Coconut Cream Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
If coconut is one of your favorite flavors, then this classic dessert is for you! Old fashioned coconut cream pie is made with coconut milk and sits on a buttery graham cracker crust. It is the perfect pie for entertaining guests!
Custard pies have a unique blend of textures and flavors that is irresistible to the tastebuds. The creamy filling complements the crust so well and it always tastes better with a whipped cream topping. You will love the rich, yet tropical, taste in this coconut cream pie. Plus, it’s relatively easy to make!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- The flavor is impeccable. The toasted coconut graham cracker crust is truly divine and complements the creamy custard filling so well.
- You can make the pie ahead of time and chill it overnight. It also freezes really well!
- No blind baking a crust. Graham cracker crust is so much easier. Plus, it doesn’t get soggy if the pie is stored for more than a day.
- It’s a classic dessert for entertaining. This old fashioned pie is popular around Easter or whenever you’re craving comfort food.
- Graham crackers: Nine sheets (each broken into four smaller rectangles) are needed for the crust. This is about 1 1/4 cup crumbs.
- Shredded coconut: Use the unsweetened kind because it’s shredded into finer pieces, which makes for a better texture. It also prevents the pie from being too sweet.
- Coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk from the can is a must for a super creamy filling.
- Whole milk: This adds to the creamy, rich filling. In a pinch, half-and-half or low-fat milk may be used.
- Egg yolks: Separate the eggs prior to starting the recipe to ensure no whites or egg shells accidentally find their way into the mixture! This helps bind the ingredients for a thick and rich filling.
- Whipped cream topping (not pictured): You can make your own homemade whipped cream or use store bought whipped topping.
Try a different crust. You can use a store-bought graham cracker crust instead of making your own. This pie would also taste delicious with a vanilla wafer crust or a homemade pie crust (be sure to blind bake it like I did for my banana cream pie).
Make it chocolate. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder when whisking in the flour to the milk mixture. This version would taste delicious with an Oreo crust and chocolate shavings for garnish.
Add a citrus twist. Add 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon lemon zest after whisking the egg yolks and sugar together. You can also do the same with key lime juice and zest for a key lime pie effect.
Give it a splash of alcohol. Add 2 tablespoons coconut rum, bourbon or sherry when heating up the milk mixture. This will add a fun depth of flavor!
Top it with meringue. Use the leftover egg whites to make a meringue topping instead!
How to make coconut cream pie
- Toast the coconut. Preheat oven to 325° F. Sprinkle shredded coconut in an even layer in the pie plate. Bake for 9 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes until golden. Set aside 1 Tablespoon for garnish.
- Make the graham cracker crust. Add graham crackers and toasted coconut to a food processor. Pulse until fine crumbs form. Stir in sugar and melted butter. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.
- Bake the crust at 325° F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and fragrant.
- Start making the filling. Add coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut and salt to a medium saucepan. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.
- Prepare the egg yolk mixture. Whisk together egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar. Set aside for a moment while you whisk the flour into the milk mixture. Then, slowly pour in the egg yolk mixture while stirring constantly. Return saucepan to medium heat and continue stirring until thickened.
- Remove custard mixture from the heat. Stir in the butter pieces and vanilla.
- Transfer the filling to the cooled crust. Spread into an even layer and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours.
- Prepare the whipped cream topping if making from scratch. Transfer topping to chilled pie and garnish with toasted coconut.
Use good quality ingredients. Full-fat coconut milk and whole milk will yield the creamiest texture. Pure vanilla extract (not imitation) provides the best flavor for desserts.
Toast the coconut flakes for the best flavor. I used toasted coconut in just the crust, but you can toast the coconut for the filling as well. Also, keep a close eye as you toast them in the oven. As soon as they turn golden, remove them from the oven as they can burn quickly!
Cook the filling until it has thickened. This will guarantee and thick and creamy texture that sets properly. After transferring the filling to the crust, chill the pie for at least 3 hours and ideally overnight. This will allow the filling to set and give the flavors time to meld together.
When ready to serve, wipe the knife clean between cuts to make a nice clean slice for your guests.
Make ahead and storage tips
Make ahead crust: The graham cracker crust can be baked and stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for 3 months. Cover it tightly to prevent it from drying out.
Make ahead filling: As soon as the filling is done, it must be transferred to the pie crust because it will start to set as it cools. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. I suggest serving the pie the next day for best results, but it will keep for up to 3 days before adding the whipped cream topping and serving.
Storage: The fully assembled pie will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator and is best served chilled. Cover it loosely with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
Freezing: After the filling has been chilled, cover the pie with an extra layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before adding the whipped cream topping.
Frequently Asked Questions
It was undercooked. Be sure to continue cooking and stirring until the mixture thickens.
Add 1 Tablespoon cornstarch to the mixture (I suggest sifting it to avoid clumps). Return filling to the stovetop, stir constantly and cook until thickened.
Yes, however it is a lot sweeter. Decrease the sugar to 1/2 cup if using (or even less, depending on how sweet you like your desserts).
Yes, but the filling will be much sweeter and the coconut shreds will be larger and more stringy. If you make this substitution, decrease the sugar to 1/2 cup.
Yes, replace it with heavy cream. I also suggest adding 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract.
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Coconut Cream Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
Graham Cracker Crust
- 5 Tablespoons (30 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 9 graham cracker sheets, broken into pieces
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 5 Tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, melted
Coconut Cream Filling
- 14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, stirred
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- ⅔ cup (133 g) granulated sugar, separated
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (42 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup (31 g) all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
- 1 cup homemade whipped cream, store-bought whipped topping works too
Coconut Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Sprinkle coconut flakes in a 9-inch glass pie plate. Toast coconut in the oven for 9 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes, until golden brown. Keep the oven on. Cool coconut and set aside 1 tablespoon of toasted coconut for garnish later.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine remaining toasted coconut with graham crackers. Pulse until fine crumbs form, about 15 one-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl. Stir in sugar, then melted butter until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Transfer mixture to pie plate and use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the mixture into the bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the sides of the plate.
- Bake the crust at 325° F for 15 to 20 minutes or until fragrant and starting to brown. Cool completely and prepare the filling.
Coconut Cream Filling
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, whole milk, 1/3 cup sugar and salt. Stir in the coconut flakes. Bring mixture to a simmer, then take it off the heat. Keep the stove on.
- Quickly, in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/3 cup sugar. First, whisk the flour into the warm milk mixture, then keep whisking while slowly add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Remember to constantly stir to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Return saucepan to medium heat and continue whisking until mixture thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Take the saucepan off the heat, stir in vanilla and butter pieces.
- Pour the coconut cream filling into the cooled crust. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, pressing it down to touch the filling. Chill for at least 3 hours.
- When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap, garnish with whipped cream and remaining tablespoon of toasted coconut.