Coconut cream meringue pie looks like a fancy dessert, but the ingredients are quite straightforward. All of the different components - fluffy meringue, rich custard, and buttery crust - come together to make a novel, rich pie.
Coconut Cream Meringue Pie
Conveniently, you can adjust the number of eggs used in the custard and in the meringue, so making coconut cream meringue pie would be a great way to use up leftover egg yolk and whites.
- 1 9-inch pie crust, such as homemade graham cracker crust
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup of sugar
- 1 can (12 ounces) of evaporated milk
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- ¼ cup of cornstarch
- ¼ cup of coconut
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ cup of sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Start by making the custard so it can cool. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch with a tablespoon of milk until perfectly smooth.
- Add the egg yolks, sugar, evaporated milk, milk, and cornstarch slurry to a medium pot. Mix until smooth.
- Stir constantly, and cook over medium-heat until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
- In a deep bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and cream of tartar.
- Distribute the custard in the pie crust. Gently spread the meringue over the custard, and sprinkle the coconut on top.
- Bake until the meringue is lightly golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Pie crust: You can use prepared homemade graham cracker crust or prepared regular pie crust made with flour and butter. Storebought is most convenient. For more pie crust options, see the section on the different types of pie crust.
A custard is a cooked mixture of milk or cream with egg yolks, and it tastes like really good pudding. Any custard would work, and you want about 3 cups in total.
There is no easy vegan adaptation because vegan custard pies generally use tofu or cashews. You can try omitting the eggs and using full fat coconut milk, but it may not thicken properly.
- Egg yolks: Adds richness and thickens the custard. Use up to 6 egg yolks or 3 whole eggs.
- Sugar: Sweetens the custard. Use up to 1 cup. Any sort of sweetener works, but liquid sweeteners will result in a thinner custard.
- Evaporated milk, whole milk: Rich liquid used in the custard. You need about 2 and 1/2 cups in total. Liquids with lower fat content will result in a thinner custard. For low fat coconut cream meringue pie, use all milk. Other options include heavy cream, half and half, and coconut milk/cream.
- Vanilla: Adds flavor.
- Cornstarch: Thickens the custard with the smoothest, silkiest texture. Here are the differences between types of thickeners. Substituting 1/4 cup of flour should be okay. Omitting the cornstarch results in a completely different recipe, custard pie, that cannot be topped with a meringue and takes much longer to set.
- Coconut: Adds coconut texture and flavor. Sweetened and unsweetened both work. For more coconut flavor, you can add up to 1 cup of coconut on top of the pie crust before adding the custard.
A meringue is made of whipped egg whites and sugar, and it tastes like fluffy sweetness. If you make no-bake graham cracker crust and omit the meringue, you can have no bake coconut cream pie.
- Egg whites: Makes meringues super fluffy. Use up to 6 egg whites.
- Sugar: Stabilizes and sweetens the meringue. Use up to 1/2 cup. Any sort of sweetener works. Superfine sugar or powdered sugar would dissolve more easily.
- Cream of tartar: Magic chemical that helps stabilize the foam. Here is a more detailed post on cream of tartar. Can omit, but the meringue may be less stable.
Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven. You can bake the coconut cream meringue pie at the same temperature you used to bake the homemade graham cracker crust. You can bake at temperatures from 325-425 degrees for 10-20 minutes. I baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
For convenience, you can use 3 eggs in total, so you have 3 egg yolks for the custard and 3 egg whites for the meringue. Separate the egg yolks and whites very very carefully. To make a meringue from the egg whites, you need a clean equipment and absolutely no egg yolk at all in your egg whites.
If you're concerned about messing up, you can use an additional bowl. If the egg yolk contaminates the egg white, you can always save the imperfect egg white for later or use it for the custard.
I carefully crack the eggs into a large bowl. Then, I scoop out the egg yolks with my hand and transfer them to the pot. I only use 2 containers: a large bowl for beating the egg whites and a medium pot for making the custard.
The hardest part of making custard is preventing starchy lumps. To prevent this, in a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch with a tablespoon of milk until perfectly smooth.
You should measure, not eyeball, the amount of cornstarch. So far, each time I've made coconut cream meringue pie, I haven't added enough cornstarch, and the filling doesn't set properly. The resulting pie slices are very abstract, but taste the same.
Add the egg yolks, sugar, evaporated milk, milk, and cornstarch slurry to a medium pot. Mix until smooth. I skipped the step of mixing the cornstarch separately, so I have starch lumps. Stirring more doesn't get rid of the lumps.
Even if your custard wasn't lumpy to start out with, the cooking process can also result in lumps. For a perfectly smooth custard, stir constantly, and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
If you do not stir constantly, the starch will stick to the bottom of the pot. I was too impatient to supervise the custard. However, fixing a lumpy custard requires even more work.
If your custard is not lumpy, you can skip these steps and go to making the meringue. If your custard is lumpy, calm down. It's not that hard to fix, but a bit annoying.
No amount of stirring will fix the texture, so you have to use a fine mesh sieve to remove the lumps. Put the sieve over a large bowl, and pour the lumpy custard into the sieve. Chill for a bit, and wait for the custard to separate from the lumps.
Look at all of these lumps. Including them in the final pie would be chewy, starchy, and fairly unpleasant. Please, please just stir the custard as it cooks.
Here's the resulting smooth custard. This is what it should look like if you properly cooked the custard. The custard for coconut cream meringue pie is basically homemade pudding and tastes sweet, smooth, and creamy.
When you're happy with the custard, stir in the vanilla and set aside. You should stir in the vanilla last so it has a more potent flavor, but it's not a big deal if you add it first.
Here are the egg whites left in the large bowl after we separated the egg yolks. In a deep bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. You can use a mixer or a whisk. If you don't have any equipment, you may be able to use two forks, but it may take a while.
After the egg whites start to stand up, gradually beat in the sugar and cream of tartar. You can keep the mixer running, and slowly add in the sugar. You shouldn't add sugar and cream of tartar at the beginning because this makes the meringue take longer.
Once you have the pie crust, custard, and meringue, assembling coconut cream meringue pie is super simple. The custard should be at a reasonable temperature, so start by distributing the custard in the pie crust.
Gently spread the meringue over the custard, and sprinkle the coconut on top.
You can also spread the meringue evenly, but making the meringue cover the entire surface of the pie requires more work. Since meringue is very delicate, it tends to collapse if you manipulate it too much.
Bake until the meringue is lightly golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for around 10 minutes so the pie can set and not burn your tongue. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days, but this pie is sure to disappear quickly.
Honestly, the entire process of making coconut cream meringue pie is quite a lot of work and results in quite a lot of dirty dishes. To break down the process, you can prepare the custard and homemade graham cracker crust ahead of time. You can't prepare the meringue ahead of time because it will deflate in the fridge.