Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake

This Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake is sure to be a summer favorite! Infused with coconut milk, lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur, it tastes like a margarita on the beach.

Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake

If you love the bright, luscious flavors of a coconut-lime margarita, then put this cake on your summer bucket list! It has tropical flavor that will practically transport you to a sunny destination. A shot of tequila and triple sec impart cocktail flavors without adding too much of a tongue-tingle. However, if you like that sort of thing, then there’s the option to add more spirits at your discretion.

High sugar ratio batter.

First, mix up the cake batter. It’s flavored with coconut milk and lime juice, which makes the end result totally delicious. Line the pans with parchment because these cakes have a high ratio of sugar, and they are prone to stick. Even with a generous coat of flour-based baking spray, they will cling. So, line those pans! Sugar promotes browning, so don’t be surprised if the top is brown halfway through bake time. This is normal. A deep brown crust gives the cakes structure for the next step in the recipe.

We’ve got spirit(s)!

After the cakes are baked, poke holes in them using a skewer and spread on the most decadent glaze. It’s made with plain yogurt, coconut milk, lime juice and zest, tequila, triple sec, and flake coconut. This gives the cakes an almost wet texture inside. The creaminess of the yogurt and coconut milk tempers any acidity, and just lets that beautiful lime flavor shine. After you mix up the glaze, give it a taste test. Dial up the alcohol content to your liking. Or, you can omit it completely for a alcohol-free cake. This cake will still taste amazing.

After one side of the cakes saturate, flip them over and repeat the process of poking holes and glazing.

Refrigerate the cakes until they are totally cooled and the glaze is set. You’ll have all kinds of coconut strands sticking to all sides of the cake, and that’s a good thing. I worried that it might make the cake difficult to frost, but everything went on pretty smoothly! This cake is frosted with lime buttercream tinted with Chefmaster neon green food color.

Apply a thick layer of buttercream.

Apply the buttercream a bit thicker than usual. I didn’t do a thin crumb coat, because I didn’t want to pull all of the coconut off the sides of the cake. You should have plenty of frosting to accommodate a nice thick layer all around. You can see the frosting technique in action in the video at the bottom of this blog post.

Ever notice how Swedish pearl sugar and margarita salt look alike? They do! This sugar really is the perfect garnish for this cake. It adds just a little more sweetness and crunch to the party. I love it.

Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake

Finishing touches.

Reserved white buttercream (also lime flavored) is piped on top in big triple swirls and topped with more Swedish pearl sugar, and some flake coconut.

Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake

These dried coconut chips are so beautiful with the small stripe of edible rind. I couldn’t stay out of them, and snacked on them as I applied the frosting. They make a striking garnish alongside some lime wheels on top of this cake.

Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake
Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake

If I must be picky (I am) I have one complaint. It’s that this cake doesn’t slice as neatly as some other cakes. The flake coconut adds so much flavor and texture, but it drags through the crumb a little (like most coconut cakes do). Therefore slices may look a little ragged. But that doesn’t really matter. The flavor and texture are what people will notice! I can’t wait to share it at our next warm weather potluck or BBQ.

Related recipe: Margarita Pie in Jars

Coconut-Lime Margarita Cake

Heather Baird
This cocktail-inspired cake tastes like a tropical vacation! The coconut-lime-tequila glaze gives this cake margarita flavor and a wet texture inside. Serve it at room temperature, or chilled on a hot day.
This recipe uses unsweet full fat canned coconut milk. One 13.5 oz. can will give you more than the 1 ¼ cups needed for the cake batter and glaze. Freshly squeezed limes are preferred for the lime juice in this recipe, but bottled lime juice can also be used. My batch of limes were extremely dry inside, so I had to resort to bottled juice. Use Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime juice, if you ca find it, or ReaLime which is widely available.
This recipe yields a little more than 6 cups of cake batter.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
2 hours resting time 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10

Equipment

  • Three six-inch round cake pans or two nine-inch cake pans
  • Bamboo skewer
  • Large sheet pan
  • large closed star piping tip
  • Piping bag

Ingredients
 
 

Cakes

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk unsweet canned

Coconut-lime margarita glaze

  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk unsweet canned
  • 1 cup unsweetened flake coconut
  • 3 tablespoons white tequila or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons triple sec or other orange liqueur or more to taste

Lime buttercream frosting

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Milk or cream to thin
  • Chefmaster neon green food color
  • 2/3 cup Swedish pearl sugar
  • 6 fresh lime wheels from one large lime
  • 1/4 cup Unsweet coconut chips

Instructions
 

For the cakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Grease three 6-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. see notes for 9-inch pans.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add lime juice and mix until combined.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the coconut milk. Begin and end with flour.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the pans, about 2 cups per pan. Smooth evenly into the pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. This cake has high sugar content and will brown quickly. Cover cakes with foil the last 15 minutes of baking if cakes begin to overbrown.
  • Let cakes cool in the pans 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks. Cool 10 more minutes. Cakes should still be slightly warm. Cover a large sheet pan with aluminum foil and transfer the cakes to the pan.

Glaze

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, coconut milk, flake coconut, tequila and triple sec. Whisk together until well combined, about 5 minutes. Taste-test the glaze and adjust the spirits to your liking.
  • Poke holes all over the surface of the cakes and spread on half of the glaze. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Flip cakes and poke holes in the other side; spread on the remaining glaze. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature, then cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until the cakes are completely cooled, about 1 hour.

Buttercream

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add the lime juice. Beat in milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture comes to spreading consistency. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, and almost white in color, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove 1 cup of the white frosting to a piping bag fitted with the large closed star tip. Set aside.
  • Tint the remaining frosting with the neon green food color. Add color a little at a time until a vibrant green hue is achieved.

Assembly

  • Place a cake layer on a serving plate or cake board. Cakes will have coconut sticking to all sides – just leave this on the cake. Top the cake layer with ¼ inch lime green frosting. Top with the second cake layer and top with another ¼ inch of lime green frosting. Top with the remaining cake and apply a thick layer of frosting to the outside and top of the cake. Smooth the frosting using a cake smoother or bench scraper.
  • Immediately after frosting, press Swedish pearl sugar onto the top edge of the cake. Scoop excess pearl sugar up and press against the bottom edge of the cake.
  • Using the reserved piping bag of white buttercream, pipe six large swirls on the top edge of the cake. Immediately sprinkle on more pearl sugar. Place a lime wheel between each buttercream swirl. Sprinkle coconut chips over the top of the cake to finish.
  • Serve cake at room temperature or chilled. Because of the cake’s wet texture, it’s great both ways!

Notes

What to expect: This cake is loaded with coconut lime flavor. It has a wet interior due to the glaze that saturates into the crumb. The glaze has a shot of tequila and triple sec, which adds margarita flavor without giving it an overly boozy note. Add more liquor to taste, if you prefer a more pronounced tequila flavor.
This cake has high sugar content, which means it will form a deep brown crust during baking. This is normal, and helps the cake hold together after being poked full of holes and drenched with glaze.
If using 9-inch round cake pans, decrease bake time to 28-30 minutes.
Liquors can be omitted for a non-alcoholic version and the cake will still be totally delicious!
This cake recipe is adapted from Doreen Howarth’s “Lime in the Coconut Cake” which won Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Cakes. You can find her original recipe right here
Keyword coconut chips, coconut milk, coconut-lime margarita glaze, key lime buttercream, key lime juice, tequila, triple sec
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Rebecca
Rebecca
1 day ago

5 stars
I made this over the weekend in 2 x 9″ pans (thanks for the guidance to adapt to this size). It was delicious and I got rave reviews!! Next time I’ll get the neon green coloring – regular green wasn’t getting the bright color I wanted. But the taste? Perfection!