Hawaiian Cake is an incredible dessert! This moist and flavorful layer cake with graham cracker crumbs, coconut, pecans, and pineapple buttercream frosting is perfect for a potluck, birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter holiday dessert.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Table of Contents
What Makes This Hawaiian Cake So Unique?
This is a fascinating recipe for a type of cake that you don’t see much of these days. Don’t confuse this Hawaiian Cake with other cakes that have “Hawaiian” in their names.
Those recipes tend to use yellow cake mix for their cake batter, but this primarily uses graham cracker crumbs. Although graham cracker-based cakes are no longer popular, they were once relatively common, especially before cake mixes were widely available.
Give this Hawaiian Cake recipe a try, not just because it is something different, but because it is so tasty.
What Makes This Recipe The Best Graham Cracker Crumb Cake
Although you can find recipes for several graham cracker crumb cakes floating around online, this decades-old family recipe includes tropical ingredients that don’t appear in other versions.
The pineapple frosting adds much-needed acidity that helps balance sweetness, while the flaked coconut provides a good texture. A Hawaiian pineapple coconut cake is ideal for a family gathering or to impress holiday guests with something they probably never had before.
Ingredients For Hawaiian Pineapple Cake
To make the graham cracker cake base, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- White sugar
- Graham crackers
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- All-purpose flour – to prepare the pan
- Pecans, chopped
- Coconut, flaked
If you can’t find flaked coconut, you can use shredded coconut instead.
To make the frosting for the graham cracker layer cake, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- Crushed pineapple, canned
How To Make This Hawaiian Cake Recipe
To bake the graham cracker cake base:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Take the butter from the fridge and let it come up to room temperature.
- Place 5 or 6 graham crackers at a time into a plastic bag and crush them into small crumbs. You can use a rolling pin, meat tenderizer, or the bottom of a heavy glass measuring cup. Repeat as needed.
- Grease the interior of the three 8-inch cake pans with butter. Sprinkle a light dusting of sifted all-purpose flour on the inside of the pans to help prevent the cake from sticking.
- Add the rest of the softened butter and sugar to the large bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. If your stand mixer has a paddle attachment with an incorporated silicone scraper, use it. Otherwise, you will need to stop the mixer from time to time to scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula.
- Mix the butter and sugar on MEDIUM speed for about 30 seconds and then slowly ramp up the speed of the mixer to HIGH.
- Continue to cream the butter until it is airy and light in color.
- Reduce the speed of the mixer to MEDIUM. Add the eggs one at a time to the bowl with the mixer running.
- Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
- Reduce the mixer to LOW. In stages, alternate between adding the milk and graham cracker mixture to the bowl of the mixer.
- Add the crushed pecans and coconuts to the batter and mix until evenly distributed.
- Split the cake batter between the three cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. To check whether the cake is ready, stick a toothpick in the middle of each cake. You can remove the cake when the toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans until you can handle them without burning your hands; about 8 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and let them cool to room temperature.
To prepare the pineapple frosting:
- Drain the crushed pineapple.
- Add the butter and powdered sugar to a clean stand mixer bowl,
- Mix with a paddle attachment on MEDIUM and then slowly increase the speed to HIGH until the butter mixture is light and airy.
- Reduce the mixer speed to MEDIUM and add the drained crushed pineapple. Mix well.
To assemble the cake:
- If you have time, wrap the room-temperature cakes in plastic and stick them in the fridge for an hour or two to make trimming easier. If you don’t have the time, it’s okay.
- Carefully cut off any dome that formed on the top of your cakes with a serrated knife. Try to keep the thickness of the cakes as even as possible.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of each trimmed cake and stack.
- Spread another thin layer on the sides. Pop the cake in the fridge for about ten minutes to allow the crumb layer to set and protect the cake from tearing when applying the thicker final layer of frosting.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and cover the top of the cake with a thick, even layer of frosting.
- Garnish with extra flaked coconut, if desired. Slice and serve.
What You Can Serve With This Graham Cracker Layer Cake
Serve with coffee, tea, or a cold glass of milk. A nice glass of dark rum wouldn’t be out of place, either.
How To Store a Hawaiian Pineapple Coconut Cake
Hawaiian pineapple cake will last for up to five days in the fridge. Lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap or store it inside a cake saver.
The butter-based frosting does not freeze well. You can bake the cake layers in advance and keep them in the freezer. Be sure to let them cool completely then wrap them with a layer of plastic wrap then aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter or in the fridge and prepare the frosting while it is thawing.
Favorite Cake Recipes
- Angel Food Cake with Crushed Pineapple
- Banana Split Cake
- Fruit Cocktail Cake
- Lemon Cream Cake
- Mandarin Cake
- Peach Dump Cake
- Pig Pickin Cake
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Strawberry Poke Cake
- Zucchini Cake
Source Neighbor. Independence, MO. 1969.
- 8 ounces butter
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 14 ounces graham cracker crumbs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 8 ounces flaked coconut
- 8 ounces butter
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
- 20 ounces canned crushed pineapple well drained
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
- Cream together the butter, eggs, and sugar. Then add the milk and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and baking powder, and mix well.
- Add the graham cracker mixture to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
- Fold the pecans and coconut into the batter.
- Divide the batter equally into the three prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Combine the frosting ingredients in bowl and beat until well mixed.
- Frost the cake