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Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie

Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie

This gluten free coconut cream pie has a smooth and creamy custard filling that can be cooked and chilled or baked in the oven, poured into a flaky pie crust. Don’t forget the toasted coconut chips on top!

Coconut cream pie slice on a plate and in the pie pan

Choose a cooked custard or baked custard filling

How to make a cooked custard filling

I had always made my gluten free coconut cream pie with a cooked custard filling, made the typical way we make custards. Heat the milk, drizzle it into the egg yolks to temper them and make sure they don’t scramble, then return everything to the pan and cook until thickened.

That method works beautifully, and makes for a extra-creamy pie filling. This cooked custard filling, which you see in the photos of the pie in a metal pie plate, slices but doesn’t slice as cleanly as say, fudge.

Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie

How to make a cleaner-slicing cooked pie filling

This filling will slice clean, but don’t expect it to set up like a pie made with gelatin. If you’d like the pie to slice more like fudge, you can add some gelatin, though.

Simply bloom 1 packet of powdered unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons of cool water and allow the gelatin to swell (about 3 minutes). Add the bloomed gelatin to the hot filling mixture right before you add the chopped butter.

Mix until the gelatin is melted, then remove the pan from the heat, add the chopped butter and proceed with the recipe instructions. Or, for that cleaner slicing pie, try the baked custard filling alternative.

Coconut cream pie whole and baked

How to make a baked custard filling

I added an alternative filling to this recipe for gluten free coconut cream pie because the cooked custard pudding doesn’t slice as cleanly, and doesn’t last as long in the refrigerator. Plus, making a baked custard is easier, and much less prone to user error (hey, nobody’s perfect!).

To make the baked custard filling (which you see above), simply heat the milks and sugar to a gentle simmer to dissolve the sugar into the liquid. It also begins to heat the eggs a bit before going into the oven, so they’re less likely to curdle during baking.

Be sure to strain the mixture whether you’re making a cooked or baked custard filling. No matter how careful you are, some eggs or yolks will clump a bit.

Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie Step by Step

How to bake a single pie crust

For a flaky baked pie crust with a cream filling, you can’t be afraid of overbaking the crust. That’s how you get a flaky crust even when the filling is wet like this coconut cream.

You want the crust to be lightly golden brown all over. You might find that the bottom of the crust even gets a little darker, and that’s perfectly fine. As long as it doesn’t burn, it’s perfectly fine.

It’s best to use some sort of pie weight so that the crust doesn’t expand and bubble in the oven. You don’t need specially-made pie weights (like you see here, which I have because of all the baking I do). You can simply use dried beans, and you can use the same beans again and again.

Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

The filling calls for light canned coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen brand), so be sure you don’t reach for a carton of coconut milk—or full-fat coconut milk in the can, which is just too thick. If your light canned coconut milk seems quite thin, you can use more canned light coconut milk instead of the additional milk, by volume, in the baked custard filling.

If you can’t have dairy, you will have to replace the butter in the filling and in the pie crust. For the butter in the filling, try using Melt or Miyoko’s Kitchen brand vegan butter or Earth Balance Buttery sticks.

For the butter in the pie crust, do not use Earth Balance. Try vegan butter or Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening.

In place of the heavy whipping cream, use coconut cream (not coconut milk, but the cream from a can of full fat coconut milk). Whip it cold with the confectioners’ sugar.

Eggs

I’m afraid there are too many eggs in this recipe to replace them with an egg replacer. For an egg-free coconut custard filling, you can try adding gelatin (as instructed above) to our homemade vanilla pudding, and use coconut milk in place of regular milk.

 

Coconut cream pie slice on plate with forkful

Coconut cream pie baked in a pan, and a slice on a plate.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch pie

Ingredients

Single Pie Crust, prepared according to recipe instructions, and parbaked

Cooked Pie Filling
1/2 cup (40 g) coconut flakes

1/2 cup (70 g) gluten free flour blend (47 grams superfine white rice flour + 15 grams potato starch + 8 grams tapioca starch/flour)

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups (24 fluid ounces) light canned coconut milk, at room temperature

4 egg yolks (100 g), at room temperature

3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, chopped

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or coconut extract, for more coconut flavor)

Baked Pie Filling (alternative)
1 13.5 to 14 ounce can light canned coconut milk, at room temperature

3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) milk (any kind)

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, chopped

4 eggs (200 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or coconut extract, for more coconut flavor)

Topping
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled

1/4 cup (29 g) confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  • Make the pie crust according to the recipe instructions, parbake it, and set it aside to cool briefly. If you’d like to make the pie crust ahead of time, make it and freeze it raw. Parbake it from frozen and proceed with the recipe as written.

  • Toast the coconut chips. Place the coconut chips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the chips are lightly golden brown all over and smell fragrant (about 6 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

  • To make the cooked filling. In a medium-sized, heat-safe bowl, place the flour blend, sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz.) of the coconut milk, and then the egg yolks, whisking to combine after each addition. Set the mixture aside. In a medium-sized heavy-bottom saucepan, place the remaining 2 1/2 cups (20 fluid ounces) milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the milk reaches a simmer, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the hot milk to the bowl with the egg mixture in a slow trickle, whisking constantly to combine. The purpose of adding the hot milk slowly is to avoid cooking the egg yolks by bringing them up to temperature slowly. Once all of the hot milk has been added, pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat until thickened enough that the whisk leaves a visible trail in the mixture as you whisk it (2 to 3 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat, and add the chopped butter and the vanilla, and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add a few toasted coconut chips to the filling if you’d like more coconut flavor, and whisk to combine. Strain the filling into the cooled shell and spread into an even layer. Allow it to cool at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly on the surface of the filling to avoid its developing a pudding “skin.” Place in the refrigerator to chill until set (at least 2 hours and up to 2 days).

  • Alternatively, make the baked filling. Preheat your oven to 300°F. Place a pan of water on the lower rack of the oven, and close the door. In a medium-size saucepan, place the canned coconut milk, milk, sugar, and salt. Place the pan over medium-low heat, and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove the pan from the heat. In a large, heat-safe bowl, place the eggs and butter. Drizzle the hot milk mixture very slowly into the bowl with the eggs and butter, whisking constantly. Once you’ve added about 1 cup of the milk mixture, add the rest, and whisk until very well combined. Strain the mixture into the parbaked crust. It will be relatively thin. Place the pie pan on the top rack of oven. Bake the pie until the filling is mostly set but still jiggles toward the center in a controlled way when moved gently back and forth, about 50 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Cover the pie plate and place it in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour or until set.

  • Make the topping and serve. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the heavy whipping cream and the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form (about 3 minutes). Beating the cream on medium-high for a longer time instead of high speed will make a more stable whipped cream. If you’ve made the cooked filling, remove the plastic wrap from the chilled pie and spread the whipped cream on top and sprinkle with the remaining toasted coconut chips. If you’ve made the cooked pie filling, slice the pie when chilled, add a dollop of whipped cream and scatter some coconut flakes on the top of each slice.

  • Originally published in 2014. Baked pie filling alternative added; video and some photos added; some text new.

Love,
Nicole

  • Carol
    June 29, 2020 at 9:37 AM

    I love cream pie! Could you use 2% milk for the coconut milk? ( In my house, vanilla, chocolate, or coffee would be preferred to coconut.) Thanks for making it possible for me to bake again.

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 29, 2020 at 9:46 AM

      Actually no, Carol. That’s not thick enough. If you’d like a chocolate pie, try our chocolate pudding pie. That might suit your tastes better!

  • kaye mekawi
    June 28, 2020 at 9:14 AM

    Could I make the pie crust with gf Graham crackers if using the unbaked version. Not fond of pastry, weird I know

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 28, 2020 at 11:21 AM

      Hahaha definitely, Kaye! You actually can still make the baked version, with a baked graham cracker crust. It would be delicious! Great idea.

  • June
    June 26, 2020 at 12:08 PM

    What would you recommend using in place of potato starch for those who are nightshade sensitive?

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 26, 2020 at 1:30 PM

      Hi, June, you should be able to use cornstarch or arrowroot in its place here.

  • Deborah Kleylein
    December 2, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Nicole, I made this pie crust for my pumpkin pie; used your Better than Cup4Cup flour blend. I omitted the 3/4 xanthan gum from the pie crust recipe above since it is in the flour blend. Then chilled the dough before rolling out and putting in the pie pan. At this point, I wrapped it and froze it for 3 days before thawing and then baking for 10 minutes per your recipe, cooled, then put my pumpkin in and baked 45 minutes at 350 until the pumpkin custard was baked. The crust had great flavor but was extremely hard to cut. It also was not ‘light’ in color as your photo. Where did I go wrong? I would like to “get back on the horse” and make another pie right away but need your guidance. Thank you.

    • December 2, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      My guess is that you overworked the pie crust, Deborah. You really need a light touch when working with pastry, and you have to use extra flour only very sparingly. If you overflour the crust, and/or if you break up the butter into too-small pieces, you’ll end up with a flat, tough crust. So I think your issue comes down to technique. You really need to follow my instructions really carefully! Try reading through my apple pie in a bag post for more guidance. That should help!

  • Hollie
    November 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    I’m attempting to modify this to be dairy free. Wish me luck. It looks delicious!

    • Donia Robinson
      November 26, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      Good luck! Please let us know how it turns out!

  • Brian Westphal
    November 25, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Oh my this looks amazing!

  • Shell
    November 25, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Is it possible to make this egg free nicole?

    • Donia Robinson
      November 26, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      I’d use the crust and topping from this recipe, and then search online for a GF, vegan filling. Custards rely heavily on eggs, so this doesn’t seem like a recipe that can be tweaked. It would need a total re-haul. But I’m sure someone has made an egg-free coconut custard before! So perhaps use Nicole’s awesome crust and general method, but find a different custard recipe. A Franken-pie mash-up of recipes, but should be just as tasty!!

  • Donia Robinson
    November 25, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    I’m making apple pie in a bag! Printed it out to the other day, but just came to the site to get the BB pastry flour hack.

  • Cammi Carlson Moffatt
    November 25, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    For the filling, could I use Better Batter or does it need to be a GF flour without xantham gum? Thanks.

    • November 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      You cannot use Better Batter, Cammi. You need to use a gum-free blend! Xanthan gum will make a gummy mess of custard.

  • youngbaker2002
    November 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    my dad loves coconut! am going to make this for him for him for christmas.thanks nicole!

  • Mare Masterson
    November 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    I am making apple pie in a bag too! I am doing a totally GF Thanksgiving only because of you! My family has such confidence in your recipes (or how I can adapt mine with what you do) that I do not have to make for them and then for me!

    I made my first loaf of Japanese Milk Bread last night to use for stuffing. I forgot to turn the oven down. Good thing it is for stuffing because it is a little dry. It tastes great though! I have another loaf to bake tonight and corn bread too. Sink clogged big time so I had to stop. Still waiting to hear from the plumber. Not at all happy about this! I am so far behind on my prep. Looks like only 2 pies will be baked tomorrow. I will do more over the weekend. This is the only time of year I make pies, so my family expects a bunch of them. They’re not coconut cream fans though.

    I am going to play with your butterscotch pudding recipe on Friday to see if I can get it to be a butterscotch pudding pie. That is my favorite.

    • November 25, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      I would bloom 1 packet of gelatin in 2 tablespoons water, and then add it to the butterscotch pudding when it’s hot, Mare, and then pour that into a parbaked pie shell. Just use this No Bake Chocolate Pudding Pie as a guide, Mare and you’ll do great!

      • Mare Masterson
        November 25, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        You rock! I did not even know about the No Bake Chocolate Pudding Pie until today. So many recipes….so little time!

  • Lauren
    November 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Oh, Nicole, I had another craving. I browsed around trying to remember your preferred method of reader idea submissions, but I’m apparently brain dead today and can’t figure it out. So I’ll post it here and hang my head in shame. I would like to know how to make a Cheese Danish. I’ve only ever had the store-bought kind with all of their evilly delicious chemicals, but it’s been years, and I would like to try a wheat-free homemade one. :) <3

    • November 25, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      Danish dough is the same as croissant dough, so you’d use the dough from my Gluten Free Croissants, which is a yeasted puff pastry, Lauren. But I agree, a formal blog recipe is in order. :)

  • Lauren
    November 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Eeee! Thank you! You’ve perfectly captured my dreams of a perfect coconut cream pie. I’m so excited to make this one for Thanksgiving so that I can be sure to have a dessert. (And I love that my oven will be free for other treats.) This looks so much like the ones my aunties make way back home. It’ll be fun to introduce my in-laws to the wonders of *homemade* pies. Thank you for the tip about whipping cream at a lower speed for more stability, too; I never knew that!

    • November 25, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      So glad, Lauren!! I told you it was on the list. ;)

  • Lucy
    November 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Your pies all look sooooo yummy! Thanks Giving is over here, undecided which pie for Christmas dinner, I have to attend two dinner parties this year :)
    Any suggestions?

    • November 25, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      I forgot you’re Canadian, Lucy! I think the apple pie is just perfect for every fall/winter holiday no matter what, but I also love chocolate pudding pie and key lime pie, too. And of course … TONS of cookies!

    • Lauren
      November 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Along with Apple and Coconut Cream pies like the beauties on Nicole’s site, Blackberry, Raspberry, French Silk, and Pecan pies are always fought over at my pie-loving family’s get-togethers. I think bringing a pie to an event automatically gives a girl “cool” points, regardless of the flavor! ;D

  • Anneke
    November 25, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    I’m making the apple pie in a bag. Just for you! And the family, but really, mostly for you. Come on over, it will be delicious!

    • November 25, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Aw, Anneke, I so wish I could! I can’t even imagine being a guest in someone else’s home for a completely gluten free Thanksgiving that my son and I could totally eat carefree!

      • Donia Robinson
        November 26, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        Oh my gosh. That would be heavenly, wouldn’t it? Let’s rotate houses. Anneke will take 2015, I’ll take 2016, and so on…

        We were at the orthodontist and they asked my daughter to brush her Invisalign because it needed to be super clean for a procedure they were going to do. They tried hard to get her to use a pre-toothpasted toothbrush with no ingredients list on it, and we had to say no LOTS of times. “It’s just toothpaste!” they said. She had her toothbrushing stuff right outside in the parking lot, which is what she used. There was no way she could use that other toothbrush. I started to get a little angry. It’s not like we were trying to be picky about a stupid toothbrush. Did he want me to sit him down and give him an overview of this autoimmune disease called celiac disease, what it does to the small intestine, what gluten is, how hyper-vigilant we have to be, that there can be wheat in toothpaste, and so on? No? Then just stop pressuring us about the toothbrush! ;)

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