Delicious Coconut Cream Pie Recipe: A True Treat

Are you ready to indulge in the ultimate dessert fantasy? Look no further than this delectable coconut cream pie recipe from Cooks Illustrated. With its creamy coconut filling and sweet, flaky crust, this pie is perfect for any occasion, from holiday dinners to lazy Sunday afternoons.

Our team at Cooks Illustrated has worked hard to perfect this recipe and bring you the best possible version of coconut cream pie. We’ve tested every element, from the unsweetened dried shredded coconut to the homemade custard filling, to ensure that each bite is pure bliss.

So let’s begin the journey towards a luscious treat that will transport your taste buds to a tropical paradise. Whether you’re an experienced baker or a novice in the kitchen, follow these instructions step by step and your coconut cream pie will come out perfectly every time. Trust us, your friends and family will thank you for it!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Coconut Cream Pie from Cooks Illustrated
Coconut Cream Pie from Cooks Illustrated

Are you a fan of coconut? If so, then this recipe is definitely for you! This Coconut Cream Pie from Cooks Illustrated Recipe is a true masterpiece that will whisk your taste buds away on a tropical vacation. The creamy, smooth, and luscious texture of the pie’s filling will make it hard for you to resist having more than one slice.

One of the reasons why this recipe is so amazing is because of the unsweetened dried shredded coconut that is generously sprinkled throughout the pie. Through this ingredient, it gives you a texture that is crispy, crunchy, and exotic all at the same time. Another reason why you’ll love this recipe is because of the homemade coconut custard filling. There’s simply no substitute for using fresh and organic coconut milk in your baking exploits.

The coconut cream filling provides an extra layer of decadence, which will leave your taste buds feeling like they’re on top of the world. This recipe expertly balances out all the flavors- sweet, creamy, nutty- to create a symphony inside your mouth with every bite.

And let’s not forget about the crust! The animal crackers in the crust offer just the right amount of saltiness to complement the richness of the coconut cream filling perfectly. It’s almost like having an appetizer before digging into this irresistible pie.

With all these elements coming together perfectly, there truly is something special about this Coconut Cream Pie from Cooks Illustrated Recipe. Give this recipe a try and experience what making homemade pie really should be like – effortless but filled with complexity in flavors.

Ingredient List

 A slice of heaven on a plate: freshly baked coconut cream pie.
A slice of heaven on a plate: freshly baked coconut cream pie.

The Essential Components of a Delicious Coconut Cream Pie

When it comes to assembling a coconut cream pie from scratch, you want to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand. From unsweetened dried shredded coconut to coconut milk, each component plays an essential role in creating a creamy, tropical dessert. Here is a detailed list of the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Pie crust: 6 ounces animal crackers (2 cups); 1/2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut; 1/4 cup granulated sugar; 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

  • Coconut custard filling: 1 cup whole milk; 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk; 6 large egg yolks; 1/2 cup granulated sugar; 1/4 cup cornstarch; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon unsalted butter; 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

  • Coconut cream topping: 2 cups heavy cream; 3 tablespoons canned unsweetened coconut milk; 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

Make sure to measure out each ingredient accurately and follow the instructions carefully for the best results.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect balance of creamy and crunchy, that's what coconut cream pie promises!
The perfect balance of creamy and crunchy, that’s what coconut cream pie promises!

Prepare the Crust

Before we start making the filling, we need to prepare the crust. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a food processor, pulse 2 cups animal crackers until finely ground. Add ¾ cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pulse a few more times until everything is evenly combined.

Add 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled) to the food processor and pulse again just until everything is moistened.

Press this mixture into a 9-inch pie plate with your fingers or a flat-bottomed measuring cup. Bake this mixture for 15 minutes or until lightly brown. Set it aside while you prepare the filling.

Make Coconut Cream Filling

While waiting for the crust to bake, heat 2 cups coconut milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it starts steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat and set it aside.

In another medium saucepan whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk in reserved coconut milk mixture gradually making sure not to create any lumps until everything is combined.

Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until this mixture starts to boil and thicken. This will take around 3 to 5 minutes. Then remove it from heat.

Whisk in 6 ounces (2 1/2 cups) of animal crackers finely ground in the food processor, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted), and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Mix everything thoroughly until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Gradually add the custard filling mixture over the baked crust spreading it out evenly with a spoon or spatula. Smooth it out with an offset spatula if you have one to make sure that there are no air bubbles trapped inside.

Bake & Chill

Bake this pie in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes but make sure not to let it brown too much or develop cracks on top of its surface as it cools down later on.

When cooked thoroughly, remove this pie from the oven, cool it down at room temperature for 2 hours which will bring out all flavors in the filling.

Cover with plastic wrap loosely and then chill in your refrigerator for another 4 hours minimum – overnight would even be better – which will help set this up nicely into a refreshing natural coconut cream filling that’s hard not to love! Serve cool right after taking it out of the refrigerator or keep chilled so that this pie won’t get watery as you enjoy every delicious slice.

Substitutions and Variations

 A dollop of whipped cream on top, and this coconut cream pie is ready for its close-up.
A dollop of whipped cream on top, and this coconut cream pie is ready for its close-up.

In the realm of culinary arts, the beauty lies in exploring various possibilities and options. Now that you have learned about the primary ingredients used in the Coconut Cream Pie recipe, it’s time for me to get creative with some substitutions and variations.

If you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just not a fan of dairy products, then you can replace heavy cream with coconut cream. For the sake of clarity, it’s essential to note that coconut cream is different from coconut milk. Coconut cream is thicker and richer than coconut milk and has a higher fat content as well.

For those who would like to reduce their sugar intake, you can substitute the granulated sugar with an equal amount of honey or 3/4th cup maple syrup for every cup of sugar. Since both honey and maple syrup are sweeteners that stand out in terms of texture and flavor profile, it may take some experimentation before getting the right amount that your taste buds prefer.

The crust in this recipe calls for animal crackers but if you don’t have any on hand, you can use Graham crackers instead. The dry fruit of your choice like almonds or pecans can be added to crust if you’re feeling adventurous.

Lastly, if you want to make mini pies for entertaining guests or as a portable bite-sized snack, then make multiple batches of the recipe but use six small pie pans or ramekins instead of one large pie pan.

Remember, there is no limit to creativity in cooking. You can experiment with different combinations and degrees depending on your preferences.

Serving and Pairing

 The toasted coconut garnish adds an irresistible aroma and an extra layer of flavor to the pie.
The toasted coconut garnish adds an irresistible aroma and an extra layer of flavor to the pie.

Now that you’ve made this delightful coconut cream pie, it’s time to serve and enjoy. This rich, velvety and delicately sweet pie is truly a treat for every dessert lover out there. For best results, cut the pie into individual pieces using a sharp knife dipped in hot water after each slice.

As for pairing options, you can’t go wrong with a hot cup of coffee or tea. It’s also lovely served with a tall glass of cold milk. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, serve the pie ala mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

If you have any leftovers, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three days. Just remember, the longer the pie sits in the fridge, the more likely it is to get soggy or watery due to the coconut milk cream filling. To prevent this, keep coconut cream pies as cold as possible by storing them in a chilled environment.

In conclusion, coconut cream pies are great for any occasion from birthdays and holidays to dinner parties or potlucks. With its creamy goodness and unmistakable coconut taste, this is one dessert that no one can resist!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Everyone will be reaching for a second slice once they taste the irresistible mix of coconut and sweet custard filling.
Everyone will be reaching for a second slice once they taste the irresistible mix of coconut and sweet custard filling.

Looking to get ahead of the game and prepare your Coconut Cream Pie in advance? With a few simple steps, you can have this delectable dessert ready to go whenever you need it.

To make this pie ahead of time, first, follow the recipe instructions as usual, but hold off on adding the whipped cream topping until just before serving. Once the pie is assembled and topped with whipped cream, tightly cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

If you want to store this pie for a longer period, simply freeze it instead. To do so, wrap the assembled and uncovered Coconut Cream Pie tightly with aluminum foil, then place it in an airtight container or sealable freezer bag. You can freeze the pie for up to two months.

When reheating a previously cooked Coconut Cream Pie that was stored in the refrigerator, allow it to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving. If reheating a frozen pie, transfer the frozen pie from freezer to fridge and defrost overnight or up to 24 hours before reheating.

To serve both chilled and warm pies, remove it from fridge or freezer base on preference and slice into wedges using a sharp knife which has been dipped in hot water to prevent dragging through filling. Enjoy by itself, or pair it with fresh fruit like sliced strawberries.

Keep these tips in mind for perfect results every time. You’ll be sure to impress your guests with a stunning and delicious dessert that looks like you spent all day slaving away in the kitchen!

Tips for Perfect Results

 One bite of this coconut cream pie will transport you to a tropical paradise.
One bite of this coconut cream pie will transport you to a tropical paradise.

Before you embark on the journey of creating the perfect coconut cream pie using our Cooks Illustrated recipe, allow me to share some tips for achieving the most delightful outcome.

First and foremost, it is crucial to keep your coconut cream pie from getting watery, as nobody wants to indulge in a soggy dessert. One effective way to prevent this is to minimize the amount of liquid that enters the crust. You can do this by brushing the crust with a beaten egg before baking it, which creates a protective layer between the filling and the crust.

Another essential factor in creating a perfect coconut cream pie is utilizing chilled heavy cream when making whipped cream topping. For best results, refrigerate your mixing bowl and whisk attachment for at least 10 minutes before whipping, as cold utensils will better emulsify heavy cream into a light and fluffy whipped cream.

To create an extra dimension of flavor in the filling, use unsweetened dried shredded coconut rather than sweetened. The unsweetened variety will add more complexity and contrast to the sweetness of the custard filling. However, if you’re using sweetened shredded coconut, reduce the sugar amount specified in the recipe slightly.

Furthermore, when measuring ingredients like cornstarch and sugar for your coconut custard filling, be sure to spoon them into your measuring cup and level off flat with something straight-edged like a knife or spatula. This ensures you get an accurate measurement that will affect consistency and taste.

Lastly, if coconut cream isn’t readily available in your area supermarkets or grocery stores, you can replace it with an equal amount of regular heavy cream instead. You won’t risk sacrificing flavor doing so since there’s already an ample amount of shredded coconut in both the crust and creamy filling.

With these tips and tricks under your belt, you’ll surely have no trouble making an irresistible coconut cream pie using our Cooks Illustrated recipe.


As a baker, I understand that you may have questions or concerns about the recipe. That’s why I’ve taken the time to compile some frequently asked questions and their answers to put your mind at ease. Whether this is your first time making a coconut cream pie or you’re an experienced baker, I hope these FAQs will provide you with valuable information and help ensure that your bake is a success.

How do you keep a coconut cream pie from getting watery?

For the coconut cream filling, it’s important to add ½ cup of cornstarch to prevent any unwanted wateriness in the pie. Additionally, allow the pie crust to cool completely before adding the filling to avoid any unwanted melting. To achieve the best consistency for the topping, whip the heavy cream with sugar until stiff peaks form.

Why did my coconut cream pie not set up?

To ensure that your custard pie comes out perfectly, there are a couple of factors to consider. It’s important to make sure your custard thickens to the right consistency before filling your pie shell. You don’t want it to be too watery or too thick, somewhere around the texture of a typical pudding. Equally important is ensuring that the layers of your pie are cooled completely before assembling, as the heat can cause the custard to turn runny.

How do you thicken coconut cream pie filling?

Have you ever boiled custard only to find out it didn’t thicken properly? Don’t worry, there’s a quick fix. Simply make a simple mixture of cornstarch and water, with equal parts of both, and stir it into the custard. Make sure to keep stirring until it reaches boiling point and thickens. This little trick will ensure your custard is at the perfect consistency every time.

Is coconut cream the same as canned coconut milk?

Comparing coconut milk and coconut cream is like comparing dairy milk and cream. While they share the same ingredients, including coconut, water, and sometimes guar gum as a stabilizer, the main difference lies in the fat content. Coconut cream has a higher fat content, resulting in a thicker texture due to the decreased water content and increased amount of coconut.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, I highly recommend this Coconut Cream Pie recipe from Cooks Illustrated to all dessert lovers out there. This pie is the perfect combination of sweetness, creaminess, and nuttiness that will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.

With just a few simple steps and readily available ingredients, this recipe is easy to follow and ensures a delicious result every time. Moreover, the substitutions and variations provided in this article give you the flexibility to adjust the recipe according to your taste preferences.

Whether you are serving it for a special occasion or just treating yourself, this coconut cream pie will satisfy your sweet cravings and impress your guests. Don’t hesitate to try out this recipe and let it become your go-to dessert for any occasion.

Overall, this pie is not just a treat for your taste buds but also a showcase of the remarkable culinary tools at Cooks Illustrated’s disposal. The result of tireless experimentation and attention to detail is what makes this Cream Coconut Pie truly exquisite. So, get ready to be wowed by the rich flavors and sumptuous textures of this delicious dessert!

Coconut Cream Pie from Cooks Illustrated

Coconut Cream Pie from Cooks Illustrated Recipe

I'll make this for my 84 year old dad who is a cream pie fan. The crust sounds delicious!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Dessert, Pie, Sweet
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Servings: 1 pie
Calories: 692.9kcal


  • 6 ounces animal crackers
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened dried shredded coconut, toasted in small dry skillet until golden brown


  • Crust:
  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. In food processor, pulse animal crackers, coconut, and 2 tablespoons of sugar to fine crumbs, eighteen to twenty 1 second pulses; then process until powdery, about 5 seconds. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl and add butter; stir to combine until crumbs are evenly moistened.
  • Empty crumbs into 9" glass pie plate; using bottom of ramekin or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake until fragrant and medium brown, about 15 minutes, rotating pie shell halfway through baking time. Set on wire rack and cool to room temperature.
  • Bring coconut milk, whole milk, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar dissolves.
  • Whisk yolks, cornstarch and 1 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisking constantly, gradually ladle about 1 cup hot milk mixture over egg yolk mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add remaining milk mixture to yolk mixture in 3-4 additions; whisk well to combine.
  • Return mixture to saucepan and cook until thickened and mixture reaches boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute; filling must boil in order to fully thicken. (Large bubbles should quickly burst on surface when you stop whisking.).
  • Off heat, whisk in butter and 1 teaspoons of vanilla until butter in fully incorporated. Pour hot filling into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with rubber spatula; press plastic wrap directly against surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
  • Just before serving, beat cream 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Top pie with whipped cream and then sprinkle with coconut. Cut pie into wedges and serve.
  • Variation:
  • Banana-Caramel Coconut Cream Pie:
  • Follow above recipe through crust making. While crust cools, bring 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tbsp water to boil over high heat in small heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook until dark amber, 5-8 minutes, occasionally swirling pan once sugar begins to color.
  • Off heat, add 3 tablespoons heavy cream (caramel will bubble vigorously) and a pinch of salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in 2 tbsp unsalted butter. Pour caramel into pie shell, tilting pie plate to coat evenly; set aside to cool.
  • When caramel is cool, peel 2 slightly underripe, medium bananas (5-6 oz. each); slice each crosswise into 3/8" rounds. Arrange slices in single layer on top of caramel; set aside.
  • Continue with remainder of original recipe, adding 2 teaspoons of dark rum to filling along with butter and vanilla.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 157g | Calories: 692.9kcal | Carbohydrates: 70.4g | Protein: 6.2g | Fat: 44.2g | Saturated Fat: 29.5g | Cholesterol: 202.4mg | Sodium: 269.5mg | Fiber: 1.4g | Sugar: 50.6g

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