake pie’s combination of pineapple, cherry, coconut, and pecans will certainly have you feeling like a millionaire. Its baby-pink color is guaranteed to make you swoon.
The Lane Cake
Recipe: The Lane Cake
This recipe may be over 100 years old, but it’s stood the test of time. With a coconut-pecan-peach filling and peach schnapps meringue frosting, it will wow any crowd.
Recipe: Pineapple-Coconut Cake
This elegant layer cake with fluffy coconut sponge, pineapple filling, and rich cream cheese frosting bursts with tropical flavors.
Mama Mae's Ambrosia Salad
Recipe: Mama Mae's Ambrosia Salad Recipe
This take on Ambrosia Salad doesn’t call for any marshmallow or whipped cream, instead letting the flavors of all the fresh fruit and sweet coconut shine through. Plus, it’s accidentally vegan.
Banana Nut Shortcake
Recipe: Banana Nut Shortcake
Complete with a layer of toasted coconut and pecan crumble, these shortcakes are the perfect way to reimagine banana bread.
Tropical Carrot Cake
Recipe: Tropical Carrot Cake
Warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger combine with pineapple and coconut in this Hummingbird-carrot cake fusion.
Coconut Cream Pie
Recipe: Coconut Cream Pie
When it comes to pie recipes, this classic coconut pie recipe takes the blue ribbon. A refrigerated pie crust makes it easy, and the whipped cream and toasted coconut make it stunning.
Recipe: Coconut Cookies
With both unsweetened shredded coconut and coconut extract, these cookies are loaded up with your favorite summer flavor.
Lemon-Coconut Chess Bars
Recipe: Lemon-Coconut Chess Bars
We love dessert bars for their ease and portability, and these Lemon-Coconut Chess Bars combine all of our favorite flavors into one small package.
Coconut Meringues with Elderflower Strawberries
These light, airy meringues are the perfect vehicle for light coconut flavor.
Pineapple-Coconut Cupcakes with Buttermilk-Cream Cheese Frosting
These playful cupcakes will transport you right to the tropics. For a whimsical touch, garnish with crushed graham cracker "sand" and miniature cocktail umbrellas.
Coconut Pound Cake
Recipe: Coconut Pound Cake
We love a classic Bundt, and this coconut version brings a light, fresh flavor to the traditional pound cake.
Vegan Banana Bread
Recipe: Vegan Banana Bread
Coconut oil is the secret to lots of vegan desserts, and this vegan-friendly Banana Bread recipe combines coconut oil with tahini and sesame seeds for a unique crunch.
Recipe: Seven-Layer Cookies
This reader-submitted recipe was the first-ever bar cookie featured in Southern Living, so it has many years of history behind it.
Coconut Rice Pudding with Strawberry-Nectarine Compote
Strawberries and nectarines come together in a jammy compote to top this silky-smooth Coconut Rice Pudding.
Recipe: Strawberry-Coconut Paletas
These fresh and fruity Mexican ice pops are the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day.
Coconut Tres Leches Sheet Cake
Recipe: Coconut Tres Leches Sheet Cake
Condensed milk makes this sheet cake super moist, and coconut makes it super flavorful.
Recipe: Coconut Snowballs
This quick and easy recipe results in decadently fluffy cookies that are perfect for the holiday season.
Recipe: Coconut-Banana Pudding
The addition of coconut adds toasty texture to the much-loved Southern classic, banana pudding. Plus, this no-bake dessert will be ready in a snap.
Ambrosia Pudding Pie
Recipe: Ambrosia Pudding Pie
All those nostalgic flavors of Ambrosia Salad, distilled into a pie with lemon curd and coconut custard.
Coco-Loco Chocolate Fondue
Recipe: Coco-Loco Chocolate Fondue
Coconut cream gives this chocolate fondue its smooth, silky texture. Forget the fondue set: this recipe can be made in the slow-cooker.
Japanese Fruitcake with Lemon-Coconut Frosting
More resembling a seasonal spice cake than a traditional dense fruitcake, this recipe is fit for any holiday spread.
Coconut Cake with Rum Filling and Coconut Ermine Frosting
Crumbled coconut resembles snow on this wonderfully festive, warm rum-filled holiday cake.
Coconut Chess Pie
Recipe: Coconut Chess Pie
Instantly upgrade your classic Chess Pie with the addition of toasted flaked coconut in the filling.
Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies
Recipe: Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies
Oats, coconut, and pecans bring a twist to Laura Bush’s famed stuffed chocolate chip cookies. Her recipe for these Cowboy Cookies was crowned victorious at the First Lady Bake-Off in 2000, and it’s stood the test of time.
Coconut-Carrot Cake with Coconut Buttercream
Sheet cakes are a perfect way to feed a crowd, and this Coconut-Carrot Sheet Cake will delight at any party.
Coconut Thumbprints with Dulce de Leche
A salty-sweet dulce de leche filling complements the toasty coconut flavors of these cute cookies. They’re perfect for your holiday cookie swap.
Mama's German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting
German Chocolate Cake is just perfectly indulgent. Top with lots of Coconut-Pecan Frosting to mingle with all those rich chocolate flavors.
Coconut Custard Pie
Recipe: Coconut Custard Pie
A cross between buttermilk pie and coconut cream pie, this fusion dessert will bring you right back to your childhood.
Coconut Cream Cake
Recipe: Coconut Cream Cake
This stunning layered cake will be the best birthday treat for any coconut-lover in your life.