Satisfy your sweet tooth with this made from scratch Coconut Cream Pie! A true coconut lover’s dream pie that will make your grandma proud! From a graham cracker and toasted coconut crust to a creamy coconut custard pie filling and a rum-spiked whipped cream topping, this pie is classic, timeless and sensational. 

A glass pie plate with coconut cream pie missing a slice so you can see the layers of crust, coconut filling, and whipped cream.

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.

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.

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

What is Coconut Cream Pie?

If you are unfamiliar with coconut cream pie, let me introduce you to the creamy deliciousness that is this beautiful pastry.

Variations to coconut cream pie range from the type of crust used to the way the filling gets baked. A few things however remain the same:

  1. Crust- Some recipes use a flaky pastry crust, I opt instead for a graham cracker crust. A slight variation from my best graham cracker crust recipe, this addictive 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 in the fridge. A coconut custard pie, on the other hand, bakes the custard filling in the oven.
  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!

The ingredients for coconut cream pie prepped and labeled.

How to make coconut cream pie from scratch

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

Toast the Coconut

I cannot stress to you the importance of toasting the unsweetened shredded coconut. It brings out the nutty flavor in the coconut and adds a depth so good your taste buds will thank you!

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Toast the coconut. 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.
  • Remove from oven and let cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon for garnishing the finished pie.

Three images the left shows the ingredients for a graham cracker crust, the middle shows the coconut being toasted on a baking sheet, and the left shows a food processor chopping the graham crackers.

Make the Graham Cracker Crust

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. Getting that crust packed in nice and tight means that it holds together beautifully when sliced instead of crumbling all over the place. To make the pie crust you:

  • Pulse the graham crackers and the remaining 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 firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate with a measuring cup to form a tight crust.
  • Bake the crust until deep golden brown and fragrant, about 22 minutes. Cool the crust on a wire rack while making the filling.

Three images showing the graham cracker crust going from crumbs on the left to crumbs in a pie plate in the middle, to a hand pressing them in a pie pan on the right.

Make the Filling

A silky coconut cream filling packs in the sweet coconut flavor. To make your filling:

  • Simmer coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, ⅓ cup of the sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir 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 ⅓ cup sugar and cornstarch until well combined and no lumps remain.

A side by side image the left the coconut milk in a sauce pan the right a bowl with the egg yolks whisked smooth.

  • 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.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter.

A side by side image on the left a bowl with eggs and cream the right a sauce pan with coconut cream filling.

  • 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.

A side by side picture with a graham cracker pie crust pressed into a pie plate with a measuring cup on the left and the coconut cream pie filling being poured in on the right.

Make the Whipped Cream Topping

Finish this delightful pie off with a rum-spiked whipped cream that truly takes this timeless classic a notch above. To make the whipped cream:

  • Beat the cream and sugar in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed to soft peaks.
  • Add the rum and vanilla and 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.

A side by side picture of whipped cream in a white bowl on the left and fully whipped whipped cream with a wire whisk on the right.

Baking notes

Where to find unsweetened shredded coconut?

This recipe calls for unsweetened shredded coconut, which 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 buy it online from a variety of places (see link above).

Why does my custard pie get watery?

When you are 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.

A full coconut cream pie looking top down on a cooling rack topped with shredded coconut.

Topping and serving tips

If you are not into a rum-spiked whipped cream you can try a few different toppings instead.

  • Omit the rum and make a regular homemade whipped cream.
  • Use store-bought whipped topping (i.e. Cool Whip) for the topping to save time.
  • Try a whipped topping made out of coconut, like So Delicious Coco-whip, for an extra dose of coconut-y goodness!

Storage and shelf life

  • Storing leftovers: Store the finished pie in the refrigerator for up to 1 day covered with plastic wrap.
  • Make ahead: 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.
  • 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 directions: Thaw the pie to the refrigerator overnight, then top with whipped cream and serve.

More delicious coconut recipes:

A slice of coconut cream pie with a bite taken out on a white plate with a fork on the left.

Coconut Cream Pie Recipe

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

If you make this recipe 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.
4.72 (14 ratings)

Ingredients

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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Dee Frances