Whip up a heavenly dessert with this simple Coconut Cream Pie recipe. Creamy, rich, and oh-so-tasty, it’s the perfect ending to any meal.
Welcome, pie lovers! Get ready to be transported to a tropical paradise with every bite of this flavorful Coconut Cream Pie. Rich, creamy, and packed with an amplified coconut flavor, this pie will have you dreaming of sandy beaches and swaying palm trees. Whether you’re an experienced baker or a beginner, this recipe will guide you through the process with detailed steps, tips, and ingredient notes, promising a successful pie every time.
This delightful recipe is adorned with fluffy whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. But it certainly welcomes your personal touch. Whether you prefer the simplicity of the pie served plain or want to add a swirl of meringue for an extra dose of luxury, the choice is yours to suit your personal taste. While we love using our homemade pie crust, opting for a pre-made one simplifies the process, making this recipe an excellent choice for those eager novice bakers out there!!
Why This Recipe Works
- Using cream of coconut instead of traditional coconut milk offers a richer, more intense coconut flavor that truly stands out.
- Salted butter seasons the filling just right – balancing the sweetness and enhancing the coconut flavor.
- Vanilla enhances the sweetness and adds depth of flavor to the filling
- Unsweetened shredded coconut in the filling balances the sweetness from the cream of coconut, offering a perfect harmony of flavors.
- The topping on our pie is no simple whipped cream. It’s a stabilized whipped cream that stands the test of time and won’t flatten like regular whipped cream.
Pie Crust: Opt for a 9-inch all-butter pie crust for the best flavor. You can also see our homemade pie crust if you want to make your own. or a graham cracker crust can also be used for a crunchy, sweet base.
Egg Yolks: Use large, fresh egg yolks. These will help thicken the custard and give it a rich taste. In a pinch, powdered egg yolks can be used.
Cornstarch: This is the thickening agent for your custard. You can substitute it with an equal amount of arrowroot powder if needed.
Cream of Coconut: This ingredient, which is thicker and sweeter than coconut milk, lends the most authentic coconut flavor. If you can’t find it, use full-fat canned coconut milk and increase the sugar to compensate for the lost sweetness.
Half and Half: This adds creaminess to the custard. If it’s unavailable, a mix of 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream can be used as a substitute.
Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is the sweetener of choice here. You can use coconut sugar for a deeper flavor profile, but it will darken the color of the pie.
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut: This adds texture and intensifies the coconut flavor. If you can only find sweetened shredded coconut, reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.
Butter: Use salted butter for a hint of savory to balance the sweetness. If you only have unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the recipe.
Vanilla Bean Paste: This offers a more intense vanilla flavor and tiny vanilla specks throughout the custard. Vanilla extract can be used as an alternative.
Heavy Cream, Powdered Sugar, Vanilla, Skimmed Milk Powder: These are for the stabilized whipped cream topping. The skimmed milk powder helps the whipped cream hold its shape longer. If you can’t find it, you could also use cream of tartar or a small amount of unflavored gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream.
Cream of Coconut vs. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk and Cream of coconut and are both coconut-derived products, but they differ significantly in terms of their preparation, consistency, sweetness, and use in cooking.
Cream of Coconut: Cream of Coconut: Think of it as a coconut-flavored dessert syrup. It’s made from coconut and lots of sugar, making it sweet and thick. Because it’s so sweet and creamy, we mostly use it for desserts or sweet drinks, like our Coconut Cream Pie or fancy tropical cocktails.
Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is like coconut water but creamier and richer. To make it, you soak the white part of the coconut (called the flesh) in hot water, then strain it. The result is a milky liquid that isn’t very sweet. We use coconut milk in many different dishes – from sweet to savory, like curry or soup.
When substituting one for the other, keep these differences in mind. Using coconut milk instead of cream of coconut in a recipe like Coconut Cream Pie would result in a less sweet and richer pie, and you may need to adjust the amount of sugar and possibly use additional thickening agents.
Step By Step Instructions
Preparing The Pie Base
Start by preheating your oven to 425°F/220°C. Grab your pre-made pie crust dough and line a 9-inch pie pan with the dough.
For a sweet Crust, you can make homemade graham cracker crust or buy it premade.
Prick the bottom and sides with a fork; if you have them, it’s helpful to use baking beads when blind baking your dough.
Baking beads, also known as pie weights, are used during the process of blind baking, which is pre-baking the crust before adding the filling. The weights ensure the crust maintains its shape and doesn’t puff up, shrink, or form air pockets while baking.
When you’re making a pie with a liquid filling, like a custard or pumpkin pie, blind baking is a crucial step. It prevents the crust from becoming soggy once the filling is added.
If you don’t have baking beads or pie weights, you can substitute other baking-safe items like dry rice, lentils, or dried beans. These items conduct heat well and are heavy enough to weigh down the crust, achieving a similar effect.
Cover the dough with baking paper to use baking beads or pie weights. Then, pour the baking beads evenly onto the parchment paper, ensuring they spread out to cover the entire bottom, and press against the sides of the crust.
Pop the crust into the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Once done, set it aside to cool.
Preparing The Filling
Add 4 yolks, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) of salt, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to a mixing bowl.
Whisk them together until you have a smooth and glossy mixture that’s free of any lumps.
Mix 14 oz of cream of coconut and 3/4 cup half and half in a saucepan. Slowly bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. You want it to start forming bubbles around the pan’s edge.
Begin tempering the eggs by slowly pouring about a quarter of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to ensure the yolks don’t curdle. Once that’s combined, slowly whisk in the rest of the hot liquid.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and comes to a low boil. Continue to cook for 1 minute.
To ensure your custard is smooth and free of lumps, run it through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl.
Stir in 3 tablespoons of butter, 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract, and 1 cup of unsweetened flaked coconut.
If you like a sweeter filling, you can use sweetened coconut. I recommend tasting the custard and going from there.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust, cover it with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the filling (to avoid skin forming on the surface). Leave it to cool for at least 30 minutes or until set.
For the Whipped Cream Topping
Combine 2½ cups of whipping cream, ¼ cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon skimmed milk powder (if using) in a mixer or food processor. Whip until it thickens. Check often!
For detailed instructions on how to make the topping, see our post for Stabilized Whipped Cream.
Assembling The Pie
Cover the pie with the whipped cream. This can be done with a piping bag or just spread in a decorative fashion.
For an extra thick layer of whipped cream, double the topping recipe.
Then sprinkle with the toasted coconut over the whipped cream.
Chill the pie in the fridge uncovered until ready to serve.
- Pie Crust: Whether using a store-bought or homemade pie crust, always prick the bottom with a fork. This process, known as ‘docking,’ helps to prevent the crust from puffing up while baking.
- Egg Yolks: When separating the egg yolks from the whites, ensure that no whites get into the yolks. The water can disrupt the fats in the yolk of the egg white, which can affect the texture of your filling.
- Tempering Eggs: When combining hot and cold ingredients (like the hot coconut cream and cold egg yolks), it’s crucial to temper the eggs to prevent them from curdling. Gradually add a small amount of the hot liquid to the egg yolks while continuously whisking before incorporating the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.
- Cooking the Filling: Once the filling begins to bubble, it can quickly get thick and could potentially cause burns if not handled carefully. Be attentive and stir continuously to keep the mixture from burning or sticking to the pan.
- Stabilized Whipped Cream: Skimmed milk powder is the key to stabilized whipped cream. It stabilizes and helps the whipped cream hold its shape longer. Beat the cream until it forms soft peaks – lift your beaters or whisk straight up: the whipped cream will form soft mounds rather than a sharp peak.
- Chilling the Pie: Allow the pie to cool at room temperature before refrigerating. Rapid cooling in the refrigerator can lead to condensation, which can make the pie soggy.
- Cutting the Pie: When it’s time to cut the pie, use a sharp knife and make clean cuts. Wipe the knife clean between each cut to keep the slices neat.
- Taste as You Go: This universal cooking rule applies here too. When making your filling, taste it before pouring it into the crust. If it needs more sugar or a pinch of salt, add it!
- Patience is Key: Lastly, baking is a science. It requires patience and attention to detail. Don’t rush the process; you’ll be rewarded with a perfect pie!
Storage & Freezing Instructions
Store the pie in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
For freezing, wrap the pie securely in plastic wrap and foil, and freeze for up to one month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
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Let’s Make Coconut Cream Pie
- 1 pie crust all butter pie crust or pre-baked graham cracker crust
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (aka cornflour)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 14 oz cream of coconut
- ¾ cup half and half or ½ cup milk & a ¼ cup whipping cream
- 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Topping:
- 2½ cups whipping cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon skimmed milk powder optional
- Toasted coconut for garnish
- Preheat your oven and line your pie pan with the pie crust dough. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Cover the dough with baking paper and pour baking beads onto the parchment paper. Bake until golden brown and set aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cornstarch until smooth and glossy.
- In a saucepan, mix the cream of coconut and half and half. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
- Temper the eggs by slowly pouring about a quarter of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Then, slowly whisk in the rest of the hot liquid.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and comes to a low boil. Continue to cook for a short while.
- Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl.
- Stir in the butter, vanilla extract, and unsweetened flaked coconut.
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the filling. Leave it to cool until set.
For the whipped cream topping
- Combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and skimmed milk powder (if using) in a mixer or food processor. Whip until it thickens.
- Spread the whipped cream over the pie and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
- Chill the pie uncovered up to a few hours or serve immediately. Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator.
Tips + Notes
- For a sweet Crust, you can make homemade graham cracker crust or buy it premade.
- Baking Beads Alternative: If you don’t have baking beads or pie weights, dry rice, lentils, or dried beans can be used as a substitute. These items conduct heat well and are heavy enough to weigh down the crust, ensuring it maintains its shape while baking.
- Tempering Eggs: Be careful while tempering the eggs. Pouring hot liquid directly into the eggs could cook them and create lumps in your custard. The key is to do this step slowly and whisk constantly to ensure a smooth consistency.
- Sieve Your Custard: Running your custard through a sieve might seem like an extra, unnecessary step, but it’s crucial for a silky, lump-free filling. It catches any bits of cooked egg or undissolved cornstarch that might be lurking in your custard.
- Coconut Options: You can control the sweetness of your pie by choosing either sweetened or unsweetened coconut for your filling. If you prefer a less sweet pie, go for unsweetened. But if you like it sweeter, use the sweetened variety. Taste and adjust according to your preference.
- Chill Time: Don’t rush the chilling time for this pie. It allows the custard to be fully set, making slicing the pie much easier.
- Storing Leftovers: Cover the pie tightly before storing it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. This will help prevent the pie from absorbing odors from other items in your fridge.
- Whipping Cream: When making the whipped cream topping, be careful not to overbeat the cream, as it can quickly turn into butter. Stop when you see stiff peaks form. If you’re unsure, it’s better to under-whip than overwhip.
- Pie Crust: Whether homemade or store-bought, ensure your pie crust is well chilled before baking. This will help it hold its shape better during baking.
Update Notes: This recipe was originally posted in 2015 but was republished with new content, photos, tips, and an updated recipe in 2023.