3-day coconut cake

3-Day Coconut Cake

What do Pat Benatar, George Foreman, and I, your humble columnist, have in common? We share the same birthday! I only know that because someone gave me a 768-page book titled simply, The Portable Book of Birthdays.

Good thing too, or I’d never known that Pat, George, and I have “socially savvy personalities, a keen ability to promote our ideas and to get what we want. We are intelligent, easily irritable, and need constant emotional stimulation,” too. Who knew?!

3-day coconut cake

While the book doesn’t mention our favorite birthday cake, I feel confident in speaking for three of us when I say that without a doubt it is coconut cake. But not just any coconut cake. It has to be 3-Day Coconut Cake that is so delicious it will knock your socks off no matter the day you were born. But first a small explanation. 

The recipe that follows, which I have had for many years, calls for “frozen coconut.” As many times as I have made this cake (I wonder if Pat and George make their own birthday cakes), I have yet to find such a thing—”frozen coconut.”

I’ve looked everywhere, asked store managers, and anyone else who might be handy. Nowhere to be found.

I do understand, however, that frozen coconut is readily available in some parts of the country—in the grocery frozen food case with the frozen fruit. Someone suggested recently that I try an Indian market and I will do that as soon as I, well, locate an Indian market.

In the past, I have tried fresh coconut with acceptable results, but it was a real pain to crack, smash, break, drain, pry, peel, and grate. So, I will continue to use Baker’s Sweetened Angel Flaked coconut that comes in a bag and can be found in the baking aisle of just about any food market.

3-day coconut cake

3-Day Coconut Cake

This is a wonderfully beautiful and delicious cake that is sure to impress. Very easy to make. So moist, without being soggy. The hardest thing about making this cake is to let it sit for 3 days in the fridge. But you must! That's 72 hours under virtual lock and key, hear?
4.7 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Chilling out in the fridge: 3 days
Total Time: 3 days 45 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 447kcal
Cost: $7.56


  • Two 9-inch cake pans
  • Cake with cover to accommodate 4-layer cake,


Coconut mixture (make this the night before!)

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar, OK to substitute Splenda
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 12 oz coconut, like Bakers Sweetened Angel Flake Coconut,


  • 1 16.25 oz white (or yellow) cake mix, like Betty Crocker Super Moist White Cake Mix
  • 6 tablespoons cake flour, or all-purpose flour in a pinch see NOTES
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk see NOTES


  • 12 oz Cool Whip original whipped topping


The night before ...

  • The night before you make this cake, place the sour cream, coconut, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Mix until ingredients are well incorporated. Separate 1 cup of the mixture and place it in a separate bowl. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and refrigerate both portions.

The next day ...

  • Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by greasing them well. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F for shiny metal pans, or 325 F for dark or nonstick pans.
  • Mix cake mix, flour, eggs, oil, and, milk in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer set on medium speed (or beat vigorously by hand) for two minutes. Pour into the prepared 9-inch round cake pans.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Remove cakes from pans. Using a serrated knife, split both layers in half horizontally, to end up with 4 layers. 
  • Place layers on the plate of a cake stand or the plate part of a "cake saver" one at a time, spreading all but the reserved 1 cup of coconut mixture you made last night evenly between the layers. 
  • Mix Cool Whip together with the reserved 1 cup coconut mixture. Frost sides and top of cake with this mixture. Cover the cake wit the top of the "cake saver" or another method (but not plastic wrap or anything that touches the cake) place in the refrigerator.
  • Do not remove, open, or eat for THREE DAYS. Do not even peek. The longer this cake sits in the refrigerator, the better it gets. However, it is not humanly possible to wait longer than three days. Store any remains in the refrigerator. Enjoy to the very last delicious crumb, hopefully within three additional days, for up to 6 days total.


1. Cake mixes used to be 18.25 oz., however in the past few years they have "shrunk" considerably to 16.25 oz or even 15.5 oz.
This "shortage" needs to be restored for this cake! This is the reason you want to use a 16.25 oz. product like Betty Crocker Super Moist White Cake Mix. Then you need to get it back to about 18.25 oz by adding the all-purpose flour.
If you use a 15.5 oz cake mix increase the flour to 7 tablespoons.
2. Cake mixes typically call for water in the instructions on the back of the box. I like to use milk instead of water, to guarantee a homemade taste, however you may use water instead of milk in this recipe.
3. This Sweet Creations locking cake carrier is the "cake saver," that I own and love. It is large enough to cover and seal this cake without touching the sides or top.


Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 65mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 311IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

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This Sweet Creations locking cake carrier is the “cake saver,” that I own and love. It is large enough to cover and seal this cake without touching the side or top.

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    • Mary Hunt says:

      I’m sure you could, just not sure how you will get multiple layers for all that filling! Experiment, then let us know!

      • Delores says:

        5 stars
        I made it in a disposable 9×13 pan to take to a work. Let it cool overnight. Then used my cake splitter to cut it in half horizontally. Carefully put bottom layer back in pan. Filling then top layer, filling & topping. In fridge for 3 days. Much easier to transport.

  1. Karen says:

    Frozen coconut is available on the internet. Love this cake-so moist! Frozen coconut gives a better taste and texture than dried coconut.

  2. Pat Weiser says:

    It is my firm belief that coconut cake should have cream cheese frosting. If I use that, must it still be refrigerated for 3 days?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I don’t know … the Coconut Cake Police could come calling 🙂 Seriously, how would you make this substitute? Would you switch the sour cream for cream cheese? I only know the recipe as given, and it’s so good … (did I already say this?)

  3. val jo says:

    5 stars
    My Aunt Eloise always made 3 Day Cake when she knew we were coming for vacation! It is my husband’s favorite. I’ve made it before with a chocolate cake mix, too. Yummy. My local grocery chain often carries the frozen coconut. It is a finer, smaller shred and not as sweet. However, our stand-by Angel flake is available everywhere and is a fantastic substitute! I need to go make one, now.

  4. Cally Ross says:

    I love coconut!
    it is my understanding that the frozen version is unsweetened and wouldn’t last on the baking aisle shelf… I don’t know if that’s true or not, and i don’t remember where/who/how i learned that. so, do you adjust the amount of sugar when you use sweetened coconut?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      You may be referring to freeze-dried coconut? If it’s frozen, it won’t be on the baking aisle but in the frozen food/fruit section instead. I have never used frozen coconut, resorting to the sweetened version on the baking aisle of most food stores. However, the original recipe calling for frozen coconut uses the same 1 cup of sugar. Perhaps it too is presweetened? Maybe others can weigh in here to give you a more definitive answer!

  5. Cynde says:

    I have a question… I run from cake mixes, too many “ingredients”, have you tried to adapt this recipe using homemade yellow cake batter? I refuse to use mix that has a list of ingredients as long as your wrist.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Hi Cynde … I haven’t but I will definitely look in this. I’d suggest that this method would work well with any standard cake recipe. Do you feel like experimenting? Make sure you report back!

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