Coconut Oil Pie Crust

Coconut Oil Pie Crust
Coconut oil is a type of vegetable oil made from pressing the natural oil out of coconut meat. It is becoming more and more popular, and is now more widely available than ever before. Like any fat, it has many culinary uses, but because it is a solid a room temperature, it is popular for bakers looking for an alternative to regular vegetable shortening in recipes. One especially popular use for it is in pie crust because the coconut oil can be cut in to a flour mixture to produce a flaky crust.

This Coconut Oil Pie Crust uses pure coconut oil instead of butter or shortening. The coconut oil is a soft solid when it is at room temperature, so it can be cut in to flour easily using your fingertips or with the aid of a food processor. It is important that the oil be at the right temperature (around 70F or so), however, because it will become very hard when it is cold and can start to separate if it is too warm. The finished crust is very tender, similar to a shortening crust in texture, and browns beautifully in the oven. The coconut oil has a definite coconut smell and slight flavor to it when it is uncooked. In the baked crust, you might pick up the tininest hint of coconut if you are eating the top edge of the pie crust by itself (but it is very subtle), but you won’t pick up any coconut in the rest of your pie because any trace of flavor that is left after baking is overshadowed by any pie filling.

The most difficult part of working with coconut oil in a pie crust is rolling out the dough after it is prepared. This is because the coconut oil is very hard when it is cold – so hard that it can be difficult to roll out, as the fat would rather adhere to a work surface or the rolling pin than stay inside of the dough. Pie dough needs to rest in the refrigerator before rolling to allow the gluten in the dough to relax, so you must resist the temptation to skip chilling the dough. The cold coconut oil will warm up more slowly than butter or shortening, so you just need to let your dough warm up more than you normally would before rolling it out and work carefully when you do. You’ll probably also want to use a little extra flour to keep the coconut oil to sticking to things as you work.

In the end, coconut oil produces a great crust and can definitely be a good alternative to butter or shortening the next time you are ready to bake a pie.

Coconut Oil Pie Crust
Makes enough for one 9-inch pie. Recipe can be doubled for a double crust.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
4-7 tbsp water, cold

Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in coconut oil with your fingertips or a pastry blender, pressing it into the flour mixture and breaking it up, until mixture resemble very coarse sand and no pieces larger than a pea remain.
Using a fork, stir in cold water until dough almost comes together into a ball. Add water gradually, a tablespoon or two at a time. Press dough into a ball with your hands and wrap in plastic.
Chill for at least 60 minutes before using.

Makes crust for one 9-inch pie.

24 comments

  1. That’s a great idea. I love finding ways to use coconut oil these days. Wonder what a combination would be like? Thanks for a great idea!!

  2. I made this today and it turned out great! Love the flakiness. I couldn’t taste the coconut but my husband could. I used it in a pumpkin pie. Thx for sharing! I’ve been looking for a way to make pie crust without butter or shortening. This is the best one yet!

  3. Great recipe! We use coconut oil in our pumpkin pies every year and everybody raves about them. What an awesome fruit.

  4. How long do I bake it for?

  5. Kim – You bake this crust for the same amount of time that you would a regular crust. Consult the pie recipe that you will be using and simply sub in this crust.

    If you are baking the crust by itself for a no-bake pie filling, you will need to bake it for 30-40 minutes. Following these directions will help: http://bakingbites.com/2011/05/how-to-prebake-a-pie-crust/

  6. I recently made the Cook’s Illustrated pie crust recipe (the one that famously uses chilled vodka) and subbed coconut oil for the shortening listed in the ingredients since I no longer keep shortening in the pantry. The recipe called for both butter and shortening…I included the butter as the recipe called for and just subbed the shortening. Wonderful results!

  7. Can one use whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour? Anyone tried it?

  8. Just tried this recipe today and here were my variations:
    I used whole wheat pastry flour – 1 1/2 cups
    I added 1/2 cup wheat germ
    a little sea salt – maybe 1/2 tsp.
    no sugar
    1/2 cup coconut oil
    1/4 cup ice water – approximate
    I had trouble with the rolling so I used parchment paper and rolled it on that with another layer on top.
    It made it real easy to transfer to the pie pans. I will reuse the parchment paper for something else in the near future.

    This made 2 crusts. I made rhubarb custard pie. I will probably never use butter again. It tastes great!

  9. I suggest treating this dough the way one would with chocolate cookie dough…which also sticks to everything, becomes unmanageable at certain temps, etc. Let your dough rest, then bring to room temperature between two sheets of parchment sprayed with pan spray. Gently roll out in to an even rectangle filling the parchment and being careful not to crease the paper in to the dough, and try to favor rolling in one or two particular directions so the fats and flours layer evenly (flakes)…. then chill before you remove the parchment leaving a cold, firm, perfect rectangle of dough. 2 silicone baking pads can be used instead of parchment, but they’re bulky and harder to manage.

  10. I love coconut oil. I even fry my vegetables in it. It smells wonderful. But doesn’t “taste” in the food. Which is another reason why I love it. I want to taste my veggies not the oil. Thank you for posting this pie crust recipe. I going to put this in my vegan recipe folder.

  11. My coconut oil crust is difficult to roll out and become crumbly. I refrigerate it to no avail.I even rolled it out on wax paper and plastic wrap. Need help.
    Thanks.

  12. Olga – It sounds like you might not have added enough water to your dough if it is becoming very crumbly. Since coconut oil can become quite firm when it is very cold, you might want to try letting the dough warm up a bit, dusting it with flour and then rolling it out between layers of wax or parchment paper, too.

  13. This crust is amazing! Thank you! It really pairs well with pumpkin!

  14. I tried this today. The crust shrank from the top of the pie plate and he rose like I was using self rising flour. But, I love the taste! What did I do wrong?

  15. Debbie, The coconut oil shouldn’t cause your pie crust to rise like you’re using self-rising flour. It sounds like your dough was not rested long enough, something that can really cause a pie crust to shrink and pull away from a pie pan. I don’t know if you were using pie weights (it sounds like your crust was unfilled when you baked it), but they are crucial in keeping an unfilled pie crust in place when baking. Hopefully these posts will help:

    http://bakingbites.com/2010/12/how-to-keep-a-pie-crust-from-shrinking/

    http://bakingbites.com/2011/09/what-are-pie-weights/

  16. I followed my regular pumpkin pie baking instructions: 425F for 15 minutes, continue at 350F for 40-50 minutes. The pie was dripping oil and the oven was full of smoke. Later I checked the smoking point for unrefined coconut oil and it’s only 350. Is it OK to bake at 350 throughout?

  17. Olga – You can bake it (the crust and pumpkin pie) at 350F throughout, but it sounds like your oven may simply have been far, far too hot to cause the situation you describe. Although the smoke point of coconut oil (for frying) is 350F, it can still be used in baking at higher temperatures. Whole butter has a smoke point around 300F, for instance, and is still able to be baked at much higher temperatures. You can definitely bake a crust at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, but I would double check your oven’s internal thermometer, as well, just to be on the safe side.

  18. Perfect! I used Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, and I’m so happy to have found a site with useful instructions. I used this crust with the coconut custard pie recipe from here. Flaky and yummy! I was nervous about such a crumbly crust, but I rolled it out on a dusting of flour with plastic wrap on top of the dough. I let the dough sit for several hours in the fridge, then for about 45 minutes on my counter above the running dishwasher (so it heated up the dough a bit faster). Cooked up beautifully in exactly 50 minutes at 350.

  19. The best thing to do for this pie crust is 1. Be patient because it does crumble when cold but it’s also best to roll out when cold. Oxymoron I know but its the truth. 2. Use a lightly powdered sugar surface to prevent any sticking and turn the the dough often. Using flour will add to much gluten to the dough and will make it tough and doughy which you don’t want! 3. Just roll the dough slowly and when it come apart place it back together as your rolling it out it will become more pliable and crumble less. 4. the food processor makes it 100 time easier, cleaner, and quicker. I don’t taste the coconut in the coconut oil but a lot of times you don’t and people who stay they do wouldn’t if they did a blind tasting. I also ended up using about 9 tbs of water so just add slowly till it balls up and is soft not wet but pliable other wise your going to make it a lot harder on your self!

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