For a new spin on a classic recipe, try this coconut chess pie. Shredded coconut adds loads of tropical flavor to the filling, which pairs perfectly with the flaky cocoa-infused pastry crust!
Easy Chess Pie With Coconut
Chess pie is perhaps my all-time favorite pie, so I often find myself thinking about making variations of it—look no further than my brown butter chess pie, lemon chess tartlets, and caramel chess tart as evidence.
My mother and grandmother both made chess pies, but theirs were usually of the traditional variety. Every once in a while, though, we’d have a coconut version that would put me squarely in dessert paradise.
For something else a little different, this pie is baked in a chocolate pie crust that’s made with cocoa powder. It adds just a hint of chocolate flavor to the pie without taking any of the spotlight away from that gooey coconut filling. You can also make this pie with a standard pie crust if you like. It’s delicious either way!
One of the best things about chess pie is that it’s simple to make with ingredients you likely have on hand in your kitchen. All of those filling ingredients get mixed quickly and easily in one bowl—no mixer required.
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
For the Crust:
- All-purpose flour – Learn more: How to Measure Flour
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – Natural cocoa powder will give you more of a classic chocolate flavor, while Dutch process produces a deeper, darker chocolate crust.
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter – You’ll want the butter to be very cold to get that perfect flaky pastry crust texture. If needed, place it in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes.
For the Filling:
- Unsalted butter – Learn more: Unsalted or Salted Butter: Which is Better for Baking?
- Eggs – Lightly beat the eggs in the mixing bowl, then add the rest of the filling ingredients.
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar – Learn more: Light Brown Sugar vs Dark Brown Sugar: What’s the Difference?
- Milk – I always recommend whole milk for baking, which produces richer, creamier results.
- Vanilla extract – Use store-bought or homemade vanilla extract.
- Sweetened shredded coconut
Is Corn Flour the Same as Cornmeal?
No, corn flour and cornmeal are not the same. Corn flour (also known as cornstarch) is a very finely ground form of cornmeal; it’s often used as a thickener for sauces and gravies. In this recipe, you’ll want to use cornmeal for that signature chess pie texture.
How to Make Coconut Chess Pie With Chocolate Crust
While you can bake this from start-to-finish in one go, you can also prepare the crust one day and then make the filling and bake the pie the next.
Make the Crust:
Mix the dry ingredients and butter. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and incorporate it with a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and the pieces of butter are about the size of small peas.
Add the water. Pour 2 tablespoons of water into the bowl and continue to mix. Add more water a tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together.
Chill. Pat the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
Prepare. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; if needed, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s slightly softened but still cold. Lightly flour a work surface.
Roll out the dough. Unwrap the dough and place it on the prepared surface. Roll it out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick.
Form the crust. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan. Trim and crimp the edges as desired, then chill the pie crust in the refrigerator while you start the filling.
Make the Filling:
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 325°F.
Mix the filling ingredients. Whisk the butter, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, cornmeal, and salt in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Fold in the coconut.
Assemble. Pour the filling mixture into the chilled pie crust. Set the pie plate on a lined, rimmed baking sheet to catch any potential spills.
Bake. Place the baking sheet with the pie plate in the oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown and the filling is set. Cool completely, then serve.
Tips for Success
Read over my baking tips for beginners if you’re new to baking, then follow these additional tips for a perfect coconut chess pie.
- Know when the filling is set. The very center of the pie will still be a bit jiggly when the pie is done cooking; when you gently move the pie pan back and forth, it should jiggle like Jello, not flow like liquid.
- Tent the edges if needed. If you’re still waiting on the center to set, but the edges of the crust seem like they’re over-done, you can lay strips of foil across the edges to tent them and protect them from the heat.
- Be patient. It’s best to let this pie cool completely before serving. The cooled filling will hold its shape better when cut, keeping your coconut chess pie from oozing all over the pie pan and your plate!
Variations and Serving Suggestions
Here are some simple variations you can try with this coconut chess pie recipe.
- Mix 1/2 cup of semisweet or dark chocolate chips into the filling.
- Make it in a tart pan to show off the beautiful chocolate crust.
- Scatter toasted pecans over the top of each slice before serving. A dollop of sweetened whipped cream is delicious, too.
- Garnish with a drizzle of salted caramel and additional coconut flakes for a pie reminiscent of a Samoa cookie!
How to Store
Store coconut chess pie in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can either wrap it in the pan or transfer slices to an airtight container.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes, this recipe can be frozen. Cool the pie completely before wrapping it in plastic wrap or foil and freezing it for up to 3 months. Let the pie thaw in the refrigerator before serving.