Coconut Cream Pie – the old fashioned way!

Posted on Nov 17 2007 - 12:10pm by Barry C. Parsons

The Absolute Best Coconut Cream Pie…truly the absolute best! A creamy, old-fashioned coconut cream pie recipe that this avid baker has used for over 30 years. I have never tasted a better recipe. 

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Although I love coconut cream pie, I never order it in restaurants because of decades of being served gelatinous slop that bore little resemblance to the real thing. I have been making this pie since I was 12 years old and have yet to sample better; nor do I hope to.

This is quite an old fashioned recipe for this classic pie which is based upon a flour thickened, pudding-like custard pie filling. I despise versions of this recipe that are thickened with corn starch. The texture just isn’t right.


A proper coconut cream pie should be velvety and creamy, not jelly like at all. This recipe gets it right and the results are well worth the effort. This recipe is continuously in our TOP 10 ever published on Rock Recipes, even after 7 years and over 1300 recipes published. It gets many rave reviews and everyone who tries it loves it. This is the recipe you’ve been looking for.

2016 update: This recipe has never wavered in popularity in all the time it has been posted on this website. It gets continuous rave reviews and is still consistently in our top ten recipes, even after 9 years online.

There’s a very good reason why it’s so popular. You’ll thank yourself for discovering why.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie


Like this coconut cream pie recipe?

You’ll find many more like it in our Cakes and pies Category and still more indulgent ideas in our Desserts

The Absolute Best Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie
The Absolute Best Coconut Cream Pie
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
6 hr
I really do believe this is the absolute best coconut cream pie. After decades of tasting many different pie recipes I have never had better than this luscious creamy pie...not even close.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: North American
Servings: 10 -12 servings
Author: Barry C. Parsons
For the pastry
  • 1 cup very cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup to 1/3 ice water Only enough to make a dough form.
For the coconut cream filling
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened fine coconut
  • 3 slightly beaten extra large egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
For the vanilla whipped cream
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar powdered sugar
For the pastry (sufficient for 2 pie shells)
  1. Using a food processor or a pastry blender cut cold butter into flour and salt until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Small pieces of butter should still be visible.
  2. Pour cold water over the mixture and work in by tossing with a fork until dough begins to form. Use your hands as little as possible and work the dough as little as possible.
  3. Divide dough into 2 balls, flatten into 2 rounds, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes. You can freeze the second round for another time.
  4. You can make your dough the previous day but make sure you take it out of the fridge for 10 -20 minutes to warm slightly before rolling out.
  5. Roll the dough into a 12 inch round and place in the bottom of a 10 inch pie plate.
  6. Trim and flute the edges as desired.
  7. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the pastry shell, rest in the refrigerator for an additional 20 minutes before baking at 400 degrees F for 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool completely before adding the filling.
For the coconut cream filling
  1. Scald the milk in the microwave or on the stove top to almost boiling. Microwave works best as there is no chance of burning the milk.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the flour, sugar, salt and coconut.
  3. Over medium low flame slowly add 1 cup of the scalded milk, whisking constantly.
  4. As you notice the filling beginning to thicken, add another cup of the scalded milk continuing to stir constantly until it begins to thicken again.
  5. Add the final cup of scalded milk, stirring constantly. Continue to cook over medium low heat until mixture begins to slightly thicken.
  6. At this point remove from heat and pour about a half cup of this mixture onto the beaten egg yolks, whisking constantly.
  7. Pour the egg mixture immediately back into the pot, continuing to constantly stir.
  8. Cook for an additional two or three until the filling reaches pudding consistency and remove from the flame. The mixture should just be beginning to boil at this point.
  9. Stir in the butter, vanilla and almond extract.
  10. Cool for about 20 minutes before pouring into the baked pie shell/s.
  11. Chill the pie/s completely for several hours or overnight before adding the vanilla whipped cream.
For the vanilla whipped cream
  1. Combine the whipping cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract and beat to soft peaks. Spread on top of the cooled coconut cream filling. Garnish with toasted coconut and serve.
Recipe Notes

The total prep time does reflect the need to chill this pie for several hours before serving. I prefer to make it a day in advance whenever I can.

83 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Brenda November 17, 2007 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I was wondering if the coconut that goes in the filling was toasted first? Well actually Fraz wanted to know. He wasn’t to give it a try.

  2. Le Chef Secret November 17, 2007 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Nope. the coconut in the filling is not toasted, only what you use to garnish the pie. You must remember this pie, sis!

  3. Lynnette Moore December 29, 2011 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Yum, my favorite, I am trying this! Nettie

  4. Anonymous December 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    I make a very similar recipe but I use coconut milk. It really ‘ups’ the coconut flavor!!

  5. danelectro January 11, 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    I’m planning on making this pie today, but I have a question – is the filling for two pie shells or one? Because the pastry amount is for two.

  6. Barry C. Parsons January 11, 2012 at 11:07 am - Reply

    I always freeze the second dough round for later. The filling makes enough for one large 10 inch pie. Enjoy!

  7. danelectro January 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Barry. I freezed the second round. The pie is in the fridge and I hate this part when you have to wait 🙂 I tried a little bit of the filling and it’s so yummy.

  8. danelectro January 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    I have to report 🙂 The pie is really delicious, but I obviously didn’t let it thicken enough so it’s a bit runny. But, as I said, it’s really really yummy. I will make small tarts next time with the same filling. Thanks for this recipe!

  9. Cindy February 22, 2012 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Ooooooo I made it and I loved it! (but I made a graham crumb crust cause that’s my fav!) It was mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm good! lol

  10. Anonymous February 25, 2012 at 4:27 am - Reply

    Just finished making this, and it’s a absolute hit with my family!!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe!!!

  11. Candy February 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    I love coconut cream pie. Anything with coconut for that matter. This looks fantastic! I like danelectro’s idea to make small tarts, that may keep me from eating an entire pie!

  12. Memória February 26, 2012 at 12:16 am - Reply

    So, this filling is just basically a vanilla custard with shredded coconut. A true coconut pie should have some coconut milk and/or coconut extract in it. I plan to try out this recipe with those changes. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Rue January 27, 2017 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      I’ve been looking for a coconut cream pie recipe in a couple of my old cook books from the 1940’s. None of them use coconut milk. Probably no such thing available back then.

  13. Easy Peasy February 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I served this to my family tonight and everyone gave me a thumbs up. It was terrific!

  14. Anonymous March 31, 2012 at 12:06 am - Reply

    The flavour was yummy but the filling was runny. Anyone know why? It set in the fridge all day covered with saran wrap.

    • Barry C. Parsons April 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      Sounds like you didn’t cook the filling enough. I’ve never had this fail in over 30 years.

  15. danelectro April 20, 2012 at 7:20 am - Reply

    As you know, I made this heavenly pie in January and am planning on making it again this weekend for my husband’s birthday. I still have the second dough round in the freezer so my question is: can I use it after 3 and a half months in the freezer? I didn’t roll it out, it’s in a ball shape.

    • Barry C. Parsons April 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      As long as it was well wrapped and has no evidence of freezer burn, I’d use it.

  16. danelectro April 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks, but I’ve already made new dough, it’s better to be safe than sorry:) Now the waiting (hate this part)…

  17. Lorilyn November 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    The only unsweetened coconut I could find was Birds Eye brand Fresh frozen coconut. Will this work? Or do you used the dehydrated unsweetened coconut for your recipe?

  18. Anonymous November 22, 2012 at 11:32 am - Reply

    What is “icing sugar” powder sugar?

  19. Barry C. Parsons November 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Yes icing sugar, confectioners sugar and powdered sugar are all one in the same.

  20. Desiree Choi March 28, 2013 at 4:15 am - Reply

    I’m soo sorry but how do you toast the coconut?

    This is my Grandmother’s favourite type of pie so I would love to make it for her every now and then,

    Thank you.

    • Genna November 11, 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

      Preheat your oven to 325. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Watch it carefully! I like to stir it around a bit too.

  21. Anonymous March 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    I HATE coconut cream pie, and I just made and loved this pie. Gelatin is always the prevailing ingredient in all the other coconut cream pies I’ve had, so this tasty creamy pie was a very welcome change.

  22. Barry C. Parsons March 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I could not agree more! Gelatine or corn starch thickened filling are not even in the same universe as this creamy luscious pie. I’ve been making it for over 30 years and have never had the need to try another recipe. Probably never will.

  23. ShawnaW May 21, 2013 at 2:05 am - Reply

    This pie was amazing… I used sweetened coconut on accident and one teaspoon of vanilla + one teaspoon of coconut instead of two teaspoons of vanilla extract but other than that I stuck to the recipe. It took a very long time to cook the filling to a thick consistency but it was totally worth it. Everyone had nothing but good things to say and I felt very proud of myself.

  24. Emily Carter June 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm - Reply


    I made this pie yesterday for my dad for Father’s Day. It’s his favourite and he was so happy with it!

    I was so pleased when the finished product looked identical to your photos!

    Thank you for the great recipe, we will definitely be using it in the again!


  25. Anonymous December 14, 2013 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Have you ever used coconut extract? Also, I had a wonderful coconut cream pie that used coconut in the crust as well-it really bumped up the texture and taste!

  26. Robin April 12, 2014 at 10:44 am - Reply

    I made this yesterday and my friends loved it! I’m not a lover but their expressions were very reassuring that it was an excellent pie! Thanks Barry! I’m trying the lemon one this week. 🙂

  27. Anonymous April 18, 2014 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    So excited to make this for our family Easter! Question – I only have sweetened coconut and all the stores are closed. Should I adjust the amount of sugar in the filling? Will definitely report back after it’s made 🙂

  28. Barry C. Parsons April 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Ive never made it with sweetened coconut but if forced to I would probably cut back on the sugar in the custard for sure. Maybe even by half.

  29. nathalie June 20, 2014 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    This pie is So amazing! I made this for my friends 76th BD, she adored it. Not too sweet, and beautifully creamy. Watch that you don’t burn the custard, it doesn’t affect the flavour so much but changes the colour a tad when you scrape the bottom of the pot. Thanks for the share!

  30. Monique July 5, 2014 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    I only have 2 percent milk, would that be ok, or could evaporated milk be used? Thank you

    • Barry C. Parsons July 6, 2014 at 11:02 am - Reply

      The evaporated milk does provide extra moistness and a richer flavor.

  31. Jill October 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    Can I use coconut milk instead of the whole milk?

    • Barry C. Parsons October 10, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

      I’d be a bit concerned about the fat content in the coconut milk. If I was trying it I think I’d try half of each as an experiment and see if that works.

  32. Edie October 10, 2014 at 1:44 am - Reply

    To make this pie the ultimate in coconuttiness try whipping coconut cream instead of milk cream. It’s amazing.

    • Barry C. Parsons October 10, 2014 at 10:56 am - Reply

      I’ll try to remember that. Does it stay stable?

  33. Melanie October 10, 2014 at 10:17 am - Reply

    For your whole milk do you use tinned…ie carnation or the red carton milk?

    • Barry C. Parsons October 10, 2014 at 10:56 am - Reply

      The red carton. If you are using evaporated, like Carnation, you would have to add water for half the volume.

  34. Renee October 10, 2014 at 11:00 am - Reply

    When you scald the milk in the microwave how long do you put it in for?

    • Barry C. Parsons October 10, 2014 at 11:19 am - Reply

      That is definitely going to vary depending on your microwave. Mine takes about 4 minutes. You want it very hot but not boiling. Use a thermometer if you want. You can do it on the stovetop if you prefer but stir it often so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

  35. Jill October 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you!

  36. Debbie Conrad November 5, 2014 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    You are correct– this is the world’s best coconut pie! Didn’t know flour instead of cornstarch could make such a difference. The second time I made it I left out the coconut and put bananas in just before I put it in the crust. World’s best banana cream pie!

    • Barry C. Parsons November 7, 2014 at 6:53 am - Reply

      Thanks for the great comment Debbie. I even shared it of Facebook. I think your suggestion about the banana cream pie is terrific. I’m gonna try that!

  37. Yolanda November 8, 2014 at 10:15 am - Reply

    This pie looks fabulous!! If I wanted to make two pies, would you suggest making each filling separately or could I just double the recipe?

    • Barry C. Parsons November 8, 2014 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Just double it and it will be fine. Just take your time with the filling and don’t have the heat too high. Slower is better here and slow gentle stirring will get you there in the end. Enjoy.

  38. Meredith December 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Does this pie freeze ok? I made it today but we had to miss the party I made it for….Id
    love to freeze it for Christmas Eve or Day but not unless it will be just as good!

    • Barry C. Parsons December 29, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

      I wouldn’t try it. Custard bases usually split when frozen.

  39. Holly March 12, 2015 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Oh that looks SO GOOD! My very favorite pie! Thanks!

  40. Kenzie April 3, 2015 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    What kind/brand of coconut do you prefer?

  41. Robin June 6, 2015 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    I’ve been making this pie regularly since you posted it and didn’t think it could get any better, but I the best one yet today

  42. Robin June 6, 2015 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    To continue from my last post. To make this pie even better I used a can of coconut milk to replace some of the milk and It was perfect! you wouldn’t think something so bland would make such an improvement to an already outstanding recipe.

  43. Jenna November 25, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Just made this pie to serve tomorrow (thanksgiving). Looks phenomenal! I refrigerated it for 3 hrs but I’m hoping its form will last a 6 hr car drive!

  44. Jay December 10, 2015 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Love this recipe! It scales up so well – I just tripled it for 3 pie shells!

    Some mods that I apply:
    -Iroll out the pie dough in graham cracker crumbs for a shatteringly crisp crust (especially with custard based pies)
    -substitute a can of coconut milk for the some of the milk
    -stir a couple of tablespoons of rum into the whipped cream
    -with a really good pan (clad!)and good whisk action, you can crank the heat up a bit and get it done pretty fast (reducing heat at the end)

    I’ve made this recipe for filling about 4x so far (at least doubling it each time!) Everyone who has tried it has loved it!

    • Barry C. Parsons December 14, 2015 at 10:18 am - Reply

      I like the idea of the graham crumbs. May have to try that!

  45. Ami March 18, 2016 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I’m gathering the ingredients to make this pie for an Easter dinner tomorrow. I hope it turns out. I’ve never made a coconut cream pie from scratch. I’m nervous but very excited!

  46. Marie May 11, 2016 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    This was amazing!!! This is my husband’s favorite pie, I tried a different recipe last night, it’s in the garage now. I was determined to nail this no matter how many times and recipes I tried. I followed the instructions to this one and it came out AMAZING! Even my crust was perfect!! And I hate making crust!!
    Thanks! I’ll be making this many more times in my future!

    • Barry C. Parsons May 14, 2016 at 8:57 am - Reply

      So glad it was a big success. It’s a recipe that I have been making since I was a kid. I’ve never tried another recipe. Why would I? 🙂

  47. Shannon May 30, 2016 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Coconut Cream Pie is a favorite of a close family friend. So, I made this pie last week, however, I do not see where you could get 2 pie crusts out of this recipe. What was left over will make a much smaller pie crust instead of a 12 inch pie crust. This pie crust was soooooo flaky!! I can’t wait to use the leftover pie crust which I placed in the freezer until ready to use. Could you double the crust recipe? Then whatever is leftover you could make some sugar and cinnamon pinwheels. I can remember growing up and when my mom was making a pie and she had leftover pie crust she would make these pinwheels – DELICIOUS!! The pie was a hit with my family friend and she enjoyed every last bite ALL to herself! LOL I’m unable to eat due to having cancer and having my tongue removed in June 2014; however that hasn’t stopped my LOVE for being in the kitchen! This recipe is a KEEPER!!

    • Barry C. Parsons August 19, 2016 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      The pie crust recipe is pretty standard for two 9 to 10 inch pie shells. A 12 inch pie is quite large.

  48. Shirley October 15, 2016 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Best coconut pie I’ve ever made. Must confess that I also added 1/2 tsp coconut extract. Would have been a 5 star pie without it !!

    • Barry C. Parsons October 16, 2016 at 11:22 am - Reply

      This recipe always gets a great response. So Glad you like it.

  49. Ruby October 26, 2016 at 5:04 am - Reply

    Hi there! Is the butter salted or unsalted? Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Barry C. Parsons October 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      I almost always use salted butter, except sometimes for frosting.

  50. Michelle November 15, 2016 at 12:55 am - Reply

    Can the whole pie be made the before? Planning for Thanksgiving. Thanks!

    • Barry C. Parsons November 15, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

      If you mean a day ahead, then yes. It is best chilled overnight anyway for the best set on the custard.

  51. Leslie November 17, 2016 at 3:45 am - Reply

    Should I measure the flour packed down or loose? I made the pie filling but it came out runny and I had to scrap it. I’m trying again tomrw night. Good thing thanksgiving is still a week away

    • Barry C. Parsons November 17, 2016 at 8:59 am - Reply

      Slightly packed should be fine but I don’t think that’s your issue. You may not be cooking the filling long enough. Low and slow is best here. It will take 15 minutes or so to get the filling to the proper consistency. Make sure that the filling shows that it is beginning to thicken between additions of milk. For heavens sake don’t use anything but real butter at the end. Anything else can cause a filling to collapse.

  52. Davetta Niemi November 20, 2016 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    How long do you actually cook it?

    • Barry C. Parsons November 21, 2016 at 7:36 am - Reply

      There are a few variables that would affect that. Until it is a pudding like consistency is mt best answer. On my stove, perhaps 15 minutes or more. Don’t walk away, it has to be attended to.

  53. Faricha Lewing December 17, 2016 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    My family likes meringue on top. Would this pie work with meringue instead of the original topping? Thanks!!

    • Barry C. Parsons December 19, 2016 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Oh yes, I know several people who do this but I never have myself.

  54. Nancy Brandau December 29, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Awesome. But next time I’m leaving out the almond extract.

  55. Lauren February 13, 2017 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    I want to make this tomorrow for Valentine’s Day! Can you tell me exactly what coconut you use? The packaged type is usually really moist. The bulk section at Whole Foods has a very dry unsweened coconut and it’s pretty fine. Which one would you suggest? Thanks!

  56. Cheyenne February 15, 2017 at 12:48 am - Reply

    I made this tonight and so far, the nibble I tasted is amazing. However is the whipping cream actually whipped cream or heavy whipping cream? Probably a silly question but I want to be sure before ruining my pie.

    • Barry C. Parsons February 20, 2017 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Here whipping cream is 35% milk fat, anything over that is fine, as long as it can be whipped.

  57. Stephanie April 12, 2017 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    I’ve been looking everywhere for a coconut cream pie recipe. Here we have one. Except I have EVERY OTHER INGREDIENT except whole milk. Would half and half suffice or should I get the whole milk?

    • Barry C. Parsons April 19, 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      Can’t answer that. I’ve only ever used whole milk.

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