Best Ever Coconut Cake Using a Box Cake Mix

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I love baking cakes from scratch!!!! There is something about saying “this is a homemade cake made from scratch” right? And my grandmother made the best ever coconut cake but unfortunately she baked without recipes. This is exactly why I started my blog because I want to make sure future generations have the recipes they need to carry on family traditions. I wanted to make sure my grandbabies will be able to prepare all of our families’ favorite meals.

However, lets be real, if you are a working mom or just a very busy person, you don’t always have the time to make a cake from scratch. And that is where box cake mixes steps in. There’s no denying the ease and convenience of a boxed cake mix. They are easy to make and bake in minutes. But does a box cake mix taste as delectable as a cake made from scratch? Adding a few additional ingredients to a box cake mix makes a huge difference. This cake starts with a boxed cake mix but you doctor it up by skipping the instructions and ingredients on the back of the box and instead by adding eggs, sour cream, instant vanilla pudding and cream of coconut. They make the cake so moist!

In care you are wondering, Cream of Coconut is coconut cream that has been sweetened like sweetened condensed milk in coconut form. It is most often used in cocktails and has a super intense and sweet coconut flavor. And before you drive yourself crazy trying to find the cream of coconut in your supermarket, you can usually find cream of coconut with the cocktail mixers. In Harris Teeter, this would be right on the wine aisle.

I am writing this post the week of Valentine’s Day so I used Wilton Heart Shaped Pans and a Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter. Both were purchased on Amazon. You can click on the highlighted link to purchase. I also used a 4 1/2-to-5-inch heart-shaped cutter to cut out center of the top layer of the cake. After frosting the cake, I filled the hollowed heart shape with fresh raspberries.

History Lesson: I decided to research the box cake mix and found some really interesting facts on box cake mixes in a Cook’s Illustrated article. As per Cook’s Illustrated, “Boxed cake mixes in the United States were a Depression-era invention of John D. Duff of P. Duff and Sons, a Pittsburgh molasses company. Duff was looking for a way to use up his company’s molasses surplus, so he dehydrated it and combined it with a mixture of flour, sugar, and dried egg. This mix allowed home cooks to make gingerbread by simply adding water to form a batter before baking. At the time, families were looking for a simple, inexpensive way to enjoy cake, and Duff’s invention fit the bill. 

After World War II, cake mixes really took off. Big flour companies had spent the war concentrating on creating dry mixes for the troops, but the end of the war allowed flour companies to return their focus to busy consumers. Several major companies began developing cake mixes. Betty Crocker—named after a fictional character who was created to respond to the thousands of baking questions the company had received from home cooks—began selling cake mixes in 1947. The following year, Pillsbury launched the first-ever chocolate cake mix. By 1951, Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, and Betty Crocker were all manufacturing cake mixes.

These ads from Betty Crocker, Dromedary, and Weston’s from the 1940s or 1950s advertise boxed cake mix by promising consistency, speed, and convenience, saying, “I guarantee a perfect cake every time you bake,” “Make it yourself in just 4 minutes,” and “It’s a speedy way to make a man say ‘Ah!'” Who knew so much history for a box cake mix.

I hope you enjoy this absolutely delicious coconut cake as much as I do. It really is THE BEST EVER COCONUT CAKE MADE WITH BOX MIX AND TASTES AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS!

Coconut Cake

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt PamCourse: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





  • Cake
  • 1 white or coconut cake mix ( I like Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker)

  • 1 small box of instant vanilla pudding

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

  • 1/2 cup of cold water

  • 3/4 cup of cream of coconut

  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened

  • 4 ounces (1/2 block of cream cheese)

  • 4 to 5 cups of powdered sugar

  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut

  • 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, milk or half and half

  • 1 14 ounce bag of sweetened coconut

  • 1-2 pints fresh raspberries washed, drained well


  • Grease and flour 2-9 inch cake pans (I find Baker’s Joy is the easiest way to grease and flour pans). Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set rack in center of oven.
  • Mix eggs, sour cream, vanilla, water and cream of coconut until blended well.
  • Add white cake mix and instant pudding and mix until smooth. Do not over mix!
  • Pour batter into 2-9 inch round pans, I used 2 heart shaped pans. Each pan should be filled to slightly higher than 1/2 to ensure that the cake does not overflow as it bakes.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Invert onto cooling rack. Let cake cool completely.
  • Mix butter, cream of coconut and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar. Add milk as needed to reach a spreadable texture.
  • Spread frosting on cooled cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut on top and sides of cake and gently press into frosting.
  • Place 1 9 inch round cake on a cake plate. Frost the top of the layer and place the next cake round on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Press coconut into sides and onto top of cake.
  • Refrigerate until serving. Remove about 30 minutes before serving for best results. Before serving, place fresh raspberries on top of cake if desired. Reserve some raspberries for sprinkling on each piece of cake when served. Store any leftovers covered in refrigerator.


  • The layers of this cake freeze well. After baking, let cool and wrap each individual layer in plastic wrap or press and seal (press seal makes a freezer option). Make sure to cover all of the cake. 
  • Coconut pudding may be used in place of vanilla pudding.


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