Coconuttiest Coconut Cream Pie

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Coconut shortbread crust. Coconut pastry cream. Coconut whipped cream. Coconut crispies on top! One note on assembly: The toasted coconut chips become less toasty and more wilt-y as they sit in the fridge (not cute!). If you’re not planning to eat the whole pie at once (it happens), you can portion accordingly, then individually sprinkle each slice with toasted chips.Emma Laperruque

Food52 Review: Featured in: The Coconuttiest Coconut Cream PieThe Editors

Makes: one 9-inch pie
Prep time: 1 hrs 10 min
Cook time: 1 hrs


Coconut pastry cream and toppings

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (485 grams)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (99 grams)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch (37 grams)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 10 tablespoons coconut cream (142 grams) (one 5.4-ounce can)
  • 10 tablespoons heavy cream (168 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (14 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut chips (30 grams)

Coconut shortbread crust

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (90 grams), plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (50 grams)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (38 grams)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (28 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (113 grams), cold, cubed, plus more for the pan
  • 1 large egg yolk
In This Recipe


  1. Make the pastry cream. Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot and steamy, stirring every so often. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and salt in a heatproof bowl. Whisk until smooth.
  2. When the coconut milk is hot, add a splash to the sugar mixture and whisk. Add another splash and whisk. Add another splash and whisk. Continue this—you’re slowly tempering the yolks, so they don’t scramble—until you’ve added about half the coconut milk. Now pour this mixture back into the saucepan.
  3. Cook over low heat—whisking slowly but constantly, making sure to get those edges—until the mixture thickens enough for your whisk to leave a distinct trail. This may take 10 minutes or more. It’s important not to rush it with higher heat, which can curdle the pastry cream. Remove from the heat, add the coconut oil, and whisk until combined.
  4. Scrape the mixture into a heatproof bowl and top with plastic film, pressing it against the pastry cream. This prevents a skin from forming. Stick in the fridge. Cool to at least room temperature—or until completely cold—before filling the crust. You can make this a couple days in advance. Just make sure to give it a real good whisk before filling the crust, to make sure everything is smooth.
  5. Make the coconut shortbread crust. Combine the flour, shredded coconut, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times. Sprinkle the butter evenly on top. Pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg yolk and pulse again until curdy—it shouldn’t form into a cohesive dough, that will come soon. Stick in the fridge or freezer while you ready the pie pan.
  6. Generously grease a 9-inch pie pan (I like glass best) with butter. Add a couple spoonfuls of flour and tap around until it evenly coats the pan, then toss the excess. Dump the shortbread dough into the pan. Use your fingers to pat the dough into a crust, doing your best to make sure it’s even all around and reaches just above the edges. Prick the base here and there with a fork. Stick in the freezer until completely frozen—or else it'll shrink in the oven—so at least 30 minutes, or well-wrapped for up to 1 week.
  7. Bake the crust. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place the pie pan on a sheet pan and put in the oven. The sheet pan makes rotating a lot easier. Bake for about 28 minutes, until browned, gently pressing down any puffing as needed. Cool completely before filling.
  8. Lower the heat to 350° F and toast the coconut chips. Add the coconut chips to a sheet pan and toast for about 5 minutes until colorful. Cool completely.
  9. Fill the crust with the pastry cream—you’ll use it all. I like to do this with an offset spatula to smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour or up to a couple days before topping with the cream. This helps the pastry cream re-set, so slicing is cleaner.
  10. Make the coconut whipped cream. Combine the coconut cream, heavy cream, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form—it will be thicker and denser than straight-up whipped cream.
  11. When you’re ready to eat, sprinkle the coconut chips on top.

More Great Recipes:
Pie|American|Coconut|Milk/Cream|Sheet Pan|Dessert

Reviews (18) Questions (1)

18 Reviews

katcairns August 26, 2018
A couple problems with this recipe. I was REALLY looking forward to loving this! <br /><br />First, I cooked pastry cream exactly as described. Distinct trail. I wondered about this while making since I’ve always heard that cornstarch only works when it reaches the highest temp, I.e.boil. Anyway. Cooled in bowl in fridge 4 hours. Baked a Nilla wafer crust instead. Took pastry cream out of fridge and filled cooled crust after whisking Put back in fridge for another 2 hours. Took back out to serve and it was still almost liquid. I’m scared to cut it!!! <br /><br />Second problem. Used my KitchenAid stand mixer. Cooled the bowl. Used cold coconut cream and cold heavy cream. It NEVER got to whipped state! I mean, 15 minutes on high with a KitchenAid!! <br /><br />So, it thre the coconut whipped cream away. And used the egg whites to make s beautiful meringue. Took the squishy pie out of freezer(trying to set it!) and under broiler for : minutes to brown meringue. Back in fridge now. We’ll see. Very disappointed for all this effort so far!
katcairns August 26, 2018
So no. Still liquid. <br /><br />Anybody making this, make sure to get the pastry cream to a BOIL. This recipe is wrong and will be a great cost disappointment if made as suggested.
Betty August 24, 2018
The cornstarch does not give the custard the old taste I remember from the restaurants in my hometown. Lemon pie perhaps but not coconut cream. Flour has tremendous flavor.
Connor A. August 7, 2018
If I don't want to use coconut oil, what can I use instead?
Author Comment
Emma L. August 7, 2018
You could use butter! Or, you could skip it altogether.
Deborah M. June 20, 2018
I'm gluten free. Can I use coconut flour?
Author Comment
Emma L. June 20, 2018
Hi Deborah—I haven't tried that, sorry! I worry it would be too crumbly. An all-purpose gluten-free flour mix is probably a better bet.
Jocelyn May 27, 2018
This looks amazing! Is the unsweetened coconut milk the kind from a can or carton?
Author Comment
Emma L. June 20, 2018
Thanks! I used coconut milk from a can, preferably full-fat.
boriskat May 19, 2018
I have a couple of notes/questions while my crust is freezing. First, I had to cook my custard for about an hour [that's a lot of stirring] so maybe I had it on too low of heat? Second, that shortbread dough is about the stickiest thing I've ever dealt with so I hope it's ok that I *liberally* sprinkled it with flour before pressing it into the pan.
Author Comment
Emma L. May 19, 2018
An hour is very long—agree that the heat was probably too low. But better that than too hot. And sprinkling with flour to help into the pan should be fine. Hope it turns out well!
Danielle R. May 11, 2018
this looks insane<br />
Caroline L. May 8, 2018
i am SO excited about this.
Author Comment
Emma L. May 8, 2018
Thank you, Caro!
Lois R. May 5, 2018
For the whipped cream topping, you mention "heavy cream," but I don't see any place where you tell us how much to use. Please help -- this looks too good not to make!<br />
Author Comment
Emma L. May 5, 2018
Thanks for the catch, Lois—added!
judy May 5, 2018
I'm in for this delicious pie. Except that I'll deconstruct. Too lazy to make pie crust these days. Have been making puddings or fillings and a complimentary cookie to go with. This crust will make great shortbread cookies. Also easier to store, as there are only two of us.
Author Comment
Emma L. May 7, 2018
I love doing that, too, Judy! My favorite is poppy seed shortbread alongside a big bowl of lemon curd.