Italian Cream Cake – The Cookie Rookie®

This made-from-scratch Italian cream cake is all kinds of indulgent! Simple to make, this sheet cake is perfectly moist and sweet and every bite is truly delicious!

close up side view of Italian cream cake cut into slices.

What’s in this Italian Cream Cake Recipe?

This Italian cream cake is sweet and rich and it’s so simple to make from scratch. Topped with a cream cheese and pecan frosting, it’s perfect to serve at any occasion.

  • Eggs: We’ll be separating the yolks from the whites of 5 large eggs for this recipe. The yolks will help produce a tender cake, while the whipped egg whites will help the cake to remain light and airy.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter adds flavor and fat to the cake and helps create a tender crumb. We also use butter in the frosting to give it structure.
  • Shortening: Vegetable shortening (like Crisco) melts more slowly than butter, allowing the cake to rise higher in the oven.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the cake, while powdered sugar sweetens the frosting without making it gritty.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour forms the base of this cake, giving it structure.
  • Salt: Kosher salt enhances the vanilla and coconut flavors in the cake.
  • Baking Soda: Helps the cake to rise.
  • Buttermilk: Gives the cake a tangy flavor and helps create a moist crumb.
  • Vanilla Extract: Gives the cake a rich vanilla flavor.
  • Coconut Extract: Adds a strong coconut flavor.
  • Pecans: Add texture and a nutty flavor to the cake and the frosting.
  • Coconut: Sweetened shredded coconut adds texture and a rich coconut flavor to the cake.
  • Cream of Coconut: Adds a rich coconut flavor to the frosting without making it too wet.
  • Sour Cream: Adds a tangy flavor and velvety texture to the frosting.
  • Cream Cheese: Adds a tangy flavor to the frosting while also giving it structure.

Pro Tip: For even more coconut flavor, add some sweetened shredded coconut to the frosting too!

Italian Lemon Cream Cake

Another popular Italian cake is lemon cream cake. While the traditional version of that cake is quite a bit different, you can easily adapt this recipe to make a close approximation. First, swap the coconut extract for lemon extract. Leave out the nuts and shredded coconut both the cake and the frosting. Leave the cream of coconut out of the frosting, and add ⅓ cup sour cream instead of ¼ cup. Finally, to add even more lemon flavor, swipe a layer of lemon curd over top of the cake before frosting it.

overhead view of frosted Italian cream cake.
Is Italian cream cake from Italy?

Surprisingly, this cake is not Italian. It is widely believed to have been developed in the Southern United States!

What flavor is this cake?

This Italian cream cake is flavored with coconut and vanilla. The coconut works so well with the pecans and cream cheese frosting.

Should Italian cream cake be refrigerated?

Yes! Since this cake has cream cheese frosting, it needs to be refrigerated. I do not recommend leaving this cake out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.

How many calories in a slice of Italian cream cake?

There are 593 calories in one slice of this cake. This amount may vary depending on the ingredients you chose.

Can you freeze Italian cream cake?

Yes! I prefer to freeze this cake without the frosting, but you can freeze it fully frosted if you prefer. It will keep well tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months.

overhead view of a cut Italian cream cake with the slices askew and one slice in the top right corner on a small plate with a fork.

How to Store Italian Cream Cheese Cake

Once cooled and frosted, this Italian cream cake can be refrigerated (covered) up to 3 days, although it is best eaten within 24 hours.

How to Freeze Coconut Pecan Cake

If you want to increase the shelf life of the cake it can be frozen with or without frosting, though I find it easier to freeze it without.

Freeze Italian cream cake whole or cut into individual slices tightly wrapped in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of aluminum foil for up to 3 months. Let thaw at room temperature if unfrosted or in the refrigerator overnight if frosted before serving.

What to Serve with Easy Italian Cream Cake

This Italian cream cake is the perfect Easter dessert! Serve it alongside a dessert display of lemon meringue pie, carrot cake cupcakes, coconut fudge, pound cake, and/or macaroons. Sip on a sherbet mimosa or a coffee spiked with Irish cream while you enjoy this creamy, indulgent cake.

close up overhead view of a slice of Italian cream cake on a white plate with a fork.

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