“Coconut cream pie made the old-fashioned way! Mounds of fluffy coconut-cream cheese whipped cream, creamy coconut custard filling and a crisp buttery pie crust! It’s incredible!”
Video Tutorial: How to make coconut cream pie from start to finish!
Every now and then, I’ll wander through my site and make a note of the recipes you guys are typing in the search bar and getting 0 results for.
This tells me that I need to mosey my hinds parts in the kitchen and get to making that recipe for ya! This month you guys have been searching a lot for coconut cream pie. I hear ya, honey! It is definitely coconut cream pie season, and mama’s got it for ya!
This History of Coconut Cream Pie
There is something so Southern and classy about a homemade coconut cream pie! Getting one on my site was way overdue, mostly since I’m from North Carolina. Now I don’t know if this pie originated from the South or if we stole it (and made it better and famous) like we do so many recipes, LOL. Either way, my curiosity got the best of me, and I started digging for the history of this incredible pie. It’s hard to believe it didn’t originate from the South, being that it’s on so many cafeteria and buffet restaurants menu. I couldn’t find much history on this pie, but Tux over at Brooklyn Homemade gave me a quick rundown, plus his version of Coconut Cream Pie.
- Did you know that coconuts aren’t actually nuts at all? They are seeds! Well, well, well.
- May 8th is known as National Coconut Cream Pie Day! You know it’s something when it has it’s on holiday!
What is coconut cream pie made of?
For those who aren’t familiar, coconut cream pie starts with a buttery baked pie crust like this one. It’s filled with a homemade coconut flavored custard and topped with ridiculous mounds of fresh whipped cream! Toasted coconut flakes are sprinkled on top to finish it off. Yeah, it’s pretty darn incredible! It’s a must-have for those holiday dessert tables!
Bonus: It’s also calorie-free if you walk a day on the treadmill and swim most of the Atlantic. That’s a fair trade if you ask me. Ok, let me walk you through this thang!
How to toast coconut flakes
Let’s tour this pie, starting with the first layer, the toasted coconut flakes! Toasted coconut flakes make an obviously pretty and appropriate garnish for this pie! It’s super easy to toast coconut. First, preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the coconut flakes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 3 minutes, toss the coconut, and bake for another 3 minutes or until the coconut is golden. (Keep an eye on it, it can burn quickly!) Remove from the oven and let it cool. It’s now ready to garnish your pie!
The Whipped Cream Topping!
Yes, next is that cloud-like whipped cream topping! Some coconut cream pie uses a meringue topping made with beaten egg whites. This pie used a whipped cream topping. It’s a must-have with this cream pie, so don’t skip it, or you’ll be sad. This topping is not your average whipped cream topping made with only heavy whipping cream and sugar. Oh, no, honey! This fluffy topping is infused with tangy cream cheese, sweet coconut cream, and pure coconut extract. It adds that Lil extra va-va-voom, and who doesn’t like extra va-va-voom???
Whipped Cream Tip: For best results, chill your beaters and bowl before making the topping. This will result in a fluffy topping with beautiful stiff peaks. Stop beating once you have stiff peaks.
What is in this coconut cream pie filling?
This brings us to the next layer, the filling! Now, usually, I’m not a fan of homemade cooked custards, especially vanilla. I know. Weird. But I’m so digging this custard! I cut back on the egg yolks to avoid that slight hint of egginess that some custards can have. Using canned coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut extract, AND moist, finely shredded and diced coconut flakes was the way to go! It’s full of coconut flavor without those papery strings of coconut. And my goodness, this filling is so thick and creamy, just the way that I like it!!!
Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used to thicken the custard. Some recipes use flour or tapioca to thicken the filling. I prefer cornstarch in this recipe.
Granulated Sugar: Sugar is used to sweeten the filling.
Half n Half: Although other dairy items can be used, such as milk or even heavy cream, half n half creates a creamy and light coconut cream pie.
Coconut milk– Canned coconut milk adds creaminess and coconut flavor
Salt- Salt is used to balance out the sweetness.
Cream of Coconut: Cream of coconut is used to add sweetness and coconut flavor.
Egg yolks: Egg yolks are used to create beautiful color and to help thicken the filling.
Unsalted butter: Butter creates a smooth texture in the finished filling and adds excellent flavor.
Pure coconut extract & vanilla extract: These two extracts really helps create that old-fashioned vanilla-coconut flavor.
Shredded coconut flakes- Sweetened or unsweetened, coconut flakes bring texture and more coconut flavor.
Tip: Got stale, dried out coconut flakes? No prob! Freshen up stale coconut flakes by adding a bit of hot water to hydrate or placing the flakes in a collider over steaming water to gently infuse moisture.
The Best Pie Crust!
You probably already know my favorite pie crust because I have yet to change it over several years! It’s this Buttery Deluxe Pie Crust Recipe. I just can’t get over how it tastes like a buttery biscuit, so I use it for all my pies, sweet or savory. You’ll need to blind-bake this chilled pie crust first, though, and you’ll only need one of the pie crust. (FYI: the crust recipe makes two).
Tip: Don’t skip the chilling of the pie crust dough. It really does result in a super flaky & tender crust! It’s worth the wait!
How To Blind Bake: If you’ve never blind baked a pie crust before, then no worries, it’s super easy! Blind baking is when you precook the pie crust before adding your pie filling. You can purchase pie weights to blind bake your pie, but I’ve never used actual pie weights. Pshhhh! Blind baking using granulated sugar and foil paper hasn’t steered me wrong yet! Here’s a great tutorial on how to blind-bake a pie crust this way.
Ok, so what’s the difference between coconut cream pie and coconut custard pie?
Good question! If you find out, let me know! Coconut cream pie is said to be the best of both worlds or the most confusing of both worlds if you ask me. Custard pies usually have a baked filling and contain eggs. Cream pies typically do not contain eggs or require baking in the oven to set. Coconut cream pie has eggs, so does that make it custard or a cream pie? *cue mysterious music*
The Coconut Ingredients
Here are a few of the coconut ingredients and brands that I used to make this coconut cream pie. My amazon affiliate links are below, but you can indeed find most (if not all) of these items in your local Target, Walmart or Publix.
Bakers Angel Flake Coconut (Target)
How to make the BEST Coconut Cream Pie
- Don’t go low-fat here. I know it’s tempting to try to lighten up this pie but just don’t. Certain low-fat items can result in a runny pie that refuses to set correctly. Canned, full-fat coconut milk, cream of coconut, and half n half is the way to go for the best results.
- Don’t boil the custard. Keep the heat low enough to allow the mixture to steam. Reduce the heat if it begins to simmer or boil.
- Be sure to chill the pie crust before blind-baking for a tender, flaky pie crust.
- Use pure coconut extract. Coconut extracts vary in strength depending on the brand. I’ve listed the brand I use above.
How to store homemade coconut cream pie?
So you’ve made this lubricious coconut cream pie, and somehow you magically have leftover. What now? You want to store any leftover pie in the refrigerator, tightly covered in plastic wrap. This pie will keep for about 2-4 days in the fridge. Do not leave it sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours just to be on the safe side.
Coconut Cream Pie Trouble-Shooting
Why is my coconut cream pie filling runny? Be sure that you are not using low-fat ingredients. Make sure that the filling has the texture of a thick pudding before pouring it into your pie crust. The filling will thicken a bit more as it cools. And firm up completely once it has set in the fridge. As a last resort, add more cornstarch (a small amount at a time) if needed.
Why didn’t my coconut cream pie did not set?
- Make sure that the filling is like a thick pudding before you pour it into the pie crust. Be sure that you’ve used enough cornstarch and cooked it down enough.
- To double-check, let your pudding cool. If it firms up enough to cling to a spoon turned upside down, it will set.
- Go ahead and spoon it into the cooked pie crust, smooth it out and allow it to set completely in the fridge.
If you like old-fashioned pies as much as I do check out this old-fashioned sugar pie!
Here’s the recipe how to make coconut cream pie from scratch!
Southern Coconut Cream Pie
Buttery Deluxe Pie Crust RecipeBlind-Baked (see recipe in notes)
THE COCONUT CUSTARD
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup half n half
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- 1/2 cup canned cream of coconut
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1½ teaspoons coconut extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut flakes (the soft kind: sweetened or unsweetened) I processed mine so that the flakes were tiny.
THE COCONUT CREAM CHEESE WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream very cold
- ⅓- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 3 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1 tablespoon canned cream of coconut (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes
- In large pot, whisk together cornstarch, sugar and salt until well-combined.
- Turn the heat to medium, and slowly stir in half and half, coconut milk and cream of coconut.
- Heat until steaming while stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar and cream of coconut.
- To temper the egg yolks, add eggs yolks to a bowl.
- Slowly pour in 1/4 cup of the hot steaming custard and whisk.
- Slowly pour the egg yolk mixture into the pot, being sure to whisk constantly.
- Continue stirring until custard has thickened. Keep the mixture just under a boil. (it's ok if small bubbles break on the surface, just keep stirring)
- Once the custard is thick like a pudding, remove it from the heat.
- Stir in butter until it melts.
- Stir in vanilla extract, coconut extract, and shredded coconut.
- Pour hot filling into cooled pie crust.
- Cover with plastic wrap, being sure that the plastic wrap touches the surface of the pie to prevent a skin for forming.
- Refrigerate overnight (for best flavor) or at least for 3-4 hours to allow the filling to firm up.
- When ready to serve, make the topping.
- To make the topping mix together heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- In bowl, cream together cream cheese, cream of coconut, coconut extract and vanilla extract.
- Mix cream cheese mixture into whipped cream,on low speed, just until combined. (refrigerate to firm up if desired)
- Spread topping onto pie.
- Sprinkle with toasted coconuts (see note) and serve.
- Refrigerate leftovers.