Lightened Up Coconut Cake

Here's the Dish

I’ve been making this cake every year for my mom’s birthday. She is a huge fan of all things coconut, and she always swears that this is the best coconut cake she has ever tried. The best part is that this cake is one of the easiest cakes to make and is much lighter than a typical slice of coconut cake, which can have as much as 500 calories a slice! This year, I decided to make this cake for Easter Sunday. Coconut is always a welcomed flavor when spring arrives, and the toasted coconut on top of the cake made a beautiful addition to the Easter table!


The estimated total time to make this recipe is 40-45 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 round cake pans with non-stick spray. Set aside.  In a bowl, mix together canned pineapple, vanilla cake mix, and coconut extract. Stir until batter is smooth. Divide batter between the two cake pans. Bake according to package directions, or until toothpick comes out clean.


Meanwhile, whisk together pudding mix , coconut extract, and milk in a medium bowl until there are no lumps left.  (Note: Start with milk in the bowl, and gradually add pudding mix while whisking continuously to avoid lumps forming in the pudding)Fold in cool whip. Refrigerate frosting until ready to frost cakes.


When cakes are completely cooled, frost cake, one layer at a time. Place each layer on top of each other, and sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired.


Coconut Cake:
1Box vanilla cake mix 1
1 tbsCoconut extract
1(20 oz) Can no sugar added crushed pineapple, (do not drain)
Whipped Coconut Frosting:
1 cupCold skim milk (or milk of choice)
1(1oz) Vanilla sugar free pudding mix
1(16oz) Container light cool whip
1 tbsCoconut extract 2
OptionalTopping: Shredded coconut for garnishing (I used non-sweetened coconut)

1 You could use sugar free cake mix, or gluten free if you are sensitive.

2 You could also use Truwhip, a natural cool whip alternative!

Katie's Tip!

You could also make this cake into 24 cupcakes!

Nutrition Breakdown

12 Slices of Cake
190 Calories per Slice
3 g Fat
37 g Carbohydrates
2 g Protein
4 WWP+*

*Weight Watchers Points per serving


Angie said:

The frosting shows 1 tbs coconut extract, but it doesn’t say to add that in the directions for the frosting. Is there a tbsp mixed into the frosting, too?

April 26th, 2012 — 1:21pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

Your right! Yes add it 1 tbs to the frosting as well!

April 26th, 2012 — 2:53pm  | 

Jami said:

Should I use instant pudding or the cook and serve one?

April 28th, 2012 — 2:22am  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

Instant :)

April 28th, 2012 — 5:33am  | 

Dashing Dish said:

instant pudding :)

April 28th, 2012 — 7:58am  | 

Rose said:

When you use the cake mix, do you just mix that with the pineapple and extract? Or do you mix the cake mix using the directions on the box?

April 28th, 2012 — 10:28pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

just the ingredients listed on the recipe :) no oil/eggs

April 29th, 2012 — 7:01am  | 

Jenny said:

I made this for the second time last night! LOVE this cake, and I love everyone’s reaction when I tell them “no eggs and no oil”! Since the cake seems to crumble when I cut it (i’m assuming because of no eggs) I layered it in a trifle bowl last night. Beautiful and delicious!! Thanks!!!

May 6th, 2012 — 8:47am  |  Reply

Rebecca said:

Do you need to refrigerate this cake or can it stay out on the counter on a covered cake platter? I am making this for Mother’s Day and my mom is going to just love it!

May 10th, 2012 — 3:52pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

hi rebecca, because of the frosting i would refrigerate leftovers! :)

May 10th, 2012 — 4:34pm  | 

Elizabeth Cope said:

I made this for Mothers Day and my family LOVED it. Only change I made was I used the 1 cup of unsweetened almond/coconut milk instead of regular milk. And I used sugar free cool whip. It was so yummy and moist! Thank you!

May 19th, 2012 — 4:00pm  |  Reply

Julie said:

This cake was amazing!! I made it two nights ago and have told about 10 people about it :) Thanks!!

June 8th, 2012 — 1:26pm  |  Reply

Michelle said:

Awesome cake love your recipes!!!

June 10th, 2012 — 1:42pm  |  Reply

Tracey said:

Hey there! Do you know of any boxed cake mix that does not contain partially hydrogenated oil in it (trans fat). I think every brand I have looked at has it. Thanks! :)

June 17th, 2012 — 6:20pm  |  Reply

Erin said:

Can these be frozen as cupcakes?

October 19th, 2012 — 2:06am  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:


October 19th, 2012 — 10:15am  | 

Shannon said:

Not a fan of pineapple, but LOVE coconut. Any substitute for the pineapple?

July 23rd, 2013 — 8:22pm  |  Reply

Nicole Rinaldi said:

Are the calories listed with the sugar-free cake mix or regular boxed cake mix?

November 23rd, 2013 — 12:28pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:


November 25th, 2013 — 1:17pm  | 

Ruth said:

Could I use whipped cream instead of cool whip?

January 3rd, 2014 — 7:52pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

no sorry :(

January 4th, 2014 — 4:11pm  | 

Amy Johnson said:

Hi!!! Somebody said something about crumbling because there are no eggs. I like a cake that will hold up better. Do you think I can add egg whites or all egg white beaters liquid to stabilize it? How much would you recommend? Thanks!

March 31st, 2014 — 2:42pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

i never found crumbling, but you could add one egg white

March 31st, 2014 — 7:17pm  | 

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