Friends, I am really excited to bring you this coconut custard pie recipe. It’s about as old-school as old-school pie recipes get.

Simple ingredients bake up into a wonderfully custardy and delicious pie with just a hint of lemon. And here’s a secret: this is really an egg custard pie that happens to have coconut in it, so if you leave out the coconut, you’ll have a whole new pie! If you like this traditional pie, you may also enjoy my chocolate chess pie and my sugar cream pie recipes.

Here are all of my old fashioned pie recipes. For ease of browsing, here are all of my pie and tart recipes. Let’s get to it, shall we?

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A slice of coconut custard pie on a beige plate with a brown mug to the left and a brick background.

Watch my coconut custard pie web story here.

Very easy to make. So good I’ve made it twice in the last week. I did add a bit of nutmeg.

Reader Linda

Coconut Custard Pie, At a Glance

✅Skill Level: Beginner
✅Skills: Whisking, Making Pie Crust (if you’d like), Baking
✅Type: Pie
✅Number of Ingredients: 7
✅Prep Time: 5 minutes, excluding making pie crust
✅Cook Time: 45 minutes
✅Yield: 8 serving
Related Reading: How to Make Pate Brisee
Jump Straight to the Recipe

What’s So Great About This Coconut Pie?

This recipe has definitely stood the test of time. By that, I mean it originally was published in a cookbook, The Epicurean, written in 1893. It doesn’t get much more traditional than that!

Other things to love:

  • The ingredient list is short
  • The mixing method is straightforward
  • The hint of lemon brings a bit of zing to an otherwise mellow pie (and yes, you can use lime if you’d rather

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here’s what you’ll need to make this pie. It’s a short list, I promise!

If you’re comfortable with making pie, please feel free to jump straight to the recipe.

Images of all the all the ingredients needed to make a coconut custard pie, labeled and shot against a white background.
  • single pie crust: homemade or store-bought. No need to blind bake unless you are going to try the chocolate variation under “serving suggestions.”
  • dried coconut: I prefer unsweetened to sweetened because you can more tightly control the amount of sugar in the pie. Look for “desiccated coconut.”
  • eggs: Provides the setting power and makes this a custard pie. Use large eggs.
  • sugar: Provides the sweetness and helps the custard set into a creamy rather than rubbery texture. Granulated works best here, but if you want a richer flavor, try light brown sugar. Just be aware the color of the finished pie will be darker
  • lemon zest: Adds a bit of a floral, sweet, lemony lift to the filling. You can leave it out and add vanilla or coconut extract if you prefer
  • whole milk: For a richer pie, substitute half and half or light cream. For deeper coconut flavor, use a can of full-fat coconut milk for part of the dairy.
  • salt: Not in the original recipe, a touch of salt always snaps the flavors into focus

Can I Really Make This Pie Based on the Directions in The Book?

Foundation paste from The Epicurean 2 images--one of flour with pieces of butter on top and one with the finished dough on a floured countertop.
This crust is so old-school there isn’t even a bowl to make it in!

Yes, you really can. I did.

You will probably want to read the rules through a couple of times. And note that everything is expressed in weights, so you will need an accurate kitchen scale (which you totally should already own). You will also have to trust the “feel,” especially of the dough.

I ended up only using about 3/4 of the flour and maybe half the water, and it worked out perfectly.

Know that, if you are well-versed in pie dough making, you can rely on the written recipe in the book and then just go by feel.

The pie itself can absolutely be made with a conventional recipe, and I have written it up for you here.

You’re going to love it. The pie is as silky as it is chewy, and vice versa. And the custard mixture can be scaled up or down–you can even bake it in a pan without a crust and cut it into squares.

The Pie Dough

A close-up of a pale yellow coconut pie in the pie pan with one slice cut out of it.
I really enjoyed working with the dough from The Epicurean, but feel free to substitute your favorite pie crust recipe or start with store-bought. The coconut custard is the real star of the show!

The recipe for the pie dough, is less of a recipe and more of a procedure.

I would recommend using a tried-and-true pie dough recipe rather than the one in the book, especially if you don’t make a lot of pie crusts.

And your pie will still be great if you use a frozen or refrigerated pie crust.

How Long Does It Take to Make?

The “foundation paste” took me about 10 minutes to make, and then it rests in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Once it rested, you roll it out (it is super easy to roll–I really loved this dough!), line the pie pan and make some sort of decorative edge.

In Ranhofer’s words, you “raise up the edges, pinch all around, and leave stand in a cool place for twenty minutes in a cool place.”

While the dough was standing in a cool place (the fridge), I mixed up the custard, which literally took maybe 5 minutes.

I let it sit until the 20 minutes were up (I actually think I gave it 30), spread a thick layer of desiccated coconut on the bottom, and then slowly strained the custard into it.

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07/22/2024 03:46 am GMT

It baked about 45 minutes at 350F, and then it took awhile to cool. But I think serving it warm–not hot–is an excellent plan.

So, from start to finish without breaks (which you are allowed to take), plan on about 1 1/2-2 hours from no dough to pie out of the oven. Then add on cooling time.

Equipment You May Need

A whole coconut pie in a metal pie pan on a cloth napkin.

Coconut custard–or any other filling really–will continue to cook once you remove it from the oven, so use an instant-read thermometer to pull it from the oven when the center reads 160F or when there is about a silver dollar-sized bit in the center that is still a little jiggly.

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07/22/2024 08:44 am GMT

Storing

A bite of coconut custard pie on a fork on a plate with the rest of the piece of pie.

Any egg-based pie should be fine for a week, but my Serve Safe rules say to ditch any egg-based foods after 3 days to be on the safe side.

Some of the liquid caught up in the denatured egg proteins can start to leak out after 2-3 days, so you may end up with a bit of watery syrup in your pie pan, and that will make your crust soggy.

So, for aesthetic reasons as well as food safety reasons, you really should plan on finishing the pie off in just a couple of days.

I’m not going to write the foundation paste recipe up, because there is just too much variability in flour and humidity and whatnot.

This is the custard of my school childhood that the cafeteria ladies used to make and sprinkle with a bit of nutmeg. Smooth, creamy, not-too-sweet, a bit eggy, and so very comforting.

Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions

This pie, with its simple, pure flavor, would make an excellent ending to a Thanksgiving meal.

Serve it with some softly whipped cream.

For a bit of a chocolatey edge, consider blind-baking the crust, letting it cool, and then painting it with some melted dark chocolate. Once that sets up, fill the crust with your coconut and custard, and bake with a guard over the edge of the crust so it doesn’t over-brown.

Or, since coconut and chocolate go so well together, serve it with some hot fudge sauce, quick fudge sauce, or chocolate syrup.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

A Note About Measurements

My recipes are almost all written by weight, including liquids, unless otherwise specified.

For accuracy and consistency of results, I encourage you to buy–and use–a kitchen scale.

I promise that baking and cleanup will be so much quicker and easier.

This is the scale that I recommend for home use. I have owned and used one for years.

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07/22/2024 07:15 am GMT

Love This Pie? Please Rate and Review So Others Can See What You Think. Thanks!

5 golden stars for rating recipes
A slice of pale yellow coconut pie on a piece of light brown parchment on a plate.

Traditional Coconut Custard Pie

Jennifer Field
This traditional coconut custard pie is equal parts creamy, smooth custard and chewy coconut. So comforting and delicious, it will remind you of your grandma’s pie, if your grandma was a great baker and made coconut custard pie!
4.42 from 106 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Pies and Tarts
Cuisine French
Servings 8 slices
Calories 289 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 single crust pie crust store bought or homemade
  • 3-4 oz desiccated unsweetened coconut
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 oz granulated sugar a generous 1/2 cup
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 pint milk or half and half (2 cups)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste (I use Morton’s)

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oven to 350F and place a rack in the center.
  • Line a standard pie pan with the pastry dough and crimp edges. The pie will be very full, so make sure the edge is nice and raised so the custard doesn’t leak out.
  • Spread a thick layer of coconut in the bottom of your lined pie pan.
  • Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest until nice and creamy. Whisk in the milk or half and half. ***The original recipe did not call for salt. I added about 1/4 teaspoon to my mixture. You can also add a bit of vanilla if you like, even though it isn’t called for.***
  • Strain the custard into the pie pan. The coconut will float. Use a spatula to press it down just enough to make sure it is all coated with the custard.
  • Bake until set, fairly firm, and lightly golden brown on top, about 40-50 minutes.
  • Let cool on a rack until barely warm before serving. Or cool completely and then chill before slicing and serving. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or so for best texture and flavor.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

Pie will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2-3 days.
Nutritionals calculated based on using 2 cups of whole milk as the dairy. Feel free to sub in half and half for half or all the whole milk for a richer custard, realizing that the swap will have a change on the calories and calories from fat.

Nutrition

Calories: 289kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 6gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 147mgFiber: 2gSugar: 17g
Keyword coconut custard pie, coconut pie
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Want more pie recipes? I have plenty of pie recipes for you!

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4.42 from 106 votes (97 ratings without comment)

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