This cool, rich coconut cream pie is beautiful and incomparably delicious. It stands out among the many luscious sweets you might find on a Southern table when great cooks are aiming to please. The homemade coconut cream pie filling is simple to make once you’ve done it a few times. An elegant meringue cloud is the classic finish, with a little extra coconut sprinkled atop the meringue before baking, to communicate exactly what kind of pie pleasure awaits the lucky ones anticipating a piece.–Nancie McDermott
Coconut Cream Pie FAQs
An undercooked meringue or one with too much liquid in it can release beads of liquid that pool on top of the meringue. To avoid this, you can beat a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch into the meringue to help stabilize it.
The two pies are very similar, however, a coconut cream pie has a custard that is cooked on the stovetop before being added to a cooked pie shell, as in this recipe or in this maple cream pie recipe. For a coconut custard pie, the uncooked custard is placed in the pie shell and thickens during baking.
Coconut Cream Pie
For the crust
- Lard and Butter Pie Crust, (use 1/2 the recipe)
For the coconut custard filling
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 1/4 cups milk, preferably whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups shredded or flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the meringue
- 3 large egg whites
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
Blind bake the crust
- Heat the oven to 375° F (190°C).
- Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry, then crimp the edges decoratively. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Bake until the crust is very lightly browned and somewhat dry, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pie pan from the oven, carefully lift out the parchment paper and weights, and return the pan to the oven until the pie crust is dry and nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes more. Let it cool to room temperature.
Make the coconut custard filling
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Use a fork or a whisk to mix them well. Pour the milk into the pan and stir well with a whisk or a spatula until everything is very well combined and the dry ingredients seem to have dissolved. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, still stirring with the whisk or spatula, until the mixture heats up and almost reaches a boil and steams and thickens into a smooth, velvety sauce, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture with a measuring cup. Begin stirring the beaten egg yolks with a whisk or a large spoon and slowly, slowly start to add the 1/2 cup of the steaming hot milk mixture, stirring constantly as you pour. (This warms up the eggs and discourages them from curdling.) Slowly pour the egg yolk and milk mixture back into the mixture in the pan, stirring until completely incorporated.
- Place the pan back over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan often, for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to cook, still stirring and scraping but a little more occasionally, until the mixture thickens considerably and begins retaining its shape when a blob is dropped from the spoon. Then let it come to a gentle but noisy boil, with large, blobby bubbles surfacing, popping, plopping, and steaming like lava in a cartoon volcano. Let it boil gently for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add 1 cup of the coconut, the butter, and the vanilla to the custard in the pan and stir to combine. When the butter is melted and incorporated into the custard, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and set it aside to cool to room temperature. When the custard has cooled to room temperature, remove the plastic wrap and scoop the custard filling into the piecrust.
Make the meringue
- Heat the oven to 350° F (176°C)
- Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat the egg whites until they swell up into plump, shiny, soft clouds that hold firm, curly peaks.
Assemble and bake the pie
- Scoop the meringue on top of the cooled custard filling, spreading it all the way to the crust and mounding the meringue slightly in the center of the pie. Create swoops and swirls in the meringue for decorative effect and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of the coconut over the top of the meringue.
- Place the coconut cream pie on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the meringue is a beautiful golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or, if desired, refrigerate and serve chilled.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I did it! I made my first cream pie with a meringue topping, and it turned out great. I have this recipe for coconut cream pie to thank for it. It took me by the hand and walked me though with great success. The instructions were so helpful, telling me exactly what to look for when making the custard.
I just stood back and listened to the oohs and ahhs and grinned like the Cheshire Cat with my beautiful finished pie. I’m sure this pie would be good with whatever pie crust you choose to use, but I highly recommend the Lard and Butter Pie Crust. Needless to say, I’ll be making both the crust and pie again.
The smell of the homemade coconut cream pie filling was so good that it almost didn’t make it into the crust! (By the way, I reduced the butter by 1 tablespoon and used non-fat milk. It was still really rich tasting.) My family loved it.
Also, we ate one piece that evening–the still warm meringue had a burnt marshmallow flavor (yum). Then we ate another in the morning out of the fridge. It really does take good either way.
I am so glad this was my first attempt at a homemade coconut pie, as the pie turned out flawless. The creamy homemade coconut pie filling was silky and sweet, with bits of coconut in it. The meringue was light and airy, but with a bit of chew from the toasted coconut and golden-brown top. This recipe for coconut cream pie works as written and is very easy to follow. It’s not a quick pie recipe, but I found the results to be worth the effort. It was so good.
This definitely reminded me of my Texas childhood! Every church dinner and family function offered a coconut cream pie. This particular pie has a custard that’s delicious and the puffs of meringue finish it off perfectly. The instructions for the filling seemed a little long, but were necessary in order to keep the custard from curdling. We look forward to making this again.
This is just luscious. Mine set up so nice. With all this you get all ooh’s and swoons.
This pie had a great flavor and creamy texture. I used my own pie crust recipe and sweetened coconut. It did take about five minutes longer to cook my filling than the time stated in the recipe, and I believe it could have cooked a little longer. It seemed like it took forever for the mixture to come to room temperature.
I used my hand mixer to make the meringue and will use my KitchenAid next time. It took a very long time for my meringue to get to the right consistency. The end result was a very nice looking toasted coconut meringue that had everyone drooling.
The homemade coconut cream pie filling for this pie was excellent. I didn’t have whole milk on hand, so I used one cup of half and half and 2% milk for the rest. I used sweetened shredded coconut, and the amount was just right for each bite; however, those that don’t enjoy eating shredded coconut on its own may want to cut back slightly.
Make sure the coconut custard is completely cooled before putting the meringue on top to bake. I rushed this step, and I think it caused my meringue layer to separate from the filling and get a little runny. I refrigerated the pie overnight, and in the morning, it looked a little less watery. I don’t think it affected the taste at all, but the appearance wasn’t as nice. And on a final note, my meringue ended up rather squat and restrained, not as buoyant and exuberant as I had hoped.