White frosting in clear glass jar with shredded coconut on top.
Desserts,  Recipes

Easy Coconut Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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Remember the fluffy Coconut Cake frosted with Coconut Buttercream Frosting that always seemed to be at spring and summer gatherings as a kid? You can’t possibly buy frosting that good. It has to be homemade.

White frosting with shredded coconut on top in clear glass jar.

The best thing about this recipe? You probably have all the ingredients already. This frosting is made with powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract, water, and shredded coconut. The only thing you may have to buy is the coconut.

This frosting is light and creamy, with a subtle sweetness that lets the coconut flavor shine. It’s perfect for frosting cakes and cupcakes, but don’t stop there! Spread it on graham crackers for a sweet after-school snack, use it to fill whoopie pies, or even use it as a sweet dip for pretzels.

Ingredients You Will Need

Ingredients on wooden board.

Powdered Sugar: This is the foundation of the frosting, providing sweetness and structure. Unlike granulated sugar, powdered sugar dissolves much easier in butter, creating a smooth and creamy texture.

Softened Butter: Softened butter allows for easy creaming with the powdered sugar, which incorporates air into the frosting, making it light and fluffy. Additionally, butter adds richness.

Vanilla Extract: It complements the sweetness of the powdered sugar and adds a subtle depth of flavor.

Boiling Water: Boiling water serves two purposes. First, it helps to dissolve any stubborn lumps of powdered sugar that might remain after creaming with the butter. Second, a small amount of hot water can help adjust the consistency of the frosting. If the frosting seems too thick, adding a teaspoon of boiling water at a time will help thin it out to a spreadable consistency.

Shredded Coconut: The shredded coconut adds a delightful textural contrast with its chewiness against the smooth frosting. It also gives it a burst of coconut flavor that makes this frosting unique.

Why You’ll Love Coconut Buttercream Frosting

Nostalgic Coconut: The combination of shredded coconut and vanilla extract creates a flavor that’s reminiscent of classic desserts. It evokes childhood memories and a sense of comfort.

Smooth & Spreadable: The combination of creamed butter and powdered sugar creates a smooth and spreadable consistency. This makes it perfect for frosting cakes, cupcakes, or using as a filling.

Subtle Texture from Coconut: The shredded coconut adds a delightful textural contrast against the smooth frosting. It provides a bit of chewiness that keeps the frosting interesting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coconut flakes in coconut shell.
Coconut Flakes. Photo Credit: Yayimages.

My butter isn’t softened enough. Can I still use it? It’s best to use softened butter for optimal texture. Cold butter won’t cream properly, resulting in a lumpy frosting. If your butter isn’t softened, try letting it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or microwaving it on low for a few seconds at a time, checking frequently to avoid melting.

How much boiling water should I add? Start with a teaspoon of boiling water and mix it in well. Add more water a teaspoon at a time until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. It should be spreadable but not runny.

My frosting is too sweet. Can I fix it? There are a couple of ways to adjust the sweetness. First, taste the frosting and see if you can add a touch more vanilla extract to balance the sweetness. Alternatively, if the sweetness is overwhelming, you can try adding a pinch of salt to counteract it.

The frosting seems too thin. How can I thicken it? If your frosting is too thin after adding all the boiling water, you have a couple of options. First, refrigerate the frosting for 20-30 minutes. The cold will help it firm up a bit. Another option is to add a small amount of powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

How long will this frosting stay fresh? Store leftover frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze the frosting for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Substitutions and Variations

Vanilla Buttercream: Omit the shredded coconut.

Chocolate Buttercream: Omit the shredded coconut. Add 4.5 ounces of unsweetened chocolate melted over boiling water or 1 cup of baking cocoa sifted in with the sugar.

Coffee Buttercream: Omit the shredded coconut. Use strong hot coffee in place of water.

Maple Buttercream: Omit the shredded coconut. Use maple syrup in place of water.

Walnut Buttercream: Omit the shredded coconut. Add 1.5 cups of chopped nuts before spreading.

Toasted Coconut: Toast the coconut before adding it to the frosting for a different flavor.

Coconut Extract: For a stronger coconut flavor, replace the vanilla extract with coconut extract.

What to Frost with Coconut Buttercream

Cake topped with toasted coconut with one slice missing.

Coconut Cake: It’s a match made in heaven! The frosting enhances the coconut flavor of the cake without being overly sweet.

Vanilla Cake: The delicate sweetness of the frosting complements the vanilla cake’s subtle flavor.

Chocolate Cake: The unexpected combination of chocolate and coconut creates a delightful flavor contrast. You can even toast the shredded coconut for an extra flavor dimension.

Lemon Cake: The coconut adds a unique twist to the bright citrus flavor of lemon cake.

Whoopie Pies: This frosting’s creamy texture makes it perfect for filling whoopie pies, adding a delightful coconut twist.

Cinnamon Rolls: Drizzle some coconut frosting over warm cinnamon rolls for a unique and delicious twist.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

If you like Coconut Buttercream Frosting, you may also like my Old Fashioned Coconut Cake or my Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie. These Coconut Brownies are also delicious.

Final Thoughts

Coconut Buttercream Frosting is simple to make and extremely delicious. Ditch the storebought can and make your own frosting. It really isn’t that hard. Whenever I make my own, no matter what flavor, I always get compliments.

White frosting with shredded coconut on top in clear glass jar.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting

Heidi Bruaw
This recipe creates a light and fluffy coconut frosting by creaming butter with powdered sugar and flavor with vanilla extract. Shredded coconut adds a delightful coconut taste.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 3 Cups


  • 6 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter softened
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 6 Tablespoons Water boiling
  • Cups Coconut shredded


  • Use a mixer to combine sugar, butter, and vanilla.
  • Add boiling water, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.
  • Stir or mix in shredded coconut.
  • Top cake with more coconut.


  • Toast coconut for a different flavor.
  • Use coconut extract in place of vanilla extract for a stronger coconut flavor.
Keyword Coconut Buttercream Frosting
Pinterest pin for coconut buttercream frosting.
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