This Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream has 6 layers of the moistest carrot cake you’ve ever tasted sandwiched between layers upon layers of Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream. It’s packed with pecans, coconut and carrots, then covered from head to toe in large flakes of shredded coconut!

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream |
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🥕Super Tall Carrot Cake

This super tall Carrot Cake got its start as a short notation in my “recipe ideas” file. Some of my recipe entries are super-specific, and I’ll write long, detailed lists about ingredients or decorations or photo ideas. Others are short and cryptic, a few words jotted down as they flit through my mind. The entries that birthed this beast?

“Really tall cake.”
“Carrot cake—lots of coconut.”

Yep, that’s it. I wanted to make a really tall cake, and I wanted it to be super coconutty.

It truly has humble beginnings, but if ever there was a dessert that could stand alone without narrative, it would be this monster carrot cake.

More Celebration Layer Cakes

Love mega-tall layer cakes? Try one of these reader favorites: Festive Fall Layer Cake, Spring In Bloom Layer Cake, Coconut Layer Cake or Blueberry Layer Cake.

Table of Contents

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream |

🥣A Celebration Cake to Feed a Crowd with Lots of Mix-Ins

This cake is only 6” in diameter, but because it is so tall, it can feed the same number of people your typical 9” cake can feed—plus it has even more visual impact. I added large flaked coconut in an ombre pattern on the outside, and topped it with a not-at-all-appropriate orange candy. Seriously, it didn’t add anything to the flavor, but I thought it looked awesome, so I regret nothing.

This recipe was a gift to my husband, who adores carrot cake. I rarely make it, so I wanted to ensure that everything about it suited him perfectly. Consequently, this is his ideal carrot cake—heavy on the carrots, with extra coconut and pecans inside.

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream |

🥥Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My real triumph with this recipe, though, was the cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. If you’ve ever tried to cream cheese-ify meringue buttercream, you might know that it doesn’t work very well. You can’t just substitute cream cheese for some of the butter, since they have different moisture contents, and it tends to cause your buttercream to separate and break. Instead, the secret is to make the buttercream, then add it little by little to whipped cream cheese, and finish off with a bit of powdered sugar.

The result is a frosting that has the lightness and smooth, silky texture of a meringue buttercream, but with the characteristic tang of cream cheese. It also doesn’t get rock-hard in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy a slice of this cake straight from the fridge!

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream |

🧾 What You’ll Need

Ingredients For the Cake

Using the best ingredients will result in the tastiest cake. Here’s a few ingredient tips to help you gather what you’ll need. See the recipe card below for full ingredient amounts. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)

  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour to give the cake it’s structure. I recommend weighing the flour (and all of your ingredients!) with a food scale for a more accurate result, but you can also spoon it into the measuring cup and gently level it off.
  • Leaveners: We’ll use baking soda and baking powder to help the cake rise and give it a moist, tender texture.
  • Spices: To get the classic carrot cake taste, you’ll need ground cinnamon and ground ginger.
  • Salt: For flavor enhancement.
  • Sugar: Use regular white granulated sugar for sweetness.
  • Oil: We’ll be using vegetable oil in this cake instead of butter. The oil adds moisture and lightness to the cake crumb.
  • Eggs: Make sure to use large whole eggs for the cake batter. Bring them to room temperature before adding them to the other ingredients. They will be much easier to mix.
  • Vanilla extract: Nielsen-Massey Bourbon vanilla extract is my absolute FAVORITE vanilla extract! However, feel free to use your favorite vanilla extract you have at home.
  • Shredded carrots: You’ll need about 7-8 medium carrots to make 4 cups of shredded carrots. I like to put them in a food processor to make the shredding process easier.
  • Shredded coconut: I used sweetened shredded coconut because I like the added sweetness. However, you can also use unsweetened shredded coconut if you’d prefer.
  • Pecans: I like to toast the pecans lightly before coarsely chopping them for the cake. If you don’t like pecans, you can leave them out or replace them with another nut like walnuts.

Ingredients For the Frosting & Decorations

  • Egg whites: Use the whites from 6 large eggs (not medium or extra large). It’s best to use room temperature egg whites for the frosting.
  • Sugar: You’ll want to use granulated sugar.
  • Unsalted butter: I like the flavor of the frosting with unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter, you can still use it; just know the buttercream will have a saltier flavor. The butter should be cool and slightly softened.
  • Cream cheese: Use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese for the best flavor and texture. Low-fat, fat-free and whipped varieties of cream cheese won’t give the frosting enough volume. It should be cool and slightly softened.
  • Coconut extract: Depending on your preferences, you can use between 1-2 teaspoons of coconut extract for flavoring. You can also substitute the extract with vanilla or almond if you’d prefer.
  • Powdered sugar: Will give the buttercream sweetness and stability.
  • Large flake shredded coconut: This ingredient is also known as coconut chips, and I used it to decorate the outside of the cake. It’s optional but gives the cake a unique look.
Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream |


You’ll find it’s much easier to create when you have all the right tools. Here’s what I recommend to make this Carrot Cake a success. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)

  • 6-inch cake pans: I used these 6-inch cake pans by Fat Daddio’s. They’ve got a removeable bottom which really helps to assemble the cakes later on.
  • 6-inch cardboard rounds: Using cardboard rounds can make it easier to move the cake layers from the pan to the cake stand or serving platter. I used 6-inch cardboard cake rounds.
  • Offset spatula: You’ll want a medium-sized offset spatula to smooth the frosting.
  • Revolving cake stand: Plus, don’t forget to get a revolving cake stand. It’s optional but will make decorating so much easier.
  • Piping bag and tips: If you want to decorate the outside of the cake the way I did, you’ll need a piping bag and a piping tip. I used Ateco tip #866 but any large French star tip will work.
A slice of Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream on a gray plate with a golden fork holding a bite.


  • Use a different buttercream recipe: I absolutely adore the coconut cream cheese buttercream recipe for this cake. However, feel free to use a traditional Cream Cheese Frosting, Cinnamon Buttercream or my EASIEST Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
  • Experiment with different extract flavors: I added a little coconut flavoring to the buttercream, but you can stick with vanilla, or use almond or orange extract instead.
  • Customize the mix-ins: Carrot cake is known for having an amazing assortment of tasty mix-ins in the batter. My recipe has a lot of carrots, coconut and pecans. However, if you’d like, you can add some drained pineapple, cranberries, raisins, or walnuts to the batter. It’s very forgiving, and can handle lots of mix-in shenanigans.
  • Change up the decorations: If an ombre toasted coconut design isn’t your cup of tea, you can play with the decorations to make this cake all your own. You could decorate with chopped pecans, piped buttercream carrots, seasonal sprinkles or swirls of buttercream!

Storage Information

If you plan to make the entire cake ahead of time, make sure to store it in the refrigerator (due to the cream cheese frosting). Enjoy within a week. For the best taste and texture let it sit at room temperature for a bit before serving, so that the buttercream softens a little.

You can also prepare the separate components of the layer cake in advance. The carrot cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 8 months. The frosting can also be made up to 2 weeks in advance. Keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. Before assembling the cake, let the frosting sit at room temperature until it’s spreadable.

🥥More Coconut Recipes you’ll love

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Burnt Almond Cake

This Burnt Almond Cake, put simply, is a fluffy white cake filled with almond pastry cream, frosted with buttercream, and coated with a thick layer of caramelized almonds, this will take you way back!
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Banana Meringue Cake with Cinnamon-Sour Cream Ganache

This Banana Meringue Cake is not your typical banana cake. Moist banana cake is layered with a unique cinnamon sour-cream ganache and topped with a toasted meringue.
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Close up of a Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream on a blue cake plate.

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream

4.63 from 8 votes
This Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream has 6 layers of the moistest carrot cake you've ever tasted sandwiched between layers upon layers of Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream. It's packed with pecans, coconut and carrots, then covered from head to toe in large flakes of shredded coconut…you must try!
Prep2 hours
Cook1 hour
Total3 hours
Yields12 slices


For the Carrot Cake:

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream:

  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 9.33 oz granulated sugar, (1 1/3 cups)
  • 10 oz unsalted butter, cool but softened
  • 1 lb cream cheese, cool but softened
  • 1-2 tsp coconut extract, adjust to taste
  • 2 oz powdered sugar, (1/2 cup), or more to taste

To Decorate:

  • 4 cups large flake shredded coconut
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To Make the Carrot Cake:

  • Spray three 6” cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line them with parchment rounds. Preheat the oven to 325 F (162 C). Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and oil, and beat with a paddle attachment until well-mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain. Add the carrots, coconut, and pecans, and finish mixing by hand. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is well-mixed.
  • Divide the batter equally between the three cake pans. If you have a scale, you’ll use about 22 oz of batter for each pan. Bake the cakes at 325 F for 50-60 minutes, until they spring back lightly when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the cake pans to cool completely. Cakes can be made several days ahead of time and kept, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

To Make the Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream:

  • Combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and whisk them together. Choose a small saucepan that lets you fit the base of the stand mixer snugly into the top of the saucepan—this is your makeshift hot water bath. (Alternately, you can use a different bowl or an actual bain marie and then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl once it’s heated.) Add an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan, and bring the water to a simmer.
  • Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom isn’t in contact with the water, and heat the egg white mixture. Whisk frequently so that the egg whites don’t cook. Continue to heat the whites until they are hot to the touch, and when you rub a bit between your fingers, you don’t feel any grittiness from the sugar. Once the whites are hot, transfer the mixing bowl to your mixer and fit it with a whisk attachment.
  • Beat the whites on high speed until they are no longer warm to the touch—feel the outside of the bowl, and make sure that it is around room temperature. Depending on your mixer and the temperature of your environment, this may take 10-20 minutes, or more. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the softened but cool butter in small chunks, a tablespoon at a time, making sure to wait in between additions. It may separate or look a little gloopy at this point—fear not. Once all of the butter is added, increase the speed again and whip until it comes together and is light and fluffy. If, after 5 minutes, it hasn’t come together, refrigerate the mixing bowl for 5-7 minutes, to cool the mixture down, and whip it again.
  • Once the buttercream is finished, transfer it to a bowl, and place the softened but cool cream cheese in the mixing bowl (no need to wash it out first.) Beat the cream cheese with a paddle attachment on medium speed, just until it is creamy and free of lumps. Turn the mixer speed to low and add the buttercream gradually, scoop by scoop, until it’s mixed into the cream cheese and your frosting is smooth. Add a teaspoon of coconut extract, and the powdered sugar, and mix again. Taste the frosting, and if you desire more coconut flavor, or more sweetness, add more extract and sugar to taste. Chill the frosting until you’re ready to use it. It can be made several days in advance.

To Assemble:

  • I find it easiest to work with carrot cakes when they’re partially frozen, so before you are ready to use them, freeze them for about 30 minutes so that they are firm but not frozen throughout. (If they have been stored in the freezer, partially defrost them.) Use a large serrated knife to cut each round in half, so you have 6 cake rounds.
  • Set 1 cake round on a cardboard cake circle. Top it with about 1/2 cup of frosting, and spread it out to the sides with an offset spatula. Add another frosting round on top, then top that with more frosting. Continue to layer the cake rounds with frosting, until all 6 layers are stacked. Spread a very thin layer of frosting on the outside and top of the cake. Wrap the outside of the cake with plastic wrap, and use your hands to press the cake layers straight and to straighten it if it has started tilting in any direction. Chill the cake for about an hour, so that it is firm and solid. (This step can be skipped if your cake and frosting are cool to start with, but it is helpful if your kitchen is warm and your cake starts to tilt or slide during assembly.)
  • While you wait for the cake to firm up, prepare the flaked coconut, if you’ll be using it. Separate out about 1 cup of coconut, and put the rest on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 325 F, and toast the coconut until it is a very light golden color, 5-7 minutes. Remove another cup of coconut, and toast for about 5 minutes more, until it is a medium golden color. Remove another cup of coconut, and toast the remaining coconut until it is dark brown. You should now have 4 batches of coconut, ranging from white to dark brown. Cool completely.
  • When your cake is firm, spread a thicker layer of frosting on the sides and top. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, since you’ll be covering it with coconut. Hold the cake in one hand, and use the other to press a layer of dark brown coconut around the bottom of the cake. Next press the medium brown coconut in a layer above the dark brown, and continue working your way up the cake, gradually adding lighter coconut, until you’re pressing a layer of white coconut at the top of the cake. Do the same effect on top of the cake.
  • Fit a pastry bag with a star tip, and fill it with some frosting. Pipe decorations on top of the cake, if desired. This cake keeps very well, and can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Measuring Tips

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Want to learn more about baking measurements and conversion?


Serving: 16g | Calories: 918kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 59g | Saturated Fat: 40g | Cholesterol: 146mg | Sodium: 568mg | Potassium: 545mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 61g | Vitamin A: 8305IU | Vitamin C: 3.1mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 3.1mg
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Meet Elizabeth!

Hi, I’m Elizabeth — a trained pastry chef, cookbook author, video instructor, and your new Baking BFF! I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to be a sugar hero. ❤️

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  1. This looks absolutely devine…the recipe is perfect the way you wrote it…and NO…I won’t be adding raisins or pineapple (imo) lol!

    Curious…what is that orange topper on your cake pic?

  2. It is frustrating when I start reading a recipes that I am interested in, all those measurements of cups, lb`s, oz `s and so on, I instantly give up. Why don`t you use kilogram, gram, liter, milliliter .

    1. Hi Toshka, The recipe is available in metric. Just click on the word “metric” below the ingredient list to switch all of the weight measurements. Hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any questions.

  3. I would give you 10 stars. This cake sounds heavenly. I gained five pounds looking at it. I love your website. I am going to take advantage of all these wonderful recipes you post. My husband will love you too. Happy Easter!

  4. Hi
    I made this last week and it turned out great but I was especially happy with the cream cheese frosting! It was fluffy and yummy. Just one question; wondering how well it would work with multiple colours…can it be coloured once the whipping is complete. The recipe suggests adding color before adding the cream cheese…
    Thank you for a terrific recipe!

    1. Hi Judy. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake. The cream cheese frosting is one of my favorite parts of that cake. I bet it would look pretty with different colors of frosting. Let me explain why I recommend adding the coloring before the whipping is complete, and then you can decide if you want to try doing it differently. Frostings with cream cheese are a little more delicate and can breakdown if they are overwhipped. I try to do as much of the mixing as possible before adding the cream cheese to avoid having it breakdown. I’ve also found that food coloring blends into the frosting easier before adding the cream cheese (meaning you won’t have to whip it for a long time to incorporate the color evenly). So, that being said, you could try coloring the frosting after adding the cream cheese and just be mindful of how much you are whipping it. It will probably be fine but keep in mind that the frosting could breakdown a little. I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have other questions.