Pandan Coconut Chiffon Cupcakes

These dairy free cupcakes taste so light and fluffy! Enjoy the exotic flavors. The pandan and coconut pair perfectly with each other. These cupcakes are so soft it will be like biting into a cloud!

Photo by Allison of

Cupcakes got their name from how they were originally prepared. Before muffin tins were invented cupcakes were baked in individual “cups” like ramekins, molds, or pottery cups. The first written description of cake made in a cup was in the 1796 cookbook American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. Cupcakes were described as “a light cake to bake in small cups”. The first written documentation of the term “cupcake” was featured in 1828 in a cookbook by Eliza Leslie.

Chiffon cake is an airy cake. The secret to the light texture of the cake is to beat the egg whites separately from the egg yolks. Chiffon cake was invented by a Los Angeles insurance agent named Harry Baker. He came up with the cake in 1927. The cake was fluffy, light and more tender than an angel food cake. It became very famous in Hollywood. Baker would sell it at parties for the stars. He also made cakes for the Brown Derby restaurant. He kept his cake recipe a secret for 20 years until he finally agreed to sell the recipe to General Mills.

When I was little, my parents would take my brother and me to Vietnamese bakeries on the weekends. One of my favorite desserts was their green Swiss roll cake. I would see the light green cakes in the bakery display and my mouth would water. The texture was so soft, airy, and fluffy. I later learned that the green cakes were flavored with pandan.

Pandan is a tropical plant that grows in Southeast Asia. It is similar to a palm and has bright green leaves that are slender, long, and spikey. The leaves are used to flavor many types of Southeast Asian foods. It can be used to flavor sweet and savory dishes. It is subtly aromatic and usually gives foods a green tint.

I got the idea to make chiffon cake with pandan flavor because I wanted the taste of my favorite Pandan Swiss Roll cake without the work. As much as I love Swiss Roll cakes, I am not good at making them. (Once I start rolling them it just turns into a disaster). I decided to stick with my strengths; making cupcakes and beating egg whites. Pandan is such a subtle flavor, a traditional vanilla based cake would be too dense and not let the pandan shine. Then I thought a coconut chiffon cake base would be light in texture and the coconut would enhance, not compete, with the pandan.

The chiffon cupcakes were a success! I brought them to a party and they were a hit. Even my friends that do not like desserts thought the subtle flavors of the pandan cake were delectable and just sweet enough. I hope that you and your friends like these cupcakes as well! Please enjoy!

Pandan Coconut Chiffon Cupcakes Recipe

Dairy Free

Yields 12-18 cupcakes

Specialty Tools: Electric Stand Mixer or Electric Hand Mixer and a sieve

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 18 to 20 minutes

Inactive Time: 2 hours

Drink Pairing Suggestion: Tea


3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, separated

1 cup full-fat coconut milk, shaken or well stirred

1 teaspoon pandan extract

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Topping: Powdered Sugar


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a standard size muffin tin with paper liners, set aside.

In a small bowl, add the egg whites. Beat with electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on your machine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add sugar and egg yolks. Whisk with a mixer until foamy, about one minute.

Pour coconut milk, pandan extract, butter, and salt into the large bowl. Mix until emulsified, two to three minutes.

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter in the large bowl.

Hold sieve over the large bowl. Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the sieve. Shake and make sure all the dry ingredients are fine. Mix until everything is well incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Using a standard ice cream scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin tin. This will ensure all the cupcakes are the same size.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove cupcakes from the tin and cool on a cooling rack.

Cool completely before decorating, about two hours.

Dust powdered sugar onto the top of the cupcakes for extra sweetness!

These cupcakes will taste wonderful after a dinner of Lemongrass Pork Chops (Thit Heo Nuong Xa) or Hue Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)!

Room temperature eggs and butter are best for baking.

Pandan extract can typically be found at Asian grocery stores.

Want other cupcake recipes? Try my recipes for Coconut Lime Cupcakes, Lemon Blackberry Cupcakes or Carrot Cake Cupcakes!


Tag @culinary_cupcake when you upload your photo on Instagram and hashtag #culinary_cupcake


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