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Pandan Coconut Butter Cake

A rich butter cake with bright green color from natural extract of pandan leaves and coconut milk. A slice of this will transport you to tropical islands!

The combination of pandan leaves and coconut milk immediately transports me back to Indonesia as I munch on this lovely pandan coconut butter cake accompanied by ice tea, jasmine of course, so I can pretend to have a wonderful tea time in the tropics.

The green color comes from pandan leaves, and before you ask, I have no idea what the equivalent would be if using pandan essence instead of 100% natural pandan extract from pandan leaves.

To ensure that your natural pandan extract looks as green as possible, try to use only the top part of pandan leaves where they are all green. But even if your cake doesn’t end up looking as green as you like, you still have the peace of mind that the coloring is all-natural instead of using green dye.

Ingredients to prepare pandan coconut butter cake.
Ingredients to prepare pandan coconut butter cake.

Make pandan extract from fresh/frozen pandan leaves

Whenever I prepare a pandan dessert, I make my own pandan extract from fresh/frozen pandan leaves. To achieve the green color for this cake, I use:

  • 50 gram pandan leaves, use the green part of the leaves only
  • 100 ml water

Simply cut the leaves into thin strips with a pair of scissors and blend them with water in a blender until the leaves are completely pulverized. Squeeze to obtain about 75 ml of pandan extract.

If your leaves don’t look very green, you may want to increase the amount up to 75 grams just to be sure that you will get a green cake.

Can I use store-bought pandan extract?

If you cannot find fresh/frozen pandan leaves and want to use store-bought pandan extract instead, use 1 teaspoon of store-bought pandan extract and add 75 ml of either water, milk, or coconut milk.

If you need a recommendation for a store-bought pandan extract, then all I will say is that most Indonesians use Koepoe-Koepoe pandan extract, but seriously, the real deal is simply so much better.

Personally, I would rather bake a regular butter cake instead of using store-bought extract.

Step-by-step guide to prepare pandan coconut butter cake batter: (1) Make pandan extract. (2) Prepare meringue batter and pandan egg yolk batter. (3) Fold meringue into pandan egg yolk batter. (4) Pour batter into a greased and lined 8 inch square pan.
Step-by-step guide to prepare pandan coconut butter cake batter: (1) Make pandan extract. (2) Prepare meringue batter and pandan egg yolk batter. (3) Fold meringue into pandan egg yolk batter. (4) Pour batter into a greased and lined 8 inch square pan.

Prepare the batter

Once my pandan extract is ready, I usually do the following:

  1. Grease and line my 8-inch square cake pan. You can use either a 2" tall pan or a 3" tall pan. Be sure that your parchment paper overhangs the pan so you can easily grab the extra paper to remove the cake later on.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius (320 Fahrenheit).
  3. Boil a pot of hot water to fill a baking tray for steam bake (bain-marie).

Once everything is done, it is time to prepare the cake batter:

  1. Meringue batter: Whisk egg whites until foamy, then add vinegar or cream of tartar and whisk until pale, then gradually add sugar and continue whisking until medium peak. Set this aside.
  2. Egg yolk batter: Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale, then add melted butter, coconut cream, and pandan extract. Beat until well mixed. Sift in cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat on lower speed just until well mixed.
  3. Fold the meringue into egg yolk batter in 3 batches. Use either a balloon whisk or a spatula for this.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap to remove air bubbles.
Wait until the cake is completely cooled before cutting into serving slices.
Wait until the cake is completely cooled before cutting into serving slices.

Baking the butter cake with a water bath method

For a super smooth cake, I usually bake the cake with a bain-marie method or a water bath method. Here is what I do:

  1. Position one oven rack at the bottom and one oven rack in the middle.
  2. Place a baking tray at the bottom and filled the tray with hot water.
  3. Place the cake pan at the middle rack.
  4. Bake until the cake is fully cooked and the top is golden brown. This usually takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and gently remove the cake by grabbing the overhanging parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once the cake is completely cool, slice it into 9 to 16 squares. I usually do 16 squares since a butter cake can be quite rich. I hope you will love this cake as much as I do. :)

Pandan coconut butter cake.
Pandan coconut butter cake.

Other pandan recipes you may want to try

If you love pandan, whether the color, or the flavor, or both, you may want to give my other pandan recipes a try:

And again, if you love a good butter cake and you don’t have pandan leaves, please give my Mrs. Ng old fashioned butter cake recipe a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed. :)

Pandan Coconut Butter Cake

5.0 from 31 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson



Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 16

Print Recipe


  • Pandan extract
  • 50-75 gram fresh/frozen pandan leaves, use the top green parts only
  • 100 ml (6 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) water
  • Cake
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or 1 teaspoon vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup (100 gram) sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (100 gram) sugar
  • 2 sticks/8 oz/230 gram unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (~ 90 gram) coconut cream
  • 250 gram (~ 2 cup) cake flour (*)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Pandan extract
    1. Use sharp scissors, cut the leaves into thin strips, the thinner the better, about 1/16" if possible.
    2. Place pandan leaves and water in a blender. Puree until the leaves are completely pulverized. Strain and squeeze to get pandan extract. Use 75 ml (5 tablespoon) of the extract. (You should get only slightly more than this amount).
  • Cake
    1. Preheat oven to 320 Fahrenheit (160 Celcius). Boil a pot of water. Grease and line an 8" x 8" square pan with parchment paper, set aside.
    2. Meringue: Whisk egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar/vinegar, whisk until pale with very small bubbles. Increase speed, continue whisking while gradually add 100 gram of sugar until stiff peak. Set aside.
    3. Egg yolk batter: Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add melted butter, coconut cream, and pandan extract. Beat to mix. Sift in cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat on low speed just until combined.
    4. Fold in meringue into the egg yolk batter with a spatula/balloon whisk in 3 batches. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
    5. Position one oven rack at the bottom and place a baking tray filled with hot water.
    6. Position another oven rack in the middle, and place the cake pan. Bake in the preheated oven until a cake tester comes out clean, the cake is fully cooked, and the top is golden brown, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
    7. Remove cake from the pan and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into small slices to serve.


  • (*)2 cups cake flour = 1.75 cup (210 gram) all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch. Sieve together the all-purpose flour and cornstarch together for 2-3 times so the two flours are evenly distributed.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Atika Atika says:

    Hi Mbak Anita, I hope you are well. I live in Oxford at the moment and very grateful that I had crossed path with you and your blog. I have never cook before in Indonesia but now I can enjoy nasi uduk, nasi kuning and mie ayam (I even made the wonton myself! :')) along with their friends because of this blog. Thank you! :* I also had tried this delicious pandan coconut butter cake recipe for a few times, however the inside cake are always a bit wet and dense compared to the outer layer which looks dry and airy. Is it because I did not use the same size pan as described above or due to the pandan paste which is not dry enough (I use the pandan paste recipe) or is it because the sugar and butter are not white and fluffy enough? Or a bit wet and dense inside is the goal that I should reach? I would be grateful if you could share some advice regarding this recipe. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best wishes, Tika

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Tika, the biggest suspect is probably the different size pan. You should be able to get the same result if you use a 9-inch round cake pan, using the exact same recipe, cooking for the exact same time. As for the texture, it should be similar to American pound cake, or Asian butter cake, so yes the cake is quite dense, but it shouldn't be wet. If your baking powder is indeed still okay and has not expired, then the only other culprit is probably too much liquid. Could it be you are using coconut milk and not coconut cream?

  • Anjali @ The Picky Eater Anjali @ The Picky Eater says:

    This recipe was so much fun to make and turned out absolutely delicious! I didn't even know what pandan leaves were before I found this recipe, but I loved how it gave the batter such a natural green color without food coloring!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Indeed. It may be a bit of work to get that natural pandan extract, but the effort is so worth it. The cake is super fragrant and that lovely green color is so pleasing to the eyes. :)

  • Calleigh F Calleigh F says:

    I love the addition of pandan, for me its flavor is wholly unique and indescribable. This makes the butter cake irresistible due to the pandan leaf scent.

    • Anita Anita says:

      You describe it to a T, Calleigh. It is indeed so hard to describe how it smells and tastes to those who have never tried anything with pandan before. But seriously, for anyone who loves cooking and eating good food, you need to try using pandan at least once. :)

  • Beth Beth says:

    This looks incredibly good! I have never had anything with pandan leaves before but this makes me want to run right out and find it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sadia Malik Sadia Malik says:

    I love the green color, have never tried pandan so wonder what the taste is like.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Sadia, if you are familiar with Indian dishes, you probably already know what pandan is. The flavor should be exactly that of kewra. In Indonesia and many other Southeast Asian countries, on top of the fragrance, we usually also make pandan extract like this from pandan leaves to color our desserts. :)

  • Whitney Whitney says:

    Can't wait to try this pandan recipe. It is unique and looks beautiful yet simple. Love the flavors!

  • Dannii Dannii says:

    I absolutely love anything with coconut in it.

  • Adrianne Adrianne says:

    This is such an original and unique recipe, I love it!! The cake looks soft and fluffy, love the thorough recipe information. Cheers!

  • Erica Schwarz Erica Schwarz says:

    This looks wonderful! I'll be making this for my next work potluck, I work with adventurous eaters they'll love to try something new.

  • Clarissa Clarissa says:

    Is there a substitute for cake flour? If I don’t have it. Thank you

    • Anita Anita says:

      Clarissa, instead of 2 cups of cake flour, you can try 1.75 cup (210 gram) all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch. Please whisk the all-purpose flour and cornstarch together really well, possibly 2-3 times, so they are well mixed.

  • Irina Irina says:

    I have never tried any pandan recipe, but would like to try this cake. I am impressed with its greenish color. I believe that I saw a pandan paste in a store. Is it possible to use it making the cake?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Irina, you can definitely use store-bought pandan paste. Try using 1 teaspoon of store-bought pandan paste and add 75 ml of either water, milk, or coconut milk instead of the 75 ml homemade pandan extract. :)

  • Jessica Jessica says:

    We made this cake for dessert last night and it was incredible! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!


    This Coconut Butter Cake looks so fluffy and moist! OMG!

  • Katie Katie says:

    My family would love this! Can't wait to try it.

  • Renee | The Good Hearted Woman Renee | The Good Hearted Woman says:

    This looks like such a tasty cake! I've never cooked with pandan, but now you have me curious! Thanks you!

  • Andrea Metlika Andrea Metlika says:

    The cake looks very moist and love the color. I like the idea of biting into something an getting the feeling of being in the tropics.

  • Gynn Gynn says:

    Does it mean liquid is 75ml Pandan extract + 90ml Coconut cream?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Gynn, the 75 ml pandan extract is correct. The coconut cream is 1/2 cup by volume or 90 gram by weight, and not 90 ml by volume. :)

  • SaSyad SaSyad says:

    Hi Anita.. thank you for sharing tbe recipe.. my mom love pandan cake very much so i want to make it for her bday. however today i made two times .. but the inside is still wet. Altough i already follow the step by step.. can you help me is there any tips and trick for making this cake? Thank you

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi SaSyad, if it is only the center of the cake that is still wet, it usually indicates that the cake hasn't been fully baked/cooked. The only remedy is to bake the cake longer, perhaps another 5-10 minutes.

      Before removing a cake from your oven, it is best to stick a skewer/toothpick right at the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with no wet batter clinging to the skewer/toothpick, then the cake is done, otherwise, bake for another 5 minutes and check again. Repeat if necessary until the center of the cake if fully baked.

      If this has happened repeatedly, it is very likely that your oven temperature is actually lower than stated, and to be sure, you will need to calibrate it with an oven temperature.

  • Vicky Vicky says:

    Looking forward to trying this coconut dessert. Coconut just seems like such a great spring and summer flavor.

  • Annissa Annissa says:

    I've never used Pandan in a recipe. Looks like it's wonderful! Definitely a must-try recipe.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    This is a delicious dessert that is simple to make. The coconut definitely brings out the sweetness.

  • Krissy Allori Krissy Allori says:

    Oh wow, this cake looks amazing. I've never had anything like it. I can just imagine how moist and delicious it must be.

  • Anne Anne says:

    Hi Anita, is it possible to use self-raising flour as a substitute and omit baking powder?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Anne, I haven't personally tried so I can't guarantee it will work. The typical substitution is 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. This recipe uses 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. If we use self-rising flour, we end up with too much baking powder, which may lead to a slightly bitter cake, and also risking the cake rising too tall and collapsing.

      That said, some recipes are more tolerant, and the substitution should work in general. But jut know that I haven't personally give this recipe a try so I can't say that it will definitely work. :)

      • Anne Anne says:

        I managed to get some all-purpose flour and baked it today! My cake turned out slightly moist in the center, but that gave it a lovely, velvety texture. The flavour is on point too! Love it! Would probably cut down on the sugar next time round. A tad sweet for me :P Thanks for sharing this unique recipe!

  • Pui Zhen Pui Zhen says:

    What if i dont have cream of tartar ?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Pui Zhen, you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon vinegar. Regular white vinegar or Japanese/Chinese rice vinegar are both fine. Or you can also substitute with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

  • Monesh Monesh says:

    Hi Anita , i haven't baked in ages and now with the lockdown and plenty of time indoors decided to try your recipe. The cake turned out GREAT! my family loved it and my dad told me to bake it on a monthly basis!haha. I forgot the vinegar during the meringue process and was worried i am doomed, but somehow the cake came out well. Will be baking it again this weekend! cheers and thank you for the recipe!
    Monesh -Malaysia

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Monesh, thanks for giving the recipe a try. I'm super happy it was a huge success and your family love the cake! :) In general, meringue without cream of tartar/vinegar is not going to be disastrous when it is intended to be folded into the cake batter like this cake. But when use as meringue in cakes/pies such as a lemon meringue pie, the one without cream of tartar/vinegar is prone to losing its shape and becomes weepy.

  • Donna Tay tay Donna Tay tay says:

    can i use self raising flour? my oven is single layer so i am unable to place water in it. will it affect the result? lastly, if i leave the cake in baking tray without removing it to cool. will it turned out differently?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Donna, usually 1 cup self raising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1.5 teaspoon baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt. Since there is only 1.25 teaspoon baking powder in this recipe, it will be impossible to substitute the flour with self raising flour without ending up with too much baking powder.

      If you want to skip the water bath, you can bake the cake without it. Bake at 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

      Whenever you cool a cake completely in its pan, there is a chance the cake's edges will become soggy. You also risk the chance of the cake sticking to the pan when you try to remove it from its pan when it's completely cool.

  • Joyce Joyce says:

    Hi Anita, Can I use coconut milk instead of coconut cream?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Joyce, coconut milk will make the batter too wet. If you start with a can of coconut milk, you can try letting it stand overnight, then open the can the next day and use a spoon to carefully scoop out the cream that should have floated to the top. That should be thick enough to be used as coconut cream if you don't have a can of coconut cream at home.

  • Jenny Jenny says:

    Do you have any recipe on lemon butter cake?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Jenny, you can use my Mrs. Ng butter cake recipe, but do the following for the lemon butter cake version. Replace 1/4 cup milk with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Replace 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with zest of 1 lemon. If you have lemon extract or lemon oil, you can add that too. I will use 1 teaspoon of lemon extract or 1/8 teaspoon of lemon oil. For the baking time and method, you can follow this recipe if you want a water bath method, or follow Mrs. Ng baking method for the one without using water bath. Both methods should work out fine. :)

  • Grace Chong Grace Chong says:

    May I know if i can replace coconut cream with milk? how many grams for milk? And my cake is wet at the bottom. May I know why?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Grace, please don't use coconut milk or the cake will be too wet. If you start with a can of coconut milk, you can try letting it stand overnight, then open the can the next day and use a spoon to carefully scoop out the cream that should have floated to the top. That should be thick enough to be used as coconut cream if you don't have a can of coconut cream at home.

      There are several possible reasons why the bottom of a cake can be wet/soggy. First, make sure to preheat the oven before baking the cake. Second, make sure the temperature is indeed correct, you can confirm this with an oven thermometer. Third, the cake hasn't been completely cooked. Always double check by inserting a skewer/toothpick/cake tester to the center of the cake, continue baking for another 5-10 minutes if there is still wet batter clinging to it. Also, please refrain from opening the oven door since it will reduce the oven temperature and the given baking time will no longer be accurate. Finally, it is possible that everything is done right but you let the cake cool in its pan for too long. Always cool the cake for no more than 10 minutes in its pan, then gently run a thin blade along the pan's edges and remove the cake from the pan. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

  • JJ JJ says:

    Do you know what the bake time would be if I used a Bundt pan? Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi JJ, sorry I haven't tried baking this in a Bundt pan before. Looking at various pound cake and butter cake recipes out there, I tend to believe both the baking time and the temperature should be the same. If you decide to give it a go, please share your result. :)

  • Grace Grace says:

    this is my 2nd time bake this cake, it was delicious and no more wet. but this time its a bit oily at the based. Would it be the butter too soft? I have reduced the coconut cream by 75 grams only. Its a cream type. Thanks.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Grace, the butter too soft would be my first guess too.

  • Sally Lim Sally Lim says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe. Easy and so yummy.

  • Syarifa Syarifa says:

    Hi Anita, is cake flour the same as bread flour? Thank you!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Syarifa, they are not the same. Cake flour has a low protein content, while bread flour has a high protein content. If you have all-purpose flour, you can make your own cake flour with this formula:
      1 cup cake flour = (1 cup - 2 tablespoon) all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoon cornstarch
      120 gram cake flour = 105 gram all-purpose flour + 15 gram cornstarch

  • Syarifa Syarifa says:

    Hi Anita, this cake came out really well!! Do you think I can use muffin pan for this? Thanks, Syarifa

    • Anita Anita says:

      Yay! I'm glad to hear that. :) If you use a standard size muffin pan, the batter should make exactly 12 muffins. You won't need to use a water bath method to bake the muffins. Use normal method to bake the muffins with 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celcius) temperature for about 25-30 minutes. But make sure to check for doneness as you would a normal cake. So, a toothpick should come out clean when inserted at the center of the muffin, it will have golden brown hue, and your kitchen should smell heavenly.

  • Kris Kris says:

    Hi Anita, may I know which type of coconut cream do you use? And will there be a weird smell of coconut the next day? (Because i once use coconut cream for pandan chiffon and there is a strong oily smell after I use coconut cream.)

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Kris, I usually use either Chaokoh or Aroy-D brand which I can easily get from my local Asian market. I haven't tried with other brands so I am not sure how they will perform.

  • aida aida says:

    Made this cake for the second time today, hopefully it will turn out as good as the first one :D

  • Lany Susanto Lany Susanto says:

  • Cheow J-Lynn Cheow J-Lynn says:

    Hi can i bake this recipe without the water bath method?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Cheow, yes, you can follow my regular butter cake recipe. Bake the cake at 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. :)

  • Anna Yap Anna Yap says:

    Hello Anita, I made pandan coconut butter cake for the 1st time today. The cake turned out so moist and delicious. Tq so much for sharing all your tips and your recipe. I have never been able to make nice moist cakes in the past 30 years. Again Tq and God Bless you ❤️

  • ML Neo ML Neo says:

    Hi Anita,

    (1). Do you bake in an oven with both top and bottom heating elements?
    (2). Can I use a 8-inch ROUND baking tin instead of the 8-inch square baking tin?
    (3). How does it affect the cake texture if bake in bain-marie method as compared to baking without water-bathe?
    (4). Can Mrs. Ng butter cake be baked in bain-marie method, using both top and bottom heating elements?

    Many thanks in advance for your advice.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Neo, (1) I only bake with the bottom heating element; (2) You can, but make sure it has a 3-inch depth or it will overflow, and you may need about 10-15 minutes longer baking time; (3) Using bain-marie, the top part of the cake has a more success chance to be smooth and free of cracks, but texture is almost the same; (4) Yes, but again only using bottom heating element.

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