This homemade coconut cream pie recipe is a coconut lover’s dream come true. From a graham cracker and toasted coconut crust to a creamy coconut custard pie filling and a whipped cream topping, this pie is classic, timeless, and sensational. 

Photo of coconut cream pie, taken from the side, with a slice removed from the pie plate.

In a world where there are new food trends every time you turn the page on the calendar (or log onto Instagram), sometimes it’s easy to forget about or brush off the old-fashioned classics that our grandmas were making long before the Internet existed.

Cooked and baked from scratch, passed down from generation to generation, made without a fancy mixer, and always revered as something special; they are the recipes that I enjoy making the most.

When I think of classic desserts, coconut cream pie is one of the first that comes to mind.

Get your forks ready for a slice of this decadent Coconut Cream Pie. The combination of the coconut-packed graham cracker crust, creamy coconut filling, and light, airy rum whipped cream will have you licking your plate clean!

Why You Are Going to Love This Pie

If you are unfamiliar with coconut cream pies, let me introduce you to their wonderfully light decadence!

Variations to coconut cream pie range from the type of crust used to how the filling gets baked. These are the three components of the pie, and why this particular one will be your favorite yet!

  1. Crust — Some recipes use a flaky pastry crust, but I opt instead for a graham cracker crust. A slight variation from my best graham cracker crust recipe, this amazing crust also contains toasted shredded coconut to give every component of this divine pie a dose of coconut.
  2. Coconut Custard Filling — This is the difference between a coconut cream pie and a coconut custard pie. A cream pie cooks the custard filling on the stove and sets it in the fridge. A coconut custard pie, on the other hand, bakes the custard filling in the oven. This recipe features a silky coconut cream filling that packs in an abundance of coconut flavor thanks to using coconut milk and shredded coconut. 
  3. Whipped Topping – Would it be a coconut cream pie if it weren’t topped with whipped cream?? This rum-spiked whipped topping takes the pie to another level (you can easily omit the rum if you’d like).

Key Ingredients Breakdown

While this pie utilizes some pantry staples, there are a few special ingredients that combine to create this amazing pie (make sure to check the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and quantities):

Ingredients for coconut cream pie prepped and labeled.
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut – This is different than what you usually find in the baking aisle (sweetened shredded coconut). I have typically found unsweetened coconut in the natural foods section of the grocery store, and you can also buy it online.
  • Graham Crackers – You can use 9 full graham crackers (the rectangular sheet) or use 5 ounces of purchased graham cracker crumbs.
  • Coconut Milk – NOT cream of coconut. This is found in the Asian section of the grocery store (or purchased online); make sure you stir it well. 
  • Whole Milk – Using whole milk creates a thick and creamy custard; I do not recommend substituting lower fat alternatives or the filling may not thicken correctly.
  • Dark Rum – This adds a little spike to the whipped cream, but it can be completely omitted or substituted with your favorite type of rum or liqeuor.

How to Make Coconut Cream Pie

Let’s break down the steps for making this coconut pie recipe into three different parts – the crust, the creamy coconut pudding filling, and the whipped cream topping.

Since the custard filling cooks on the stove and sets in the fridge, it’s important to bake the pie crust before filling it with the creamy coconut center.

Step 1: Make the Graham Cracker Crust – Pulse the graham crackers and toasted coconut together in a food processor. In a bowl, combine the mixture with sugar, then toss with melted butter until evenly moistened. Press the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie plate and bake until golden brown, then cool while making the filling.

Three photos side by side: ingredients for pie crust, toasted coconut on a baking sheet, and graham crackers and coconut in bowl of food processor.
Graham cracker crumbs and coconut being mixed with sugar and melted butter, then pressed into a pie plate.

Step 2: Make the Coconut Cream Pie Filling – Simmer the coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, ⅓ cup of the sugar, and salt until sugar dissolves. Whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar, temper the yolks, then whisk them into the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick and large bubbles pop on the surface. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Pour into the cooled crust, press plastic wrap against the surface, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Two photos: saucepan with milk, coconut milk, coconut, sugar, and salt; second bowl has whisked egg yolks.
Side by side photos: Tempering egg yolks and stirring coconut pastry cream in a saucepan.
Pouring coconut cream pie filling into prepared graham cracker crust.

Step 3: Make the Whipped Cream Topping – Beat the cream and sugar with an electric mixer to soft peaks, then add the rum and vanilla and beat to stiff peaks. Spread over the chilled pie filling. Sprinkle with the reserved toasted coconut and serve.

Making rum-spiked homemade whipped cream.

Coconut Cream Pie Topping Ideas

If you are not into rum-spiked whipped cream, try a few different toppings:

  • Plain Whipped Cream: Omit the rum and make a regular homemade whipped cream.
  • Whipped Topping: Use store-bought whipped topping (i.e. Cool Whip) to save time.
  • Coconut Whipped Topping: Try a whipped topping made of coconut, like So Delicious Coco-whip, for an extra dose of coconut.
  • Meringue: Use a meringue topping instead of a whipped cream-based topping.
  • Coconut FlakesInstead of garnishing with reserved toasted coconut, toast up extra-large coconut flakes and use those instead.

Can You Make Coconut Cream Pie Ahead of Time?

Yes! This pie needs to chill in order to set properly, it’s a perfect recipe to make ahead of time.

If you want to make this pie in advance, you can prep until you have put the filling in the crust. Then, press the plastic wrap directly on the filling and refrigerate for up to 3 days. 

I would not add the whipped cream topping until less than a day before serving, as it will weep a bit.

Overhead photo of coconut cream pie in a glass pie plate, garnished with toasted coconut.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Storing Leftover Pie: Store the finished pie in the refrigerator for up to 1 day covered with plastic wrap.
  • Freezing instructions: To freeze coconut cream pie, allow the filling to set in the refrigerator for 3 hours with plastic wrap directly covering the filling and then cover with an extra layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil before moving to the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thawing Instructions: Thaw the pie in the refrigerator overnight, then top it with whipped cream and serve.

FAQ and Recipe Notes

  • Recommended Equipment: 9-inch Pie Plate / Food Processor
  • How to Toast the Coconut: Spread the 5 tablespoons of coconut needed for the crust in an even layer on a small baking sheet and toast at 325 degrees F until golden brown (about 9 minutes), stirring every couple of minutes. Set aside to cool and reserve 1 tablespoon for garnishing the finished pie.
  • Crust Alternative: If you’d like to use a pastry crust, use my favorite pie dough recipe, and follow directions for how to blind bake pie crust (you want it to be fully baked), then proceed with the filling and topping.
  • Leftover Egg Whites: This recipe uses just egg yolks; you can save the whites for an omelet or try any of the following recipes – Angel Food CakePavlova, or Meringue Cookies.
  • Why does the custard get watery? When making the custard, it can sometimes be tricky to find the right balance between a nice firm filling and a filling that never quite sets. The biggest culprit when it comes to a runny filling is not letting the cornstarch get going when cooking the filling. You want it to become thick and bubbly before tempering the egg yolks. If it doesn’t get to this point, the filling won’t set and firm up correctly.
Slice of coconut cream pie on a speckled plate with a fork.

More Delicious Coconut Recipes:

And More Cream and Custard Pies!

If you make this coconut cream pie and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

A square picture of fresh coconut pie in a glass pie plate showing the layers of graham cracker crust, coconut filling, and a whipped topping with toasted shredded coconut.

Homemade Coconut Cream Pie

A true coconut-lover’s dream pie with a graham cracker and toasted coconut crust, to a creamy coconut filling and a rum-spiked whipped cream topping.

For the Crust:

  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 9 (5 ounces) graham crackers, broken into rough pieces
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 14 ounce (396.89 ml) coconut milk, well stirred , not cream of coconut
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • ½ cup (27 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • cup (132 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup (28 g) cornstarch
  • teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Whipped Cream Topping:

  • cups (360 ml) heavy cream, chilled
  • tablespoons (1.5 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread the 5 tablespoons of coconut in a small baking pan and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 9 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. When cool enough to handle, reserve 1 tablespoon for garnishing the finished pie.

  • Pulse the graham crackers and the remaining 4 tablespoons toasted coconut in a food processor until the crackers are broken down into coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Process the mixture to evenly fine crumbs, about 12 seconds more. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and stir in the sugar to combine; add the melted butter and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Empty the crumb mixture into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides, forming a crust. Bake the crust until deep golden brown and fragrant, about 22 minutes. Cool the crust on a wire rack while making the filling.

  • Make the Filling: Bring the coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture reaches a simmer, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl to break them up, then whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch until well combined and no lumps remain. Gradually whisk the simmering liquid into the yolk mixture to temper it, then return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the vanilla and butter. Pour the filling into the cooled crust, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate until the filling is cold and firm, at least 3 hours.

  • Make the Whipped Cream Topping: When ready to serve, beat the cream and sugar in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed to soft peaks; add the rum and vanilla. Continue to beat to barely stiff peaks. Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the chilled filling. Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon toasted coconut over the whipped cream and serve. Cover any leftovers with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

  • Coconut Milk: Be sure to stir it well before using, and ensure you are using coconut milk, NOT cream of coconut.
  • Shredded Coconut: Unsweetened coconut can be purchased in most grocery store baking aisles or online; you can substitute sweetened shredded coconut, but you may want to reduce the sugar in the filling to compensate.
  • Rum: You can omit the rum entirely from the whipped cream to make a regular homemade whipped cream. You may also substitute Cool Whip or coconut whipped topping, So Delicious Coco-whip, for the topping.
  • Storage: Store the finished pie in the refrigerator for up to 1 day covered with plastic wrap.
  • Make-Ahead: The pie can be assembled up to pouring the filling in the pie crust. Press the plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate for up to 3 days before topping and serving.
  • Freezing Instructions: To freeze coconut cream pie, allow the filling to set in the refrigerator for 3 hours with plastic wrap directly covering the filling and then cover with an extra layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil before moving to the freezer. Use within 3 months.
  • Thawing directions: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before topping with whipped cream and serving.
  • Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated

Nutritional values are based on one serving.

Calories: 430kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 170mg, Sodium: 174mg, Potassium: 137mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 939IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 75mg, Iron: 1mg

Photography by Dee Frances

This recipe was originally published in June 2012.


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