Pina Colada Layer Cake

This Pina Colada Layer Cake has moist layers of coconut cake, homemade pineapple filling and coconut frosting! Topped with toasted coconut, cherries and pineapple for a tropical treat that screams spring!

Pina Colada Layer Cake

Pina Colada Layer Cake recipe

Pina Colada Layer Cake

So I’ve been in Chicago for a few days now and tonight I’m spending a night at the Hard Rock Hotel. They have actual record players in the rooms with quite a few old school records and I’m digging it. They must be new because not a single one was open. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty pumped.

As soon as I got back to my room after dinner, I grabbed the only record I was interested in – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. I mean, naturally.

But having never used a record player before – ever – I was totally afraid to mess it up. How awful would it be if the first person to ever use this new record scratched it?! Ugh, I couldn’t. After a few missed tries, I got it. It pretty much plays itself, which is good.

So here I am, jammin’ out to “Billie Jean”, snacking on some of my favorite Walkers Shortbread (love those travel sized packs) and getting some work done. What a way to roll. 😉

Best Pina Colada Layer CakeEasy Pina Colada Layer Cake

Did you know that today is the official first day of spring?! Not sure I’ve ever been more excited for spring and I don’t know why. I’m pretty sure it means I’m vitamin D deficient, lol. Time to get out in the sun!

So let’s celebrate with this Pina Colada Layer Cake! It’s so spring-y!

How to Make Pina Colada Layer Cake

The cake starts with three layers of light and fluffy coconut cake. The first step is the creaming of the butter and sugar and it’s a must! You want to actually be able to see that the mixture has lightened in color and is fluffy as opposed to smooth. If you’re cake shrinks after baking or ends up dense, it’s quite possible the creaming wasn’t sufficient.

The next component – and one of my favorite parts – is the pineapple filling. It’s much like a homemade pineapple jam, but not quite as thick and jam-y. It certainly thickens up enough when cold, but jam tends to be even firmer. I love the fresh pineapple flavor and the little chunks from the crushed pineapple. It’s delicious and so easy to make. You make it right on the stove and it thickens up with the help of cornstarch and some boiling. Once it cools, it’s ready for the cake.

The frosting is flavored with coconut, like the cake. You’ll want to pay attention to the consistency of the frosting and not have it get too thin/soft. Since you’ll need to pipe a dam around the cake layers to hold the pineapple filling in, you’ll want the frosting to stay put and not slide around or your cake won’t stand the test of time. Firmer frosting will help with that.

The cake is decorated with some toasted coconut, a little pineapple and few cherries. What pina colada is complete without a cherry? Perfection!

The soft, moist coconut cake is perfect with the pineapple filling. The filling adds moisture to the cake around it and everything is just perfect together. I’m a big, big fan – I hope you are too!

Pina Colada Layer Cake decoratedPina Colada Cake


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Recipe

Pina Colada Layer Cake

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Pina Colada Layer Cake has moist layers of coconut cake, homemade pineapple filling and coconut frosting! Topped with toasted coconut, cherries and pineapple for a tropical treat that screams spring!


Scale

Ingredients

PINEAPPLE FILLING

  • 2/3 cup (138g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 16 oz crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

COCONUT CAKE LAYERS

  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (173g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp coconut extract
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water, room temperature

COCONUT FROSTING AND DECOR

  • 1 1/4 cup (280g) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (237g) shortening
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut extract
  • 67 tbsp (90-105ml) water or milk
  • 2 cups (153g) sweetened coconut flakes
  • Cherries
  • Sliced pineapple

Instructions

TO MAKE THE PINEAPPLE FILLING:

1. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan.
2. Stir in the pineapple, including the juice, and the water.
3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring regularly until mixture thickens and come to a boil, about 10 minutes.
4. Allow to boil for 1 1/2 minutes, then remove from heat.
5. Stir in vanilla extract and set aside to cool.

TO MAKE THE CAKE LAYERS:

6. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
7. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
8. Add sour cream and coconut extract and mix until well combined.
9. Add egg whites in two batches, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
10. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the milk and water in a small measuring cup.
11. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Add the milk mixture and mix until well combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
12. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for about 21-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
13. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

TO MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM:

14. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth.
15. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
16. Add the coconut extract and 5-6 tablespoons of water or milk and mix until smooth.
17. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional water or milk, as needed.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:

18. To toast the coconut, preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Spread the coconut out evenly over a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake until toasted, about 5-8 minutes, tossing regularly so that it toasts evenly.
19. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
20. Pipe a dam of coconut frosting around the edge of the cake, then spread about 1 cup of pineapple filling evenly into the center.
21. Add the second layer of cake and another dam of coconut frosting and cup of pineapple filling. You may end up with a little bit of pineapple filling left over.
22. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial on how to frost a smooth cake with buttercream, if needed, or watch the video above.
23. Press the toasted coconut into the sides of the cake.
24. Use the remaining buttercream to pipe swirls around the top of the cake. I used Ateco tip 808.
25. Top the swirls with cherries and add some sliced pineapple, if desired.


Keywords: pina colada cake, pineapple coconut cake, coconut cake recipe, pineapple cake, pineapple cake with coconut, pineapple cake recipe, best coconut cake recipe, fruit cake recipe,

Enjoy!

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Recipe rating

63 Comments
  1. Andrea

    This cake came out so good and it was a hit at a Luau party cookout I brought it to. It was moist and had the perfect balance of coconut. It wasn’t overpowering. The frosting was delicious. I cut down the powered sugar by about a cup and added 1/2 tbl. Of rum extract with the tbl. Of coconut extract. The pineapple filling was just enough and didn’t make the cake soggy. First cake recipe that didn’t come out dense. I even over toasted my coconut by accident. It was darker than yours but still delicious!

  2. Mare

    This recipe is Wonderful!! I modify it on the outside to fit my themes however it is moist and has such a decadent flavor!!

  3. Sarah

    WOW!! This was SO Good!! My 11 year old son decided we needed to make a Pina Colado cake and your recipe popped up. Having never made a layered cake before, I was definitely nervous, but it worked out perfectly and was so delish! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe/tips/videos – they all helped!! In fact, your video on assembling the cake was critical – he followed it step by step and knew exactly what to do!
    Thank you again – being stuck in the house was so much better with your help!
    Sarah from Colorado

    1. Lindsay

      I have never tried a cake with almond flour, but from what I understand of working with that flour it probably wouldn’t turn out very well. I would suggest a gluten-free flour, like the Pillsbury one.

      1. Esther

        So I decided to try the almond flour with this recipe & as you said, it did not come out good at all. So then I re-did it & used king Arthur’s gluten free flour & it came out excellent! Thank you for this recipe! 

  4. Grace

    Hi. i have a few questions:
    1. can I use whole eggs as opposed to egg whites only? If not, please tell me why.
    2. Is the cake sturdy enough to use cake flour?
    3. I do not have sour cream currently. Is there any substitute you can suggest?

    Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      Whole eggs don’t really work in this recipe as a substitution. The cake will not be correctly.

      You should be able to use cake flour just fine with us.

      Instead of sour cream, you can try using yogurt. I do think it changes the texture up a little bit, but it should be fine.

  5. Anita Barkley

    There seems to be a lot of issues on here about the cake splitting or collapsing.

    Removing the dome on the cake layers before stacking is essential. Also, a too heavy layer of the pineapple filling can weigh down the cake as well, causing it to collapse. The last two suggestions are using a thick enough cake board (not the flimsy ones) for under the cake for support and to use a proper knife when slicing it. A sharp, non serrated knife works best and never use a regular butter knife which just tears through the layers instead of cutting it.

  6. Disappointed

    Made  this cake for my daughter’s birthday party went to assemble it and it completely fell apart crumbled right away broke apart it was a disaster.  Had to run out and buy a disgusting cheap store made cake my daughter was highly disappointed she was having a tropical themed birthday party looking forward to this cake I followed your recipe to the T. I don’t know what could’ve happened but there was nothing moist about this cake.  absolute thumbs down 

  7. Mansi Shah

    Hii this looks delicious!! Can we store the left over pineapple filling in the refrigerator? How long will it stay? 

  8. Liz

    I’m in the UK and want to bake this cake but I’m not sure about the difference between coconut extract and essence. I believe essence to be stronger but just wondering if you could suggest the amount of essence to use to get the same flavour as the 1 tbsp of extract?

  9. Kelly

    Hi Lindsay! I made this recipe for a Birthday in my office and was a total hit!!!! Everybody loved it! I was pretty nervous because I suck at frosting but thankfully I nailed it and it turned very nice. I wish I could send you a photo! This recipe is 1000% recommended! Thank you thank you for sharing these awesome recipes!

    PD. I received your book and I’m thrilled with all the amazing cakes in there. I can’t wait to try them!

  10. Swetha

    Hi Lindsay
    This cake looks lovely gonna try it for a birthday .I don’t have coconut extract and shortening wat can I replace instead of that?

    1. Lindsay

      You’d want to use coconut extract to get the coconut flavor. I’m not sure of a substitute, but you can usually purchase it online, like on Amazon. Butter can be used in place of shortening.

  11. Nala

    This might be a stupid question,
    but the egg whites in the recipe are they whipped before or used as they are in their liquid form..thanks for your reply..

  12. Viviane

    Hi Lindsay,

    I would like to make this cake, but with a fresh pineapple because I want to use the top as a decoration. So, do you think it may work if I put 16 onces of pineapple in the mixer to crush it? Or will I need to adjust the liquid? 

    Thank you for your recipes! They’re really good! 🙂 

    Viviane

    1. Lindsay

      It should be alright. I’m not sure how it’ll affect the liquid, but hopefully it’ll be ok once it cooks down. Just keep an eye on it when you cook the filling. You might need to cook it a little less or more.

  13. Amanda

    If I make and assemble this the day before, where should I store the cake? In the refrigerator? And when I assemble the day before should I leave the coconut off until the next day or will it be ok on the cake overnight?

  14. Jackie

    Hi Lindsay
    I made this cake for a birthday party, it was really good. But I had one problem with it, when I sliced the cake, the slices seem to break. Do you think I overmixed the batter.

  15. Rafael

    I made the cake yesterday and assembled (but i didnt put the cherries and pineapple).

    But today when i woke up the top cake layer had broken. Do you know why this happened ?

    Thanks

    1. Lindsay

      Did you remove the domes from the tops of the cake layers? If not, the taller center of the cakes can cause them to split.

  16. Audrey

    Hi Lindsay!

    I have a few questions:

    1. If I want to make the cake layers one day and assemble the following day, how should I store the cakes overnight?
    2. How do you remove the domes to get flat cake layers? I always have trouble with this and end up with a slanted cake!
    3. Where did you buy your knives/spatulas for frosting? I use a regular knife, but your cakes look much better!

    Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      1. I store the cakes in an air tight container on the counter.
      2. I just use a serrated knife. It can take some practice, but I prefer it over some of the flimsy cutting tools.
      3. You can find links to most of the tools I use here. The links are to Amazon, but many of them can also be found at craft stores and Walmart.

      Enjoy it!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure about that kind of heat. The half butter, half shortening buttercream does decently well in heat. You could also try using all shortening to be sure at that kind of temperature. You’d probably want to test it.

  17. Mercedes Alvarado

    My mouth is watering! I’ve been searching for a Pina Colada cake recipe!! Is it possible to use vanilla yogurt instead of sour cream ? Just curious. Thank you!!!!

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it to say for sure. It would likely bake fine, just not sure if the flavor would be as strong or if the different fat content of the milk would make a difference in how moist the cake it.

  18. Michelle

    Looks wonderful!! My partner loves pineapple so I’m thinking about making this. Just wondering if a different type of frosting might work also? Something without coconut flakes and a bit less sugar.

    1. Lindsay

      Sure. You can leave out some of the powdered sugar if you prefer and you certainly don’t have to use the toasted coconut. It’s just pressed onto the outside, so easy to leave off.

  19. Melissa Wheatley

    I just have to comment on this cake. It is amazing. I wish I could eat the whole cake with no consequences, but I cannot. 3 of us have already eaten half of the cake, and I made it yesterday. I’ve never had coconut cake before, but I know I will never make it any other way. I’m already planning on making this again for our Easter dinner to share with more family and friends!

  20. Respectlife

    Hi Lindsay,
    I just love your website and recipes. Your desserts are just fabulous!
    I can bake, but I can NOT decorate! LOL When you put the nuts on the sides (or other decorations) do you use gloves? When I have tried with my hands, I seem to pull the frosting off and make a mess! I’ve tried using a spoon, spatula and even THROWING the nuts at the cake! What is the best way to apply to the sides? Thank you and God Bless!

    1. Lindsay

      Are you able to see the video just above the recipe? It shows how I add the coconut to the sides. I don’t wear gloves. 🙂

  21. Alison

    This looks lovely Lindsay! It’s making my mouth water first thing in the morning! 🙂 I can’t wait to try this one!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12