Make Ahead

Coconut Pie

July 28, 2015
5 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Serves 8 to 12 (depending on the size of the slice)
Author Notes

On a trip to Turks and Caicos a few years ago, I had the best coconut pie ever at a local restaurant called Coco Bistro. When I got home, I tried to recreate the pie and came up with a delicious rendition. A few years later, I went back to Turks and Caicos and had more coconut pie—and guess what? Mine is better! —Rach Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Rach Kim develops her own recipes and writes about them on her blog.
WHAT: A superlative coconut cream pie for the superlative coconut lover.
HOW: Pour a rich coconut custard into a toasty graham cracker crust, layer on billowy whipped cream, and shower with golden coconut flakes.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Rich but not heavy, sweet but not cloying, this coconut pie has it all—from a layer of almost caramelized coconut pudding to the light whipped cream and the toasted flakes of coconut on top and the pecan-cookie crust that holds it all together. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 8 graham crackers (one sleeve)
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 15 ounces can sweetened cream of coconut
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon icing (powdered) sugar
  1. Start by making a graham cracker crust: Crush the graham crackers and pecans in a food processor (or by hand in a baggie with a rolling pin). Stir in melted butter, press into a pie tin, and bake at 350° F for 10 minutes. Then leave the crust to cool.
  2. To make the coconut custard, start by heating milk and cream of coconut in a saucepan until scalding.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until pale yellow.
  4. Carefully temper the yolk mixture by whisking in 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture. Then, slowly add the remaining milk, whisking continuously until fully combined.
  5. Pour the custard base back into the saucepan and place over low heat. Whisk continuously until the custard boils and thickens. Then remove from the heat.
  6. Whisk in the cold butter and vanilla extract. Leave custard to cool to room temperature.
  7. Pour the cooled custard into the cooled crust and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.
  8. Toast coconut flakes in a pan over low heat until the edges are golden. Let cool.
  9. Whip cream with icing sugar until it is thick and spreadable.
  10. Top the coconut pie with whipped cream and sprinkle on coconut flakes. Slice and serve!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • nancy essig
    nancy essig
  • Chef Devaux
    Chef Devaux
  • KCT
  • wanderash
  • Lindsey López
    Lindsey López

45 Reviews

Cheryl November 1, 2020
This is ingenious recipe that gives wonderful results. I thought it was really easy to pull off... my custard thickened very quickly and continued to thicken as it cooled. Delicious!!
Allen December 27, 2018
Amazing, genius recipe! I’ve made it twice and it was a huge hit! I’m not a fan *at all* of the traditional shredded coconut pie 😝, but this was absolutely delicious! A definite add to my upcoming restaurant menu! 🥧
nancy E. February 14, 2017
I am making this but would love to know how to incorporate pineapple. Yummy, a pina colada pie
Rach K. February 14, 2017
Maybe you could layer some pineapple slices in the crust before pouring in the custard? (Maybe spread a little custard in the bottom before laying in the pineapple so the crust won't get soggy.)

Or maybe add pineapple extract to the custard base after it's cooled?
nancy E. February 15, 2017
Thanks so much. I should make the pie as is first but The thought of pineapple in it thrills my taste buds.
Allen February 22, 2020
I was thinking maybe just make a pineapple syrup or glacé - fruit and simple syrup, cook to break down the fruit then strain - on the crust before adding the custard - and then rum instead of vanilla -
Niki May 5, 2016
Oof, really sweet. I agree with the commenters that said maybe unsweetened coconut for the top and less, if NO sugar in the custard itself. I also was a tad confused by the "cook until the custard boils and thickens" I did that, but it obviously wasn't long enough. I chilled the pie overnight but when I cut it, it all ran into the space. I can see this being awesome with a few tweaks.
Rach K. May 6, 2016
I'm sorry the recipe didn't work out for you.
Niki May 13, 2016
Do you maybe have a suggestion on how long to cook the custard?
Rach K. May 13, 2016
As soon as the custard starts to bubble, the yolks and cornstarch should reach their full thickening power. The texture of the custard can be messed up either by cooking for too short of a period or too long. Here's an article about the science behind thickening custards:

I actually made a video of myself making the pie. It might help:

By the way, I realize the cream of coconut is already quite sweet, but the added sugar is basically to help break up the yolks to incorporate a little air and prevent them from curdling immediately when the hot milk is added.

I hope some of this helped.
Deb November 28, 2015
This pie is FABULOUS. Thanksgiving dessert and a big hit with everyone.
Rach K. November 30, 2015
I'm so glad you liked it! :):)
Chef D. November 12, 2015
I want this coconut pie now! so hungry!
KCT September 20, 2015
I'm so excited to try this!! However, we have tree nut allergies in our house. Would appreciate any ideas!
KCT September 20, 2015
p.s. We're fine for coconut as it is a seed. Tree nuts such as pecans and walnuts are the tough ones.
Rach K. September 20, 2015
You can just omit the pecans altogether and make a traditional graham cracker crust and it'll still be delicious! :)
wanderash September 19, 2015
Adding to my comment below. I made the recipe through step 8 the night before and finished it a few hours before guests came. It was perfect!
wanderash September 19, 2015
I made this last night to rave reviews-- It was fantastic. I used Coco Lopez and only 1 T of added sugar. If using Coco Lopez, I think you could omit the sugar entirely. I also put a layer of sliced banana on the crust before adding the filling. One layer gave it the perfect amount of banana flavor. YUM!
Rach K. September 20, 2015
Adding banana sounds great! I'm glad you liked it :):)
wkfld September 12, 2015
Whoa aunt Bettie, you obviously did something wrong. This pie was anything but bland. In fact, Im making it again today for a houseful of guests. One of the very best pies I've ever made. Hopefully you will fess up to the mistake you made and won't deter others from making this wonderful pie
aunt B. September 11, 2015
this is the worst pie ever. bland to point of being almost tasteless and it doesn't even set properly. more like pudding than custard.
i bake regularly, try new recipes often, and am a proficient cook
- this one of the rare times i've disliked the results of my efforts.
so much so that i discarded the entire pie
- and i hate wasting food.
Rach K. September 11, 2015
That's too bad. I'm sure you are a proficient cook but as you can see from the other comments, most people like the recipe. It also went through Food52's test kitchen and even the community test kitchen process so I'm honestly thinking you either made a mistake or maybe you used a bad batch of cream of coconut? Did you maybe use coconut cream (which is a totally different product)? Cream of coconut is the super potent coconut-flavored sweet syrupy ingredient used to make pina coladas and it's the main reason that this pie has a lot of flavor.
Rach K. September 11, 2015
By the way, comparing pudding to a custard is kind of meaningless, at least in terms of texture. Traditionally, pudding is thickened with starch and custard is thickened with egg (and this is thickened with both starch and egg) but there's no definitive texture requirement for either.
fearlessem September 9, 2015
Made this over the weekend and it was really outstanding! Easy to make, not too sweet once the filling cooled, great texture... Thank you!!
Rach K. September 10, 2015
I'm glad you liked it!! :):):):)
wkfld August 31, 2015
Made it yesteday . So good , especially after it was fully chilled. I finally found the ceam of coconut near the bar mixes in the supermkt. I used unsweetened coconut flakes. Really good. A keeper, Thanks!
Rach K. August 31, 2015
Yay! I'm glad you liked it!
Lindsey L. August 22, 2015
This is amazing. I'll be making it today. For the shredded coconut flakes, would unsweetened or sweetened be better? I'm just wondering if sweetened coconut on top of sweet whipped cream will be overkill.
Rach K. August 22, 2015
Either works! I prefer unsweetened for the reason you said: I don't want it to be too sweet. I hope you enjoy!!
crystelle August 20, 2015
Hey Rach, this looks amazing! I live in Australia where I've never seen a can of "sweetened cream of coconut". Do you think I could just do half coconut cream half condensed milk? Thank you!
Rach K. August 20, 2015
You know, I'm not sure. Sweetened cream of coconut is the stuff that's used in making pina coladas and it's really sweet and super coconutty. You could maybe try cooking the coconut cream and reducing it by half (to strengthen the flavor). Then, use a ratio of 1/4 reduced coconut cream and 3/4 condensed milk and then add some coconut extract to taste, keeping in mind that it should taste like pina colada without the pineapple.
crystelle August 20, 2015
Thanks Rach!!!
Nicolas K. August 19, 2015
I tried this recipe today but I believe my custard was too thick. Is it 5 tablespoons or teaspoons of cornstarch ?
It was still really good though :)
Rach K. August 19, 2015
Oh no! It is supposed to be 5 tablespoons. I'm not sure how to help you troubleshoot (I'm no professional) but maybe you cooked it too long on the stove. What was the consistency like? When it sets up, it should be sturdy enough to slice but still soft.

I don't know if this will help, but I originally shared the recipe on my blog and there are photos to accompany the step-by-step instructions:
Nicolas K. August 19, 2015
After watching your blog, I've definitely put too much cornstarch (my tablespoon is way bigger than yours !) so I didn't get a liquid mixture with the egg yolks.
Thank you it was very helpful :)
Kate September 15, 2015
I had the same issue - my egg mixture was almost solid, not liquid like the blog photos show. Wish I had clicked through to the blog instructions because they are much more helpful than the ones on this page (not only because of the photos).
Rach K. September 16, 2015
Oh no :( it always sucks to hear that a recipe was unsuccessful. I'm assuming you had an issue with the cornstarch measure as well? Do you think it would be helpful to include a measure of weight instead of volume? I'm sorry your custard didn't turn out.
Kate September 16, 2015
Actually the pie turned out fantastic! I was just concerned I had made a mistake because of the egg mixture consistency, but it ended up being perfectly fine. It just required some extra vigorous whisking. Thank you!!
Rach K. September 17, 2015
Yay!! I'm so happy it worked out :)
Matilda L. August 19, 2015
Congratulations! I love coconut pie but eat it way too rarely. I'll be making your recipe.
Rach K. August 19, 2015
Thanks so much! This is one of my favorite desserts ever and summer is a perfect time to make it. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think :)
Renée R. August 15, 2015
Thanks. I'm definitely making this sucker. Can't wait!
Rach K. August 16, 2015
I hope you love it!!
Renée R. August 15, 2015
What size pie dish do you use?
Rach K. August 15, 2015
The recipe will work in either an 8" or 9". With an 8", you'll end up with a slightly thicker crust and higher pie, but I personally wouldn't mind that. :)

And actually, the photos included in my original recipe submission shows me building the pie in an 8" deep dish pan; I just didn't press the crumbs all the way up the sides and the mounded whipped cream is just slightly higher than the lip of the pan. I think because the filling and topping are essentially liquids, this pie recipe is pretty flexible.