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Coconut cream bars are a quick and easy sweet treat perfect for spring. These dessert bars are made with a pie crust topped with coconut cream pudding, whipped topping, and, of course, toasted coconut. Each cool square is light and refreshing.
These coconut cream pie bars have a flaky pie crust and smooth, coconut cream. Toasted coconut on top adds a bit of texture to the soft dessert. Custard, cream, and coconut in each bite!
Chilled coconut cream bars are a great refreshment. This “tray-bake” makes a 9x13 pan of delicious dessert bars that taste just like a coconut cream pie. They’re easy enough for a weekday dessert, yet impressive enough for a dinner party.
Coconut Cream Bars Ingredients
- Refrigerated pie crust
- Coconut Cream instant pudding mix
- Whole milk
- Coconut extract
- Sweetened, flaked coconut
- Frozen whipped topping
Be sure to follow this coconut cream squares recipe to make the pudding and not the directions on the package. This recipe includes the right amount of milk for a thick pudding that will set and hold a bar shape. The coconut extract is optional and encouraged for a more intense coconut flavor.
There are a few scrumptious ways to change up this recipe. Try making these coconut cream pie bars with a shortbread crust instead of a pre-made pie crust. Make just like you would a graham cracker crust but with shortbread cookie crumbs instead. As a finishing touch, drizzle dark chocolate over the tops of each square for an extra decadent touch.
How To Make Coconut Cream Bars
FIRST STEP: Preheat the oven to 450°F.
SECOND STEP: Unroll the pie crust and place it in an 8x8 square glass baking dish. Press the crust into a baking dish and shape it up the sides as far as you can press it. (Crust will shrink back some during baking.) Prick the bottom and sides with a fork to allow steam to escape while the crust is baking.
THIRD STEP: Bake crust according to package instructions (10-12 minutes, usually). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (about 15 minutes).
FOURTH STEP: Meanwhile, whisk together pudding mix, milk, and coconut extract (if desired). Whisk for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.
FIFTH STEP: Whisk in 1 cup of flaked coconut (optional).
SIXTH STEP: Spread pudding mixture into cooled pie crust.
SEVENTH STEP: Spread thawed whipped topping over the pudding mixture.
EIGHTH STEP: Place in the freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes.
NINTH STEP: Spread the remaining cup of coconut flakes on a pie plate or small sheet pan. Bake in a 450°F oven for 5-8 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the coconut is golden and toasted. Remove from the pan immediately and cool.
TENTH STEP: Sprinkle toasted coconut over the chilled pie. Cut and serve!
Can I use a different crust than pie crust for this recipe?
You could replace the pie crust with a shortbread crust or even a graham cracker crust if you prefer.
Can I use homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip?
You can certainly make homemade whipped cream and use it in place of whipped topping in this recipe.
What other toppings could I use instead of coconut?
In place of, or in addition to, the toasted coconut topping, you could sprinkle white or chocolate chips, pecans, almonds, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, or even drained pineapple pieces.
In addition to pricking the pie crust before blind baking, you could use pie weights to keep it from puffing up.
It only takes a few minutes to toast the flaked coconut, so watch carefully and use a spatula or give the cookie sheet a good shake a few times to ensure the coconut browns evenly and doesn’t burn.
Try a homemade shortbread crust instead of pie crust or shortbread cookie crust by making your own pastry with 1 cup butter, 2 cups flour, and ½ cup powdered sugar. Press and blind bake the same.
Make a “sling” out of foil to help get the bars out of the pan easier: overlap two pieces of foil with enough overhang to lift up when finished.
Storing This Recipe
Cover in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze for 1 month.
The pie crust will lose its crispness over time from the moisture in the pie and fridge/freezer.
Coconut Cream Bars
- 1 roll refrigerated pie crust , at room temperature
- 3.4 oz package coconut cream instant pudding mix
- 2 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp coconut extract , optional
- 2 cup sweetened flaked coconut , divided
- 8 oz tub frozen whipping topping , thawed
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Unroll pie crust and place in an 8 by 8 square glass baking dish. Press crust into baking dish and shape it up the sides as far as you can press it. Crust will shrink back some during baking. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork to allow steam to escape while the crust is baking.
- Bake crust according to package instructions, usually 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, about 15 minutes.
- Whisk together pudding mix, milk, and coconut extract (if desired). Whisk for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.
- Whisk in 1 cup of flaked coconut, optional.
- Spread pudding mixture into cooled pie crust.
- Spread thawed whipped topping over the pudding mixture.
- Place in the freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Spread remaining cup of coconut flakes in a pie plate or small sheet pan. Bake in 450 degrees F oven for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until coconut is golden and toasted. Remove from pan immediately and cool.
- Sprinkle toasted coconut over the chilled pie. Cut and serve!