This coconut cream pie is made entirely from scratch and worth the effort. A thick coconut cream filling in a graham cracker crust, topped with fluffy whipped cream and toasted coconut. Tons of coconut flavor and the perfect creamy texture.
Homemade Coconut Cream Pie
I first made this easy coconut cream pie for my dad’s birthday, who loves coconut.
It is made in three parts – the crust, the filling, and the topping.
Each layer is made from scratch but you could take a shortcut and use a premade graham cracker crust or cool whip for the topping, if you’re short on time.
The components are simple but you do need to allow enough time for the filling to set up (about 3 hours), so make sure to plan for that!
Why you’ll love this Coconut Cream Pie recipe
Easy recipe – It’s a great recipe for beginner pie makers because even though it is made from scratch, it’s an easy old-fashioned recipe.
Tons of flavor – This pie will make coconut lovers very happy.
Simple ingredients – The creamy coconut custard filling, homemade pie crust, and whipped cream is made with easy-to-find ingredients.
Equipment you’ll need
- Mixing Bowls – you’ll need a large bowl & medium bowl. I like to use glass bowls lately, they’re microwave & dishwasher safe.
- 9-inch Pie Plate – there are so many pretty ones or just stick with basic glass.
- Food Processor – I use a mini food processor and it works just fine.
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.
For the Homemade Crust
- Shredded Coconut – You’ll want unsweetened shredded coconut. Coconut flakes will also work but flakes are larger so the texture will be different.
- Graham Crackers – Plain graham crackers, broken into pieces.
- Sugar – Granulated white sugar.
- Butter – I like to use salted to balance the sweet.
For the Creamy Coconut Filling
- Canned Coconut Milk – Coconut milk is made from pureeing the pulp of a coconut, not the same as coconut water (the liquid inside a coconut). It is white and opaque and also used in savory dishes like butter chicken.
- Milk – Use whole milk here, you need the higher fat content to add to the creamy filling.
- Shredded Coconut – More unsweetened shredded coconut. Sweetened can also be used if that’s what you prefer (or all you can find).
- Sugar – Granulated white sugar.
- Salt – For balance.
- Egg Yolks – Paired with the cornstarch, egg yolks work to thicken the pie filling.
- Vanilla – Try to use a vanilla extract that isn’t imitation, the flavor makes a difference!
- Butter – A bit of unsalted butter adds richness to the filling.
For the Whipped Cream Topping
- Heavy Cream – Sometimes called whipping cream, heavy cream has a high fat content. For the best results, start with it cold, don’t let it sit out while you’re prepping other things.
- Sugar – Again, granulated white sugar.
- Rum – If you don’t have rum you can sub brandy, or extra vanilla extract.
- Vanilla – Again, a high quality vanilla extract will give the best flavor. I pick it up in bulk from Sam’s or Costco or you can make your own.
How to make the best Coconut Cream Pie
STEP ONE: Toast the Coconut
First, toast the coconut in a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often.
Once fragrant & light brown, remove from the heat and reserve a tablespoon for garnishing the finished pie.
STEP TWO: Make the Pie Crust
Next, use a food processor to crush the graham crackers with the toasted coconut into fine crumbs.
Pour them into a medium bowl and stir in the sugar and then melted butter with a fork until evenly moistened.
Use a glass to press the mixture evenly into a 9″ pie pan and bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until golden.
STEP THREE: Make the Filling
Add the coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of sugar, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar (don’t let it boil).
Separately, to a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, rest of the sugar, and corn starch until smooth.
Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper it then pour it back into the saucepan and bring it back to a simmer over medium heat until the mixture is thickened (it should be pudding-like).
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.
Pour the mixture into the baked pie crust, cover with a piece of plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until firm (approximately 3 hours).
STEP FOUR: Make the Whipped Cream
To a chilled bowl, beat the cream and sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form and then add in the rum and vanilla and continue beating until barely stiff peaks form.
Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie and sprinkle with the reserved toasted coconut.
You can slice & serve immediately or place the pie back in the fridge for a bit to really come together.
Tips & Suggestions 🥥
- For the best results, place a mixing bowl into the freezer at least an hour before making the whipped cream – don’t start with a room temperature bowl and cream. Cold is best!
- If you’re short on time and want to use cool whip instead of homemade whipped cream, you could certainly do that.
- If you’d rather use pie dough for a flaky pie crust instead of graham cracker, you could use your favorite recipe (or store bought).
- Want even stronger coconut flavor? Add a splash of coconut extract to the filling.
How to store Coconut Cream Pie
Should coconut cream pie be refrigerated?
Yes, store leftover pie covered in the refrigerator. Otherwise it can get melty, plus it is dairy & needs to be refrigerated.
How long with coconut cream pie last in the fridge?
Up to 5 days.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze this pie but I recommend freezing it before adding the whipped cream topping, if possible.
Once the filling and crust are completely cooled, wrap them tightly and freeze up to 3 months.
When ready to serve, move it to the fridge overnight to thaw and then top with whipped cream and serve.
What is coconut milk?
Coconut milk comes in a can and is unsweetened. Make sure you shake it or stir it before using because it can separate a bit.
At the grocery store, it is generally found in the Asian/Thai aisle.
Not to be confused with a carton of coconut milk, or coconut water, you want the canned coconut milk.
Here is a review of the best coconut milks, if you’re interested in learning more.
What is the difference between coconut custard and coconut cream pie?
Coconut custard pie thickens in the oven.
Coconut cream pie is similar in that you do make a custard, but it is made on the stovetop and chilled until set, you don’t bake it.
Why is my coconut cream pie filling runny?
If you have a runny custard, you likely didn’t cook it long enough. It should thicken while you’re simmering it. It should be a pudding-like consistency.
Can I make it ahead of time?
Sure can, it’s actually best to make it a day or two ahead of time since it needs time to set up.
More favorite pie recipes
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More ways to use coconut
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Originally published June 18, 2012