Southern Coconut Cream Pie

Packed with coconut in all three elements of this pie, this Southern coconut cream pie with a Nilla wafer cookie crust is the pie to make this spring.

Why triple coconut in this classic cream pie?

This recipe is a classic custard filling with coconut in every layer- I add coconut flakes in the Nilla wafer crust, coconut in the custard filling and Coconut liqueur in the mile-high, whipped cream topping. Coconut extract can be cloying and tastes like a bottle of sun tan oil. Adding real coconut and the liqueur makes the true coconut essence come out in this pie.

a small blue plate with scalloped edges with a small pile of toasted coconut flakes on it

Ingredients in Southern Coconut Cream Pie:

fresh ingredients-

  • butter
  • whole milk
  • eggs
  • heavy whipping cream

pantry ingredients-

  • Coconut liqueur (or coconut milk)
  • Nilla wafer cookies
  • sweetened shredded coconut
  • flour
  • corn starch
  • salt
  • sugar
  • vanilla extract
coconut, Nilla wafers, butter in white bistro china on a black counter

Equipment need for this pie recipe:

  • Food Processor
  • pie plate
  • heavy bottomed saucepan- buy my favorite HERE
  • whisk
  • Stand mixer or beaters for whipping cream
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • large mixing bowl- buy my favorite by Mason-Cash HERE
eggs, flour and milk in white bistro china

How to make the crust:

Process the cookie crumbs in a food processor with coconut, sugar, flour and salt. Add in butter and mix until the mixture resembles sandy crumbs. Tap into place using the bottom of a measuring cup.

Bake at 325 until golden brown. Let cool completely.

a golden brown pie crust

How to make the coconut cream filling:

This process for the custard filling involves tempering- which is just slowly adding a hot liquid to eggs. This way the eggs do not scrambled and become lumpy in your custard.

Whisk part of the milk, eggs, cornstarch salt and sugar together to form a thick paste. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan. Slowly ladle in some of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk in between each ladle to temper the eggs. Then add all of the tempered egg mixture into the sauce pan and cook on low until thick bubbles form and the custard thickens. You want the mixture to thicken, but not boil. Whisk the custard the entire time until it is very thick. As the pie chills in the fridge, it will continue to thicken even more.

Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the coconut and the vanilla off the heat.

a yellow bowl filled with custard for a pie filling
toasted coconut mixed into a creamy pie filling

How to make the whipped cream topping:

Whip heavy cream with a whisk attachment until thick, stirring in the liqueur, sugar and vanilla. You want pillowy cream but thick enough it will not be runny. Top with toasted flaked coconut .

a chilled coconut cream pie with a mound of pillowy whipped cream on top
How do I toast the coconut?

Place the flaked coconut in a dry skillet and heat over medium high heat. It will brown very quickly. Stir it constantly with a spoon to brown all the edges. Remove from the heat and let cool. You can store the toasted coconut in an airtight container for up to one week.

Can I use cool whip or red whip for the pie topping?

This question always makes me sad. If you take the time to bake a pie crust from scratch and make a custard, take 5 minutes to whip the heavy cream for the pie topping.

Can I use graham crackers instead on Nilla wafers.

Yes- they make a great substitute.

Will skim milk or oat milk work in the custard?

Skim milk does not have the fat solids that are needed to set up the thick custard. Consequently, oat or almond milk does not have enough protein. You can use full fat coconut milk as a substitute.

How do I store the leftovers?

Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. After 4 days, the whipped cream will begin to weep and dissolve into a mushy mess.

What can I use instead of the liqueur for the whipping cream topping?

You can pour in 2 TBSP coconut milk or 1/2 tsp of pure coconut extract.

a bowl of whipped cream, a chilled pie and a plate of toasted coconut

Other coconut desserts to inspire you:

a coconut cream pie topped with whipped cream toasted coconut in a blue pie plate

Southern Coconut Cream Pie

Recipe by Meggen Arthur Wilson Course: Recent Posts, Sweet ToothCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


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Savor the tropical delight of triple coconut cream pie. With coconut in every element, this pie with a Nilla wafer and coconut crust, topped with mile high whipped cream is a coconut lover’s dream come true.


  • For the Crust
  • 2 cups vanilla wafers

  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

  • 2 TBSP sugar

  • 1 TBSP flour

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • For the Filling
  • 4 TBSP butter, melted

  • 3 cups whole milk- divided

  • 5 large egg yolks

  • 5 TBSP corn starch

  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • for the Whipped Cream
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

  • 3 TBSP sugar

  • 2 TBSP coconut liqueur

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut


  • Pre heat oven to 325
  • For the Crust:
  • Combine cookies, coconut, sugar, flour & salt in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds. Add butter. Pulse a few more times. Pour crumb mixture into a 9 pie plate. Tap crumbs into a crust by using the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake at 325 for 18-20 minutes until fragrant. Let cool at least 30 minutes in a wire rack before adding filling.
  • For the Filling:
  • Whisk 1/4 cup of the milk, eggs, corn starch, salt & sugar in a bowl.

    In a heavy saucepan, heat remaining 2 3/4 cups of milk until hot but not boiling.

    Slowly pour 1/2 the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper. Then add all the tempered egg mixture back to the hot milk. Whisk constantly on medium low heat for up to 2 minutes until mixture thickens into a custard. Remove from heat . Let bubbles form in the custard, but do not allow the custard to come to a full boil.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in coconut & vanilla.

    Pour in baked crust and chill at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.
  • For the Whipped cream:
  • Just before serving- In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat whipping cream on medium high for 1 minute. Add in sugar, liqueur* & vanilla and beat in high until cream forms stiff peaks. About 2-3 minutes.
  • Top chilled pie with cream and sprinkle toasted coconut on top

Recipe Video


  • *Buy Kalani Coconut liqueur HERE

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