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. Holy coconut, caramel, and chocolatey goodness!!!  That filling looks to DIE for and coconut cake is amazing.  I personally am not a fan of coconut extract’s taste but I have a coconut cake recipe that I quite like and with your fabulous filling, I’m sure it would be even better! YUM! 

    1. I made these with a few substitutions, I used 1/2 c sour cream instead of the 1/4 c coconut milk and 1/4 c sour cream, left out the coconut extract, added an extra 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and used AP flour minus 3 Tbl then sifted w/ rest of dry ingredients, instead of the cake flour. I have tried many recipes using cake flour and the flavor just seems off to me. I just don’t like the taste of it. So I try to sub AP flour. Anyone else ever notice this about cake flour? Anyway, my substitutions worked perfectly! These were soooo buttery, moist, and fluffy with just a slight coconut taste. They were perfect for my picky kids who don’t like coconut. I frosted them w/ the chocolate buttercream frosting but did not make the caramel (though I have made the caramel recipe before and it is insanely delicious), and they were still some of the best homemeade cupcakes I’ve made.

  2. I love coconut and always make a coconut cake for Easter. Do you think that if I put this batter in a 9-inch round at 350F until it is tested with a knife (I know it will take longer) it would work as a cake? Since they look so light and fluffy I wasn’t sure if it would hold up as a cake! Excited to try this recipe and especially the coconut cake base 🙂 yummmm!

    1. A cake will work! There will be way too much batter for a single layer 9-inch cake and not quite enough for a double layer. So I suggest filling the cake pan halfway with batter and using the leftover for cupcakes. I’m unsure of the bake time for the cake.

  3. Hey Sally! How imperative is it to do half butter, half coconut oil? I have coconut extract paste….. Can I just use all butter and use extra extract instead of buying a whole thing of coconut oil for a mere 1/4 cup? Your expertise is appreciated 🙂

    1. You can use all butter. Extra extract is a great idea!

  4. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    1-I just watched your about me video and it’s the cutest thing ever
    2-OMIGOSH Samoas in cupcake form, YESSS. That filling is perfection. Love ’em!

  5. These look fantastic – definitely going to make them over the weekend!

  6. Are there any substitutions necessary if you use unsweetened coconut? That was the only option available at the market.

    1. nope! the cupcakes will still be plenty sweet

  7. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    You had me at all the coconut plus that salted caramel filling – utter perfection!


  9. Cori @ Sweet Coralice says:

    Talk about packing a punch! I love using coconut cream as it really does amp up the flavor! These look absolutely rich and indulgent, which is something I’m in desperate need of!!! Love, Love, Love 🙂

  10. Michelle @ Modern Acupuncture says:

    These look SO phenomenal! So light and fluffy 🙂

  11. Hi Sally this recipe looks amazing, like all of your recipes!!! I want to half all of the ingredients though, should I also half the baking powder and baking soda?

    1. I recommend halving each ingredient if looking to halve the recipe, yes.

  12. We love Samoas and these look and sound sooooooo yummy!

  13. Hi Sally! Happy Spring! These look phenomenal and I cannot WAIT to make these!

    Quick question regarding the 1/4 cup of solid coconut oil–should this be packed tightly, or lightly? 🙂

    Thank you so much! You are amazing!


  14. Ooh this looks so tempting. Any tips if I want to convert this to a cake ? I want to make birthday cake for my coconut loving spouse and this sounds so perfect (unfortunately he is not a fan of lemon or any citric flavour). It would be awesome if i could convert it to his bday cake.


    1. Hi Prachi! I would make this white layer cake (based off of this cupcake base) and use coconut milk instead of regular milk, and half coconut oil/butter like I do in these cupcakes. You can use this chocolate frosting to frost and drizzle with salted caramel.

      1. Thanks a ton! I am definitely gonna do that 🙂 Super excited to try it out.


  15. WOW! I have just got to try these ASAP. They look absolutely delicious!

  16. Mary Czarnecki says:

    Hi Sally! I CANNOT wait to make this AWESOME cupcakes! Quick question though. I just want to make sure the caramel sauce will be thick enough (but not hard) to fill the cupcakes. I don’t want it to run out of the cupcakes when someone bites into it. I’ve had problems with other caramel sauces that did run. Thanks for your time!

    1. This caramel isn’t thin– it’s thick and chewy, but not hard 🙂

  17. Ok, so I’ve never commented on a blog before, but I just had to tell you that I just made 3 dozen of these little lovelies.  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING about them is perfection —   From the texture of the cupcake (I was skeptical about that coconut in there but it works!) to the most AMAZING caramel you’ve ever put in your mouth — Absolute bliss!  I can’t wait to take them to our bible study group and share with our friends!

    Really, just wanted to say, “You really hit this one out of the park, Sally — Great Job!  Amazing!”

    By the way, I was overzealous with the caramel making and have about a cup of it left — I’m now scouring your site for other recipes that use this caramel.  There may be another scrumptious treat in the very near future for us!  Yay!

  18. Afra Shanaz! says:

    Hey!! I just read this recipe and now I wanna try this CCC heaven! (Get it, Chocolate, Coconut, Caramel>hehe) I am a young baker ( I am 14) and most of the recipes I try don’t work out. 🙁 There are a few questions I wanted to ask you.
    1. I don’t have cake flour, so can I use all-purpose flour instead?
    2. I don’t like the taste of Coconut extract so is Vanilla extract enough?
    Thanks!! I hope you reply.

    1. Hi Afra! You should definitely try this recipe! You can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. 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. You can leave the coconut extract out if you don’t want them super coconuty 🙂

  19. Hi Sally!  I want to make a tall coconut cake for my dad’s birthday and thought I might combine the lemon coconut cake recipe (for 3 fluffy layers) with the salted caramel filling / milk chocolate frosting in this recipe.  Would the salted caramel filling be sturdy enough between the cake layers or should I mix it with something else?

    1. It wouldn’t be as a cake layer filling– how about salted caramel frosting instead.

      1. Hi Sally, your suggestion worked perfect! My parents both loved the cake and my dad said it was his favorite cake I have ever made. Thank you!! 🙂

  20. I just made the homemade salted caramel last night that I plan to use a filling for some cupcakes I am making this weekend. I am making them Sunday for a party on Monday at work. I don’t want the caramel to be chewy on the inside of the cupcake though. If I store these in the fridge Sunday night, would the caramel soften back up if I set them out at room temperature for a few hours? Or do you have a suggestion of how I can keep the caramel center from being a chewy piece in the middle of my cupcake?

    It tastes great by the way!

    1. It will soften back up. Keep them at room temp for several hours 🙂

  21. I made these yesterday with a couple of tweaks. I left out the coconut extract (I live in Tokyo and it doesn’t seem to exist here).

    I also left out the Caramel sauce because it completely hardened after it cooled, did I do something wrong?

    They were still amazing and my friend said they were some of the best cupcakes he’d ever had!

  22. Hi Sally!! I have made these cupcakes before and absolutely loved them! I want to make them again in cake form, would the coconut cupcake recipe be enough for three 6 inch cake pans? Any idea how long to bake them? Then I was thinking I would fill with the chocolate buttercream and then in the middle of the cake make the buttercream a bit thinner and put salted caramel in it. Do you think that would work? Thank you, I am so excited to make this!!

    1. Hi Sydney! I think that’s an AWESOME idea. This batter fits perfectly in 3 6-inch cake pans. The bake time is about 18-20 minutes. Make sure you line the cake pans with parchment and grease– exactly as I do here:

      Would love to know how your cake turns out!

  23. I very much want to make these cupcakes, but I live in Spain and they don’t sell sour cream here 🙁
    I’ve read else where that you an substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt. Would that work for this recipe?

    1. Hi Sarah! Yes, you can use plain yogurt (Greek style or regular) instead of sour cream.

  24. Hi, Sally! I think I might make these for my husband’s birthday because he loves the combination of chocolate and coconut, and the caramel is an added bonus. His birthday is on a Tuesday, so I was thinking of making the cupcakes and frosting on a Sunday (when there is more time!) and making the caramel and assembling everything Monday night. If I do that, would the “Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days.” start on Monday night, or on the day prior when I start some of the components? Thanks!

    1. Hi Susan! Happy to help. 🙂 The 3 days would begin on Sunday after you bake them 🙂

  25. These are SO delicious! Cupcake was soft and moist, all the flavors work so well together -they taste just like a samoa Girl Scout cookie… I filled each cupcake with caramel and drizzled it over the chocolate frosting, then sprinkled toasted shredded coconut on top. INCREDIBLE!
    And thank you so much for a caramel recipe that doesn’t require a candy thermometer. I was nervous to make caramel for the first time but it worked out great! I added half the salt for the caramel, but other than that did everything in each recipe as stated.

  26. Hi there ! I am making these tomorrow and I have two questions – can I use light coconut milk instead of regular and is it a big deal if my coconut oil is naturally refined as opposed to unrefined?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Amy! Happy to help.

      1) Canned light coconut milk is OK.
      2) I mention unrefined because it has more coconut flavor, but, keeping that in mind, you can use refined if it’s easier. 🙂

  27. Hi Sally! I really want to make these coconut cupcakes, but I was wondering whether I could substitute butter for the coconut oil? Would it be a 1:1 substitution if I can do that? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Yes, you may use room temperature butter in place of the coconut oil.

  28. This recipe is worth your time and taste buds. Each layer compliments the other and is so delicious!

  29. Hi,

    I am planning to try this recipe tomorrow. I was just wondering if I could substitute the sour cream for buttermilk?


    1. Hi Eloise, if using buttermilk, it’s best to replace the sour cream AND milk (in this case, coconut milk) with buttermilk.

  30. If I just wanted to do the coconut cupcakes without the caramel filling, what would a good frosting or topping be?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alyssa, you can simply leave out the caramel filling and use the chocolate buttercream frosting. The toasted coconut and salted caramel drizzle are also optional. Enjoy!

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