These coconut key lime cupcakes taste like summer. With a moist coconut cupcake made with coconut milk and toasted coconut extract, plus a tangy but sweet and creamy key lime cream cheese frosting, these cupcakes will be on repeat in your kitchen this summer!
Coconut and lime are two flavors that complement each other very nicely. The tropical notes from the coconut plus the tang from the key limes play together perfectly.
The coconut cupcake is incredibly fluffy and moist, while the key lime cream cheese frosting is tangy, creamy, and refreshing. These are the perfect cupcakes for all of your summer festivities - graduation parties, July 4th, birthdays - the options are endless!
Why you will love these coconut key lime cupcakes
- Soft & fluffy coconut cupcakes. The flavor of coconut in the cupcakes comes from full fat canned coconut milk, finely chopped shredded coconut, and toasted coconut extract. But even with all of these things, the coconut flavor is not overwhelming. The coconut milk adds a richness and creaminess to the batter, making for an incredibly soft and fluffy texture.
- Refreshing key lime cream cheese frosting. I never knew that I would like a citrus-y frosting (as a girl who loves chocolate in everything), but my god this creamy key lime cream cheese frosting is to die for. Flavored with both key lime juice and key lime zest, this icing is whipped to fluffy perfection making it the perfect addition to the cupcakes.
- No mixer is required. These cupcakes do not require a mixer, making for easy prep and clean up.
- All purpose flour: all purpose flour is the flour of choice for this recipe. It yields the perfect soft and tender crumb for the cupcakes.
- Leavener: baking soda is used in these cupcakes to help them rise.
- Butter: we use unsalted butter in this recipe to control exactly how much salt goes in. We use unsalted butter in both the cupcake batter and the frosting.
- Eggs: two eggs are used to add structure to the cupcake batter and bind the ingredients together.
- Coconut milk: full fat canned coconut milk is used in these cupcakes. Sometimes the fats in the canned coconut milk will separate, so make sure to shake the can prior to opening it. This should give the coconut milk a creamy and smooth consistency. Alternatively, you can also open the can and whisk the mixture until smooth.
- Sugar: granulated sugar is used to add sweetness in the cupcakes. We also use powdered sugar in the frosting.
- Toasted coconut extract: this is optional, but totally recommended. The toasted coconut extract from Amoretti gives these cupcakes a beautiful coconut flavor.
- Shredded coconut: we use sweetened shredded coconut in the batter to enhance the coconut flavor even more.
- Key limes: the star ingredient in the frosting! Key limes are smaller than regular limes, and they have a more intense lime flavor. However, if you can't find key limes in the grocery store, you can also use regular limes. We need both the zest and the juice for the frosting.
- Cream cheese: one block of full fat cream cheese is used in the icing.
- Whisk dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour and baking soda.
- Whisk wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract (if using). Add the eggs one at a time whisking well in between each addition.
- Combine. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until almost combined, then add half of the coconut milk and whisk until almost combined. Repeat with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the coconut milk. Fold in the chopped shredded coconut.
- Bake. Fill each cupcake liner halfway with batter. Bake at 350F for 15-17 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and let cool completely at room temperature.
- Prepare the limes. Zest and juice your key limes, then set aside.
- Make the key lime frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Add the lime zest & juice, salt, and one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Keep adding one cup of powdered sugar at a time and beat until combined.
- Frost and enjoy! Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with more shredded coconut if desired. Top with a slice of lime as garnish. Enjoy!
My cupcakes are dry.
Dry cupcakes are most likely from over measuring the flour. The best way to measure flour is with a kitchen scale - if you don't have a kitchen scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup then level it off with a knife. Over baking can also result in dry cupcakes. It is finished when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
My cupcakes sank.
Either the batter was over-mixed or the cupcakes were underbaked. It is also possible that your oven has poor air circulation and the cupcake tray needed to be rotated, or the door was open/closed too fast and all the hot air was pushed out of the oven.
My frosting is bitter.
This is due to the way the key limes were zested. Underneath the outer green skin of the limes is the pith - it is the white layer before the fruit. The pith is incredibly bitter, so if you accidentally zest some into the frosting, it will give it that bitter taste. Try to gently zest the limes and not zest in the same spot more than once.
My frosting has split/is grainy.
When my frosting has completely split or is grainy, it is likely because the ingredients haven't fully emulsified. I usually put the entire mixing bowl covered with plastic wrap into the fridge for 10-20 minutes, then I re-whip it on medium high speed.
If the consistency needs more liquid, slowly add milk one tablespoon at a time. If the consistency needs thickening, slowly add powdered sugar 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
For any other troubleshooting questions, feel free to leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram!
Cupcake baking tips
- Use a kitchen scale. I cannot stress this enough - a kitchen scale is the only way to ensure accurate results. They are cheap and will make cleaning up SO much easier.
- Use an oven thermometer. Making sure your oven is calibrated correctly and is at the right temperature is incredibly important for any cake based dessert. This recipe was written for the cupcakes to bake at 350F - any higher and the cupcakes can over-bake or rise then sink, any lower and the cupcakes will come out underbaked.
- Don't over-fill your cupcake liners. Over-filling the cupcake liners could turn your cupcakes into muffins. Make sure to only fill each liner about half way.
- Don't zest the lime pith. Underneath the outer green skin of the limes is the pith - it is the white layer before the fruit and it is very bitter.
Prep and storage
- Can I make the cupcakes ahead of time? Yes! Once completely cool, wrap each cupcake tightly in plastic wrap. If you are using them within the next day or so, you can keep the wrapped cupcakes in the fridge. Or, you can freeze them for up to three months. Thaw the cupcakes at room temperature.
- Can I make the frosting ahead of time? You can make the frosting ahead of time, but for optimal results, I think it should be made right before you frost the cupcakes. If you are making it ahead of time, place the frosting on a piece of plastic wrap and tightly close it. Place it in a ziplock bag and into the fridge for maximum 2 days, or into the freezer. Let it thaw in the fridge then rewhip the frosting with a tablespoon of milk until smooth.
- Store the baked cupcakes in an airtight container. Although usually best enjoyed the day they are baked, you can put the cupcakes in a large storage container and keep them at room temperature for 3-4 days.
- Freezing the cupcakes. If you wish to freeze the fully assembled cupcakes, put them in an airtight container and then into the freezer. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Baking in grams
While I provide volume measurements for the recipes on my blog, I highly suggest baking these recipes using weight. It is the most standardized and accurate way to bake. I carefully recipe test all of my recipes using a kitchen scale, not by using cups, and therefore I cannot guarantee the success of my recipes when using volume measurements.
Other recipes you may like
- Black Forest Cupcakes
- Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
- Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
- Vanilla Cake With Strawberries and Cream
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Coconut Key Lime Cupcakes
Coconut Key Lime Cupcakes
- 1 ¼ cups (157 grams) all purpose flour spooned and leveled
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter melted
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Amoretti toasted coconut extract or coconut extract optional
- 2 eggs room temperature
- ½ cup (120 grams) full fat canned coconut milk shaken/stirred to be combined and smooth
- ⅓ cup (40 grams) sweetened shredded coconut finely chopped
Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 tablespoon key lime zest
- 1 tablespoon key lime juice
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 4 cups (480 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350F and fill a 12 cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Finely chop the shredded coconut and said aside.
- Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl then set aside to cool for five minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
- Once the butter has cooled for 5 minutes, add the granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract (if using) to the butter and whisk to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well in between each addition.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until almost fully mixed in. Add half of the coconut milk and whisk until almost combined. Repeat this with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the coconut milk, then mix until you have a smooth batter.
- Add the shredded coconut to the batter and fold to combine.
- Fill the cupcake liners half way up with batter. You don’t want to over-fill, otherwise the cupcakes may come out looking like muffins.
- Bake the cupcakes for 15-17 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
- Gently zest your key limes making sure to not get any of the white pith. You only want to zest the green part - the white layer underneath is bitter and won’t taste good in your frosting.
- Then, juice the limes and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until combined and smooth.
- Add the lime zest, lime juice, salt, and one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until combined - starting at low speed so the sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl, then bumping it up to high speed. Continue to add one cup of powdered sugar add a time and repeat. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Once the sugar is fully mixed in, beat the frosting for 1-2 minutes on high speed. This will fluff up the mixture making for the perfect texture.
- Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!
- The cupcake batter does not have any salt added to it because the coconut milk and shredded coconut have enough sodium to do the trick.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!