Carrot Cake with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts

As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from

This recipe takes the standard carrot cake and elevates it to incredible heights.

We have been making this cake for many years, for many reasons. First and foremost, it is hands-down one of the most delicious cakes we’ve ever made. And, it’s glorious in presentation. Perfect for a “special occasion” celebration, or anytime you’re just in the mood for homemade cake. The tropical notes put it over the top!

A straight-on view of a carrot cake with three layers and a tropical cream cheese icing that is topped with toasted coconut flakes.

How To Make Carrot Cake with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts


NOTE: If you liked this video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Remember to click the little ‘bell’ icon so you’ll never miss a new video. Thank you!

The Ingredients You Will Need

You’ll probably need to make a run to the supermarket to pick up some of the following items, but, none of them are too exotic and should be easy to find. Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

For the Cake

Flour – All-purpose.
Sweetened Coconut Flakes – Found in the baking section of most supermarkets.
Dry-Roasted Macadamia Nuts – These can often be found in the baking section or near the produce section of most supermarkets, or you can order them online.
Crystalized Ginger – These are often found in the produce section in the dried fruits area. You might ask the produce manager. If you can’t find them, you can order them online.
Cinnamon – Ground.
Leavening Agents – Baking Powder and baking soda.
Sugar – Granulated.
Oil – Vegetable oil is recommended. If desire, you can go with 1 cup (2 sticks) of softened unsalted butter.
Eggs – Room temperature is recommended, but will still work if chilled.
Vanilla extract
Carrots – Grated with your food processor attachment or with a box grater.
Crushed pineapple – With the juice.

For the Frosting

Cream cheese – You’ll need three 8 oz packages, at room temperature.
Butter – Unsalted, room temperature.
Powdered sugar – Also known as Confectioners’ Sugar.
Flavorings – Vanilla extract and coconut extract.
Sweetened Coconut Flakes – For added flavor and a beautiful presentation, toast them until they are just turning brown. But, watch them closely, they will burn quickly!

EXPERT TIP: To have flat cakes, without doming in the middle, create a cake strip. Simply tear out a 12-inch strip of aluminum foil and then place a folded damp paper towel in the center. Fold the foil over the damp towel, and then wrap it around the cake pans. See video for reference. This technique produces perfectly flat cake tops, which makes for a beautifully decorated cake.

Three cake pans with Carrot Cake with Coconut, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts

Tips for Making Perfect Carrot Cake

Use Freshly Grated Carrots – For the best flavor and texture, use freshly grated carrots rather than pre-packaged shredded carrots. The natural moisture and sweetness of freshly grated carrots will enhance the overall quality of the cake.

Add a Touch of Texture – Chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, to provide a delightful crunch and additional flavor dimension to your carrot cake. Be sure to chop the nuts, coconut, and ginger before adding to the batter.

Make a Cake Strip to Ensure Even Baking – Add a moist paper towel strip inside an aluminum foil strip and then wrap around each cake pan to help the cake cook evenly and without a dome. See the video for visual guidance.

Don’t Frost the Cake with Cold Icing – It’s okay to chill the icing if making it in advance, but, allow it to come to room temperature before applying to the cake. If the icing is too stiff, it will cause the cake to crumble into the icing.

A person using a straight-edge spatula to smear cream cheese icing over the top layer of a carrot cake.

How To Serve

Baking the cake in three pans makes for a dramatic (and tall) layered cake. However, if you prefer, you can go with simply two cake pans.

For a less attractive presentation, but still equally as delicious, you can bake the cake in a 9×13″ baking dish. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

One of our favorite ways to serve this cake is in the form of cupcakes. Simply fill cupcake holder about two-thirds of the way up and then bake for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If making cupcakes, cut the frosting ingredients in half.

When serving as a layered cake, get creative with how you decorate it. We love to toast the sweetened coconut flakes and then sprinkle on top. To create a “naked” look, after you’ve frosted the cake all over, run a straight-edge spatula along the sides of the cake, this will reveal some of the cake layers and adds elegance and intrigue to the appearance of the cake.

An overhead view of a three layered carrot cake topped with with cream cheese icing and toasted coconut flakes.

More Amazing Cakes and Cupcakes Recipes to try

Everyone loves a freshly made cake. And here is a collection of our favorite homemade cakes that you and your family will love!

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Marshmallow Filling
Coconut and Lemon Curd Cupcakes
Irish Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard Sauce
German Chocolate Cake
Coconut Cream Cake
Classic Mardi Gras Cake

These are classic and incredibly delicious in their own right. But, in the meantime, isn’t this stunning cake calling your name?

A metal spatula being used to lift up a large three-layered coconut cake with cream cheese icing and topped with toasted coconut flakes.

This is a beautiful cake. It’s perfect for spring and any kind of special occasion.

It’s stunning when it’s whole, and it’s gorgeous when sliced.

And the flavor profile is unlike any carrot cake you’ve ever tried. You can’t go wrong with this recipe!

An individual serving of a slice of a carrot cake sitting on its side on a white dessert plate next to the three-layered cake on a cake round.

Ready to make the most scrumptious cake in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A metal spatula being used to lift up a large three-layered coconut cake with cream cheese icing and topped with toasted coconut flakes.

Carrot Cake with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts

This Carrot Cake has been an all-time favorite recipe of ours for many years. It's really that good. It's so moist and is layered with lots of classic carrot cake taste, plus a little tropical thrown in for an even bigger flavor boost. This is the good stuff.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Dessert
Keyword: Carrot Cake, Cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 631kcal


  • 2 to 3 9-inch cake pans


For the Cake

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts
  • ¾ cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups carrots finely grated
  • 16 oz crushed pineapple undrained

For the Frosting

  • 3 8 oz. packages cream cheese room temperature
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter 1 & 1/2 sticks, room temperature
  • cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp coconut extract
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes toasted


Make the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Butter three 9-inch cake pans and then line with parchment paper. Dust with flour. If desired, wrap each pan with cake strips (damp paper towels wrapped with foil and then affixed around each pan. See video for visual reference).
  • Combine ½ cup of flour and then the next 3 ingredients in your food processor, and process until finely chopped.
    2½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, 1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts, ¾ cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • Whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl.
    3½ tsp ground cinnamon, 2½ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda
  • Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in a large bowl to blend.
    2 cups sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Next, gradually add in the flour/cinnamon mixture.
    4 large eggs
  • Beat in vanilla.
    2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Beat in the coconut/ginger/nut mixture, then carrots and crushed pineapple (with juice).
    2 cups carrots, 16 oz crushed pineapple
  • Pour into prepared pans.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
  • Cool in pans on a rack for about an hour.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes. Turn out onto racks and allow them to cool completely before frosting them.

Make the Frosting

  • Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.
    3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • Beat in powdered sugar and both of the extracts.
    2½ cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp coconut extract
  • If making the frosting ahead of time, keep chilled in the fridge, but allow it to come to room temperature before frosting the cake.

Putting It All Together

  • Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on a cake platter.
  • Spread about 1 cup of frosting over the top.
  • Top with the next cake and repeat with another cup of icing.
  • Top with the third cake and press lightly to adhere, and go ahead and lightly push the layers to make sure they are aligned evenly (you can even insert long wooden skewers throughout the cakes at this point, to hold the cake in place, while you continue icing). Ice the sides of the cake and then top with the toasted coconut flakes.
    1 cup sweetened coconut flakes


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
If your frosting is too thick, thin it with a little milk. Remember if you chill the icing, it will harden somewhat. Let it come to room temperature before adding it to the cake.
If you are making the cake in two pans (instead of three), it may take a little longer to bake. Use the inserted toothpick test to ensure doneness. (If it comes out clean, it's ready). 
You can also use this recipe for cupcakes. They will only take about 20 to 25 minutes to bake but do the toothpick test to make sure they are done. You'll only need half of the frosting. 
Leftovers will keep covered on the counter for several days or refrigerated for 1 week. 


Calories: 631kcal | Carbohydrates: 106g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 387mg | Potassium: 316mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 77g | Vitamin A: 4816IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This was originally published in November 2013, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in March 2024.


  • Can the all-purpose flour be switched to gluten-free flour? If so, would I need to change the amount? This looks delish.

    • Hi June! So sorry for the delayed response. Yes, you can switch all-purpose flour to gluten-free flour. No need to change the amount. Let us know if you make the cake and how it turns out! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • Hi this sounds fabulous but do u know all the measurements in U. K terms as in grams etc at all please? Thanks Emma

    • Hi Emma! We turned on a button that is at the bottom of the ingredients list that gives you the opportunity to switch to U.K. terms, but (silly American), we’re not sure if it looks right, or if every item converted. Take a look and let us know. The cake, btw…is delicious!!! xoxo

      • Hi Kris
        Yeah you’re correct it doesn’t really work very well but no worries I shall try and figure it out Thanks x

      • So sorry about that, Emma! We’re trying to figure out why the information is so whacky! Thanks for your patience, but, you’ll probably figure out before we do! xoxo

  • 5 stars
    This says 2.5 cups of flour and then calls for 1/3 c with the ginger/nuts and the “remaining 2 cups” later. What about the balance?
    Also, when do you add the flour? After the eggs and before the spice mixture? I discarded the balance of the flour and added the flour before the spice mixture and it’s DELICIOUS, but just wanted to confirm! Thanks for the great recipe!!!

    • Hi there! So sorry for the delayed response! Sounds like you prepared the cake absolutely flawlessly, despite the few uncertainties in the instructions! We’ve updated the recipe to make it clear. We are so so thrilled you had such great success with the cake! Thank you so so much for sharing and for the GREAT review! That means the world to us! Please stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley

      • 5 stars
        Thank you for the clarification and for the update to the recipe! I’ve never had so many people RAVE about a cake before! The ginger and pulverized nuts…and the crushed pineapple…. SOOOO good!

      • Awesome!!!! Congratulations!! We are so so happy you had such great success with the cake! Again…thank you for sharing and the wonderful review!!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Wait, what???? How in the world have I missed this recipe on your site? This looks just heavenly. Since I make mostly all of your recipes, laugh at all of your videos which by the way make me look like a way better cook than I am, I am VERY EXCITED about this one. I can’t wait to tell you when I make it. I’m thinking Thanksgiving with a traditional pumpkin pie. I will update you as soon as I make it. I just had to tell you how excited I was to see this! This is in no way helping with my weight lol. Oh…. And I got your email and can’t wait to join your new endeavor. Count me in. Way to go guys.

    • Diane!!! LOL!! We have a few of these sinfully delicious recipes creeping around in the background on the blog! This has been a favorite cake of ours for years!! Really great for serving to guests! And thank you SO MUCH for subscribing! We hope you enjoy it! We are really really excited about it! Thank you again!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

      • Your subscription service is super. I subscribed and got the Black Friday discount. Every one should sign up now. I started getting the notifications already for the recipes to start cooking for dinner on your menu! I was thrilled…..but I was still working LOL. Said I needed to start cooking soon. I love it already. I love how you can save the recipes on that site. Super easy peasy! I’m so proud of you guys and will always support you. Thanks for inviting me! It was the highlight of my busy day.

      • Hi Diane!! That is music to our ears!! We’ll be sending out a “helpful tips” video on how to get the most out of the subscription, but it sounds like you’re already doing great! Thanks so much and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

    • Hi Robin! You absolutely could use a 9 – 10 inch tube pan. It’s most likely going to take longer than the 35 minutes. Probably 45 to 50. But, try the toothpick test around 30 minutes, and then keep checking periodically until it comes out clean. Let us know if you make it and how it turns out! All the best, Kris & Wesley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating