Coconut Cream Pie
This Coconut Cream Pie recipe is a riff on the version from legendary Zingerman’s bakery, and is loaded with coconut flavor. A creamy coconut custard sits atop a vanilla wafer pie crust, and is finished with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes. It’s an easy and delicious homemade treat!
As you may already know from the Overnight Cinnamon Rolls and Ginger Scones I’ve posted on this blog, I’m a huge fan of Zingerman’s Bakehouse from Ann Arbor, Michigan. My dad has been ordering their breads and other edible goods since I was a child.
Since I live nowhere near Michigan, I’ve zealously made many of the recipes from their cookbook at home, and I wanted to share this delicious pie with you.
While I’ve changed a couple things in the recipe, most notably using a different pie crust altogether, this coconut custard pie is all about quality and pure flavor. You will find no Cool Whip here, or fake coconut flavors.
What’s really nice about this recipe is that it’s good enough to serve for a special occasion, but easy enough to make for any time you want something sweet.
It’s one of my favorite pies, and perfect for coconut lovers.
Step by Step Overview
In a medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, sea salt, and 3 fresh egg yolks:
Pour whole milk into the saucepan:
Then add one can of coconut milk (do not use lite coconut milk or cream of coconut):
Whisk the milk mixture together. It will look very thin:
Cook the pie filling over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil. You can see the bubbles below, and how the mixture has thickened:
Remove the pot from the heat, then add toasted coconut flakes, unsalted butter, and pure vanilla extract.
If you don’t know how to toast coconut, see my Toasted Coconut post for instructions.
While you can purchase toasted coconut flakes, just like nuts, it tastes better and fresher when you toast it yourself. Pre-toasted coconut loses its nutty flavor while it sits in the bag.
Whisk until the butter has melted and incorporated into the creamy custard:
Pour the coconut custard filling into a medium bowl, and press plastic wrap directly on top of the filling so a skin does not form.
Let the filling cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Then stir the coconut pudding with a spoon and spread it into the pie crust of your choice:
My preferred homemade pie crust for this recipe is this Vanilla Wafer Crust. It’s a buttery pie crust with a flavor that lends well to custard pies like this one.
However, you could also use a No Bake Graham Cracker Crust made with crushed graham crackers, or what the original Zingerman’s recipe calls for, a traditional Butter Pie Crust. If you go that route, make sure to blind bake it first with pie weights.
Once again, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours to completely chill.
When you’re ready to serve, whip heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl to stiff peaks using an electric mixer (or just a bowl and a balloon whisk).
Then spread the whipped cream on top of the custard base.
I find that stiff peaks hold better in slices than soft peaks, even though I prefer soft peaks when pairing whipped cream with fruit or other desserts.
To finish everything off, sprinkle some extra toasted coconut flakes on top of the pie:
The pie can now be sliced and served, or you can keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days, though know that the whipped cream may not hold well since it isn’t stabilized. I like to keep the leftovers in the actual pie plate, simply covered with plastic wrap.
If you like the flavor, then sure, add 1 teaspoon either in addition to the vanilla extract or in lieu of it. I personally have not found a brand I like, and there is sufficient coconut flavor there for me.
Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
Coconut Cream Pie
For the coconut cream pie:
- 1 vanilla wafer crust *
- 1.25 cups toasted coconut ** (unsweetened flaked)
For the filling:
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (densely packed)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 cups whole milk
- 13.5 ounce can coconut milk **
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
For the whipped cream topping:
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- First decide what kind of pie crust you'll use here. I recommend making a vanilla wafer crust, but you may also use a storebought crust, or make another pie crust altogether (see notes below).
- For the best taste, you will also want to toast your own coconut, though you may also purchase toasted coconut and bypass that step. See my post on Toasted Coconut if you'd like to do it yourself.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and salt. Add the whole milk and coconut milk, and whisk to combine.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook the filling, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a light boil. Continue cooking and stir for 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the toasted coconut, the vanilla extract, and the butter. Whisk until the butter has melted and incorporated.
- Pour the filling into a large glass bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Stir the pudding to smooth out any lumps, then pour onto the prepared pie crust. Press plastic wrap on top of the filling again, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until completely chilled. 4 hours is better for full setting.
- Combine all whipped cream ingredients in a bowl, and use a hand mixer to whip to stiff peaks (see my post on Homemade Whipped Cream if you need more guidance). Spread the whipped cream over the pudding layer, then finish the pie by garnishing with the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted coconut.
- If serving right away, cut into slices, and enjoy. Otherwise, keep in the fridge until ready to serve, ideally no more than a couple hours for optimal results.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.