Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes

Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcake with the cupcake liner being removed

Moist little coconut cakes are filled with a creamy coconut custard, topped with a fluffy coconut frosting…and topped with flakes of toasted coconut. Now while that’s a lot of coconut name calling, these sweet treats are delicately flavored and totally indulgent!

Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes cut in half revealing the custard center

First up, start with baking the cupcakes so they can cool. Meanwhile, make the custard so it also has time to chill, and then whip up the frosting. Using the wide end of an icing tip or a small knife, remove the center of the cupcakes so we can tuck some delicious custard inside. Top with a swirl of frosting and a sprinkle of coconut, and we’re ready to indulge!  If you like a little more texture in your cupcakes, you can also add in fine coconut shreds to the batter. For this recipe, I was going for tender, pillow-like cupcakes, reserving the top for a bit more texture.

Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes with centers removed, ready for custard filling
Step #1: Cut a small hole in the cupcakes with a frosting tip.
Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes being filled with custard
Step #2: Fill the cupcakes with coconut custard.
Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes being topped with coconut frosting
Step #3: Top the Cupcakes with a Cloud of Coconut Frosting.
Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes on serving tray
Step #4: Top with toasted coconut and enjoy!

Tips for Perfect Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes:

  • Don’t reduce the amount of sugar or oil – these are both very important for the structure and texture of the cupcakes. Reducing them or substituting with other ingredients will effect the quality and moist character of the cupcakes.
  • This recipe calls for full-fat coconut milk. I’m referring to canned coconut milk (not coconut beverage found in the cooler section of the grocery store). A full-fat coconut milk helps create a tender crumb, but also contributes more flavor than a lower fat coconut milk or the beverage variety. Some coconut milk contains gums which can also affect the quality of the cupcakes, possibly making them a bit rubbery.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter – this encourages the gluten to develop which leads to tough cupcakes.
  • If you like the texture of coconut in your cupcakes, you can add 1/2 cup of fine unsweetened coconut shreds to the batter.
  • You can use cornstarch if you don’t have custard powder although the filling won’t be as flavorful.
  • For the frosting, avoid using tub margarine as it contains more water so the frosting may be too soft to hold its shape and will melt very easily. If you will be sharing these treats in a space that’s hot, I’d recommend using just non-hydrogenated shortening rather than using half shortening and half stick-style vegan butter. Shortening does not melt as easily as vegan butter can, so your frosting will hold up better.
  • Speaking of which, have your vegan butter out to soften at room temperature before making the frosting. This is easier on your beaters/mixer, and makes for a fluffier frosting!

If you make these Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes, please let me know in the comments below, and feel free to give it a rating! Also, I love connecting on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes. I love seeing what you’re up to in the kitchen!

Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcake with the cupcake liner being removed

Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes

Moist little coconut cakes are filled with a creamy coconut custard, topped with a fluffy coconut frosting...and topped with flakes of toasted coconut. Now while that's a lot of coconut name calling, these sweet treats are delicately flavored and totally indulgent!
5 from 6 votes
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Coconut Cupcakes, Vegan Cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Calories: 571kcal
Author: Crumbs & Caramel


For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (e.g. avocado, canola, etc)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white distilled vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup fine shred unsweetened coconut, optional

For the Custard Filling:

  • 4 tbsp vegan custard powder
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter sticks, room temperature (not tub style)
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 2-5 tbsp full-fat coconut milk, room temperature
  • toasted coconut


For the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a standard size cupcake/muffin baking tray with cupcake liners.
  • Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to blend. Stir in coconut shreds if using.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, oil, vinegar and extracts. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined, do not over-mix.
  • Fill the paper liners about 3/4 full with the cupcake batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few cooked crumbs. Cool the bases in the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer each cupcake to a cooling rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.

For the Filling:

  • In a medium sized pot, combine the custard powder and sugar. Whisk in the coconut milk. Turn the heat on to medium and bring the custard to a boil, stirring often to prevent scorching. Once thickened, remove from heat. Do not over cook.
  • Pour the custard into a bowl, and place a piece of cling wrap directly over the custard so a skin does not form. Set to cool in the fridge for about an hour.

For the Frosting:

  • In a stand mixer with a balloon whisk (or with a large bowl and beaters), beat the vegan butter and shortening together until fluffy. Add in the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time. Beat for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add in the extracts and beat another minute. Add the coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting reaches a pipe-able consistency, slightly too firm is easier to manage than too soft. Beat for 5 minutes more.

To Assemble the Cupcakes:

  • Using the wide end of a frosting tip, an apple corer or small knife, remove the centers from the cupcakes.
  • Whip the custard to loosen it up and make it a bit more fluid. Fill the centers of the cupcakes with the custard.
  • Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 280mg | Potassium: 131mg | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 2.2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @crumbs.and.caramel on Instagram!

16 thoughts on “Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcakes

  1. Omg! Bronwyn everything about this is amazing! The photos, the pipework, the custard filling….absolutely incredible! And I love how you put the coconut milk in the frosting, would never have thought of that. Saving this to Facebook right away! (:

  2. I am a BIG Coconut fan and these look awwwwmazing! May I ask, if i don’t need them to be Vegan, should I just use regular butter and Shortening or Just Butter alone for the frosting? Thank you. Can’t wait to make this.

    1. Thank you! You can do either! The reason I include shortening in the recipe is that it doesn’t melt at room temperature or during beating/whipping. I often use all vegan butter and just keep an eye on the consistency and then keep the cupcakes chilled until 20ish minutes before serving so the frosting isn’t hard. The same would apply for dairy butter. So it’s up to you, but if you want stable frosting that doesn’t melt as quickly, use some shortening:) Let me know how it goes, I hope you love them 💕

  3. Do I have to alter the recipe at all if I want to make this as a 9” cake? Also I made these a few weeks ago as cupcakes and they were a huge hit!😊

    1. Hi Emily, so happy to hear you enjoyed the cupcakes! Thanks for letting me know 🙂 About making these into a 9″ cake, I would increase the batter by about 25-30% for a single 9″ round cake. If you’re looking to make a double layer 9″ inch cake, then I’d increase things by 25-30% and then double that. My recipe card has the option to increase the serving sizes so it will do the math for you. So if you want one single layer 9″ inch round cake, increase the servings from 12 to about 15 or 16, and the amounts in the list of ingredients will automatically change for you. Likewise, if you want a double layer cake, increase to servings to 30-32. For baking time, start peaking around 30 minutes. I wouldn’t double the filling though if you plan on using it between the layers. Let me know how it turns out! 🙂

    1. Hi Amber! Without being there it’s hard to say, sorry! The concern I would have with adding more coconut milk would be that you may end up with rubbery hard cupcakes because they will be over stirred and the gluten will develop. My batter is usually about a medium I would say, it’s not super runny but it’s not super thick either. Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂 ~Bronwyn

  4. I made these and they were AMAZING! My only question is, what kind of custard powder do you use?

    1. Thank you! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed them! I use Bird’s Custard Powder. It’s accidentally vegan. You can find it on Amazon but a lot of stores carry it in the pudding/pie filling section. 🙂 ~Bronwyn

  5. Hi Bronwyn, I was wondering is there a way that I could substitute the normal flour to gluten free flour? Or a gluten free alternative? Thank you
    Ps: so in love with your recipes and the photos just add more life to everything!

    1. Hi Jessica, Thank you for the sweet note! Yes, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Look for one which has xanthan gum and does not have chickpea flour (I find the flavor a bit intrusive.) If the blend does not contain xanthan gum, sift 3/4 tsp xanthan gum in with your dry ingredients and whisk really well so it’s evenly distributed. The xanthan gum acts as a binder. I hope you love these cupcakes 🙂 ~Bronwyn

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