About a decade ago, Pam Georges submitted this amazing vegan coconut cream pie recipe for one of our recipe contests. We’ve enjoyed it, and so have many of you, but it has become lost in our archives recently. So today I’m updating the post and adding notes on our variations. It’s a perfectly sweet, coconut-forward pie, with infusions of real coconut throughout.
The Best Vegan Coconut Cream Pie for Coconut Purists
I have a coconut cream pie recipe in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook that’s very similar to Pam’s. I’m going to share a few of my variations, along with some ingredient notes, just in case you want to try them:
- Coconut Milk Option: I like vegan coconut cream pie that sets up a little more, so I use 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk + enough coconut milk beverage to reach 3 cups. This makes a richer pie with a little more coconut depth in the flavor.
- Butter Alternative: To keep with the theme, I sometimes use coconut oil in place of the buttery spread. This also makes the pie more pure white in color.
- Coconut Garnish: I use the 1 cup coconut in the pie, but toast 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut for the garnish. Here are 3 ways to toast coconut.
- Pie Crust: You can actually buy dairy-free graham cracker crusts in the baking aisle and dairy-free frozen pie crusts in most grocery stores. When I have time, I prefer homemade. I either use the Graham Cracker Crust or Easy Peasy Oil Crust (coconut oil option) recipe in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, or this Buttery Pie Crust Recipe. If we need gluten-free, I typically use Wholly Wholesome Gluten-Free Pie Shells, which are sold frozen at natural food stores.
FAQs for this Vegan Coconut Cream Pie
As questions arise, I’ll include them along with the answers here!
What is Coconut Milk Beverage?
Milk beverages, also called milk alternatives, are drinkable, like milk, and sold in larger cartons or bottles. They typically have the word “beverage” or “drink” on the package. Coconut milk beverage should not be confused with coconut milk, which is high in fat and sold in cans. It’s used almost exclusively in recipes rather than as a stand alone beverage. That said, you can use lite canned coconut milk in place of the coconut milk beverage in this recipe. We have used this in cream fillings with good success.
Is there a Good Substitute for the Cornstarch?
As a general rule, you can substitute arrowroot starch for cornstarch in most recipes. I still prefer non-GMO cornstarch in this pie, but arrowroot should work in a pinch. Tapioca starch might work well, but you might need a little more. It isn’t quite as powerful at thickening. If you prefer to use flour for cream fillings, you can use 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in place of the cornstarch, but you will need to cook it for much longer to cook the flour taste out – usually 10 to 20 minutes.
Special Diet Notes: The Best Vegan Coconut Cream Pie
By ingredients, ths recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the butter alternative, liquid, and crust that suit your dietary needs.
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoons salt
- 3 cups unsweetened coconut milk beverage (or 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk beverage + 1 cup dairy-free coconut milk creamer for a richer consistency)
- 1 tablespoon dairy-free buttery spread
- 1 cup shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut, plus additional for garnish
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 dairy-free pie crust (wheat-based or gluten-free), baked and cooled
- 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, unopened and stored in the refrigerator overnight
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, starch, and salt.
- Slowly whisk in the milk beverage, making certain that all the dry mixture is mixed into the milk.
- Stirring constantly over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a slow boil and boil for 5 minutes. Add the butter alternative, stirring to melt.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded coconut and vanilla.
- Let the mixture cool completely.
- When cool, scrape the filling into the prepared pie shell and even it out.
- Put the pie in the refrigerator.
- Open the can of chilled coconut milk, and drain the "water" (it can be used as coconut water in smoothies).
- Place the very thick coconut milk / cream in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add the sugar and vanilla, and blend with a hand mixer until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. This may take 5 to 8 minutes.
- Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Carefully smooth the whipped coconut cream over the pudding.
- Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top, if using
- Place the back in the refrigerator for a few hours (if you can wait that long) to set.
I made this – followed the recipe (except I used sweetened coconut flakes), however it didn’t set up… It was coconut soup – but it was delicious and I poured it over my chocolate cream pie. 🙂 Any ideas on why it wouldn’t have set?
Hi Liz, there could be a few issues here:
In cooking the custard filling, it should already be pretty thick before you add it to the crust. If not, it wasn’t cooked long enough, or it was cooked too long (it thickened but then started to break down).
If it was thick, but turned to soup, did you cover it? The continued heat from covering it when not completely chilled can also cause the filling to liquefy.
Also, did you use the main recipe, or my adapted version? Good quality, full fat coconut milk, like I use, it will set up. I much prefer it to the more finicky use of just starch and milk beverage. If you used canned coconut milk, and it didn’t set up, then it was a poor quality coconut milk with thickeners instead of actual coconut cream.
Finally, sweetened coconut does add more sugar, which will soften the filling more.
Thank you for the reply. I followed the recipe exactly except for the sweetened coconut flakes. I used So Delicious unsweetened Coconut Milk beverage (in a carton, not can). I didn’t cover – just removed from heat after cooking and left to cool before I put it in the pie crust. I am thinking that maybe I over cooked it and that along with the sweetened flakes caused it not to set. I will retry this weekend and may try full fat canned milk and unsweetened flakes.
I truly am so sorry the first round didn’t work for you! If you use the full-fat coconut milk version in the writing above the recipe, it will work like a dream! Especially if you have a coconut milk that thickens well when chilled. I would put my version in as the main recipe, but many people make the one with coconut milk beverage, so I don’t want to omit that option. Happy Holidays!
Does this freeze well? I’m wanting to make this ahead of time for Thanksgiving.
I can say that the version with my modifications listed above the recipe does freeze well. The higher fat content version will freeze better. I would remove it from the freezer the night before, and let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
What is coconut milk beverage?
Also, can the corn starch be substituted?
Hi Pam, I’ve added detailed answers to your question in the post above.
Thank you! I searched and searched for a recipe like this. It’s a good one! I only had coconut cream and that worked great. Next time I’d like to try coconut suger instead of white. And I also had a store bought chocolate graham cracker crust. All yum! Thanks again.
Marvelous! So glad you liked it Laura.
My son has several food allergies and I gave this pie a try yesterday for a birthday dessert for my husband. It was so good! Regardless of food allergies, I thought using the coconut milk in the pie and for the topping made the flavor extra good! This was a dessert we all enjoyed-tasty for my food allergic guy and still delicious for those without food allergies. Will be making this one often! =) Thank you!
Marvelous! I’m so happy it worked out and that everyone enjoyed the pie! Happy belated birthday to your husband 🙂
I made this and it is fabulous. Awesome. It’s as good as the one that has eggs and whipped cream, but much better for you. I know because I made the one with whipped cream, and eggs. I ate the whole pie, then my mother in law said, your cholesterol. Meanwhile, I’m so use to baking vegan and never thought in my life that I would be able to have something to compare. Well was I shocked! I used coconut milk from the can, and the water from the chilled can. It worked. Then I folded and beat the whipped topping into the chilled mix and added coconut, plus more for the top. I adapted this part from the real jerk cookbook. Again, can’t say enough about this dessert, especially when we’re talking coconut cream pie!
Definetly a thumbs up.?
That’s great! Thank you so much for sharing your feedback Becky, and for your own notes!
I made this today. The recipe was easy to follow and it came out great! For the crust, I baked 2 sheets of cookies and left them in the oven until they were crisp. After they cooled, I broke them up and put them in the Nutribullet and processed to fine crumbs. Added some coconut oil to the mixture and made my pie crust. Once the pie filling cooled I poured it into the crust and put it in the fridge. It came out so good and yummy. Thank you!
Fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with this recipe Emma. I’m glad it worked out so well or you.
This is a fantastic dessert! So easy to make Thank you so much!
I recently found out one of my mother-in-law’s favorite desserts is coconut cream pie, but she hasn’t been able to eat it because she’s lactose intolerant. I looked up dairy free recipes and tried two of them for dessert at Easter. The other obviously tasted like a substitute. This one was fabulous. I’m making it again tonight for myself. I used the combination of coconut milk beverage and coffee creamer for a richer filling, and doubled the “whipped cream” recipe. It was a huge hit, and people were asking me for the recipe.
That is wonderful Chris! Thank you for sharing your successful adaptations, too!
Outstanding! I made this for a friend who is lactose intollerant. We were all amazed how well it tasted! I love coconut cream pie and eat it often, I couldn’t tell the diference. I really enjoyed the whipped topping. Much better than whipped cream or merangue. A definite 10+!!
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