A shortbread crust is topped with a simple coconut cream filling, whipped topping, and toasted coconut in these simple and delicious coconut cream bars.
Do you ever find random things in your pantry and it sparks some creativity in the kitchen?
Maybe it’s because this is my job, but it happens all the time for me. Recently, I was reorganizing my pantry and found three boxes of coconut cream pudding mix.
I don’t remember what I originally bought the mixes for or why I needed three of them, but looking at them made me crave some kind of coconut cream pie bars.
I started playing around and, voila! These coconut cream bars were born.
WHAT ARE COCONUT CREAM BARS?
I’m here to tell you: If you love coconut cream pie, you’re going to flip over these coconut cream bars. They’re just an easier version of pie!
Once you’re done baking the crust, you can turn the oven off because all of the baking is done! You’ll whisk together a no-bake coconut filling and top the whole thing with Cool Whip and toasted coconut.
Cut them into bars and enjoy the flavors of coconut cream pie with less of the work!
HOW TO MAKE COCONUT CREAM BARS
Since you have to bake the crust for these bars, this isn’t technically a no-bake recipe. It’s more of a low-bake recipe.
Ingredients you’ll need
The ingredients for these coconut cream bars are pretty basic. In fact, these bars came about because I had a couple of extra boxes of coconut cream pudding mix in my pantry!
- Unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- Instant coconut cream pudding mix
- Coconut milk
- Whole milk
- Toasted coconut
- Thawed Cool Whip
For the filling, I chose to use a mixture of coconut milk and whole milk along with the pudding. I like the fresh coconut flavor that the coconut milk adds to the pudding mix. When combined with the toasted coconut, there’s no mistaking that these are coconut bars!
If you have never tried toasting coconut before, it’s really easy to do. I have a whole post that teaches you how to toast coconut using 3 simple methods.
I like to top these with whipped topping because it’s so easy and holds up well in the fridge. You can use whipped cream frosting if you prefer.
Making this recipe
Before you start making the crust for these bars, line your pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang over the sides so you can lift the bars out of the pan later.
Mix the crust together with your food processor. Blend together the flour, butter, powdered sugar and salt until the mixture looks like coarse sand.
This won’t look anything like a dough, but that’s ok! Press the crumbs firmly into the pan – using the bottom of a measuring cup can help with this.
Bake the crust for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let the crust cool before adding the filling.
To make the filling, whisk together the pudding mix and milks. Whisk for 2 minutes, then fold in half of the toasted coconut.
Spread the pudding mixture over the cooled crust and refrigerate the bars for at least 2-3 hours.
Before serving, top the bars with the whipped topping and the rest of the toasted coconut.
MORE COCONUT DESSERTS
If you’re like me and adore coconut, make sure to check out these coconut desserts as well:
Coconut Cream Bars
For the Crust:
- 2 cups flour
- ¾ cup cold unsalted butter cubed
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 2 3.4-ounce boxes Instant coconut cream pudding mix
- 1 can coconut milk 14 ounces
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut toasted, divided use
For the topping:
- 2 8-ounce containers frozen whipped topping thawed
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Spray a 13×9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang over the sides. This will help you lift the bars out of the pan later.
- In a food processor, blend together flour, butter, powdered sugar, and salt until the mixture resembles coarse sand. This will not look like dough – that’s ok! Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until the edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the pudding mix, coconut milk, and whole milk to combine. Whisk for two minutes. Fold in half of the toasted coconut.
- Spread the coconut pudding mixture over the cooled crust. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
- Spread the thawed whipped topping over the top of the filling. Before serving, top with the remaining toasted coconut.
- Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into slices and serve.