This old-fashioned Coconut Cream Pie recipe is the stuff dreams are made of. With a deliciously buttery and flaky pie crust, it's filled with creamy homemade custard and topped with lots of fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut! It's heaven for coconut lovers.
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I have a lot of favorite pie recipes, so if I'm making a cream pie, it's usually a tough decision to make between banana cream pie and this coconut cream pie. It's not a big deal if they are both on the dessert table because I can have small pieces of each! However, if I'm only making one flavor, deciding which to make is nearly impossible. They are both so delicious!
This is the best coconut cream pie I have ever tried and it's an easy recipe too! I made this particular pie for our annual Pi Day party this year and it was a hit. Even Paul likes this pie, and coconut isn't even his thing! He will typically opt for chocolate cream or banana pudding instead, but this time he went back for a second slice of coconut cream, and that's definitely saying something.
At some point, I got it in my head that coconut cream pie is associated with Easter, although I really don't know why. Maybe the fluffy white whipped cream and coconut flakes on top of the custard filling remind me of fluffy bunny tails! Obviously, we love pie around here, and I look for any excuse to make it. Other than coconut cream pie, another of our favorite pie recipes for Easter is this blueberry sour cream custard pie. With a creamy blueberry filling on top of a buttery flaky crust, it's topped with a pecan streusel crumble topping, and is utterly divine!
If you love pies for dessert, be sure to check out all my other pie recipes! Making your own pie crust from scratch is easier than you think, and I can show you how to make a pie crust in my post here, a detailed article complete with a video tutorial to go with it as well!
Why We Love This Recipe
- It is an easy coconut cream pie recipe even though everything can be made from scratch!
- It's a great recipe to make ahead. Make it up to 2 days in advance with the whipping cream topping added just before serving.
- Customize your coconut cream filling and the coconut toppings by adjusting the amount of coconut used, or by using regular milk instead of coconut milk.
- Great for pot lucks or a special occasion, this pie is a crowd pleaser!
What is a Cream Pie?
A cream pie is a pudding or custard-filled pie with sweetened whipped cream on top. I strongly prefer homemade, completely from scratch cream pies over ones made with a packet of instant pudding, which is easy, but never as rich and scrumptious, in my opinion.
The pudding or custard is usually made from milk, cream, sugar, flour or cornstarch for thickening, and eggs.
There are many flavors of cream pies, but these are some of the most popular ones:
- peanut butter
In the case of this coconut cream pie, we are amping up the coconut flavor by replacing some of the cream and milk typically called for in a cream pie recipe with coconut milk instead. You could make this pie without coconut milk and it would still taste good, it would just have a milder coconut flavor.
Also, while I usually use whole milk for coconut cream pies, you can use half-and-half for a richer pie, or even use 2% milk instead of whole milk and still get good results.
What You'll Need
- Heavy Cream - Use cartons that say "heavy cream" or "heavy whipping cream" as you need the rich thickness of these types to make the right consistency of whipped cream for this pie.
- Pie Crust - You can use a store-bought crust if you don't have time to make one yourself, but my homemade pie crust recipe is super easy - it's definitely worth a go!
- Vanilla - Pure Vanilla Extract gives the coconut filling a warm and slightly sweet flavor.
- Sugar - Granulated sugar is good for the pie filling to sweeten it up. You could also use a sweetener to make it refined-sugar free but still have great flavor.
- Cornstarch - This acts as a binding agent for the pie filling.
- Salt - You'll only need a pinch. It enhances the flavors of the pie throughout.
- Coconut Milk - Use the canned coconut milk that is meant for cooking and shake it well before using. It's usually found in the Thai food section of a grocery store.
- Whole Milk - I have found whole milk works better for me than other types, especially when mixed with heavy cream, but you can use half-and-half or 2% if you prefer.
- Sweetened Coconut - Sweetened shredded coconut is tender and sweet and can be found in your local supermarket. Use it straight from the packet for the filling, and toast some for a slightly crunchy topping.
- Egg Yolks - These thicken the pie filling along with the cornstarch.
- Butter - Softened butter is best for this recipe.
- Powdered Sugar - Use powdered sugar, or confectioner's sugar, for the whipped cream to ensure it is smooth, fluffy, and sweet!
How to Make Coconut Cream Pie
- Prepare your pie crust. I always prefer a homemade crust. This is the best pie crust recipe with all my best tips on how to make pie crust, including how to blind-bake a crust. I know that a lot of people are intimidated by pie crusts. You could use a pre-made store-bought crust, or even a graham cracker crust if pastry crust isn't your thing.
- Whisk ingredients. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the coconut milk, whole milk, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to thicken, then cook for another 2-3 minutes while stirring frequently. You may prefer to do this in a double boiler to avoid scorching the custard. Personally, I have never had a problem with scorching, so just do it in my regular saucepan on the stovetop.
- Whisk egg yolks. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl.
- Add hot milk to the eggs. When the milk mixture is hot and thickened, pour 1 cup of it into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. This gently heats the eggs without scrambling them.
- Pour egg mixture back into pan. Pour the hot egg mixture back into the pan with the hot milk mixture. Cook and stir for another 2 minutes until thick.
- Add butter, vanilla, and shredded coconut. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and vanilla. Add the shredded coconut and stir to combine.
- Assemble the pie. Pour the coconut cream pie filling into the prepared pie crust, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 6 hours, until set.
- Make whipped cream. As the pie is chilling, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a cold bowl. Beat with an electric mixer or stand mixer using the whisk attachment until stiff peaks start to form. Take care not to over beat it though, or you run the risk of turning the whipped cream into butter!
- Add toppings and serve. When the pie is completely chilled, add sweetened fresh whipped cream to the top of the pie. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top and serve. (I like to go heavy with the toasted coconut, even though there is already coconut in the pie filling itself, but you can do less if you like.)
How to Toast Coconut
The easiest and best way to toast coconut is to spread it on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 12-15 minutes at 325 degrees F, stirring frequently, until toasted.
The main difference is that the filling in a custard pie is cooked by baking it, whereas the custard in a cream pie is cooked on the hob and chilled to set.
Cover the pie with plastic wrap, or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You can freeze this pie, but you'll have to freeze it after adding the custard base, without the whipped cream and toppings. Wrap the pie tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and on the counter at room temperature for 1 hour before topping with whipped cream and toppings.
Substitutions and Variations
- You can use whole milk instead of coconut milk if you want a milder coconut flavor.
- Use sweetened or unsweetened coconut milk depending on your preference.
- Add a teaspoon of coconut extract to the filling if you want a more intense coconut flavor.
- Use shredded coconut or coconut flakes for the topping, and toasting them is optional.
More Recipes for Coconut Lovers
- Fluffy Toasted Coconut Pancakes
- Coconut Syrup
- Coconut Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
- Coconut Lime Glazed Banana Bread
- Thai Coconut Mango Sticky Rice
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Coconut Cream Pie
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 14 ounces coconut milk
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ¾ cup sweetened coconut
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 Tablespoons salted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut toasted, for topping
- In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the coconut milk and whole milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken and bubble. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl.
- When the milk mixture is hot and thickened, pour 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. This gently heats them without scrambling the eggs.
- Pour the hot egg mixture back into the pan with the hot milk mixture. Cook and stir another 2 minutes until thick.
- Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and vanilla. Add the shredded coconut and stir to combine.
- Pour the coconut cream pie filling into the prepared pie crust, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 6 hours, until set.
- Meanwhile, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a cold bowl. Beat with an electric mixer or stand mixer using the whisk attachment until stiff peaks start to form. Take care not to overbeat though or you run the risk of turning the whipped cream into butter.
- When the pie is completely chilled, top with the sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut. I like to go heavy with the toasted coconut, even though there is already coconut in the pie filling itself, but you can do less if you like.
- How to toast coconut: To toast coconut, spread coconut in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, toasted.
- Make-Ahead: The pie can be made a day or two in advance but not topped with the whipped cream until shortly before serving.
- Storage: Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Keep in mind that the crust will soften a bit each day.
This post was originally published in April, 2019. The photos and content were updated in September, 2022.