If you've been bookmarking my recipes (which I hope you have) but haven't had the time to make one yet, then drop everything, preheat your oven to 350, and make this Paleo Coconut Coffee Cake! It's rich. It's toasty. It demands to be eaten with a fork and a hot beverage. And it's probably the best recipe I've come up with so far. All you need is paleo-friendly cake mix (I used Simple Mills), coconut yogurt, and a few healthy ingredients you've likely got hanging out in your pantry. So grab the goods and let's get cooking!

The key to this confection's crumbly, coffee cake texture: coconut yogurt. Normally, I wouldn't think of baking with it: coconut yogurt is pricey, and therefore a precious commodity in our house. But I had a big jar of Living Culture Superfoods in my fridge that had somehow gone uneaten and was nearing its expiration date so rather than let it go to waste, I decided to make a Paleo version of a sour cream coffee cake.**** 


I think I'd be remiss if I did't acknowledge that almost every ingredient in this recipe --  from the aforementioned coconut yogurt to coconut sugar -- comes from the coconut palm. This enabled me to keep the recipe gluten-free, dairy-free, and lower on the glycemic index than if I'd used refined sugar and dairy. It also packs a yummy punch of plant-based fat, and makes for a rich, deep coconut flavor. That said, coconut isn't without controversy.

The growing international popularity of coconut products has prompted farmers to deforest vast areas of tropical forest to plant the new cash crop. So when I shop for coconut products, I always look for sustainably grown, fair trade foods. If I can't find them or if that version is out of budget, then I sub for another ingredient. In this case, you can try subbing 1/2c superfine almond flour for coconut, cashew milk instead of coconut, ghee instead of coconut oil, and brown sugar for coconut sugar. What you'll sacrifice in flavor you'll make up for in karma.

Secondly, there's the whole "coconuts are bad for you" flap that was reopened last year. Personally, I believe in everything in moderation. Coconut oil is high in HDL - aka "good" - cholesterol and also MCT's, which have been linked to benefits including brain health. On the flipside, last year's study that condemned coconut oil as bad for your heart was based on sound scientific methodology. So as much as I wish I could tell you the study is flawed because it funded by coconut oil 's competitors (in this case the canola and walnut oil industries), the bottom line is that it's always possible to have too much of a good thing.  So I enjoy coconut oil in certain baked goods, and coconut fat in the tablespoon or so of coconut yogurt which I eat daily. Apparently, Harvard backs my approach so I feel pretty confident in it.

And now that I'm through with all the sciency stuff, here's the recipe!

Yield: 10


prep time: 10 minscook time: 65 minstotal time: 75 mins

This decadent coffee cake is so rich and velvety that it will have you reaching for a second slice before you've finished your first -- and all without gluten or dairy. The best part: its cake mix base (I used Simple Mills) means it comes together much more quickly than traditional coffee cakes.


  • 1 box Paleo-Friendly Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 1/2 c coconut sugar
  • 1 1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2/3 c coconut yogurt
  • 3/4 c canned coconut milk, well stirred
  • 1/4 c liquid coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch loaf pan.
  2. Beat the eggs, coconut milk, oil, and vanilla in an electric mixer on medium for 1 minute.
  3. Add lemon zest and mix for another 30 seconds.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the coconut sugar, flour, cake mix, and 3/4c shredded coconut in a mixing bowl and stir until coconut is evenly distributed.
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet in increments, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula periodically.
  6. Add the coconut yogurt and stir gently until it dissolves into the mix.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and top with the remaining 1/2c shredded coconut.
  8. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Set the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely before removing. The best way to release the cake is to slowly run a butter knife around the edges, then clap a plate on top of the pan and flip briskly. The cake should fall right out onto the plate. Slice and enjoy!


****If, like me, you normally wouldn’t dream of putting $10 of yogurt into a single loaf pan, strained, whole milk yogurt like Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr works just fine. Siggi’s even has a coconut-flavored skyr made with 2% milk that would likely be delicious with this, although I haven’t personally tried it in this recipe. But please let me know if you do!
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