Paleo Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut has gotten a bad rap over the last several years which influenced me to steer clear because I was deathly afraid of the saturated fat. After discovering the paleo diet, and doing a lot of reading about saturated fats like coconut, I came to understand that it is actually quite healthful.

This recipe started out as a bit of an experiment. I purchased double or triple the ingredients with the expectation there would be a few tries before I got it right. Much to my surprise, the first pie turned out AMAZINGLY good. The coconut crystals taste a lot like brown sugar and imbued the custard with a really rich caramel flavor while being very low glycemic. I was astonished at just how exquisite the pie tastes and how perfect the texture of the crust turned out to be. Searching around the internet did not yield many options for coconut flour-only crusts. In fact, the coconut flour container itself advocates replacing only 20% of the flour in a recipe with coconut. One of the reasons is because coconut flour is extremely dry. It requires a lot of moisture in the form of eggs, fat and/or water to balance the dryness. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Coconut Cream Pie as a very rough guide for the filling and came up with my own coconut flour pie crust. The crust stays crisp in part because of the thin coating of melted dark chocolate applied before filling. I used Trader Joe’s paleo dark chocolateDark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar which is 85% cacao.

While Martha’s recipe called for 3 cups of coconut milk I used two cans of coconut milk plus one 7 ounce packet of creamed coconut.The creamed coconut made a HUGE difference in the final product because it has more texture and a very concentrated coconut flavor.

paleo coconut products

Another substitution was arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch.Corn is not a food used on the paleo diet but arrowroot is a perfectly good alternative as long as you add it at the end of a recipe. Arrowroot loses its ability to thicken at high heat.

Crust

Filling

Dairy Topping (optional)
Topping
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • dark chocolate shavings (85% or higher cacao)
Place the coconut flour and coconut flakes into a food processor and pulse until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, coconut crystals, celtic sea salt, baking soda and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry in the food processor and pulse until it forms a crumbly dough. Add the water slowly until the dough comes together and appears moist but not soggy.

Spread the dough into a 9 inch pie dish and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 15 minutes until golden brown. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (or a double boiler).
Once the pie shell is completely cooled use a pastry brush to coat it with the melted chocolate.

Place the coated pie shell in the refrigerator to harden.
Prepare an ice bath and set aside. In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks; set aside. In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, creamed coconut, coconut crystals, vanilla extract and celtic sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, about 10 minutes. You want to cook some of the liquid out of the coconut milk so that it concentrates the flavor and will thicken a bit. Whisk a quarter of the hot coconut milk mixture into the egg yolks; whisk in remaining coconut milk mixture. Pour into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard is thicker and bubbles appear in the center, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set in the ice bath. Whisk it occasionally while it cools off for a total of 30-40 minutes. Add the arrowroot powder and whisk until combined and somewhat thicker (it will thicken more in the refrigerator).
Place a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate. (Filling can be kept in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)
Place the coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown. Set aside.

Fill cooled crust with the custard and spread evenly with an offset spatula.Refrigerate paleo coconut cream pie at least three hours. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes and some grated dark chocolate just before serving.
The pie is delicious without any sort of whipped cream topping. However, if you have no issues with dairy and would like to add it simply combine the cream and coconut crystals and stir gently until the crystals have melted. Use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Top the pie with the whipped cream and add the coconut flakes and chocolate shavings before serving. This pie can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to three days. The entire recipe is gluten, dairy and nut free and tastes better than any other coconut cream (custard) pie I have ever eaten paleo or not!

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64 thoughts on “Paleo Coconut Cream Pie

  1. This is impressive, Lea! While I am not a real paleo convert nor do we have needed dietary restrictions, the creative chemistry required is fascinating.

    • It’s a bit of a process to make. But really no more so than any other custard and well worth it. You don’t get that woozy sugar-overload feeling after eating a piece. I made the Paleo chocolate cheesecake for my husband’s birthday recently. But I think I like this better. Let me know how it goes if you or your mom make it. :-)

  2. I attempted to make this beautiful pie, followed exact directions, but the custard never set after hours in the fridge!! Eventually I stuck it in the freezer and it is now like an ice cream pie. (still delicious, and the crust turned out great) I’m just not sure what I did wrong? Maybe did not cook the custard enough?

    • I’m sorry to hear it did not work out. The only time I have had a problem with the custard setting is when I tried substituting tapioca starch for the arrowroot. Is it possible you added the arrowroot before the custard was cool? My understanding is arrowroot loses its ability to thicken if heated very much. I have also heard that it can lose potency over time. Not sure if that is true or not. I’m glad to hear the crust worked out at least. :)

  3. I’m planning on making this on Saturday. It’s a delayed b-day cake for myself as I was doing a strict whole30 (30 days of Paleo) during my birthday this year.
    I didn’t order the creamed coconut in time so I can’t get it delivered by Saturday. At my local Whole Foods store they told me I could use regular coconut milk by putting it in the fridge and waiting for it to separate. Once it separates the cream that rises to the top is creamed coconut. Do you know if this is correct? Should I wait for the creamed coconut or give the whole foods guy advise a try?

    • The creamed coconut that I used was very, very thick and had texture to it. My understanding is that it is the coconut meat and milk pureed together and concentrated. If you were to use the “cream” that separates in a can of full fat coconut milk I believe that is what is called “coconut cream” because it does not have the coconut meat. The definitions are confusing! You could probably still use it but you will have to be careful you don’t end up with something too thin relative to the real “creamed coconut” product. Maybe reduce the overall amount of coconut milk or cook it down to concentrate it? The main thing is to make sure it is thick enough. You can also add more arrowroot at the end (once cooled) to make sure it is thick enough. I’m going to make it again this week so maybe I will play around with using only coconut milk with some tweaks to thickeners. Please let me know how it works out. Happy birthday!

  4. In my search for “creamed Coconut” I have found that “creamed coconut” is actually coconut butter. Is that true? I can find coconut butter in the store but not “creamed coconut”. If they are not one in the same can I use the coconut butter in place of the creamed coconut? Thanks!!

    • Ary, I will have to research this further. I thought coconut butter was the same thing as coconut oil but now I am not so sure. I DO know that creamed coconut and coconut oil are VERY different so if the coconut butter that you describe is just the pure coconut fat then it would not work in this recipe in place of creamed coconut. The creamed coconut is very much the milk of the coconut and includes some pureed meat of the coconut so it has quite a bit of texture. I’m not sure if what you call “coconut butter” has that coconut meat texture in it or not.

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  7. This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try!
    Have you ever tried making paleo whipped cream? It’s easy and really good! Just refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk for a few hours. Open (don’t shake) and scrape all the thick fat into a bowl. (Leave the thin water in the can). Add coconut crystals or honey, vanilla extract and a little cinnamon (optional) to the bowl. Whip with a mixer just like you would regular whipped cream!

  8. The 9 tablespoons of arrowroot gave me pause. I used only 4 … the pie is plenty thick, but tastes somewhat powdery. Has anyone else experienced the same result?

    • Kristine, I literally just made this pie again today. I had less arrowroot in the recipe previously and had trouble with it being thick enough so I had to add more. I didn’t think it tasted powdery though so I wouldn’t think 4 Tbls would do it. In fact my mother-in- law was remarking how much she liked the flavor. The creamed coconut has a lot of texture which is very different from a standard coconut custard pie. Maybe that is part of what you perceive as powdery?

  9. Hmmmm … it wasn’t powdery before I added the arrowroot though. And no, my pie is definitely not as “high” as yours, so I assume the arrowroot does make a difference. I wonder if the temp was off and if it didn’t fully dissolve? I usually dissolve the arrowroot a bit in water before I add – I wonder if that would help. I am serving the pie tonight, though, so we will see what the real critics have to say!

    I really appreciate the quick response.

    • Well, I hope it went over at least somewhat well. :-0 My in-laws liked it although I did put on a layer of whipped cream on top for them. It’s a very different taste from a “normal” coconut cream pie. I’m thinking of trying it without the creamed coconut to see if that works too. I think the texture is a bit startling for folks expecting that smooth texture of cream pie. I cooked my custard longer this time and it made for firmer pie so I might have been able to get away with less arrowroot.

  10. I am really looking forward to making this pie! Some girlfriends and me are taking a long weekend get away and I plan to make this as one of our healthier treat options. I did not get the coconut crystals but I did buy coconut palm sugar, the ingredients read, 100% organic crystallized coconut palm nectar. Is this the same thing? I doubt it would make much differance but I don’t want to sacrifice the optimal choice for sweetener. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Jeradawn, I use both “coconut crystals” and “coconut palm sugar” and they seem to be the same. So I think you’re fine. They give recipes a bit of a brown sugar taste. I really like how it flavors, as well as sweetens, this pie. This pie is different from most other coconut cream pies (in addition to being paleo friendly) because it has texture due to the creamed coconut. I hope you like it.

    • Finally made this pie for a girl’s weekend gateway. And all of them confessed that traditional coconut cream pie is their favorite, I have never had or made a coconut cream pie so I was really nervous! The paleo coconut cream pie turned out fantastic (followed the instructions to a T) and it was a huge hit! They ate up the whole pie in just a few days. Thanks again for developing this healthier alternative to a classic.

  11. I made the crust, but didn’t have time to complete the filling. Do you have an idea of how long I can keep the crust in the fridge, before I need to use it? Would it be better to freeze it and do you know if it will hold up if I do that?

    Thanks for your help and the recipe!

    Angela

    • Angela,
      I have not frozen this particular pie crust but I did freeze the crust for my pecan pie (similar) for at least a week and it was totally fine. You could probably keep the crust in the fridge a few days too. It might hold up better frozen if you were keeping it more than a couple of days.

      • Hi Lea,
        I made this pie for the Superbowl! Totally amazing! Everyone loved it and thought nothing of the fact that it was a paleo recipe, just an incredible dessert. Very rich and satisfying and one I will make for special occasions over and over. I can’t wait to try the chocolate cheesecake recipe. Thank you for posting!

        Angela

        P.S. I froze the crust for a week and it was fine.

        • I love getting feedback about this pie. I happen to think it is really good but I am never sure if others will like the coconutty texture from the creamed coconut. I’m really glad it turned out well for you.

  12. Hi Lea! Your coconut cream pie looks paleolicios! I am a paleo mom and I am surely going to try this one. Coconuts are abound here in the Philippines.

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  14. Hi Lea,
    My husband and I have been eating Paleo for over a year now. We have really been missing some of our favorite desserts, such as coconut cream pie. I made this today and I have to say I followed your recipe exactly and we were so happy with the results. It turned out so perfect. The taste was wonderful….only problem might be getting up in the middle of the night for a late night snack…it was so good. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Wow, Joan, what a great review. This is one of my favorite recipes and it’s so gratifying to hear someone else who appreciates it so much. I’m so glad it turned out well for you!

  15. I cook Paleo for a busy family of five and made this pie for a birthday. I’m so sad… followed directions to a t but my pie did not set and had a pasty taste and texture. Any idea where I went wrong. Is it possible my arrowroot was too old? (3 months) I have never used it in something cooled down like that before and the amount seemed like a lot? Would like to try this again…at home this time.Your pie looks beautiful..

    • I increased the quantity of arrowroot in this recipe because, even though it worked for me with less, I got feedback that it was not setting up enough. It probably does depend somewhat on how fresh the arrowroot is – I’ve heard its thickening capability decreases over time and with heat (which is why it is best to add it after the mixture has cooled down somewhat.) It is crucial that you give it plenty of time to set up – overnight would be best. As for the “pasty taste and texture” I’m not sure what to tell you. It might be the arrowroot but it could also be the creamed coconut. That definitely gives this pie a VERY different texture from other coconut cream pies that use only coconut milk.

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  17. Can’t remember exactly how I found your blog but I have this recipe bookmarked on my phone. It looks yummy. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Just a few things after reading all of the comments. I do the canned coconut milk in the fridge thing 8 hrs, when the cream is separated,scoop it out, add your stuff, whip it up, and YUMMY. I do it all the time. Also you can make your own coconut butter by taking dehydrated coconut and putting it in your food processor, it eventually turns into butter. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  19. I can’t seem to find Creamed Coconut and don’t have time to order it as I’m planning to make this tomorrow night for a birthday celebration. Any suggestions on what to sub for it? More Coconut Milk? Or should I try the “let the water separate from the cream in the can” thing? Coconut Butter? Any advice would be great!! Thanks so much!

    • Melanie you may end up inadvertently being my guinea pig because I have been thinking of trying this recipe without the creamed coconut. It does not give the pie filling a lot of extra volume but it does give it a more intense coconut flavor and it has a texture to it. It is basically concentrated coconut milk (albeit with more coconut meat texture than you would find in standard canned coconut milk). So if you want to get close you could take the time to condense a can of coconut milk by heating on the stovetop until it has reduced by half. The creamed coconut in the recipe is 7 oz and it is a solid block at room temperature. I’m not sure if cooking one can of milk down will replicate it exactly but it would probably do for the recipe. Using just the cream part might work too but you are probably just getting the fat in that case whereas creamed coconut is more than just the fat. Does that make sense? I find all the different descriptions of coconut products a little confusing. Some people use the term “coconut butter” to mean the same thing as the creamed coconut so I’m not sure about that one.
      As long as you aren’t adding a ton more volume you probably can’t mess it up. In fact, you could possibly leave it out entirely. Good luck. And if you do make it please let me know what happens!

      • Thanks, Lea!

        The coconut butter I ordered isn’t going to arrive in time so I decided to attempt to make my own by grinding up coconut flakes for a looong time in the food processor. It became sort of a crumbly paste, so that’s what I’m going to use in place of the creamed coconut. I’ll let you know how it turns out! Making it tomorrow.

        And Happy Birthday! Today is my sister’s birthday and she has recently given up sugar so she’s excited for me to fix this pie. :)

  20. Can you estimate the grams of sugar or the total amount of carbs in this pie? I’m not familiar with the sweeteners you used, so I can’t even guess. As a type 2 diabetic, coconut flour is an excellent substitute for the other grain flours, but I also have to watch the sugars. :( Thank you!

    • Amy,
      The only added sugar in this recipe is the coconut crystals and whatever sugar might be in the dark chocolate (depending on what you use). The following link will give you most of the information you need to learn more about the carb count in coconut crystals and other nutrition info including Glycemic Index. http://www.coconutsecret.com/crystals2.html The left side of the Coconut Secret website has links to nutrition on all their products including the coconut flour. I would imagine it would be accurate for almost any brand of coconut flours you might choose to use. I hope that helps.
      Lea

  21. Thanks, Lea. Based on this information, I estimate the coconut crystals to be about 14 grams of carbs, the coconut flour about 108 g. of carbs, and the unsweetened coconut flakes about 8 g. of carbs for the entire pie. The other variable is the chocolate (depending on type used.) Without adding in the carbs for the chocolate, it’s about 130 g. of carbs for the entire pie. I don’t think the chocolate adds that much. If I slice the pie to get 10 servings, it would be around 15 grams of carbs per slice (this includes the carbs of 2 ounces of a semi-sweet chocolate bar that I happen to have on hand ~ about 18 grams of carbs, total.) Not bad!

  22. WOW, this was amazing! I made this for my dad’s birthday. He doesn’t eat paleo and was going to get a pie from Marie Callender’s but I insisted on making one. Let’s just say, everyone loved it, paleo and non. Thank you so much for such an amazing recipe!!

  23. This pie looks delicious!! We were just I’m Seattle and had an amazing nothing heathy about it coconut cream pie. Can’t wait to see how this compares. Thanks!!

  24. fyi, the first time was a little too soupy and chalky for me. So I modified this by: used coconut sap instead of crystals (2/3c), 2 whole jumbo eggs, reduced c. milk to 2.5 cups. 5 tablespoon arrowroot. Whisked together eggs, arrowroot, and sap. Then whisked this into steaming coconut milk on medium heat. Stirred constantly. Once it started to get lumpy, transfered to food processor, pureed, returned to pan. Continue to heat till thick. Returned to food processor again. pureed. Added 2 3/4tsp vanilla and 1.5 cups unsweetened organic coconut. Pulsed a few times. Transfered directly to pie plate and covered with plastic. Put in freezer in 1 hr. then transfered to fridge. It was set in 3 hrs. Not saying this is the ideal, but my boyfriend (who hates all paleo desserts) could not tell difference in the filling and most of it before i could any topping on. So that was my experiment. I think i could have even backed off another 1/2-1 tablespoon of the arrowroot because it was super thick. Thanks for posting the recipe. I doubt i would have ever thought to use arrrowroot or creamed coconut (which i never heard of) to make the paleo version.

  25. My practice filling is too thin, even overnight in the fridge, I’m gonna use all the above reviews to make it for real this weekend. Fingers crossed. The flavor is great, so is the crust.

  26. I made this today, but subbed gelatin for arrowroot. Arrowroot is too starchy and I have carb intolerances. What I did is mix in about 3-4 tsp of gelatin in warm water. After I cooked the custard, I wisked it in. I still did the ice bath to expedite cooling. It worked perfect! Still have to make whipped cream and toast some coconut tomorrow, but the coconut filling tastes divine!

  27. Ok so I made this pie and was just able to have my first piece last night…. delicious! I left a little of the coconut sugar out of the filling, but just as good. I think the chocolate on the crust makes the whole pie, rounds out the flavors. And the toasted coconut on top… heaven. I added a layer of whipped cream tot he top and them sprinkled the coconut and choocate shavings on top. I loved it so much I had a piece for breakfast this morning! And so far I’ve had no glycemic reactions to the coconut sugar. Yay!

  28. Lea, I have purchased the ingredients for the coconut cream pie. The one thing that’s different is the arrowroot – I purchased arrowroot starch/flour and your recipe called for arrowroot powder. Will it make a difference?

  29. Re: coconut cream pie recipe. I finally got the creamed coconut in the mail – it is the same one you used. It is very hard and they suggest putting the bag in warm water. They also said to add water to dilute it but I don’t think your recipe calls for that?

    • Yes to softening the bag in warm water but no to diluting it. At least not for this recipe which already has other liquid in it. Good luck!

  30. I made this pie and loved it! I made some alterations to the recipe and it worked out fine. I have an allergy to egg yolks but do well with egg whites. I substituted egg whites in both the crust and the filling. The crust was tender and delicious. The chocolate coating is a stroke of brilliance. Likewise I used egg whites in the filling instead of egg yolks. I substituted a cup of egg whites for the four yolks. The filling cooked up nicely and started to thicken. I didn’t have any arrowroot so I used gelatin. I dissolved one packet of gelatin in some hot water and whisked it in. It all set up in about three or four hours but was best overnight in the refrigerator. The pie is a hit!
    In some of the comments I notice people comment on the graininess of the filling, thinking it came from the arrowroot. My filling has a slight graininess but I think it is from the coconut in the creamed coconut. I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t read the comments.
    I’d like to step up the intensity of the coconut flavor in the filling. Any ideas? Coconut extract or flavoring?

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  32. My son is Type 1 diabetic and as a family we eat diary and gluten free. His favorite pie is Coconut Cream. He has begged me for a year to find a recipe and make one. I came across this recipe a couple months ago and finally made it. The ingredients were a little pricey and I had to make a special trip to Whole Foods to find some of the ingredients. It also takes a little while to make, and as a person who is not generally fond of baking, I was really skeptical that I could even make it. I followed your instructions, the pictures really helped! This pie tastes and looks great. My son said it was awesome. :) high praise from a teenager! He was so happy to have his favorite pie and it didn’t even spike his blood sugar. Thanks so much for this recipe.

  33. I made this pie a couple nights ago, and after reading through all the comments left, was very nervous of how it was going to come out and taste. Needless to say, it came out perfect!!!! Everyone who was brave enough to indulge in trying a piece, LOVED IT! I am not a die-hard Paleo dieter, although I am a Clean Eater, which is part of the reason a lot of Paleo recipes catch my eye. This pie was sooooo good, although after thinking about it, I can see how some commenters would complain about its taste or lack thereof. If you’re not an organically driven, health conscious eater, then your taste buds probably crave all sorts of msg’s and “fake” flavours. This pie was so rich and organic-tasting. Yum! When I asked the other tasters if they would eat it again, the comments I got were, “can I have the recipie” and “I give this pie a full 9 out of 10!” By the way, the people I fed it to are people who could care less about health. All in all…. That says a lot!!!!

    • Your comment made my day! Thank you for understanding that these recipes don’t always appeal to people who might be expecting the processed taste they are accustomed to.

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