Let Us Eat Coconut Cake!

What do Pat Benatar, George Foreman and I, your humble columnist, have in common? We share the same birthday.I only know this because someone gave me a 797-page book titled simply, The Portable Book of Birthdays. Good thing too, or I’d never have known that Pat, George, and I have socially savvy personalities and a keen ability to promote our ideas and to get what we want. We are intelligent, easily irritable and need constant emotional stimulation, too.

A birthday cake with lit candles

photo credit: veryval

While the book doesn’t mention our favorite birthday cake, I feel confident in speaking for the 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 when you were born. But first a small explanation.

The recipe that follows 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 where I live in Colorado.

I’ve looked everywhere, asked store managers and anyone else who might be handy. No where to be found. I do understand, however, that frozen coconut is readily available in other parts of the country in the grocery frozen food case.

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 excellent results, but it was a real pain to crack, pry, smash, break, drain, peel and grate. So, I will continue to use Angel’s grated sweetened coconut that comes in a bag and can be found in the baking aisle of any food market.

3-Day Coconut Cake

  • 1 (15.25 oz) white cake mix
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 12 ounces frozen coconut (thawed and drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

The night before you make this cake, blend together the sour cream, coconut and sugar. Separate 1 cup of mixture and place in a separate bowl. Refrigerate both portions.

Prepare cake mix as per instructions on the back of the box, in two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans. Let cool. Using a serrated knife, split both layers in half horizontally, to end up with four layers.

Place one layer on the plate of a cake stand or cake saver that has a top. Spread all but the reserved 1 cup of coconut mixture 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 and place in the refrigerator.

Do not remove 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 in refrigerator down to the last delicious crumb.

overhead angle of a coconut cake covered in white frosting and lots of shredded coconut on a midcentury countertop
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4.67 from 18 votes

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?
Prep Time45 minutes
Chilling out in the fridge3 days
Total Time3 days 45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Calories: 447kcal


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 18.25 oz.* white cake mix like Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White Cake Mix. See NOTE 1
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk see NOTES


  • 12 oz Cool Whip original whipped topping or equivalent fresh whipped cream


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. This is a recipe I have had for many years—from that time when cake mixes were always 18.25 oz. Cake mixes these days are typically 15.25 oz. For this cake to turn out fabulously, you'd be smart to upsize that 15.25 oz. cake mix so that it is back to 18.25 oz.
Method #1:
Purchase two cakes mixes. Add 3 oz. from the second mix to make up the difference. Keep the balance of that 2nd mix in a tightly sealed container to use the next time you make this cake. 
Method #2:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn baking soda
Mix ingredients and keep in a sealed mason jar or other airtight container. When you need to upsize a white or yellow cake, measure out the number of ounces you need to get that mix up to 18.25 oz. 
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 Sterilite Cake Saver is one I own and love. It is large enough to cover and seal this cake without touching the sides or top.
4. You can freeze this cake. Here's the best way to do that: Cut it into portions then wrap each slice in 2 layers of plastic wrap, then one layer of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped slices in freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to 2 mos. 


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

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8 replies
  1. Jeanette says:

    India Sweets & Spices is a local Indian grocery store/vegetarian restaurant. There are several locations. Here is a link.

  2. SuperByteMan says:

    Do you have a variation of this recipe meant for people who are more likely to leave out the cake. I know I could just mix up all the other ingredients, but they I’d be eating frosting (which doesn’t bother me), but if you had a rich pudding like version of this recipe, I’d love to see it (AND TRY IT).

  3. DianaB says:

    Bob’s Red Mill Shredded Coconut Unsweetened, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)

    I found this on Amazon for $10.76 if it helps at all :)) (Sorry for the caps, I just copied and pasted.)

  4. DianaB says:

    I was sort of lost on the instructions for a minute but figured it out. Grated coconut in the bag is usually sweetened. If it comes unsweetened, then I would add the one cup of sugar. Otherwise I am thinking it might be too sweet but there is A LOT of sour cream. I don’t know about frozen coconut at all. I assume it comes shredded. I will have to look for that.

    The cake is beautiful and that cake plate is staggeringly gorgeous.

    And, are you serious about letting it sit in the frig for three days? In my house that would be a frig in the garage or something where no one would see it. And with chocolate cake. Oh, my!

  5. valjo says:

    My Aunt Eloise made this cake for years. She would make it when she knew we were coming to West Virginia to visit. It quickly became my husband’s favorite cake. I can find frozen coconut at one of our local stores in the St. Louis area. It is a finer shred than the Angel coconut and not as sweet. I have also made this cake with a chocolate cake mix and it is delicious as well!

  6. Hnywst says:

    I have been making this cake since Mary first posted this recipe years ago. It is fabulous and coconut lovers rave. I make it for my coconut loving boss on his birthday. Not that I’m looking for brownie points, but….just sayin’!

  7. Jane says:

    I think I’ll try this recipe! Have always baked my mother’s Missouri Coconut Cake for my one daughter who loves coconut cake but this does look intriguing. One of my aunts used to grate fresh coconut and I recall that it really was delicious, but I’ve always used the kind in the bags.


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