Coconut Cream Pie

I feel like there are so many traditional, old-fashioned desserts that are getting the brush-off lately in favor of things like brownie/Oreo/chocolate chip bars, colossal-size Reese’s Pieces cookies, and margarita cupcakes. I’m as guilty as anyone. Throw some type of new, cockamamy peanut butter and chocolate combination my way and I won’t rest until it’s made and promptly eaten. I often forget about the myriad of amazing desserts that our grandmas were making long before there were food blogs, foodies, food trucks, and food trends. Back then, there was just food and of course, desserts. Cooked and baked from scratch, passed down from generation to generation, made without a fancy mixer, and revered as something special whenever it graced the table. I’m planning on spending some time this summer dedicated to resurrecting some of these classic desserts and started with the coconut cream pie. From a graham cracker and toasted coconut crust, to a creamy coconut filling and a rum-spiked whipped cream topping, this pie is classic, timeless and sensational.

This recipe calls for unsweetened shredded coconut, which is different than what you usually find in the baking aisle – sweetened shredded coconut. I have previously found unsweetened coconut in the natural foods section of the grocery store, and you can buy it online from a variety of places, including King Arthur Flour (one of my favorite places to buy ingredients). If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you might also try the bulk foods section of Giant Eagle Market District, which is where I stumbled upon some this past weekend. It’s perfect because you only need to scoop out as much as you need, if you think you won’t use it in other recipes. Love the bulk foods section, so many goodies!

If you’re unable to find unsweetened coconut you can substitute the standard sweetened shredded coconut, just know that the finished product will be more on the sweet side than the recipe intended.

Once the pie was served, eaten, the dishes cleared and no one was watching, I had no shame in eating the last piece straight from the pie plate. I’m more than confident that grandma would approve!

What are some of your favorite old-school, traditional desserts?

One year ago: Top 10 List: Favorite Bar Dessert Recipes
Two years ago: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
Three years ago: Sweet and Sour Chicken
Four years ago: Pesto Pasta and Chicken

Coconut Cream Pie

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 4 hours

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes


For the Crust:
5 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
9 graham crackers (about 5 ounces), broken into rough pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk, well stirred (not cream of coconut)
1 cup whole milk
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Whipped Cream Topping:
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons dark rum
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

(Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)


70 Responses to “Coconut Cream Pie”

  1. joy on June 13, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I have always loved coconut cream pie. Yours look wonder.


  2. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on June 13, 2012 at 1:09 am

    I was just saying the other day how much I love and appreciate the old-time desserts that our grandmother’s used to make. They are always the most delicious…


  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks on June 13, 2012 at 1:14 am

    That filling looks so good! Like a bed of clouds and fluffy goodness!


  4. cynthia on June 13, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Your coconut cream looks wonderful and well old fashion. I love it and I love making all those old classics. Two of my favorite pies are Lemon meringue and Banana cream.


  5. Cupcake Crazy Gem on June 13, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Drool at my screen! Coconut Cream Pie has to be one of THE best desserts ever, yes I love Oreos and the like but I would always pick this classic dessert any day over all the new trendy ones coming through! I am literally coconut obsessed,when I see in google reader that a blog post has coconut in the title I can’t help but squeal with delight!! Yours looks so yummy!


  6. Mireia on June 13, 2012 at 6:22 am

    WOW! Amazing!!


  7. Katrina on June 13, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Mmmm pure deliciousness!


  8. Penny Wolf on June 13, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Old school involves Crisco in our family. But a graham cracker crust reminds me of frozen pies from the grocery. It was a treat to get one of those pies since my Mom made most everything from scratch.


  9. Lori on June 13, 2012 at 7:27 am

    This recipe is a keeper. I made the Cooks Illustrated recipe for my dad’s 86th birthday. He said it was the best he ever had. I couldn’t find the unsweetened coconut so used the sweetened and reduced the sugar just a bit. It worked out just fine. How am I ever going to join WW with you posting such incredible recipes to tempt me? lol


  10. idabaker on June 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

    If I serve this at the next family gathering, it would be gone in a minute.

    Hey, that means I won’t get any.

    Nope, not going there. 🙂


  11. shelly (cookies and cups) on June 13, 2012 at 8:10 am

    My husband LOVES coconut cream pie! I will have to make this Sunday for him 🙂


  12. The Doll Baker on June 13, 2012 at 8:41 am

    OHHHHH! Coconut cream pie is my absolute favorite. This looks so yummy! I am currently trying to lose a few pounds so I will have to save this one for a special occassion. ♥


  13. Carol on June 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Funny you should be resurrecting some classic recipes… I have been meaning to give my mom’s lemon meringue pie a whirl. It used to be one of my favorites when I was a kid.


  14. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on June 13, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I love coconut cream pie!! Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t like coconut. . .


  15. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven on June 13, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Ooooh — definitely one of my old school favorites! Along with key lime, of course. 🙂


  16. Maria on June 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    One of my favorite kinds of pie! I need a slice now!


  17. Nomi on June 13, 2012 at 9:51 am

    You can usually find unsweetened coconut at Trader Joe’s (there is at least one in Pittsburgh – on Penn where it meets Shady). Whole Foods also carries it.


  18. Melissa @ Treats With a Twist on June 13, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Yup this is definitely my favorite kind of pie! And I always hunt down unsweetened coconut…it’s totally worth it.

    (PS I think you didn’t mean to write to “brown” the graham crackers into pieces?)


    • Michelle on June 14th, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Thanks for the catch! I made the edit!


  19. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Pepper on June 13, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Oh my gosh! This looks amazing!!!!!


  20. Rebekah on June 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

    This makes me sad because my grandma died when I was very young and I have no recipes passed on to me. I need to hit my mom up and see if she has any that I don’t know about. This looks so amazing!


  21. Jen of My Tiny Oven on June 13, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Oh Wow!! Coconut Cream is one of my Dad’s all time favourites. I think I will have to try your version for Father’s Day! YUM YUM!!


  22. Nancy on June 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Michelle, My mother made a lemon meringue pie that the filling was almost clear. It was almost like Jello. She was the pie baker for Peabody High school in the 40’sand 50’s. She made all her own shells and fillings. I have never been able to duplicate the lemon, and of course nothing was written down. My brother always requested a chocolate cake with penuche frosting for his birthday. You never hear about that icing today.


  23. Kayla on June 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    It’s like you read my mind! My husband requested coconut cream pie for Father’s Day last night. Looks great!


  24. Meghan @ After the Ivy League on June 13, 2012 at 11:48 am

    This pie looks delicious! I’m going through a coconut phase, adding sprinklings of coconut to anything from ice cream to yogurt to granola. So delicious. My favorite classic recipes that should never be tampered with are a classic apple pie (my mom’s) and chocolate cream pie (my grandpa’s). Perfectly comforting!


  25. Christine on June 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    YUMMY! I have always loved coconut cream pie! I really should bake on this weekend! Looks great!


  26. Riley on June 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Wow! Blast from the past. This looks great and I’m not a huge lover of coconut. Thanks for posting!


  27. DB-The Foodie Stuntman on June 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Oh, the nestalgia! Yes, I love old school desserts too. This looks yummy but I look forward to seeing what else is in the pipeline…


  28. Laura Dembowski on June 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I love Coconut Cream Pie, and I think it’s a great idea to bake some older recipes. I’m looking forward to seeing more as you share them!


  29. Catalina @ Cake with Love on June 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    So creamy, OMG, this pie is out of this world, love the tropical theme!


  30. Stephanie on June 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I love coconut custard pie or even NY style cheesecake. ^_^


  31. Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen on June 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    OMG. I could bathe in a vat of coconut on a regular basis if I could afford it. This.looks.phenomenal.


  32. Lisle Chiropractor on June 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    OMG OMG OMG…. I love anything with coconut… oh and pie… can’t wait for my next get together with my girlfriends to make this!!!


  33. Peggy on June 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    This is one of my favorite pies! This looks absolutely wonderful =)


  34. Tracey on June 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Ok this looks beyond amazing! I only learned to love coconut a few years ago, but now I seriously can’t get enough. And that fluffy whipped cream on top is heavenly!


  35. Shirley@bells-bakery on June 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    mmmmm cream pie,looks delish!


  36. Allison on June 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE coconut cream pie. Oh my! I may just have to make this myself!


  37. Angelyn on June 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    The pie is beautiful and it looks absolutely delicious!!


  38. Catherine on June 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    That looks goooood *-*


  39. Jessica on June 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    My mom and I LOVE coconut! This WILL be made to honor my baby girl being born in July!!!


  40. ela on June 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I love anything with coconut and this recipe is one of them. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    May I know the difference when adding granulated sugar vs. confectioners’ sugar when whipping cream? Thank you.


    • Michelle on June 14th, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Hi Ela, Generally, adding granulated sugar to whipped cream or egg whites will produce a more stable, firmer whipped cream or meringue. Adding confectioners sugar will result in a thicker whipped cream.


      • ela on June 14th, 2012 at 6:16 pm

        When you say thicker do you mean fluffier with powdered sugar? Thanks.


  41. caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy on June 14, 2012 at 12:12 am

    wow that looks so delicious! i love love LOVE coconut! thanks for sharing!


  42. Jennifer on June 14, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Oh my gosh, your pie looks fantastic. I like coconut, but the eaters in my house do not. Maybe I can sneak this pie all for myself and make something on the side for everyone else!


  43. Leah on June 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    And my dad JUST requested coconut cream pie for Father’s Day!

    BTW, check the frozen food aisle near the pie crusts and cool whip, I can almost always find unsweetened coconut there.


  44. Sarah on June 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I’ve never had coconut cream pie but that looks AMAZING! I’m going to make this the very next time we have people over for dinner or something. Mmm-mm-mmmmm!!


  45. Iris on June 24, 2012 at 12:34 am

    This divine pie crust is in the oven right now, but wondering if it’s ok to use graham crumbs? I used a combination of both because I had a leftover packet of crumbs. Was there a particular reason you went for whole crackers? Great site!


    • Michelle on June 25th, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      Hi Iris, I used whole crackers but then crushed them into crumbs.


  46. Iris on June 24, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I made this last night. Chilled it, only to find a soup in a crust. What did I do wrong? I followed your method exactly. I did notice there wasn’t any flour or baking involved, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to set. Is there anything I can do with the pie now, as it taste good, but it’s essentially a soup?


    • Michelle on June 25th, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Iris, I’m sorry you ran into some problems with the filling. There is indeed no flour and the filling is not baked, but it is thickened much like a pastry cream – the combination of egg yolks and cornstarch, which are cooked, is what allows it to set up. If your filling had the consistency of soup, it doesn’t sound like it was allowed to cook long enough. While there is a time estimation, it’s only a guideline, and the filling should be cooked until large bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture noticeably thickens.


  47. Charlotte on June 30, 2012 at 10:00 am

    This looks to die for! Cant wait to try it! Thanks for sharing xo C


  48. Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel on July 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    That filling–so fluffy and cloud-like and SO VERY DANGEROUS to a coconut lover like myself! Seriously, I could polish off this beauty in one sitting. Gorgeous!


  49. MaryClare on July 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Coconut cream pie is one of my all-time faves!
    Since I love the taste of coconut, replacing the
    milk w/coconut milk (try SoDelicious or Silk brands)
    adds more coconut flavor. Otherwise, it doesn’t have
    as much coconut flavor as I would like. I also toast
    the coconut before adding to the mixture for added
    coconut flavor and add 1/2 tsp coconut extract too.
    For those w/dairy intolerance, the replacement of
    cow’s milk w/coconut milk is helpful and if you can’t
    do corn, which is high-glycemic, you can exchange the
    cornstarch for tapioca starch as they both have the
    same thickening properties. Enjoy! :o)


    • Marghi on April 1st, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      I don’t believe that coconut milk substitute for regular milk is what this recipe calls for. I used the canned coconut milk (Thai Kitchen Organic) in a can and it came out perfect. Perhaps this confusion is at the root of why some people had trouble with the pie thickening.


  50. Elizabeth on July 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I made this last weekend and it turned out amazing! I couldn’t get any dark rum for the whipped topping but it still tasted great. I even added some of the coconut flakes into the topping. Delicious! I would have eaten the whole thing if I didn’t have to share.


  51. Dannielle D. on July 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Yes! This is the perfect cream recipe! I made it for my sister for her birthday, and the only change was that I used a different crust recipe, but otherwise I stayed true to the directions. It. Was. Fabulous. I was so scared that the cream part would be wet, like pudding status, but no sir. The egg+sugar+cornstarch concoction made the pudding set up firm and oh so stable. So happy! Thank you so much for this recipe, and I can’t wait to try making a pineapple pie with this recipe.


  52. jenni on August 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I just made this. I don’t make custardy pie fillings often (usually just chocolate), so here’s my question: I tasted the filling when it was still somewhat warm, and it tastes fine initially, but then has a strange aftertaste, almost cornstarchy, or milky. Did I do something wrong? Will this perhaps go away when it cools completely? I’m kind of afraid to offer it to guests tomorrow. Sigh.


    • Michelle on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Hi Jenni, If it tastes too much like cornstarch, there’s a possibility that the cornstarch wasn’t dissolved and cooked enough in the filling. I didn’t notice any type of aftertaste with this pie.


      • jenni on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:29 pm

        Actually, it tasted fine after it completely cooled. But it didn’t set up as much as I would have expected. I think maybe I should have stirred the coconut milk better, because the leftover coconut milk was really thick. 🙂 It’s definitely worth a second attempt!


  53. Becca on October 23, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I just had coconut cream pie at Legends on the North Shore yesterday. I say this because it seems you are from the Pittsburgh area. That was the best coconut cream pie I have ever had. So today, I am naturally trying to find what I feel would be comparable and yours looks to be as close as anything – especially the coconut in crust and homemade whipped cream. Please let me know if you have ever had it, if you haven’t – please go. It is $7/slice but well worth it. I am going to make this pie this weekend, can’t wait!!!! As always, your recipes are wonderful – my family has thanked you many times!!!


    • Michelle on October 25th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Becca, I have not been there, but I will definitely check it out and have a slice of the coconut cream pie. Thank you for the recommendation!


  54. Marghi on April 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I made this pie for a birthday at work today. It was absolutely fabulous and a huge hit. The coconut milk lends both favor and silkiness to the filling, and the coconut in the crust was special (I did use a bit more than called for). I particularly liked the use of unsweetend coconut because I can’t get sweetened organic coconut.


  55. Meg on April 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    I’ve made this pie twice now and it is absolutely delicious! It actually works well with skim milk and the crust is to die for! Thanks for the recipe!


  56. Bonne L on May 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Absolutely the best pie ever! I haven’t made a Coconut Creme Pie in about 20 years, so I searched online and this one seemed to be perfect to me after looking at a dozen recipes. I made this for a Memorial Day party this weekend, and it was a big hit! We ate it Sunday, and Mon and Tues all everyone said was – where’s the leftover pie??? Didn’t last more than an hour with 10 people and we loved the pie – not too sweet (even used reg. coconut, no rum in creme), the graham cracker crust was yummy, and I doubled the amount of toasted coconut – one TBSP wasn’t enough for the topping!!! Thanks for a great recipe; all my friends are expectantly waiting for me to make it again, and this time I’m making two at once – I only got a little sliver!!


  57. Krystal Smith on June 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I followed this recipe exactly as instructed, i even read the comments before hand to see all those who tried it, what there results were like. when i was done the taste of this pie was exceptional, as my critics gave it 10/10, however i had to convince them to try it as the appearance was horrible. The same problem encountered by a poster above with a soup like texture is what were my ending results. From review i noted the comment to make sure the custard had obviously thickened and was bursting with bubbles, but several bubbles later and a consistency that was very thick and it still had the texture of clam chowder, that i could ot cut the pie but scoop it out. Any suggestions on how to improve this? It was loved by everyone and are requesting it again, but as a lover of baking i am determined to perfect this pie. Help please! 🙂


    • Michelle on June 22nd, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      Hi Krystal, Definitely make sure you are cooking it long enough on the stove and that your stove temperature is high enough. If you’re still having trouble, you can try increasing the cornstarch a bit.


  58. Anastasia on February 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    I noticed several people are having trouble with the custard setting, I wanted to share that if your cornstarch is old, it will not be as effective as fresh. So if your cornstarch isn’t new, try buying some new and trying the recipe again. When I made this recipe it turned out beautifully, I put a meringue on top of mine, I love meringue.


  59. Mallory on April 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    This was amazing! My first attempt at a cream pie, and my husband and I loved it. The vanilla, coconut and hint of rum worked beautifully. Well done!


  60. Carrie R on September 18, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    All of the images on this recipe do not show.


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