Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream (Dairy and Gluten Free)

I absolutely love a coconut cake for Easter (or anytime!), and I have always loved the idea of white chocolate and coconut together. This year, instead of charging myself with the task of making a layer cake, I had the idea for these delicious coconut cupcakes with a white chocolate buttercream. The way I make the white chocolate buttercream for these cupcakes is a bit unorthodox, but trust me, it offers a wonderful white chocolate flavor that pairs perfectly with these dense, moist, coconut cupcakes.

I tested these first using sweetened flaked coconut and then again using unsweetened. The best results come from sweetened coconut. This is the type of coconut found in the baking aisle that is slightly moist. Unsweetened flaked coconut can be found in the baking aisle as well, but it usually feels significantly more dry and it tended to dry out these cupcakes. For this reason, as you’ll see in the notes, if you absolutely insist on using unsweetened coconut, adding an extra egg yolk is necessary to keep the cupcakes relatively moist. Unfortunately, you will not gain back the sweetness that sweetened coconut would add.

The cupcakes themselves are gluten and dairy free, but you’ll notice that the icing contains white chocolate and dairy free white chocolate is not the easiest (or cheapest) thing to come across. If you’re not lucky enough to find it at your local store, I’ve included a couple Amazon links below to make your search a little easier. Call your local grocery to find out if they carry any options before you make the trip.

The buttercream also works without the white chocolate. Just follow the directions up until the point of adding the chocolate, and you’ll still have a wonderful homemade vanilla buttercream frosting. On the flip side, the white chocolate buttercream also works with all dairy butter and white chocolate if you aren’t avoiding dairy and your only concerned is gluten.

Shop this recipe:

Vegan white chocolate: King David kosher dairy free white chocolate chips come in a pack of 4 and can be purchased on Amazon HERE

Pascha dairy free white chocolate chips: These chips come in a package of 1 and can be purchased HERE

Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

makes 18 cupcakes



  • 2 1/4 cup gluten free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour or Cup4Cup wholesome blend flour – make sure your blend contains xanthan gum)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted, cooled until barely warm
  • 1 cup coconut milk, full fat from a can (I use Thai Kitchen coconut milk)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut (see notes for using unsweetened)

White Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan/dairy free butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) dairy free white chocolate


Make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 cupcake tins with 18 cupcake liners (if you only have one cupcake tin, you may bake them in two batches).
  2. Melt the coconut oil for 45 seconds in the microwave, set aside, and allow to cool.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups gluten free flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Open the can of coconut milk, pour into a bowl, and whisk until uniform.
  5. In a medium sized mixing bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, 1 cup coconut milk, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one is added.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture one half at a time. Once fully incorporated, mix on high speed for 1 minute. Mix in 1 1/4 cups coconut by hand with a rubber spatula or on low until incorporated.
  7. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 12-15 minutes on the middle rack of the oven checking on them after 12 minutes. They are done once a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean or with a couple crumbs.
  8. Frost cupcakes after they have cooled completely.

Make the white chocolate buttercream:

  1. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, place 1/2 cup (1 stick) of vegan/dairy free butter and mix on high speed until the butter is softened and has a creamier consistency (about 1 minute).
  2. With the mixer on low, add in 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on high for 15 seconds after each addition scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon coconut milk and mix on high for 1 minute more. You may stop at this point for vanilla buttercream or continue on to make white chocolate buttercream.
  4. Melt 6 ounces (approximately 3/4 cup) dairy free white chocolate. Place white chocolate into a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute on 50% power. Stir. Microwave 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave 15 seconds more until completely melted. Do not overheat.
  5. With the mixer running on high speed, pour the white chocolate into the buttercream and mix on high speed 30 seconds.
  6. Frost cupcakes after they have cooled completely.


Unsweetened coconut: If you would like to use unsweetened flaked coconut in this recipe instead of sweetened, this will most likely effect the moisture content and taste of the cupcake. It is my recommendation if you are using unsweetened coconut to add 1 extra egg yolk. The sweetness of the cupcake will be reduced, but you may be satisfied to rely on the buttercream to bring back some of the sweetness.

Dairy free white chocolate: please read the post above the recipe for special information on this, and refer to “shop this recipe” above for suggestions.

Using pre-made frosting: Using a pre-made gluten and dairy free frosting is a perfectly acceptable option and there are many available at your local grocery. I sometimes like to buy a pre-made gluten and dairy free frosting such as Miss Jones Vanilla for convenience. Purchase it HERE.

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Elizabeth Ann Willis owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for it’s original recipes, pictures, and content to be reproduced anywhere except this site without strict permission. If you loved this recipe and would like to publish it on your own website, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link back to my site as well as this specific recipe. Copying and/or pasting or taking a screen capture of full recipes or photos and posting it to personal websites or social media is strictly prohibited. This post may contain affiliate links.

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