Chocolate Caramel Coconut Cupcakes

Bake my dark chocolate coconut blondies next.

chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes on a wood slice serving board with a bite out of one showing the caramel filling

We have lots of ground to cover today, so let’s jump right in.

Coconut + caramel + chocolate. Power trio! Today we’re making soft and fluffy coconut cupcakes that are filled with caramel (salted or unsalted, your preference) and topped with milk chocolate frosting and toasted coconut. And more caramel, if you desire. (Don’t you?) They’re overloaded and dreamy, undoubtedly rich and satisfying. Consider these a Samoas Girl Scout cookie in cupcake form. An Easter basket of candy inside a cupcake wrapper.

All good things, my friends, all good things.

overhead image of chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes on a wood slice serving board

I took my simply perfect vanilla cupcakes and infused them with mega coconut flavor. It’s an easy and dependable vanilla cupcake recipe, climbing to the tippy top of my favorite cupcake list in the past 7 months. See it here as piñata cupcakes, peanut butter & jelly cupcakes, and as pistachio cupcakes.

I added coconut 4 different ways, each majorly important to the final taste and texture.

Here are the coconut changes I made:

  1. Half coconut oil + half butter. (1/4 cup each) Make sure the coconut oil is SOLID and cream it with the butter. This creamed fat will be the base of your coconut cupcakes.
  2. Canned coconut milk instead of whole milk. What a difference in flavor and texture! I used reduced fat and loved the results. Full fat works just as well. Give the can a good shake before using. Refrigerated coconut milk is more like a beverage and canned is more like a cooking and baking ingredient. I recommend canned for these coconut cupcakes.
  3. Coconut extract. Only 1 teaspoon does the trick to really get this coconut party started! The cupcakes were lacking a majority of their coconut flavor without it.
  4. Sweetened shredded coconut. You can hardly taste the texture in the baked cupcakes as it breaks down and absorbs the moisture. But the flavor is all there!

The coconut ingredients you’ll need are right here:

ingredients for coconut cupcakes

One thing to note: the coconut oil caused the cupcake wrappers to slightly separate from the cupcakes as they cooled. This certainly isn’t a problem and it’s not like the wrappers were actually falling off– they were just separating from the baked cupcakes on the sides. Again, this is because of the coconut oil in the cupcakes. And don’t worry! The cupcakes do NOT taste oily.

I’m not sure if it’s the creamed coconut oil, coconut milk, sour cream, egg whites, or the cake flour– or the combination of it all, but these coconut cupcakes are even fluffier and more moist than the original vanilla version. Probably the first cupcake I’ve ever made from scratch that literally melts in your mouth. They are so light!

If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this extremely simple homemade cake flour substitute. You need cornstarch and all-purpose flour.

And one more thing… the coconut cupcake batter will be slightly lumpy from the shredded coconut.

2 images of coconut cupcake batter in a glass stand mixer bowl and batter in a cupcake pan

And always remember this!

Fill your cupcake liners only 2/3 full. Less is more. 2/3 full isn’t a lot. In fact, you might even question yourself and be tempted to add more. Don’t give into the pressure! Don’t overfill those liners or you could end up with (1) mushroom looking oddballs, (2) cupcakes with crisp edges, (3) overflowed cupcakes, (4) cupcakes that sink, and the disappointing list goes on. Quite the opposite of the soft and fluffy cupcake goal.

overhead image of coconut cupcakes with the center removed and filled with salted caramel sauce

And now, the best part of all. Honestly, if I had to choose favorites in these chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes, it would be the salted caramel filling. You probably already know the filling we’ll use. It’s this salted caramel recipe! The same one used on these brownies, on this bundt cake, in this Snickers tart, and so much more. The caramel filling becomes thicker after a few hours, but will never turn super hard. (Unless you overcook it!) You have total control over the salt in the caramel, so feel free to reduce the salt if you prefer a sweet caramel as the filling.

We’ll fill the cupcakes the lazy way. Aka carve a hole, spoon the filling in, and place the carved piece back on top. The cupcakes are about 1.5 inches tall, so you’ll want to carve a 1 inch deep section of cupcake out. This can be roughly 1 inch, a little less is perfectly fine. The section of cupcake you remove will be the shape of a cone (see this post). I slice off a little of the narrow end of the cone because it won’t fit back on top with all the caramel inside. Does this make sense?

And now for the no-frills chocolate buttercream frosting. Butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, milk (or cream), and a pinch of salt. I’m sure you have each ingredient in your kitchen right now. Takes about 5 minutes to whip together and even less time to frost the cupcakes. I used my trusty Wilton #12 round piping tip. Place the tip directly on top of the cupcake, apply pressure, and slowly lift up. No swirling. Just pipe and lift. I’ll create a video for how I do that in the next couple of weeks, I promise!

chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes on a wood slice serving board

a bite out of a chocolate caramel coconut cupcake showing the caramel filling in the center

I cannnotttttttt handle this.

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chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes on a wood slice serving board with a bite out of one showing the caramel filling

Chocolate Caramel Coconut Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 15-16 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes with salted caramel filling, milk chocolate frosting, and fluffy coconut cupcakes.


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (207g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (55g) unrefined coconut oil, solid (not melted or liquid)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canned coconut milk, at room temperature*
  • 3/4 cup (60g) sweetened shredded coconut
  • salted caramel for filling, cooled for 30 minutes*
  • chocolate buttercream frosting for topping
  • optional: toasted coconut for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 3-4 liners – this recipe makes about 15-16 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and solid coconut oil together on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the coconut milk and shredded coconut until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no large lumps stuck at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick with a few lumps of shredded coconut.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely.
  5. Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cooled cupcake to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. This piece you removed will be the shape of a cone. Set it aside. Place about 1 teaspoon of caramel inside the cupcake– or however much will fit. Slice off the pointy end of the “cone” piece of cupcake you removed so that it can fit on top of the filling. Repeat with all cupcakes.
  6. Prepare frosting and frost cooled cupcakes. I used the Wilton #12 round piping tip. Top with any leftover caramel and toasted coconut, if desired.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Measuring BowlKitchenAid Hand Mixer | Cupcake PanCupcake Liners | Icing Bags | #12 Decorating Tip
  3. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this homemade cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  4. Coconut Milk: See #2 in the written post about the canned coconut milk. For best flavor and texture, avoid using the refrigerated kind. Canned is best. It’s usually in the international food section of any regular grocery store.
  5. Caramel: If you prefer a sweet caramel filling as opposed to salted caramel, feel free to reduce the salt in the caramel recipe to 1/4 teaspoon. The caramel needs to cool for 30 minutes before using as the filling, so I usually make it when the cupcakes are cooling.
  6. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: coconut cupcakes, cupcakes, chocolate caramel cupcakes

You’ll also love my apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting!

apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, a drizzle of salted caramel, and a slice of granny smith apple on top


  1. heather (delicious not gorgeous) says:

    love the sound of all that coconut!! and that chocolate frosting looks so creamy and decadent

  2. I’m not even that big of a fan of coconut, but your photos are making these cupcakes look so delicious. 

  3. I like the sound of fluffy, melt-in your mouth coconut cupcakes! I’d definetly have to go buy a lot of those coconut Ingredients! I’m sure they’re delicious

  4. Major YES to more caramel! 🙂

  5. Jenny from says:

    Have to agree with Emy here, not that big a fan of coconut, especially if so dominant in flavor, but this looks awesome!
    Love the piece of wood you used as a prop.

  6. Kathryn Grace says:

    Moaaaaaaooooaaannn. Want. Must be strong. But boy do those look good. I just know the grandkids will have fun making them with me one of these days. Total yum fun.

  7. Wow wow wow wow wow! (Now that word looks fake, haha). These are so pretty and amazing! That photograph at the very end is so awesome! Coconut is so versatile…I love it with lime or any fruit, but it’s so great with caramel and chocolate too!

    1. Coconut lime cupcakes… my mind is swirling with ideas 🙂

  8. Omg!!!! These are phenomenal! I am so making them this weekend, my family is gonna go nuts. Amazing combination of flavours. Mmmm can’t wait!!!

  9. Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says:

    These look INSANE. Love that they’re basically a Samoa cookie in cupcake form. You’ve done it again! 🙂

  10. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Oh these look amazing!  Shredded coconut is however one of like 5 foods I don’t like.  Something about the after taste or texture.  But I do like using coconut oil and milk, so that just means I’ll add extra caramel instead of coconut flakes 😉

    1. Sounds good enough to me!!

  11. Coconut and chocolate are my favorite flavor combo and the salted caramel is an added bonus, I will definitely be making these!

  12. Del's cooking twist says:

    Oh, this is totally insane but I LOVE it! Give me more!! Seriously, can’t wait to try this recipe, I add it straight away to my to-do list 🙂 Have a good day, Sally!

  13. My husband is strictly gluten free. If I substitute a gluten free flour in this recipe should I still add the cornstarch to the flour?

    1. I haven’t made these with GF flour but first check what your flour has in it. Some GF flours already have a protein/starch structure similar to cake flour. If yours doesn’t then use the same ratio of 2 TBS for 1 cup flour. Let me know how they turn out when you make them! 🙂

  14. These look STUNNING! These sound like some of your best cupcakes yet! I mean, creamy chocolate icing, coconut cupcakes with real coconut, and salted caramel inside… heavenly. I cannot wait to try this recipe! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Hope! And I feel like they are one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The coconut cupcake alone is honestly the softest, fluffiest cupcake to ever come out of my kitchen.

  15. Shawnna Griffin says:

    hey girl- these look amazing!

  16. Jamie | A Sassy Spoon says:

    My three favorite things – chocolate. caramel. coconut. – all in one cupcake! This is a dream. Sally, your salted caramel is my favorite recipe for caramel. I’ve blogged about it and have shared it on so many recipes. It’s so simple, so perfect. I can’t wait to try these! Literally drooling. THANK YOU!

  17. These look so good Sally!! Can’t wait to try these!!

  18. I don’t love coconut but I’m so intrigued by these cupcakes! They look sooo soft and I completely believe they melt in your mouth! I can stand coconut in certain amounts, so is it possible do you think to omit the shredded coconut in the cupcake batter? I think I would like the rest of the coconut-y flavour 🙂 

    1. You will be blown away by how light soft they are!! You can try to omit the shredded coconut but it does break down when you bake it and really doesn’t leave much of a texture 🙂

  19. Kelly @ Kelly Lynns Sweets and Treats says:

    I am not a huge coconut fan, but you have sold me with these!! Yum!

  20. Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says:

    I’m dyyyying!  Coconut + caramel is such a perfect combo.  Throw some chocolate into the mix and you just can’t beat it!

  21. I LOVE coconut in any shape or form!! Will definitely be making these this weekend and can’t wait to indulge myself. I already know that your PB&J cupcakes are to die for. I can’t be left alone with them. They don’t stand a chance!! Lol

  22. Sally, if I don’t use the coconut extract will the cupcakes still be coconut-y? I have all the ingredients except for coconut extract and I’m not a fan of artificial flavourings anyway.

    1. Slightly coconut-y, yes. 🙂

  23. I am (almost) jumping for joy – cupcake + coconut + CARAMEL + chocolate = A HAPPY CROWD. Especially me! I love this combination. Geez, I am going to be busy this weekend. Your salted caramel is to die for anyway . . . that makes this recipe extra, extra special. Yippy! Thanks for sharing Sally. 🙂

    1. Have fun baking and let me know how you like them!

  24. Izzy | Pinch of delight says:

    Oh wow!

  25. Oh my! A Samoas Girl Scout cookie as a cupcake! I love it! Now, I am going to make these and your lemon coconut cake, you know for recipe testing purposes. I can’t wait!

  26. Blogtastic Food says:

    that is one of the naughtiest treats I have ever seen, and I love it 😉

  27. Sharon K (The Farm Chick Bakes) says:

    You’ve done it again! Touched on my fav things….coconut, caramel and…oh yes…CHOCOLATE. These look amazing and am printing the recipe as we speak. I do have a question on the cups separating as they cool. I’ve actually noticed this on many of my cupcake batches in the past. And I’ve used various brands from store bought to Wilton’s. Do you have a specific preference of cups when you bake so this doesn’t happen? WHY does this typically happen?

    1. Sharon K (The Farm Chick Bakes) says:

      One other question……when do you decide to use regular flour vs ‘cake flour’?

      1. Depending on the other ingredients used AND when I want a super super fluffy cupcake. For instance, I don’t use cake flour when making carrot cake, banana cake, and other heavier flavors. These are typically denser cakes/cupcakes. Vanilla and white cupcakes are usually the fluffiest, so lately I definitely prefer a light cake flour.

    2. Honestly I don’t know why the separating happens but I’ve baked this exact cupcake at least 15 different times (in the same exact brand/style wrapper), but this time when I added coconut oil– the separating began. So I’m going to say the oil.

  28. These cupcakes sound amazing!! Definitely going to be making these for Easter! Can’t wait to try. Also love the pina colada cupcakes they are to die for. Love your blog Sally!

  29. Love all the things you can do with a great vanilla cake recipe! These look fabulous, Sally.

    1. Thanks so much, Liz! Yes, I use this same base so often!!

  30. Ohhh, my lanta. I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave here without a sweet tooth and a growling stomach. These look insanely good. Seriously. NEED.

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