Simple Sour Cream Coconut Cake

Starting from a box mix this old-fashioned Simple Sour Cream Coconut Cake recipe is easy and delicious!

Moist from sour cream and rich with coconut this cake is always a stand out on the dessert table at holiday parties and family gatherings.

Bright piece of sour cream coconut cake with thick icing on a white plate with a fork in front of the 9x13 pan full of coconut cake

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Coconut Cake Recipe

This easy cake from a box mix is the next level for coconut lovers. While eating it you would never believe that it only takes 20 minutes to make.

Using defrosted frozen coconut means meatier pieces of tropical coconut and a restaurant quality cake. While flakes of coconut are nice in our Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie and Magic Cookie Bars, there’s something almost magical about the thicker pieces and fresh coconut flavor in this recipe.

The simple homemade frosting with sour cream is almost like making your own cream of coconut. Spreading this layer on top of the cake soaks in while refrigerating to make a super moist cake!

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Moist piece of yellow cake with a generous topping of sour cream and coconut to make it extra moist

While it can be so hard to wait I do love cakes like this one and our Heath Bar Cake and Snickers Cake where time to soak up the rich goodness on top only makes them better!

Layer Cake vs. 9 x 13 Cake

We have made this as a round layer cake and in a 9 x 13″ pan. Since refrigerating is necessary we find that the 9×13 pan fits better in our refrigerator to store.

I have also had some trouble with the sour cream coconut frosting running to the center of the layer cake. This makes the center wonderful, but the outside edges don’t have the same level of moisture and flavor.

Creamy coconut and sour cream icing spread generously on a yellow cake in a 9 x 13 pan

Ingredients Needed:

  • Butter flavored yellow cake mix
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Sour cream
  • Frozen coconut
  • Granulated sugar
  • Whipped topping or Cool Whip
Whipped topping, sour cream, shredded coconut, sugar, eggs, butter and butter golden cake mix are the ingredients to make sour cream coconut cake on a white counter top

3 Day Sour Cream Coconut Cake

My original recipe is from an old community cookbook and the directions say to refrigerate for 3 to 4 days before eating.

While the cake is better after the sour cream mixture soaks in, we find this only takes a day or two. In our house the refrigerator space to store a cake that you can only look at for 3 days sounds pretty overwhelming! But if you have the will power to do this, know that it is totally acceptable!

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • I was able to find frozen coconut in bags in the bottom shelf of the frozen fruit section. You might have to check a couple different stores to find it, but it’s definitely out there!
  • Dried shredded coconut flakes can be substituted for frozen coconut, but will have a different flavor.
  • Allow cake to cool and chill if possible before adding frosting to prevent the frosting from becoming warm and flat right away.
  • Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 – 8 hours before serving for best results. This will give the sour cream mixture time to soak into the cake and make it so much better!

Step-By-Step Instructions

Make cake batter according to the directions on the box. I use a Duncan Hines butter golden cake mix, so those are the directions that I follow.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13″ pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bake cake and allow to cool.

Butter yellow cake mix batter in a silver mixing bowl

In a separate mixing bowl stir together sugar, defrosted coconut and sour cream.

Sour cream, defrosted shredded coconut and sugar in a mixing bowl on a white counter top

Once blended allow to chill.

Glass mixing bowl with spatula stirring together fresh coconut, sour cream and sugar

Reserve one cup and spread the remaining portion of the mixture on top of the cooled cake.

First layer of thick coconut and sour cream mixture on top of cake

Add the Cool Whip to the reserved cup of coconut mixture and blend well.

Cool whip being stirred into sour cream coconut cake frosting

Carefully spread this mixture on top of the sour cream and coconut mixture. Cover pan with plastic wrap or a tightly fitting lid. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Refrigerating overnight is better and will create a much more moist and delicious cake!

Thick layer of sour cream coconut frosting on a 9 x 13 cake on a yellow plaid napkin

Serve chilled and enjoy the refreshing tropical taste of the Simple Sour Cream Coconut Cake!

More Easy Cake From A Box Mix Recipes:

Cupcakes from a Box Mix are so moist and our go to recipe for birthday parties!

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake has layers of cream cheese goodness on top of the regular cake.

Homemade Cake Bites are part cake, part cheesecake and amazing when covered with white chocolate!

Cake Mix Rum Cake is beautiful and full of that warm rum flavor!

Sour cream and coconut mix together for an amazing old fashioned icing on a piece of golden butter cake

Simple Sour Cream Coconut Cake

Servings 20 pieces
Author: Jennifer
Starting from a box mix this old-fashioned Simple Sour Cream Coconut Cake recipe is easy and delicious!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes



  • 1 box butter flavored cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 7 tablespoons butter softened


  • 12 ounces frozen coconut defrosted
  • 8 ounces whipped topping defrosted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces sour cream



  • Make cake mix according to the directions on the box. Bake in a 9 x 13" pan and allow to cool completely.


  • Combine sugar, sour cream and frozen coconut. Blend well and chill.
  • Reserve 1 cup of frosting. Spread the remaining mixture on top of a cool cake.
  • Mix whipped topping with reserved cup of coconut mixture. Spread on top of cake.
  • Refrigerate 4 – 24 hours before serving.


Calories: 325kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 3gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 245mgPotassium: 109mgFiber: 2gSugar: 35gVitamin A: 237IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Plowing Through Life” is not a dietitian or nutrition professional. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate and can vary greatly depending on specific products are used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator of your choice.

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  1. Can you use flaked coconut in this recipe? Never heard of or seen frozen coconut, is the texture different? Thank you

    1. Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life says:

      Hey There! I was able to find frozen coconut in bags in the bottom shelf of the frozen fruit section. You might have to check a couple different stores to find it, but it’s definitely out there! Dried shredded coconut flakes can be substituted for frozen coconut, but will have a different flavor. I think the frozen coconut really makes this recipe special. Hope you enjoy 🙂

  2. So I’m confused about the frosting, is there two frosting. I mean you say put the frosting and put the second one mix with the whipped topping. Is it just one topping.

    1. Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life says:

      Hey There! Good question – there are two layers to the frosting. Mix up 3 ingredients & spread most of it on for layer 1 and reserve a cup to make layer #1. Then add Cool Whip to the reserved cup to make the thicker top layer.

      Hope you enjoy 🙂

  3. Judy Norton says:

    can you freeze this cake after it has been frosted with coconut sour cream cream frosting and it has set for 4 days in refrigerator?

    1. Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life says:

      Hey There! We haven’t tested this, but I do think the integrity of the sour cream icing will decrease over time. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  4. Hi! I’ve always used the sour cream , sugar , & frozen coconut with no problem . Lately the icing is too runny & I haven’t changed anything. I frosted the whole cake with this recipe without the cool whip , but now I’m thinking I need something else to make it thicker so it will stay on the cake . So the cool whip I’m guessing does this , right ? I don’t know if it’s the coconut or the sour cream has changed . Any suggestions?

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