Coconut-Lime Cupcakes

So when Sara and I discussed doing a week of tropical recipes, apparently that meant all things coconut. Really, this recipe is my brain spawn from June, the month of never-ending celebrations (remember that discussion?) My husband loves coconut. Everything coconut. He often makes or buys coconut cake for my birthday when in reality, I’m not the biggest lover of coconut cake. But I take that as a semi-subtle hint that maybe I should be less experimental for his celebration desserts and just give him coconut cake. That’s all he wants. Well, coconut cake and Legos (he also bought me Legos for our first anniversary...hint taken).

I did some soul-searching in an attempt to determine why I don’t always love coconut cake. Here are my conclusions:

1) Coconut cakes are often dry. I don’t know if the coconut soaks up the moisture in the cake or what, but it seems like, even among expert go-to bakers like Ina Garten, a common complaint of their coconut cakes are dryness.

2) Rum flavoring is often paired with coconut, but I don’t like the flavor of rum.

3) Things that are JUST coconut-flavored are often a little too sweet and a little too one-note for me.

So I decided to use my go-to super-moist cupcake recipe and use my all-time favorite coconut combo: lime and coconut. For me, lime and coconut are the perfect pair. The apples to my peanut butter. The Lois to my Clark. The Tami to my Eric (y’all knew I had to go there.)

To make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 350. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners and set them aside. Then you’ll need a white or yellow cake mix (we swear up and down by Duncan Hines cake mixes), sour cream, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil, the zest of 1 lime, vanilla extract, coconut extract, and a cup of sweetened coconut flakes.

Combine all the ingredients except for the coconut in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Mix for 30 seconds on low or until the ingredients are more or less combined. Then mix on high for 3 minutes. Add the coconut flakes and mix until just combined. Distribute the batter evenly among the cupcake liners.

Bake for 16-22 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden and a pick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. It’s reallyreallyreally important not to overbake these cupcakes because they will taste stale and dry, even straight from the oven. When they’re done baking, remove from the oven and cool completely.

To make the icing, combine 3 8-ounce packages of full-fat cream cheese and 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add 3 cups powdered sugar, the juice of 1 medium lime, and 2 teaspoons coconut extract. Mix until combined and fluffy. Transfer to an icing bag and swirl on top of the cooled cupcakes (check out this awesome tutorial on some of our favorite methods). Sprinkle with sweetened coconut and a little more lime zest. This makes 24 cupcakes (be sure to refrigerate any leftovers and eat them within 2-3 days).



  1. OK, so my comment has nothing to do with cupcakes (although they sound wonderful and I will definitely make them–love lime and coconut!). Your Tami & Eric comment made me a little tear-y. Just last night we finished watching the final episode after having it recommended by friends. I’m so sad that I won’t be spending my evenings with them anymore, but glad that someone appreciates them as much as we do!!

  2. I love the combination of coconut and lime. I recently made Margarita cupcakes with a coconut cake and pineapple frosting, and loved it. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I make a coconut cake that is to die for….I brush coconut milk on the layers (3) and it makes it very moist and delicious. I use a cream cheese frosting and then top with toasted coconut. is good!!

  4. These look awesome, but I know I won’t like the frosting. 3 bars of cream cheese with only 3 cups of sugar? nope. I don’t eat cheesecake either, though! *gasp*

    Anyway I’m thinking that a 7 minute icing would be marvelous with this! Is that one that you guys ever play with much? I would love some tips if you do!!

  5. “This makes 24 cupcakes (be sure to refrigerate any leftovers and eat them within 2-3 days).”

    What happens to them after 2-3 days? lol

    1. You’ll die. It’s like a bad horror movie.


      No, that much time in the fridge just sucks the moisture out of them, but they need to be refrigerated because of the cream cheese frosting.

  6. America’s Test Kitchen has an EXCELLENT coconut cake recipe. The frosting is alot of work but the cake itself- delicious! Not even close to being dry and the perfect amount of coconut flavor. Might be a good coconut cake to make for your husband’s next birthday (or the year after…)

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