Sweet, creamy, and full of tropical coconut flavor, this Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie is an heirloom recipe that turns a few simple ingredients into a masterpiece! You’ll love the combination of sweet coconut, whipped cream, stovetop custard, and flaky pastry.
My Family’s Recipe for Coconut Cream Pie
This old-fashioned recipe for Coconut Cream Pie is one of my family’s favorites, and when you taste it, I’m sure you’ll see why! We make it every year for Easter and it has even won a couple of awards at bake offs that friends/family have entered the recipe into over the years. You definitely won’t regret giving this pie a try!
Cream pies were once all the rage, and with good reason. They are extremely easy to make with just a few simple ingredients, and cook up into a dessert that feels and tastes decadent, even though it’s so simple!
Shredded coconut, whole milk, some sugar, and some eggs make the creamy custard-like coconut filling for this pie, which is stabilized further with a little flour and cornstarch, and flavored with vanilla and coconut extract.
From there, the thick coconut cream is poured into a pre-baked pie shell, and chilled until fully set and deliciously cold. Honestly, the pie would be scrumptious just like that—but of course, we want to make it pretty! A few generous dollops of whipped cream and a dusting of toasted coconut do the trick, and the pie is done!
What’s the difference between coconut cream pie and coconut custard pie?
These two pies are very, very similar, but a coconut cream pie is slightly softer than a coconut custard pie, which sets with more of a jello texture. The filling for a coconut cream pie is made on the stovetop, poured into the crust, and then refrigerated to fully set. A coconut custard filling, on the other hand, is poured raw into the crust and baked before serving warm, or chilling and serving cold.
You’ll notice that for the eggs, we only need yolks for this recipe. You can discard the whites, or save them for another use, like making macaroons! To make the pie even creamier, you can use half-and-half instead of whole milk.
For the Pie:
- Sugar: I use regular granulated sugar in this recipe, but raw sugar would also be fine.
- Flour: You’ll need all-purpose flour for this recipe, just a couple of tablespoons.
- Cornstarch: Along with the flour, a bit of cornstarch thickens the cream filling.
- Salt: A pinch or two of salt brings out the flavors in the pie.
- Milk: Whole milk is fine, but I would not use 2% or skim. The pie will not be as creamy.
- Egg Yolks: Egg yolks help the cream filling to set, and add lots of rich flavor!
- Butter: Both salted and unsalted butter work well in this recipe.
- Vanilla: For the best flavor, use pure vanilla extract.
- Coconut Extract: A little bit of coconut extract gives this pie an extra-refreshing, tropical taste.
- Shredded Coconut: You’ll need sweetened and shredded coconut for mixing into the cream filling.
- Pie Crust: I use my favorite homemade pie crust, but you can also use store bought pie dough to make this recipe easier. Either way, bake it before filling, because the pie is not baked after filling.
- Whipped Cream: Make your own, or use store-bought whipped cream/whipped topping!
- Toasted Coconut: Making toasted coconut is very easy: just put the sweetened shredded coconut in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until lightly toasted. Stir frequently.
How to Make Coconut Cream Pie
Some recipes call for tempering the egg yolks, which can be a tricky process. I prefer to start all of the ingredients off cold, and gradually heat them while stirring. It should turn out perfectly creamy, with no lumps. If lumps form, try straining the filling through a mesh sieve, before continuing to heat.
- Combine the Cream Filling Ingredients. Place the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Give this mixture a quick stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the whole milk and egg yolks, until well combined. Stir the milk mixture into the sugar mixture, until smooth.
- Cook the Cream Filling Ingredients. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken, and then boil. Allow it to boil for one minute while you stir it, and then remove it from the heat. Immediately whisk in the butter, vanilla, coconut extract, and shredded coconut.
- Fill the Pie and Cool. Let the coconut cream mixture cool for 5 minutes, and then pour it into your baked pie crust. Allow the filled pie to continue cooling, until it comes to room temperature. Then cover the pie with plastic wrap (or foil) and place it in the fridge to chill for about 3 hours, until completely cold and well set.
- Top and Serve. Serve the coconut cream pie with fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut. Enjoy!
Tips for Success
These are my best tips for making the perfect coconut cream pie. It’s an easy recipe, but these little tips and tweaks that can make it even easier!
- Coconut Milk: My family recipe only calls for whole milk, but if you would like to use coconut milk that works, too! You can replace some of the whole milk with an equal amount of canned, full-fat coconut milk. Shake well before adding.
- Blind Baking Tips: When pre-baking your pie crust, it helps to prick it with a fork and then weigh it down with pie weights, dried beans, or rice while it bakes. I recommend lining the pie crust with parchment, and then pouring the rice/beans/weight into the parchment so that they don’t accidentally flavor or stick to the pie crust.
- Replace the Crust: If you prefer, you can make this pie in a graham cracker crust instead of a pastry crust! No baking needed!
Did you know that this easy recipe can actually be used as a base for other cream pies? Here are three great options below, but they’re just the start! Take a look, and make this one your own!
- Chocolate: Make this a chocolate cream pie by omittin the coconut and coconut extract, and mixing in half a cup of dark chocolate chunks or semisweet chips instead. They’ll melt into the filling as it heats, and make a silky chocolate pie.
- Banana: Make a banana cream pie by omitting the coconut and coconut extract, and stirring one or two chopped bananas into the heated filling.
- Almond Joy: Include the coconut, but omit the coconut extract, and stir half a cup of dark chocolate chunks or semisweet chocolate chips into the filling mixture. Top with toasted coconut and slivered almonds.
How to Store Coconut Cream Pie
Refrigerate this pie, storing it in an airtight container such as a cake plate with a dome lid. Properly stored, it will keep for up to 7 days, but it tastes best and has the best texture if eaten within the first couple of days.
Can I Freeze Coconut Cream Pie?
I don’t recommend freezing this pie, because the texture of the filling will be damaged by freezing and thawing, resulting in a watery pie! However, it will taste perfectly fresh for the first 48 hours, so feel free to make it a day or so ahead.
Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie
- Fresh whipped cream
- ⅓ cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. In a bowl, whisk together milk and egg yolks, until well combined. Stir the milk mixture into the sugar mixture, until smooth.
- Place saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Let mixture boil, while still stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Immediately whisk in butter, vanilla extract, coconut extract and shredded coconut. Let cool for 5 minutes then pour custard into baked pie crust.
- Allow pie come to room temperature and then cover pie with plastic wrap (or foil) and move to fridge to chill completely, about 3 hours.
- Serve pie topped with fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut.
More Easy Summer Dessert Ideas
Here are a few more light and delicious dessert recipes for summer:
- Blackberry Cobbler
- Brown Sugar Banana Bread
- Frozen Key Lime Pie
- Cherry Cream Pie
- Almond Joy Truffles
- Coconut Sheet Cake
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.