BA's Best Coconut Cream Pie

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Think of this coconut cream pie recipe as a Samoa cookie in pie form. It’s crunchy, caramelly, creamy, and positively jam-packed with coconut flavor. There’s toasted coconut in the quick-and-easy graham cracker crust, coconut oil in the caramel, coconut milk in the custard, and big pieces of flaked coconut to top it all off. (Catch former BA editor Claire Saffitz making the pie here.) It’s easy to see why this is one of our favorite pies.

Because of its many elements, prepping this pie is best approached in stages. Start with the homemade pie crust, which comes together in a food processor and gets a brief blind bake for toasty crunch. Bundled in plastic wrap, the pie shell can be left at room temperature for a day, or frozen in the pie plate for up to two weeks. The caramel, which adds that signature Samoa chew, can be made up to four days in advance.

Save the creamy coconut filling for the day of serving. To amp up the flavor, Claire steeps a whole vanilla bean in half-and-half, giving this pie filling a richer mouthfeel than ones that use whole milk. If you’d rather use vanilla extract, whisk in 1 Tbsp. extract after straining the custard.

Sweetened whipped cream is our ideal topper for coconut cream pie. But, since you will have a few egg whites left over, you could easily make meringue instead: Whisk the egg whites with a bit of sugar to stiff peaks, mound the meringue on top of the pie, and don’t forget to toast it.

For more custard pies, check out our Banana Cream Pie, Extremadura Almond Pie, Key Lime Pie, or Milk and Honey Pie recipes.


10 servings

Coconut Graham Crust:

cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut


oz. graham crackers (about 7), lightly crushed


Tbsp. sugar


tsp. kosher salt


cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled


large egg yolk

Coconut Caramel:

cup sugar, divided


cup heavy cream


Tbsp. virgin coconut oil, melted


tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. plus ⅛ tsp. Morton’s kosher salt

Coconut Custard and Assembly:


Tbsp. virgin coconut oil, room temperature


vanilla bean, split lengthwise


13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken


cup half-and-half


large egg


large egg yolks


Tbsp. cornstarch


tsp. kosher salt


cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar

cups heavy cream

Toasted coconut flakes (for serving)

Special Equipment:

A 9" deep pie dish; a candy thermometer

PreparationCoconut Graham Crust:Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange 1¼ cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring halfway through, until golden brown, 5–8 minutes; let cool. Set aside ½ cup toasted coconut for the coconut caramel.

Step 2

Pulse 4 oz. graham crackers (about 7), lightly crushed, 2 Tbsp. sugar, ¼ tsp. kosher salt, and remaining ¾ cup toasted coconut in a food processor until crackers are coarsely ground. With the motor running, stream in ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled, followed by 1 large egg yolk. Do not overprocess; you should have fine crumbs that are the texture of wet sand.

Step 3

Transfer mixture to pie plate and press firmly and evenly up sides and across the bottom. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is set and edges are brown, 12–18 minutes. Let cool.

Do Ahead: Crust can be baked 1 day ahead. Let cool, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature, or freeze up to 2 weeks.

Coconut Caramel:Step 4

Sprinkle a thin, even layer of sugar into a small heavy saucepan. Cook, undisturbed, over medium heat until mostly melted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle another layer of sugar over and cook, stirring to incorporate granular sugar into melted sugar with a heatproof spatula, until melted, another minute or so. Repeat until you’ve used all sugar. Continue to cook, swirling saucepan (do not stir), until caramel is dark amber, about 30 seconds longer. Remove from heat and carefully pour in ¼ cup heavy cream, stirring to combine (caramel will sputter and seize up, but don’t worry).

Step 5

Return saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring, until any hardened bits of caramel are dissolved. Stir in 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil, melted, until mixture is smooth, then fold in ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. plus ⅛ tsp. Morton’s kosher salt and reserved ½ cup toasted coconut. Let caramel cool in pan, then scrape into cooled crust and use an offset spatula to spread in an even layer. Cover with plastic and chill.

Do Ahead: Caramel can be made 4 days ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and chill. Rewarm over low heat before pouring into pie crust.

Coconut Custard and Assembly:Step 6

Place 3 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil, room temperature, in a medium bowl and set a fine-mesh sieve over top; set aside. Scrape vanilla seeds from 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, into a heavy medium saucepan. Add vanilla pod and one 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until coconut milk is reduced to about 1 cup, 10–15 minutes. Add 1 cup half-and-half and bring to a gentle simmer.

Step 7

Meanwhile, briskly whisk 1 large egg, 4 large egg yolks, 3 Tbsp. cornstarch, ¼ tsp. kosher salt, and ½ cup sugar in another medium bowl until pale and thickens, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about ½ cup hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Go back to whisking milk mixture in saucepan, then slowly pour tempered egg mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until foam has subsided and custard holds the marks of the whisk, about 2 minutes.

Step 8

Immediately scrape custard into sieve and use a spatula to press mixture into bowl with oil; pluck out vanilla pod. Whisk strained custard until oil is incorporated and mixture is glossy and smooth.

Step 9

Set bowl inside another large bowl of ice water. Whisk occasionally until custard is cool, about 3 minutes. Scrape custard into chilled pie crust and smooth top. Press a piece of plastic directly onto surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming, and chill until set, at least 3 hours.

Step 10

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1½ cups heavy cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar.

Step 11

Remove plastic from surface of pie and dollop cream over set custard. Top with toasted coconut flakes

Do Ahead: Pie can be filled with custard 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic and chill. Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut just before serving. 

Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published in May 2017 as part of BA’s Best, a collection of our essential recipes. Head this way for more of our favorite cream pie recipes →