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Coconut Cream Pie

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Filled with coconut custard, whipped cream and heaps of toasted coconut, this coconut cream pie is downright dreamy.

Coconut Cream Pie

My husband’s all-time favorite dessert is the signature coconut cream pie from The Capital Grille in Washington, DC. Eager to surprise him, I took a long shot and emailed the restaurant manager for the recipe. To my delight, he sent it! However, like most restaurant recipes, the recipe was scaled for feeding an army, and it didn’t include the crust, so some tweaking was necessary. The effort was worth it: the end result was nothing short of spectacular! Imagine a coconut-scented cookie crust brimming with creamy coconut custard, topped with pillowy whipped cream and a generous sprinkle of toasted coconut—this coconut cream pie is downright dreamy!

“I made this for my mother-in-law’s birthday party. She almost cried! She said it was the most delicious dessert she had ever had.”

Andrea

What You’ll Need To Make Coconut Cream Pie

how to make coconut cream pie

This recipe calls for four different forms of coconut:

  • Sweetened flaked coconut is the most common form of coconut used in baking. Typically sold in plastic bags in the baking aisle, it is the dried, shredded and sweetened meat of the coconut. This is the coconut used to make coconut macaroons.
  • Coconut milk is made from shredded coconut flesh puréed with water. It has the consistency of cow’s milk and is unsweetened. It is often used in soups and sauces.
  • Cream of coconut is thicker and richer than coconut milk with a higher fat content, and it is sweetened. It is often sold with the drink/cocktail mixers at the supermarket.
  • Coconut flakes (or chips) are the dried, shaved, unsweetened meat of the coconut. Toasted, they make a pretty garnish for desserts; they are also delicious in granola. Most large supermarkets carry them but you can always find them in organic markets.

Step-by-Step instructions

Step 1: Make The Crust

Place the shortbread cookies, coconut, and melted butter in a food processor.

how to make coconut cream pie

Process until the coconut is finely ground.

how to make coconut cream pie

Press the crumbs into firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. (Tip: start with the sides.)

cookie crust crumbs pressed into pie pan

Bake until golden, about 15 minutes, then set aside to cool. If the crust shrinks or cracks a bit, simply press it back together and up the sides while it’s still hot.

baked crust

Step 2: Make the Filling

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt.

how to make coconut cream pie

Whisk well and set aside.

how to make coconut cream pie

In a medium saucepan, combine the Malibu rum, cream of coconut, coconut milk and whole milk.

how to make coconut cream pie

Bring to a boil; then turn off the heat. Whisking constantly, slowly ladle about a cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add the remaining milk mixture to the egg mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine.

how to make coconut cream pie

Return the mixture to the sauce pan.

how to make coconut cream pie

Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a boil and thickens, about 2 minutes. The filling must boil for at least 30 seconds in order to fully thicken.

how to make coconut cream pie

Off the heat, whisk in the butter until fully incorporated.

how to make coconut cream pie

Pour the hot filling into the cooled pie shell and smooth the surface with a spatula; press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours. (Any longer than 12 hours and the crust will start to soften.)

filling poured into crust

Step 3: Make the Whipped Cream

Up to 3 hours before serving, whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and rum. Continue to whip until it forms soft peaks.

whipping heavy cream in mixer

Top the pie with whipped cream.

coconut cream pie topped with whipped cream

Step 4: Toast the Coconut Chips

Place the coconut in a small, dry skillet over medium heat and cook until golden.

how to make coconut cream pie

Let the coconut chips cool, then sprinkle the pie with the toasted coconut. Refrigerate the pie until ready to serve. Use a sharp knife to slice the pie, wiping in between slices for the prettiest cuts.

Note: This recipe was updated in 2019 to use a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. The original recipe called for a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, which still works without any adjustments.

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Coconut Cream Pie

Filled with coconut custard, whipped cream and heaps of toasted coconut, this coconut cream pie is downright dreamy.

Servings: 8 to 10
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 7½ ounces shortbread cookies, such as Walker's Pure Butter Shortbread, finely ground (if you don't have a baking scale, it's 11 Walker's rectangular cookies, from 2 boxes)
  • 1¼ cups loosely packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Custard

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, packed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, packed
  • Pinch salt
  • 1½ tablespoons Malibu Rum (coconut-flavored rum)
  • 5 tablespoons Cream of Coconut (stir well before using)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (stir well before using)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For Whipped Cream and Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Malibu rum or light rum
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut chips or flakes, toasted in a skillet until golden and cooled (see note below)

Instructions

For the Crust

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Pulse the cookie crumbs, coconut, and melted butter in a food processor until coconut is finely ground. Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (the crust should be about ¼-in thick). Bake until golden, about 15 minutes, then set aside to cool. If the crust shrinks or cracks a bit, simply press it back together and up the sides while it's still hot.

For the Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the rum, cream of coconut, coconut milk and whole milk. Bring to a boil; then turn off the heat. Whisking constantly, slowly ladle about a cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add the remaining milk mixture to the egg mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine. Return the mixture to the sauce pan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a boil and thickens, about 2 minutes. The filling must boil for at least 30 seconds in order to fully thicken. Off the heat, whisk in the butter until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour the hot filling into the cooled pie shell and smooth the surface with a spatula; press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours. (Any longer than 12 hours and the crust will start to soften.)

For the Topping & To Serve

  1. Up to 3 hours before serving, whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and rum. Continue to whip until it forms soft peaks. Top the pie with the whipped cream and sprinkle with cooled toasted coconut chips.
  2. Slice the pie into wedges, wiping your knife clean between slices, and serve cold.
  3. Note: Unsweetened coconut flakes can usually be found at Whole Foods or organic markets. If you can't find them, feel free to substitute ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut (the stuff in the blue bag available everywhere). Simply toast it in a 350°F oven, stirring often so it browns evenly, until lightly golden.
  4. Note: For an even prettier presentation, this pie can be made in a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Note that the crust won't be quite as thick.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (10 servings)
  • Calories: 563
  • Fat: 39 g
  • Saturated fat: 26 g
  • Carbohydrates: 50 g
  • Sugar: 35 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Sodium: 180 mg
  • Cholesterol: 131 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • I made this for Thanksgiving. It was a huge hit and so delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe! I followed the recipe exactly. Only exception was that I substituted Rum Chata Cocunut Cream Rum instead of Malibu Rum since I didn’t want to buy an entire bottle to only use a few tablespoons. I did experience the crust sticking to the sides and bottom of my pie plate, but after getting out the first slice, the others were easier to remove. I will try using cooking spray next time. Delicious pie recipe!

    • — CLe on November 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made your coconut cream pie to bring to Thanksgiving dinner and it was absolutely amazing. I was a bit hesitant to do so, as I was daunted by the topping being made 3 hours before and the pie crust could get soggy. I made it the evening before. Topped it before I left and we stored in fridge until after dinner. I always loved the smell of coconut but never liked the actual fruit itself until recently. This recipe is absolutely delicious and the pie was the star of the dessert table! Highly recommend!

    • — Patsy K on November 24, 2023
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  • I made this recently and it was insanely delicious.

    • — Patty on August 29, 2023
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  • Hi. I’m getting ready to make the recipe but I’m confused about the last comment. The recipe calls for cream of coconut and coconut milk, not coconut cream. Am I missing something?

    Thanks!

    • — Cathy on July 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cathy, I can see why it confused you; you’re correct — the recipe calls for coconut cream of coconut and coconut milk. I will update that question as I’m assuming she was referring to coconut milk. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • Jenn I hate to drivr you crazy. I went to whole Foods today and am confronted with Coconut milk. sweetned or unsweetned, It does not say in you recipe. Please let me know if you get a chance. Thanks, Barbara Brightwell

    • — Barbara Brightwell on June 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • No worries! You want to use unsweetened 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Jenn, I emailed you this question on another section of your blog. I am emailing you here because it may help other people. I am making this coconut cream Pie for fathers Day Lunch. I would like to make the filling the night before, put in a bowl and keep in the frig overnight. In the morning I want to add it to the crust and refrigerate until lunch. Will this work?
    Thanks barbara

    • — Barbara Brightwell on June 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep that’s fine, Barbara – just be sure to cover it directly on the surface with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a film. Also, it will firm up so I would whisk it before transferring it to the crust. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is incredibly delicious! I most loved the authentic coconut flavor similar to one served at a tiny roadside cafe in Grand Cayman. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for years since and as usual, your recipes never disappoint! You are my GoTo!

    • — Mara on June 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this pie for my mom’s birthday. It was fabulous and will be my go-to coconut pie recipe from now on. When I first tasted just the custard, I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough coconut flavor. But when the pie was complete, topping and all, it was perfection. Just the right amount of coconut flavor. I used Bare roasted coconut chips for the topping, right out of the bag.

    • — Gina on May 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • This pie was delicious! My husband in particular went crazy for it. We both agree we want to put some coconut in the custard portion to give it even more flavor. And I always add about 1/2tsp light corn syrup per cup of whipping cream when I make whipped cream. This makes the whipped cream hold for several days – it works perfectly with this pie because that’s as long as it lasts with two people eating it 🙂

    • — Cathy on May 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hey there, just made this for Mother’s Day and the flavours are bang on delicious!! My only question is that mine didn’t keep its form when served after being in the fridge overnight. I would love to make this again but could you tell me what I might have done wrong?

    • — Melissa on May 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Melissa, I’m sorry you had a problem with the pie setting up. Did you make any adjustments to the ingredients in the filling? Were either the coconut milk or whole milk reduced fat? When you cooked the filling, did you let it boil for at least 30 seconds?

      • — Jenn on May 15, 2023
      • Reply
      • I had the same issue with filling not setting. any suggestions to adjust or do I have to start over

        • — pat dyckes on November 22, 2023
        • Reply
        • So sorry you had a problem with the filling! I’m obviously weighing in too late to help, but unfortunately, there wouldn’t be anything you could do once it’s been refrigerated.

          • — Jenn on November 28, 2023
          • Reply
        • Hi,
          I have made this recipe several times as is and it’s perfect. However, my dad loves meringue. Would adding a meringue and toasting it under a broiler mess up the pie filling?
          Thanks in advance!
          -Jennifer C

          • — Jennifer Anglin Chancey on December 13, 2023
          • Reply
          • Hi Jennifer, I think it would work; just make sure to completely cover the filling with the meringue and keep it in the oven for a short period of time. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

            • — Jenn on December 15, 2023
  • Hi Jenn! I can’t wait to try this for Easter dessert, but I have a question about the pie plate: Does it matter much if I use a glass or ceramic deep dish pie pan? Thanks! Debbie

    • — Debbie F on April 6, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, If you have deep dish versions of both glass and ceramic, I’d go with the ceramic pie pan. Hope everyone enjoys and happy Easter!

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2023
      • Reply
  • Would it be okay to substitute half and half cream for the whole milk, or will that affect the texture or setting too much?

    • — Peter on January 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Peter, I haven’t tried it with half and half, but it should work. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on January 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • MY OH MY!! I saw this, I liked it, I made it and WOW! This tart is out of this world top shelf! We have very special friends that we gather with every NewYears Eve. Just the 4 of us. My husband asked recently for me to make a coconut custard pie. Our friend Jim is an avid coconut fan, so when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a whirl. The response was a crowd pleaser. My husband who isn’t one to overly compliment certainly broke his usual,”Yeah, it’s good” to, “Wow, I like this a lot”. Jim, on the other hand was explosive with compliments and said it was probably the best dessert he’s ever had. The only change I made was switching out the Walker shortbread for Biscoff cookies, and there is no apology for that. I also made it in a 10” tart pan, but next time I’ll go for the deep dish pie plate for a fluffier whipped topping. Thank you for this recipe that will now become an automatic go to.

    • — Robin on January 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was on the Christmas Day menu as a dessert option. I grumbled all the way thru the preparation because of the time limit 6-12 hr window. The cookie crust makes this pie so don’t skip it. The filling improved w/age. I had made two pies and the next day pie had a stronger coconut flavor. I did not notice any softening in the crust on the next day pie. Next time I’ll make it late the night before so the flavors have time to mingle. It is heavenly & I understand why it’s your husband’s favorite. It wasn’t hard to make & the flavor is worth the effort. It still doesn’t beat your Key Lime pie recipe though.

    • — Sandy on December 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Is it possible to substitute something else for the rum? Serving to kids and adults that don’t drink alcohol. Thanks!!

    • — Samantha on November 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Samantha, I’d just replace the rum with additional coconut milk – it will still be delicious. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank you!

        • — Samantha on November 18, 2022
        • Reply
  • Absolutely the best coconut cream pie EVER. I don’t use the crust, instead preferring to blind bake a regular pie shell BUT, it is still absolutely perfect. Now a standard with our Thanksgiving fare.

    • — Erika on November 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • I used to work there- The cookie used on the crust was Nilla Wafer 🙂 It was my FAVORITE dessert as well.

    • — Sammie on September 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • What a delicious pie! The only change was cream of coconut due to availability of listed item. The crust was my favorite part of this pie. The smooth buttery flavor, shortbread cookies and coconut flakes were in perfect proportions. It complemented the smooth custard and whipped topping. I made this for my husband and I am not a cream pie fan but this pie was the best. I will add this to my family Sunday dinners. I will be using this crust again for other pies. Thank you

    • — Terry on August 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious. I wanted to add a few comments about minor changes I made based on some of the ingredients availability since I always read the comments for tips. First, our Whole Foods didn’t have cream of coconut but had coconut cream. I didn’t know there was a difference but apparently the cream of coconut has a higher sugar content. I used the same ratio and honestly thought the pie was plenty sweet! I also couldn’t find coconut rum so I just used a little extra coconut milk like Jenn suggests. Last, I accidentally added 4 tablespoons of butter to the custard instead of 3 (extra butter never hurts 🙂 ). Regardless, this was a pretty straight forward recipe thanks to Jenn’s detailed instructions and I will definitely make it again.

    • — Liz on August 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for my mother-in-laws birthday party. She almost cried! She said it was the most delicious dessert she had ever had and was sooooo appreciative of my efforts. That’s what I love about your delicious recipes, not only are they all so tasty, but sharing with my family under a warm summer sunset outside is one of my favorite memories. Thank you for sharing these and making it so “anyone can cook”. Ratatouille is my daughter’s all time favorite movie, and she always reminds me (as I’m Not a chef) that “anyone can cook!”🤨😊😂

    • — Andrea M on July 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was delicious……………but next time I make it, I’m going to add some coconut extract to give it more of a coconut flavour. There were no complaints from my dinner guests but I felt it was lacking in coconutty-ness.

    • — Jillian on July 15, 2022
    • Reply

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