This Easy Coconut Cream Trifle is SO much easier than pie, and just as delicious.
It’s one of the best desserts for a potluck, bbq, dinner parties or any time you want to feed a crowd!
It’s a delicious, cheap make-ahead dessert!
Things You’ll Love About This Trifle:
- It’s easy. Make it even easier by using a cake mix for your cake!
- It’s cheap. The coconut pudding (or custard) is made with milk instead of cream, which makes it cheaper.
- It’s SO good. The kind of good that makes people want to lick the trifle dish.
Easier Than Pie
When I used to read a recipe that involved making a homemade pudding, I thought that sounded SO time consuming.
Once I tried it, though, I realized that making a homemade coconut pudding just involves mixing some ingredients together on the stove and takes about ten minutes.
A lot less work than I had thought.
This trifle includes a cake (and I’ll tell you a secret: I was in a bit of a rush so this one came from a box), a delicious, rich, creamy coconut pudding filling, coconut flavored whipped cream and some toasted coconut.
A few different parts, but they’re all easy, and you can do each part ahead of time and assemble them into this decadent trifle later!
If you just found yourself googling “Easy Coconut Cream Pie,” maybe you should change gears and make this trifle instead!
White cake – lots of flexibility here to use what you love/what works for you! Short on time? Use a cake mix! Have a favorite family white cake recipe? Go ahead and use that!
Tip: If you don’t have a go-to white cake recipe and want to make one from scratch, I swear by everything on Sally’s Baking Addiction’s site. Here’s a link to her Favorite White Cake.
Eggs – I’ve never tested this recipe with any type of egg substitutes. I normally use large or extra large eggs.
Milk – I use whole milk in this recipe to make it a little more decadent. I haven’t tried using skim milk, but I do think it would work – as long as you know that the pudding won’t be quite as rich.
Butter – I always just use salted butter, because that is what I buy.
Flaked coconut – I’ve used both sweetened and unsweetened here. Use whatever suits your taste buds best. Lately I find many desserts too sweet and am starting to use unsweetened coconut more often. If you only have shredded that should work too.
Coconut extract – If you want this to be a really coco-nutty trifle, you’ll want to use coconut extract. If you’re just trying to make something delicious and don’t want to buy an extract just for one recipe, you could use vanilla or almond extract.
Easy Coconut Cream Trifle – Step-by-Step Instructions
Easy Coconut Cream Trifle – Ingredients
Whisk together 2 cups whole milk (homogenized) and 4 whole eggs in a bowl.
In a medium sized pot, combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 5 tablespoons of cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Slowly add the milk/egg mixture, whisking well to combine and making sure there are no lumps.
Turn heat to medium and start to heat mixture, stirring often with a whisk, to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot or burn.
Once the mixture starts to thicken, stir it constantly until it begins to boil. Cook it for one minute at a boil, then take it off the heat.
Stir in 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla, 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut.
Set this aside.
Tip: Whisk the coconut pudding occasionally as it cools so a skin doesn’t form on the top of it.
After it’s fairly cool, whisk in an extra 1/2 cup of milk to thin it out.
Dump the rest of the package of coconut into a dry frying pan and cook over low-medium heat (depending on stove), stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant.
If it starts to cook too quickly, reduce the heat and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Tip: Personally, I would either do this at the same time as I cook the custard, or on the already hot burner once the custard is done. I like to save time when I can.
Whip 2 cups of whipping cream with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of coconut extract, until it’s fluffy and thick.
And you’re ready to assemble!
By now your filling (and cake, if you made it earlier) should be cool. Slice the cake. Cover the bottom of the bowl or trifle dish with a layer of cake.
Assess whether you’ll be able to make 3 layers or 4 layers based on the size of your dish.
Add 1/3 (for 3 layers) or 1/4 (for four layers) of the coconut cream custard, 1/3 (or 1/4) of the fluffy coconut whipped cream and 1/3 (or 1/4) of the toasted coconut. Repeat two (or three) more times.
Chill or eat immediately.
Tip: This Coconut Cream Trifle is one of the BEST make ahead desserts I can think of, because you can make all the different parts days ahead of time, and assemble it hours ahead of time and it will be perfect!
Common Questions & Answers:
Trifle is traditionally a British dessert that has become pretty common place in North America.
In Britain the rules of what constitutes a trifle are more strict, but it North America a trifle usually consists of cake, pudding, whipped cream and add-ins (like fruit, coconut, crushed candy, etc), layered in a dish (usually a clear one, so that you can see the layers).
Yes! In fact it’s even better if you do. You can definitely make all the different parts of the recipe a day or two ahead of time and then assemble it closer to when you want to serve it.
Yes, I think you could assemble it the night before. I probably wouldn’t assemble it earlier than that.
I think the trifle would last about 3 days in the fridge, but it will get a bit soggier each day (although it will still taste great!).
Yes! This recipe would make the cutest little mini coconut cream trifles! You could use mini mason jars, parfait glasses, wine glasses for a fancier look, or even ramekins. Plus, aren’t mason jar desserts just the cutest?
Did you love this recipe? Leave us a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating below! 😍
Easy Coconut Cream Trifle
It’s a delicious, cheap, make-ahead dessert!
For the Cake
- 1 white cake (homemade or from a cake mix)
For the Coconut Pudding
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup whole milk (to thin the pudding as it cools)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- pinch salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
- 1.5 tsp vanilla
For the Coconut Whipped Cream
- 2 cups whipping cream (my container holds slightly less (473 mL) and that’s fine)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp coconut extract
For the Toasted Coconut
- 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut (the rest of the package used for the custard is fine)
For the Cocout Pudding
- Before you get started have your cake either already made or baking while you work on the other components.
- Whisk together 2 cups milk and eggs in a bowl.
- In a medium sized pot combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly add the milk/egg mixture, whisking well to combine and making sure there are no lumps. Turn heat to medium and start to heat mixture, stirring often with a whisk, to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot or burn.
- Once the mixture starts to thicken, stir it constantly until it begins to boil. Cook it for one minute at a boil, then take it off the heat.
- Stir in vanilla, butter and 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut. Set this aside and whisk it occasionally as it cools.*
- After it’s fairly cool, whisk in an extra 1/2 cup of milk to thin it out.
For the Toasted Coconut
- Dump the rest of the package of coconut into a dry frying pan and cook over low-medium heat (depending on stove), stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant. If it starts to cook too quickly, reduce the heat and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn.**
For Coconut Whipped Cream
- Whip whipping cream with sugar and coconut extract, until it’s fluffy and thick.
- You’re ready to assemble! By now your filling (and cake, if you made it earlier) should be cool. Slice the cake. Cover the bottom of the bowl or trifle dish with a layer of cake.
- Assess whether you’ll be able to make 3 layers or 4 layers based on the size of your dish.
- Add 1/3 (for 3 layers) or 1/4 (for four layers) of the coconut cream custard, 1/3 (or 1/4) of the fluffy coconut whipped cream and 1/3 (or 1/4) of the toasted coconut. Repeat two (or three) more times.
- Chill or eat immediately. Enjoy! 🙂
* Personally, I would toast the coconut either at the same time as I cook the custard, or on the already hot burner once the custard is done. I like to save time when I can.
** Whisk the coconut pudding once in a while so a skin doesn’t form on the top of it.
This is a fabulous make ahead dessert. You can make all the different parts a day or two ahead of time, assemble it hours ahead of time and it will be perfect!
This post was originally published on June 16, 2017
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We loved this recipe! When I was making the custard it thickened quite a bit before it boiled so I added more half and half by about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup and it turned out perfect. I also whipped 3 cups of whipping cream with a little extra sugar and coconut extract so that it would be a little more…just more. It was fabulous!
Wonderful! Thank you so much for letting us know Mari! 🙂
Brenda Griffith says
Can you make instant coconut cream pudding instead of making your own homemade pudding.?
Hi! Yes, I’m sure you could do that 🙂
Can I use angel food cake instead of regular cake for this recipe?
Hi Debby! Yes, I think you could use angel food cake. Let me know how it turns out! 🙂
Hello! Have you ever made the coconut pudding with some coconut milk in it in addition to the whole milk to give it more of a coconut flavor?
Hi Samara! I’ve never tried this but it sounds like a delicious idea. If you decide to give it a try will you let us know how it goes? 🙂
I made this for Christmas dessert using gluten free cake. It was absolutely delicious and made even better by drizzling spiced rum over top. Thanks for the recipe. This is a definite keeper and one that will be made often.
Ooooh spiced rum sounds delicious with this! Thanks for your comment Winter! Glad you enjoyed it and will make it again! 🙂
can i half the recipe for the coconut custard?
Hi Aleena! I’m SO sorry I missed this comment! I hope this information is still helpful! I think you could definitely half it – just keep an eye on it as you cook it because it will likely cook faster. If you try halving it please let us know how it works out for you!
Is the cake cut into cubes to layer?
Hi Nicole! Yes, I cut it into cubes to make it easier. Hope this helps!
Looks Great! I am going to try this for Easter. I think you forgot to list the 4 eggs in your list of ingredients. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Hi Martu! Thanks for the heads up. I fixed the omission! I hope you enjoyed the trifle!
When you say Whipping Cream, do you mean something like Cool Whip?
Hi Bonnie! You can definitely use Cool Whip if you want to. In the recipe I use heavy cream (35%) and whip it with some sugar. It pretty much doubles in volume when it’s whipped. If you decide to use Cool Whip instead you’ll need roughly twice as much, but it does reduce the work by a step, which is always nice 🙂 Hope this helps, but if you have any other questions just let me know!
Thank you so much for your response. I want to make this for Easter. I have made whipped topping with the heavy cream and sugar before for banana cream pie. I’ll do it this way. 😀
Hi Bonnie! I hope it worked out! 🙂