Young coconut pie

Young coconut pie

Buko pie

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Road trips in the Philippines mean warm young coconut pie. During frequent shuttles between my family’s hometown of Calapan and the capital Manila, we pit stop at one of the roadside vendors, where whole pies are sold pre-sliced for eating on the go or boxed up as pasalubong (food gift) for family we’ll see at the other end of our journey. I cherish the tradition as the giver and receiver.

A good buko pie is characterised by savoury, flaky pastry and a mildly sweet filling. A mix of butter and lard does the trick for the pastry. For the filling, fresh young coconuts are best — you can scrape the meat in signature wide pieces. Packaged frozen young coconut meat and water, from Filipino grocery stores, are easy substitutes.


Quantity Ingredient
170ml thickened cream
110g caster sugar
300g young coconut meat
2 tablespoons cornflour
125ml fresh young coconut water
vanilla ice cream, (optional), to serve

Flaky pastry

Quantity Ingredient
300g plain flour
150g cold unsalted butter, chopped
50g cold lard, chopped
1 teaspoon fine salt
80-120ml iced water
1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. To make the flaky pastry, place the flour, butter, lard and salt in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs (there will be pea-sized bits of butter). Add 80 ml of the iced water and process until the mixture starts to come together, adding more iced water if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other, then shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the filling, place the cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the coconut meat and return to a simmer. Combine the cornflour and coconut water in a bowl, then stir into the coconut mixture. Cook for a further 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease a 24 cm pie dish. Roll out the larger pastry disc on a lightly floured work surface to make a circle with a 33 cm diameter, about 3 mm thick all over. Lay the pastry in the base of the dish and press gently into the corners, taking care not to stretch the pastry. Trim the excess. Pour in the coconut filling and spread evenly. Roll the smaller pastry disc to make a circle with a 26 cm diameter, about 3 mm thick. Place on top of the pie, then roll the edge under the pastry base, fluting the edges to seal. Using a small sharp knife, make lines from the fluted edge to the centre to decorate (refrigerate the pie to firm if the pastry is too soft). Brush over the egg, then make 4 small holes in the pastry for air vents.
  4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream, if desired.

Where does it come from?

  • Buko pie was popularised in Laguna. In her cookbook, A Culinary Life, author Nora V. Daza recounts the surprise discovery that local vendors learnt the recipe from one of her own books. She in turn had picked it up in the home economics department at the University of the Philippines, where she worked in the early 1950s. Today, buko pie is one of, if not the most prized pasalubong (food gift) in the country. Other provinces, including Tagaytay, have developed a reputation for the dessert, but most Filipinos swear by the original.
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