Savor the scrumptious flavors of a no-bake coconut custard pie that’s not too sweet so you can enjoy the coconut flavor and creamy custard. A make-ahead pie that is perfect for any occasion.
The Best Coconut Custard Pie
This ultra-creamy and rich no-bake coconut cream pie is my take on this classic Southern dessert. A creamy custard infused with unsweetened coconut. This version has a true coconut flavor and is not overly sweet.
Most coconut cream pies are basically a vanilla cream pie with toasted coconut on top. They’re fantastic but if you love the taste of coconut, you’ll want to try this method. You get lots of coconut flavor, not only from toasted coconut, but from coconut milk and coconut infused in the custard itself. No coconut extract needed.
The filling is a rich, dense coconut custard that gets topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream, which compliments the custard without being the main component of the pie. If you love creamy custard pies but don’t want coconut, try making a buttermilk pie instead.
This coconut pie doesn’t get baked. Instead, the custard filling is made on the stovetop. If you’ve never made a homemade custard, it’s a simple process that only takes a few minutes, similar to banana cream pie. (I have step by step photos to walk you through below) It’s then poured into a simple graham cracker crust and left to firm up in the refrigerator.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of making a cream pie, you won’t find one better than this coconut cream pie recipe.
Coconut cream pie is a versatile dessert that you can serve any time of the year. You don’t need fresh fruit like you do with a blueberry pie or peach cobbler. It’s one of those comfort food desserts that just tastes like home.
Baked or Chilled Graham Cracker Crust
I suggest baking the graham cracker crust for a cream pie, but it is not necessary. You can chill it for 30 minutes instead. If you chill the crust the cold butter holds the crust in place but makes it harder to remove the slices. If it is baked the butter melts with the sugar and sets the crust making it a little crispier and easier to remove from the pan.
Can I use a store-bought graham cracker crust?
Store-bought crusts are an easy and convenient way to save time when making pie. You can use a store-bought crust for this pie, but sometimes they can be a little stale and don’t add much to the pie. You can easily make your own crust with just graham crackers and butter.
The Best Things About No-Bake Coconut Cream Pie
- It’s not too sweet. I often find that I can hardly taste the coconut in coconut cream pie underneath all of the sugar. This pie recipe has just the right amount of sweetness that allows the coconut flavor to shine through.
- It doesn’t need to be baked. Sometimes it’s too hot to use the oven, and sometimes the oven is busy baking other things – either way, it’s always nice to have a dessert that doesn’t need to be baked.
- It really tastes like coconut. Coconut cream pie is usually jsut a cream pie with coconut sprinkled on top. Using coconut milk and unsweetened shredded coconut gives the pie a rich coconut flavor.
Why there’s no Whipped Cream mixed with the Custard
Most coconut cream pie recipes have whipped cream folded into the custard layer – I prefer to add it just to the top of each slice. By adding whipped cream as a topping you can savor the rich coconut custard and the whipped cream is just a compliment instead of the main component.
Ingredients for Coconut Cream Pie
- Coconut milk: Using full-fat unsweetened canned coconut milk is essential for this recipe.
- Unsweetened coconut: Unsweetened coconut allows you to adjust the sweetness more precisely. You’ll use it in the custard filling for flavor and texture, but make sure you have enough to toast and top the pie for a garnish.
- Cornstarch and egg yolks: Together, cornstarch and egg yolks will thicken the custard.
- Whole milk: Using coconut and whole milk ensures an ultra-creamy and smooth custard.
- Heavy cream: Whipped cream is the classic topping for coconut cream pie, and making it from scratch is easy – and it tastes way better than canned.
- Pantry Staples: Sugar, salt, butter, vanilla extract
What is coconut milk?
Coconut milk is a mixture of the flesh of a coconut and water. It’s commonly used in Asian dishes and can be found with Indian or Asian ingredients in the grocery store. For the best result, you should use a full-fat coconut milk and nothing labeled as low or reduced fat.
How To Make the Creamiest Coconut Cream Pie
Step 1: Prepare the eggs.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and half of the sugar, then set aside.
Step 2: Heat the milk.
In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, milk, the remaining sugar, salt, and coconut flakes and bring to a simmer.
Step 3: Temper the eggs and finish the creamy coconut custard.
Take a cup of the hot milk mixture and slowly whisk it into the eggs until fully combined. Then, slowly add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Whisk vigorously until the custard thickens and is just starting to bubble. Remove the custard from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Step 4: Assemble and chill the pie.
Cool slightly before adding to a baked graham cracker crust. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the pie (this prevents a skin from forming). Refrigerate the pie for at least 4 hours.
Step 5: Make the whipped cream topping.
Use a hand mixer to whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add the topping right before serving, and sprinkle with toasted coconut. You can either spread the whipped cream over the top of the entire pie or add a dollop to the individual slices.
Pro Tip: If you want pretty swirls of whipped cream or just want it to keep its form for a few day, learn how you can easily stabilize whipped cream.
Tips for Making an Easy Coconut Cream Pie
- Toast the coconut flakes in a dry nonstick pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown and fragrant. Remove them from the pan to a plate or bowl immediately to keep them from burning. It will only take a minute or two.
- Slowly add the hot milk to the egg yolks so they don’t curdle.
How to Store Coconut Custard Pie
In the fridge – Store your coconut cream pie leftovers in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. If left at room temperature it will get soft.
In the freezer – Store slices of coconut cream pie in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. I recommend freezing it without the whipped cream topping. Thaw it in the fridge or on the counter before enjoying it.
What To Do If Your Coconut Milk is Solid or Separated
If you open your can of coconut milk and it has a sold layer on top, this is normal. Use a spoon or a spatula to scoop it out carefully. Underneath the layer of solid coconut cream is the coconut water. This separation is natural and harmless. Since the coconut milk will be heated, just dump it all into the saucepan. It will melt and combine with the other ingredients.
If you need your coconut milk to be mixed together for a different recipe, place the can into hot water for a few minutes and give it a good shake to mix it up.
Coconut Cream Pie FAQs
What can I do if I can’t find unsweetened coconut?
You should be able to find unsweetened coconut flakes in the baking aisle or online. If all you have is sweetened you may want to leave out some of the sugar in the custard to keep your pie from being too sweet.
Can you use a homemade pie crust for coconut cream pie?
Some Favorite Pies to Try
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The Creamiest No-Bake Coconut Cream Pie
- 1 graham cracker crust, baked
- 5 egg yolks
- ⅔ cups sugar divided
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 14 oz unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut toasted
- Plastic wrap
- Pie dish or tin
- Bake the graham cracker crust at 375º for 6-8 minutes and let it cool.
To make the filling:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cornstarch and ⅓ cup sugar. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, milk, ⅓ cup sugar, salt and coconut and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until tiny bubbles form. Reduce the heat to medium.
- Take a cup of the hot coconut milk and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture, then slowly add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the coconut mixture. Whisk vigorously until it is thickened and just starts to boil. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.
- Continue to stir until it is just warm then pour it into the prepared pie crust.
- Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Add topping right before serving and then sprinkle with toasted coconut.
To make the topping:
- With a hand mixer, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread on the top of the pie or on individual slices.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Toast the coconut flakes in the oven or in a dry nonstick pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from the pan to a plate or bowl immediately to keep them from burning.
- You can use an unbaked graham cracker crust, if so, chill it for at least 30 minutes.
- Make sure you use full fat unsweetened coconut milk.