These gluten free coconut cupcakes are topped with a thick and creamy cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut for a delicious dessert any coconut lover will enjoy!
The kids and I have been coconut fanatics for years. We like to bake with coconut flour, we are crazy for Almond Joy candy bars, and we try to sneak coconut into lots of recipes like these Gluten Free Cowboy Cookies and these Gluten Free Caramel Magic Bars.
I am digressing because coconut gets my mind thinking of dessert, and dessert makes me hungry :-).
For this recipe, I use unsweetened shredded coconut. There is sugar in the cupcakes and frosting...I think sweetened shredded coconut would tip the scales and make this recipe too sweet.
One bite of these moist coconut cupcakes and you will be hooked too! If you love cupcakes as much as we do, you will want to try all of my best gluten free cupcake recipes!
Why this recipe is great:
This homemade cupcake recipe is full of delicious coconut flavor. They are topped with a creamy cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut.
This gluten free coconut cupcake recipe can be used for any holiday. Add in white chocolate bunny ears and sprinkle on colorful sprinkles, and they are perfect for Easter. For winter, they look just like snowballs.
If you love all flavors of cupcakes, you will want to give my sweet Gluten Free Banana Cupcakes a try too!
Unsweetened shredded coconut is also great in my homemade Coconut Macaroons cookies too!
- Gluten free flour blend- I have tested two gluten free flour blends in this recipe. I liked King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure and Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour Blend. This doesn't mean other blends won't work, I just haven't tested any others. Try to avoid flour blends that are high in starch.
- Xanthan gum - If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, please add 1 teaspoon.
- Cream cheese - Use Kite Hill or another dairy-free cream cheese if you are dairy-free.
- Shredded coconut - I advise using unsweetened because the cupcakes are sweet enough.
- Vanilla - Try not to use imitation.
The rich coconut flavor of these cupcakes comes from using canned coconut milk. It adds a beautiful coconut flavor, without making the cupcakes overpowering!
How to make gluten free coconut cupcakes:
Step 1: Add your dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to blend.
Step 2: In a smaller bowl, add your wet ingredients and whisk to blend. Mix until the batter is just barely mixed. Try not to overmix the batter. Mix the batter until it is just "barely" mixed to keep your cupcakes light and fluffy.
Step 3: Put paper liners into your muffin tin and fill each ¾ full of cupcake batter. I hate when my cupcakes stick to the paper, so I prefer to use these parchment paper liners. Bake at 350º F for 20-22 minutes.
As you can see inside, these gluten free coconut cupcakes are moist and delicious inside, no dry or dense cupcakes here!!
Make the cream cheese frosting and use an ice cream scoop to put it onto each cupcake. Pour the shredded coconut into a bowl. Dip the cupcake upside down so the frosting is in the coconut. Press down to shape the frosting into a rounded mound.
How to make bunny ears
Using a silicone mold is really simple when making bunny ears. Melt white chocolate and use a spoon to drop melted chocolate into each bunny ear. Use a toothpick to make sure all of the areas are covered. Allow hardening. Twist the silicone mold to release the hardened chocolate bunny ears.
(I found the silicone bunny mold that I used at Michaels store. I tried to find it on Amazon for you but it seems to be only at Michaels.)
My favorite chocolates for melting to make molded chocolate shapes are white chocolate chips, or Ghirardelli white chocolate melting wafers.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ::
Yes, you can! One reader used only ⅓ cup of sugar and she then used vanilla coconut yogurt instead of canned coconut milk.
You can make this easy coconut cupcake recipe dairy-free by substituting butter for coconut oil. You will want to use vegan butter and cream cheese for the frosting. You can also use vegan butter to make a buttercream frosting by following this gluten free lemon filled cupcake recipe for buttercream.
These cupcakes will last up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
The secret to keeping my cupcakes moist, light and fluffy is not over-mixing the cake batter. I find over-mixing the batter tends to make denser cupcakes that are more brick-like. I think this happens more with gluten free baking than regular baking.
I like to use the toothpick test to see if my cupcakes are done baking. Insert a toothpick into the middle of a cupcake. If the toothpick comes back clean, the cupcakes are finished baking. If you see crumbs or batter, you need to bake them a little longer.
If you love coconut, I have a few incredible gluten free coconut recipes to make!
These were delicious! Brought them for a work potluck and everyone said they couldn't tell they were gluten free because they were so moist!"Andrea M., Pinterest user
I made these with ⅓ sugar (trying to cut it out) and used coconut yogurt with bi-carb instead of baking powder and canned coconut milk. They tasted lovely! Sadly I used ½ teaspoon of bi-carb which is too much as my cupcakes rose well but fell flat when removed from oven. Will use ¼ teaspoon next time. Good flavour tho!"Annie C., Pinterest user
More gluten free cupcake recipes to try:
- These are the best gluten free chocolate cupcakes ever. Topped with a chocolate buttercream frosting.
- If you love carrot cake, these gluten free carrot cake cupcakes are delicious with a creamy cream cheese frosting.
- Pink lemonade is the best in this gluten free pink lemonade cupcake recipe.
- If you are looking for something fun, these gluten free churros cupcakes are great...you can even make the tiny gluten free churros that are on top!
Gluten Free Coconut Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups gluten free flour blend * see note
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup butter or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup canned full fat coconut milk
For Frosting and Decorations
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 stick butter softened
- 4 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Set out your butter and cream cheese to ensure they are at room temperature.
- In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients and whisk to blend.
- In a smaller bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to blend.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just barely mixed.
- Add cupcake liners to a muffin tin and fill each ¾ full with cupcake batter.
- Bake 20-22 minutes until done. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.
- Add your butter, cream cheese, and vanilla to a mixer. Whip until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add water slowly so your frosting doesn't get too soft.
- Use an ice cream scoop to put frosting on each cupcake. Dip the cupcake upsidedown into the shredded coconut to top each.
- I have tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure GF and Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 GF blend in this recipe. That doesn't mean others will not work, I just have not tested other flours.
- If your gluten free flour blend doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, please add 1 teaspoon.
- Don't over-mix your cupcake batter, it will make your cupcakes denser.
- To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the donut. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done baking. If you see batter or crumbs, the donuts need to bake longer.
- These cupcakes will keep up to 4 days in an air-tight container, or up to 4 months in the freezer.
Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn't test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.
Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.
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These have the most amazing flavor, but my cupcakes fell as soon as I took them out of the oven. Inside the oven they were slightly domes and beautiful. I set them gently on the stove and they shrank in size. any tips on how to keep this from happening?
Hi Tiffany, It would help me if you shared more details because I haven't had any reports from readers of this happening. What flour blend did you use, and did you substitute any ingredients? Also, did you open the oven door while they were baking?
My son is newly diagnosed and his birthday approaches. He’s grieving his favorite coconut cake. Can this be made as a cake instead of cupcakes?
Hi Terri, you can easily make this into a cake. Just keep an eye on the baking time as it will need to bake longer.
I have a couple of questions. Can I use coconut extract instead of vanilla or would it be too much? When you state a stick of butter for the frosting, how much is that in tablespoons?
Thank you for your time.
Hi Cynthia, a stick of butter is 8 TBSP of butter or 1/2 cup. I think coconut extract is strong so I would recommend using 1/2 teaspoon instead of a full teaspoon.
I am loving this recipe especially that it's gluten free!
I am really glad you can enjoy it 🙂
Love the tropical vibes from the coconut in these cupcakes!
I hope you love them as much as we do!