22 Mar2013


I will be brutally blunt — most roadside/pasalubong buko (coconut) pies I have purchased over the years have NOT made a good impression. I may be biased against this Southern Tagalog favorite, but I almost always find it lacking in taste, overly starched and with a paste-y crust to boot. I tried to get over my aversion to buko pie a while back, with this recipe, and actually ended up with a pretty decent pie. But the recent proliferation of roadside buko pie purveyors on the way to Tagaytay (there seem to be nearly 3 dozen places in less than 20 kilometers) had me wondering if I was simply missing something essential. I headed back into the kitchen yesterday to take another crack at making a buko pie I would be proud of…


I would like to point out that this isn’t a traditional or classic Filipino recipe. At most, it goes back a hundred years to the American occupation or should I say, administration. The concept of a fruit filling in a lard/butter crust is something we must have picked up from them, together with the mad planting of coconut trees throughout the archipelago to meet America’s insatiable desire for coconut oil at the time. First, the crust. I wanted a tasty, somewhat shattery top crust and supportive (not soggy) bottom crust. I decided to make a crust with some vodka in lieu of some of the water, AND I used a mixture of butter and homemade leaf lard for flavor and texture. I thought I would ramp up the flavor by adding some dessicated coconut into the dough, and I ended up with a terrific crust, if I may say so myself. :) I could have opted to blind bake the crust for a few minutes to crisp it up the bottom some more, but didn’t do that in the end, nor do I think it is necessary.

The filling was made with long strips of fresh coconut meat, perhaps a few days shy of perfect age… where they are firm but not yet hard and opaquely white. The last time I made one of these pies, I used large scooped segments of coconut, a bit too old the nuts were then, and I was aiming for a different consistency this time around. I used some fresh coconut water, cornstarch as thickener, and some good heavy cream. I mixed these in a small pot on the stove until a nice thick consistency and set this aside to cool before filling the pie. As an additional “zhugging” move, I made some long strips of baked coconut for garnishing. These toasted strips looked good and helped make things more vertical, but were honestly unnecessary, and an optional move for home bakers. We served the pie with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It tasted very good, though a tad sweet (I have adjusted my recipe below). I am beginning to see that a good buko pie, can indeed, be a good pie. :)


For the crust, I used a slightly modified version of the Cook’s Illustrated vodka pie crust. Into a food processor, put 1.5 cups of all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar and blitz for a few seconds. Add 2/3 cup of cold butter, cut into cubes, and 1/2 cup of cold leaf (pork) lard. Blitz for a few seconds. Add a cup of all purpose flour and 1/4 cup of dessicated coconut and pulse/blitz a few times until there are coarse bits. Do not over process. Tip this into a medium sized bowl, sprinkle 1/3 cup of vodka and 1/3 cup of water over the flour mixture and mis with a spatula, pressing down to bring the flour and liquid together into a dough. Bring this all together with your hands and divide dough into two, wrapping each portion in plastic wrap and letting this rest in the fridge for an hour, and up to overnight. This crust works wonderfully and is easy to roll out and handle, even in tropical weather like Manila’s hot, steamy days of late.

For the filling, I put 1 and 1/2 cups of good heavy cream into a medium saucepan and added 1 and 1/4 cups sugar and turned the heat onto medium, stirring to dissolve the sugar. I added in 4 cups of coconut strips from 5 whole fresh coconuts, and I mixed 1/2 cup of fresh coconut water with 5 tablespoons of corn starch that I then added to the pot and stirred to combine all the ingredients. When the mixture has thickened, turn off the heat and let this cool down.

Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Roll out your dough and place one disc on the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Fill with the coconut mixture. Roll out your second piece of dough and place over the filling. Crimp the edges, brush with egg wash, and bake the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven for 12 minutes or so (this is to help the bottom crust cook and crisp up better) and then re-position the pie in the center of the oven, lower temperature to 350F and cook another 20 minutes until lightly golden. Let this cool completely before serving. I was impatient and cut into the pie whilst still warm, and the filling was a bit runny. But it tasted wonderful. Richer than most commercial buko pies. You may wish to reduce sugar a bit more if you use a sweetened heavy cream. Garnish with whipped cream and long strips of baked coconut. This pie would cut better if it is fully cooled down before serving.



  1. bearhug0127 says:

    Now I’m really craving for a bite of that buko pie you baked! It look soooo good.

    Mar 22, 2013 | 6:10 pm


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  3. corrine says:

    Indeed, you can bake a better buco pie than roadside ones. But, I find Letty’s is not bad. I will try your recipe. I don’t use heavy cream but I think it’s a better idea.

    MM, may I know what is the purpose of the vodka or is it just for taste?

    Mar 22, 2013 | 7:17 pm

  4. ConnieC says:

    I love buko pie but stir away from the roadside ones.

    I’ll try MM’s recipe but using ( a healthier) coconut cream instead of the heavy cream and perhaps substitute coconut flour ( available at Trader Joe’s..from Indonesia) instead of desiccated coconut which somehow , from the processing alters and does something to the coconut flavor that does not agree with my palate.

    Great recipe and makes me miss home so much especially in this cold not quite spring yet weather.

    Mar 22, 2013 | 7:45 pm

  5. Sister says:

    For the crusts I think you meant 2.5 cups of all purpose flour and not 1.5 as stated in your recipe. You might try to add 1/2 tsp. of real almond flavouring. Pie looks very good.

    Mar 22, 2013 | 8:01 pm

  6. Betchay says:

    Your pie look so picture- perfect! And I am sure very delicious.

    Mar 22, 2013 | 8:20 pm

  7. cumin says:

    Beautiful pie, MM. I’m sure it’s way better than the roadside ones which seem mostly cornstarch. But quite often, when I’m enjoying the adventure and company of friends during roadtrips, and esp if the food is hot, even the mediocre tastes good :-)

    Connie C, it’s my first time to hear of coconut flour.

    Mar 22, 2013 | 9:05 pm

  8. natie says:

    Beautiful!!! With the abundance of buko and essential ingredients for this, we should bake our own pies….we even have Chief of Stuff and crew in the Philippines to do the clean-up….Unlike here in the US where the after-care is what I hate the most..How I wish I were back home NOW!!!!! Miss fresh buko and buko juice NOT from the cans..

    Mar 22, 2013 | 10:24 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    Sister, yes, it is a total of 2.5 cups of flour, but the recipe starts off with 1 cup and after the addition of the fat, adds the other cup… corrine, actually there is science behind the alcohol in lieu of some of the water, the alcohol burns off and evaporates while water has an effect on the texture of the crust. Having less water helps to provide a flakier crust… I have been hearing about this for at least a couple of years now, and it does work VERY NICELY. And there is no residual taste of alcohol at all…

    Mar 22, 2013 | 11:27 pm

  10. Mom-Friday says:

    Your buko pie looks so good! I really admire your patience in experimentation and perfecting your food creations. :)
    Among those I’ve tried along Aguinaldo highway in Tagaytay, I like Amira’s Buco Tart the best. :)

    Mar 23, 2013 | 12:01 am

  11. ConnieC says:

    cumin: My son introduced me to coconut flour as he is avoiding gluten**and dairy due to numerous allergies.

    Looking at the package now it is actually made in the Philippines contrary to what I stated in my comment ( mistook it for the coconut sugar [low glycemic index] made in Indonesia. Coconut flour is being used now for many gluten free recipes as substitute for wheat flour.

    **More and more people are embracing a gluten free diet on the belief that even if they do not have symptoms of celic disease ( a genetic disorder causing bloating, diarrhea, weight loss) it is a healthier diet and helps with weight loss.

    “Wheat varieties grown for thousands of years and mostly used for human nutrition up to the Middle Ages, contain less quantities of the highly toxic 33-mer gluten peptide[65]. Apparently the human organism is still largely vulnerable to the toxic effects of this protein complex, particularly due to a lack of adequate adaptation of the gastrointestinal and immunological responses.” to modern cultivated varieties of wheat which have been genetically altered over the years to increase gluten (we love in our breads).

    But the advice is “don’t go faddy unless you have a reason for it”.


    Mar 23, 2013 | 1:46 am

  12. betty q. says:

    Nothing beats warm pies! However, it takes will power to let it sit overnight so the filling can set! A solution I do nowadays is to make individual pies like a tartlet, blind bake the crust…since the filling is rather shallow, it will take no time at all to let it set.Instead of double crust, I simply top it with meringue and use a torch to brûlée the top.I could top it with whipped cream but then I could only have 1 buko tartlet?…meringue topping, I won’t feel guilty eating 2 tartlets!

    another option for a dinner party dessert using buko pie ingredients is to do a deconstructed buko pie if ther isn’t enough time to let the filling set…make 2 baked discs ( use a daisy cookie cutter) about 2.5 inches…lay 1 disc on the bottom of the dessert plate, the warm filling on the edge of the disc, lay the other disc at the other end of the filling…make marshmallows from the meringue topping and roast them. Garnish the plate with the roasted marshmallows. then for height, garnish with roasted coconut strips. For wow effect, use black or red plates like MM’s plate above…no white plates please!

    Mar 23, 2013 | 3:10 am

  13. una says:

    I just bought some coconut flour last night thinking of attempting another buko pie. I’m so glad you never gave up. Thanks MM! I gathered you’re not a big buko pie fan as you posted here way back, and I agree with you, the pasalubong grade never come up to snuff. I continued to partake when available but I realize I’m only in-love with the idea and believed the perfect one would have a flaky crust and generous real buko creamy filling without corn starch. I’ve had this deep seated ambition to squash my American friend’s snobbish claim that he has had the ‘best coconut custard pie’ from a West Hollywood restaurant and of course silly me, not wanting to be outdone and a self proclaiming coconut connoisseur by virtue of being a Filipino, I made a bet that I can make him a better pie. I will definitely make this and incorporate the coconut flour.

    Mar 23, 2013 | 3:29 am

  14. Barang says:

    another thing I learned fr Romy Dorotan/Amy Besa (Purple Yam) is using a fluted round French pastry pan makes for an attractive pie.

    Mar 23, 2013 | 5:43 am

  15. Stewart says:

    This looks great! I was skunked when I went looking for buko pie when I was in the Philippines last year (Zubuchon was amazing and more than made up fo it btw) ..now where to find coconut meat here in Vancouver…BettyQ…help! =)


    Mar 23, 2013 | 6:38 am

  16. betty q. says:

    for fresh buko so you can scrape the meat, Stewart, try Osaka? Over at Yaohan Center? I buy my buko over at T and T. Right now, they are priced at $ 2.69. Just use a cleaver to whack the top of the buko to expose a little tiny opening to drain the buko water. if not available and you have to resort to frozen buko shreds which are tasteless…accentuate the flavour of th buko by using coconut compounds. they are available from Snow Cap or Lentia. bear in mind that they are wholesaler and therefore you need a business name or license. You can use mine! send me an e mail….

    They also are available by the case…6 x 1 kg. Maybe La Emp or Mrs. P. and Cwid or Fards or others might want to split a case with you. I can buy a case and split it with anyone who wants to use it. I used to buy a sample pack with different compounds a long time ago. Not sure if the sample pack is still available. They are also made with natural ingredients.

    There are bakeries and hotels that I know of here that use coconut compound or other compounds when they make their coconut cream pies, etc. ..very, very, very good coconut cream pies!

    Mar 23, 2013 | 9:26 am

  17. u8mypinkcookies says:

    So yummy! I love buko pie!

    Mar 23, 2013 | 9:37 am

  18. shiko-chan says:

    the world is so much richer for you taking the time and effort to do this Marketman, and sharing it online :) looks and sounds fantastic!!

    just wondering, how different would your filling be from traditional macapuno? tho i guess real macapuno would be much more expensive even if homemade.

    Mar 23, 2013 | 9:51 am

  19. betty q. says:

    if you still cannot find fresh buko, Stewart, and do not have time to get that coconut compound but have access to frozen buko shreds from Asian stores like Hen Long….buy those frozen buko shreds. whiile you are in the store, buy a container of coconut ice cream. Now, melt it and use the proportions of MM above for the base…in place of the cream and , use melted coconut ice cream. you need not add any other thing except the dissolved cornstarch. bear in mind that the ice cream might already contain xanthan gum and such. But if you have the time and willing to travel, buy the coconut ice cream at La Casa Gelato where we took MM when they were here…I think they have the best natural ice cream! While you are there, buy a few more containers of coconut ice cream and use that (softened coconut ice cream) when you make Buko Pandan salad…makes EXCELLENT BUKO PANDAN SALAD!…fold th buko and the pandan jelly in it and freeze it…

    Mar 23, 2013 | 9:52 am

  20. Marichu says:

    Cook’s Illustrated or their other magazine also used vodka instead of water for their tempura batter. Haven’t tried it yet. Now I wonder if vodka can also be used to make croissants. Or the flakiness could just be due to the butter and folding technique.

    Mar 23, 2013 | 11:05 am

  21. max says:

    oh, i’m craving for this one…

    Mar 23, 2013 | 11:45 am

  22. Sister says:

    I stand corrected, I did not read the post too closely.
    You might want to consider following the standard format for recipe writing.

    For you foodies out there try finding the film “Toast”. There are a number of food related films worth investigating.

    Mar 23, 2013 | 8:18 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    Sister, I intentionally do not use the standard format for recipes, as so many other websites lift recipes in that form and use them to fill their blogs/sites with content and get traffic to make money on from their advertising. If recipes are more in prose form, they are less likely to be lifted verbatim… But for a cookbook, yes, they have to be in standard format, and actually, it is really quite hard to write them that way, and still make them sound personal… Btw, Mrs. MM and I just watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and it was pretty good… for foodies out there. Marichu… hmmm, vodka in tempura, have to try that too… shiko chan, I actually thought to try a coconut/macapuno filling, but we had no macapuno in the pantry… macapuno would be more intensely flavored and sweet, so you would want less filling to crust ratio…

    Mar 23, 2013 | 9:24 pm

  24. JB says:

    That looks amazing MM. I don’t frequently eat buko pies myself but this one looks (and sounds) incredible.

    Mar 23, 2013 | 10:19 pm

  25. Slightly Epicurean says:

    I’ve never been a fan of buko pie because I never tasted one from the roadside that was delicious. But your buko pie version looks yummy MM! I wish I could try some.

    Mar 23, 2013 | 11:45 pm

  26. Stewart says:

    Thanks Betty, I was at my nearby Asian store yesterday and they had shredded buko. I had originally though of using gata instead of heavy cream but your idea of coconut ice cream is better!

    Thanks! I’ll try it over Easter Break. =)

    Mar 24, 2013 | 12:02 am

  27. Thel from Florida says:

    In 2006, when I went back home to Pinas, we bought some buko pie from Los Banos, Laguna–The Orient Original Buko pie (next to Letty’s). To me it was the best among 4 others sellers we tried. Last week I goggled buko pie for sale in USA and Goldilocks in California came up. I will order some on Monday as I’m so craving for some. Your buko pie looks sooooo good!!

    Mar 24, 2013 | 1:09 am

  28. betty q. says:

    Yeah, MM…I saw an episode on Martha Stewart several years ago and Nobu”s chef used vodka in their tempura batter.

    Mar 24, 2013 | 2:14 am

  29. Constant Reader says:

    Is there something I can substitute for the pork lard? I don’t know how to make my own. And unless it’s available at the store I don’t know where I can get my hands on some.

    Mar 24, 2013 | 11:01 am

  30. Mike De Guzman says:

    your buko pie looks awesome… one of my criteria for a good buko pie is the flakiness of the crust… and the crust in your pie definitely looks the part… i wonder, though, if i substitute whole-wheat flour, will the resulting crust be as flaky?

    i asked because i’m on this self-initiated campaign to eat healthy and to use health-conducive ingredients in my cooking…

    Mar 24, 2013 | 12:06 pm

  31. Maki says:

    this is perfect for summer !!!

    Mar 24, 2013 | 12:23 pm

  32. Marketman says:

    Mike, I am not sure if whole wheat flour will be any different… it’s worth a try. But instead of doing that, just make the pie as it is described but eat only in moderation, say 2-3 times a year… Constant reader, you can substitute crisco or other vegetable shortening.

    Mar 24, 2013 | 9:22 pm

  33. betty quon says:

    Mike…all purpose flour is a combination of hard wheat and soft wheat. You could still make pie crust with whole wheat flour but you do need a starch to balance the protein. Because the whole wheat flour contains the bran which sort of interferes with the protein structure formation, the end product will be mealy and dense. So to balance that, addition of a starch is highly recommended. Using whole wheat flour in combination of all purpose flour is another option.

    Mar 25, 2013 | 12:15 am

  34. betty q. says:

    There is a whole wheat pastry recipe on Food Network, Mike. Maybe check it out.

    Mar 25, 2013 | 6:56 am

  35. Kasseopeia says:

    @Mike – there are several blogs that use whole-wheat flour in baking (check out Deliciously Organiz, among others)

    Ah, buko pie. There is only one place I buy from – Orient in Los Banos. I was in Tagaytay over the weekend and I saw they had a stall near the Toscana stall. I did not get a pie there, though.

    I don’t bake so I may not get the chance to try the MM version. I wish I could bake though =P

    Mar 25, 2013 | 11:36 am

  36. manny says:


    I agree with you that most buko pies sold have much to be desired. Even the touted tarts. I guess it’s a choice of the lesser evil.

    And what would it cost to bake a buko pie of such standards?

    Mar 25, 2013 | 3:59 pm

  37. natie says:

    fresh, young buko can be had here in NJ from Asian markets and Spanish markets—-$1.99….Soooo worth it… From one buko, I get a tall glass of authentic, unadulterated buko juice and enough meat for my ginatan with bilo bilo…

    Interesting about “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” I clicked on it in Netflix but had no time to watch it…will watch tonight…thanks, MM

    Mar 25, 2013 | 9:34 pm

  38. natie says:

    Constant reader: Spanish grocers have beautiful lard…or you can render your own…Inspired by Market Man, I now render my own lard…

    Mar 25, 2013 | 9:47 pm

  39. jakbkk says:

    went to Nasugbu on our Chinese New Year vacation and passed by Tagaytay to get those famous Collette’s buko pie and did i make a mistake…..tasted horrible – filling and crust. that’s the last time i’m buying any of those. good thing i did buy some to give as pasalubong.

    Mar 26, 2013 | 2:46 pm

  40. natie says:

    There IS a place outside Iloilo City that sells the most delicious Buko Pie —- Nang Palangs, in Oton ( Tigbauan???) Iloilo..It is a small shack next to her house, surrounded by many coconut trees…….very little cornstarch, and just young buko as filling…NO preservatives!!! So remember this when you go to Iloilo….they sell the best Tuba (Coconut)Vinegar too….

    Mar 26, 2013 | 10:45 pm

  41. farida says:

    Happy Easter, MM and Mrs. MM!! Talking about buko, am making binignit for Good Friday. Have all my ingredients lined up and have looked up the recipe. Yay! Even got landang in the freezer. Hope it is still good. I have never eaten buko pie before but will try to
    bake it. Yes, I saw on Cook’s Country that they used Vodka in their crust. Hmmm, must try that. Your pie looks soo delish. Thanks for the binignit recipe, MM.
    @bettyq, hello. still here in Custer but will be moving soon. Can’t make up my mind yet, to go back North or go down South. Happy Easter to you.

    Mar 27, 2013 | 10:33 am

  42. Sonia says:

    I just want to invite you guys to pass by our newly opened Buko Express Pies & Sweets store in SM North Edsa Sky Garden. Hope you try our Buko Pie, and do some comments here in your site.
    Thank’s and God Bless.

    Mar 28, 2013 | 12:36 am

  43. Lilibeth Zialcita says:

    Wow marketman, this is awesome! I love a good buko pie and coming from you I’m pretty sure this is good. Can’t wait to try. Thank you so much!

    Mar 28, 2013 | 8:12 am

  44. crabbychef says:

    MM, I have always known that roadside / pasalubong stall buko pies are substandard, but to me they are a ‘guilty’ pleasure. I feel guilty that I enjoy it. I know it’s bad, but I’ll buy it anyway. :)

    Apr 1, 2013 | 7:25 am

  45. Marketman says:

    crabbychef, hahaha, nothing wrong with that at all. It’s like buying dirty ice cream or green mango with bagoong, it always tastes better from the street. Now as for banana que, I am convinced most home versions are sub-standard, and the street version reigns supreme. Those are often MY guilty pleasure. :)

    Apr 1, 2013 | 9:21 am

  46. Footloose says:

    “A Culinary Life (1992),” mentions Nora’s sister-in-law Julie Yap Daza inquiring from a vendor when buko pie was in its infancy as a roadside souvenir food where she got her recipe and the vendor’s reply was “Nora Daza’s cookbook.” Nora Daza in turn attributes her recipe from a home economics text used in UP when she was an undergraduate there.

    As touched upon in your post above, buko pie has endured a lot of revisions and dilutions due for the most part to having been subjected to our dependence on the business plan called mimicry. If your taste was formed by these roadside version however, a shatteringly flaky crust would not be a signifier of your ideal buko pie.

    Apr 2, 2013 | 9:57 am

  47. Panlasang Pinoy Meaty Recipes says:

    Your version of buko pie looks wonderful and the ingredients you used seems to be tasty and very far from the road side buko pie vendors. I’m just curious, why did you add vodka on the crust flour mixture?

    Apr 2, 2013 | 3:04 pm

  48. Marketman says:

    Panlasang pinoy, vodka instead of water prevents the crust from getting tough. The science of it is explained in the Cooks Illustrated recipe, they were the first ones to popularize this… Footloose, pie crust texture like damp cardboard, perhaps is more reminiscent of the roadside version unless particularly freshly baked?

    Apr 3, 2013 | 7:14 am

  49. Footloose says:

    Making Chinese puff pastry in large batches saves time and effort so pieces of them are permanent residents in my freezer. I often substitute them for normal short crust specially if I used butter for the détrempe and gave it a few extra turns. Find it a lot easier to roll out and a lot more forgiving to handle than normal short crust and use them for practically all my pastry crust needs.

    Anyway, offered it to my nephew who was trying to replicate buko pie from memory. Turned out too flaky for him, was after something he characterized as “malambot.” He was who I had in mind whose taste was formed by the roadside version. Sent him a link to this post.

    Apr 3, 2013 | 9:42 am

  50. Albert says:

    Hi MM have you ever tried the buko pie sold at good shepherd tagaytay? Its the bedt one ive ever tasted and ive never bought from the roadside again. I read your website regularly but mainly for main dishes. I was actually looking for a place to buy or a recipe for this really fantastic no bake buko pie i once tasted in makati. Unfortunately its no longer there and i have no clue where theyve gone :(

    Jun 29, 2013 | 3:13 am


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