Quick and easy, this no-bake, paleo strawberry cream pie can be whipped up in a matter of minutes for a light, creamy dessert.
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Through blogging, I have made some great friends with whom I can talk about food and health topics. There are days when we surf Pinterest together and chat about the great (and not-so-great) recipes we come across.
One day, a friend of mine found a strawberry pie on Pinterest made with strawberry Jello and Cool Whip. Her immediate reaction was “Yuck!”
OK, I get it. We’re “real food” bloggers. We don’t normally use packages of artificially flavored and colored foodstuffs. They have questionable ingredients. I was “supposed to” wholeheartedly agree.
And I did.
But only after admitting that I used to make a strawberry Valentine’s Day pie made by mixing ice cream with strawberry Jello myself. And I loved it.
The original strawberry cream pie
When I was a kid, I used to make that totally artificially-flavored strawberry cream pie. (I also made “Fluffernutter sandwiches” and numerous other non-paleo treats that would make many of you cringe.)
That “strawberry cream pie” recipe was in one of my favorite holiday cookbooks (for kids), and I thought it was the best recipe ever.
Things have changed a lot since then.
Even if I were to want to make a pie with strawberry Jell-O and Cool Whip, I can’t. Here in Spain, we don’t have either of those ingredients! By now, I can proudly state that I wouldn’t want them anyway. Sometimes, though, I’m happy that scarcity keeps me from falling into that sort of dietary trap again. ?
Luckily for me, once you get accustomed to eating real foods, you tend to crave real foods. So, I haven’t really craved Cool Whip in a long time. I now prefer homemade whipped cream made from heavy cream or coconut cream. I also prefer to make strawberry gelatin desserts (aka. “Jell-o”) with fresh strawberries.
Making a healthier strawberry cream pie
I was pretty sure that I’d be able to successfully make a “paleo” version of the “Valentine’s Day Strawberry Cream pie”. It would be just as quick and easy to make, and healthier. But, would it taste as good?
In the end, I’m happy to say that I like this paleo version better than the original pie. Interestingly enough, even my husband who normally scoffs at desserts that aren’t made with chocolate, admitted that he quite liked it. (Of course, if it had been made with chocolate, he’d probably have liked it even more.)
Adapting for Valentine’s Day
To make this pie perfect for Valentine’s day, just like the original pie from which I adapted this recipe, try making it in a heart-shaped pan. You can also decorate it with heart-shaped strawberries.
Making a paleo crust
To give this pie a “crust” of sorts, I borrowed an idea from my coconut date balls recipe. While experimenting with different combinations, I found that coconut and dates can be processed together to make something that holds its shape well. It’s also delicious, even on its own!
Choosing the dates
This works best with Medjool dates or those that aren’t too dry. When using other drier-type dates, soak the dates in water before blending them with the other ingredients. That will help them bind the ingredients better.
Blending the coconut
The dates aren’t the only thing that holds the crust together. It also helps to fully blend the dried shredded coconut until some of the fat is released. This helps make a more workable mixture.
Forming the crust
Once you’ve formed a moldable mixture, press it into the bottom of the pie tins. I used 2 6-inch pans with removable bottoms, but you can use one 9-inch pan instead.
Use your fingers to extend the mixture up the sides of the pan.
Making the filling
The filling uses fresh strawberries and coconut cream. Before making the filling, though, you need to pre-chill the can of coconut milk…
Getting the right consistency
This pie sets pretty quickly because it uses both gelatin and the fat and thickeners in the coconut milk to help solidify it. The combination makes for a solid yet creamy texture that holds its shape when you slice it.
The texture of your pie will depend a lot on the fat content of your particular coconut milk (and any thickeners in it).
To prepare the coconut milk for this recipe, leave the can of coconut milk in the fridge for several hours or overnight. You’ll notice upon opening the can that a thick layer of “coconut cream” will float on top of a much thinner liquid below.
If you use a brand that doesn’t have a nice, thick layer of coconut cream floating on the top, you may need to add more gelatin to the recipe to get the pie to hold its shape.
Can you use homemade coconut milk?
Because this recipe relies on the thickeners that are present in canned coconut milk, I don’t think this recipe would work well with a homemade coconut milk, at least not as written.
If you do want to try using homemade coconut milk, you’ll definitely need to increase the amount of gelatin. I’m not sure what the resulting texture would be.
Combining the filling ingredients
Open the chilled can of coconut milk. Scoop off the solidified coconut cream and add it to a blender jar.
Pour the remaining liquid into a pan and dissolve 2 tablespoons of gelatin into it.
Once the gelatin is dissolved, add some honey, to taste. Remove the mixture from the heat and add it to the blender with the coconut cream.
Rinse the strawberries and remove the stems. Add the berries to the blender jar with the coconut mixture.
Blend all of the ingredients together and pour them into the prepared crust.
Customizing the recipe
There are several ways that you can customize this recipe.
Changing the crust
If you want to avoid using coconut, this crust also works with ground almonds. You can also use part coconut and part almonds. (I’ve used 1 cup of coconut with 1/4 cup almonds many times, including when I made the video for this post.)
Changing the filling
The filling for this pie can be adapted to suit your taste.
The coconut can be blended with other fruits, instead of strawberries, to give different types of cream pies. I’ve added a homemade pumpkin puree and pumpkin spices to make a paleo pumpkin pie. I’ve also made a paleo key lime pie by using lime juice and the zest from the limes. They’re all delicious!
As for sweetening the filling, I used around 3 tablespoons of honey. The sweetness can be adjusted by changing the amount of honey used, to taste. You could also use a different sweetener instead. Keep in mind that the crust is quite sweet because of the dates, so the filling doesn’t need to be overly sweet.
Watch me make this pie
Paleo Strawberry Cream Pie
Easy Paleo Strawberry Cream Pie
Makes 2 6-inch pies
For the Filling
- 13.5 oz. coconut milk 1 can, pre-chilled for several hours
- 10 strawberries large (Or around 180g strawberry puree)
- 2 Tbsp. gelatin
- 3 Tbsp. honey
For the Crust
- 10 dates pitted
- 1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- Pre-chill the can of coconut milk. It should be cooled for several hours or overnight.
Making the crust
- If using a drier-type date, soak the dates in a glass of water while you gather the rest of your ingredients.
- Add the shredded coconut to a food processor and begin to process it until the coconut begins to stick together.
- Drain and add the dates to the food processor, one at a time, and continue to process the mixture until the dates are well chopped and a paste is formed.
- Press the coconut date mixture into the bottom of the pan(s), pressing part of the mixture up and onto the sides of the pan.
Making the filling
- Remove the can of coconut milk from the refrigerator and scoop the solidified cream off the top. Place the solidified cream into a blender.
- Rinse and dry the strawberries. Remove the stems and add the strawberries to the blender with the coconut cream.
- Pour the remaining liquid from the bottom of the can into a saucepan along with the gelatin. Heat them over low to medium heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin is well dissolved. If the can of coconut milk was mostly coconut cream and there was very little liquid left, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to fully dissolve the gelatin.
- Once the gelatin is dissolved, add the honey to the warm gelatin mixture and stir until it is completely incorporated.
- Add the gelatin mixture to the blender with the strawberries and coconut cream and process until obtaining a smooth puree.
- Pour the filling mixture into the prepared crusts, and refrigerate until set. (It's best to give yourself at least an hour, but it does tend to set pretty quickly.)
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
This recipe was first published on February 14, 2016. It was rewritten in January of 2020, adding new information, pictures, and video.
Can you use a substitute for the honey. I need it to be sugarfree. Thanks. I am looking forward to trying it.
I would think adding something like stevia would work. Any of the types of sweeteners that you usually use should work.
I love this pie, even my non-paleo friends go back for seconds! I’m making this for a large crowd this weekend, do you think I could double this and make it in a 9×13 pan to cut as bars?
I hope I’m not answering too late. I was out all day yesterday, but yes! You should have no problem doubling the recipe.
Thanks so much for your kind words, and enjoy your get-together! 🙂
I could not find pitted dates at the local grocery store so I settled for dried chopped dates. Would that still work? If so, would you use the same process? How much of the chopped dates would you recommend?
Sure, you can definitely use those.
Basically, the dates are there just to help hold the crust together. I normally don’t even measure mine out (unless I’m working on elaborating a recipe) and use the same basic concept to make a paleo type crust for a variety of pies.
The base of my crust is normally a mix of coconut and/or nuts like almonds. I grind up the nuts and/or coconut until it starts to clump together and then add a few dates to sweeten and help bind everything together. If it’s not holding together when you press it into the pan, you can add more dates as needed. If it’s a little soft, don’t worry. It will harden up again in the fridge (unless you’ve really gone overboard on grinding into a liquid paste).
How much fat does the coconut milk need to have? I cannot find any coconut milks with fat content above 4.5grams. And none in cans. I did find evaporated coconut milk, but it only has 2 grams /2 tablespoons. Please advise and thank you!
It’s not necessarily about the fat content. You need to look for one that gets thick when placed in the fridge.
To be honest, since I made this recipe, I’ve been moving away from cans, and wanted to try experimenting with making this with some of the more common coconut milks that can be found in the tetra brick type containers- or even seeing if I can adapt this recipe to use homemade coconut milk and more gelatin (although I’d imagine that the texture wouldn’t be as nice).
We were dealing with a family emergency, and I never got around to it- and in the chaos, not only did I not get around to trying it, but I also forgot about answering your comment- so I apologize.
I do plan on trying to adapt this recipe using other options and updating the post with the ideas. I think if you can find something labeled coconut cream, that should work wonderfully. (You don’t want to use the super sweet coconut cream meant for piña coladas, though- or it will make the final recipe way too sweet!)
Oh no! Made this pie as per instructions, except using just a bit more gelatin (green Great Lakes), and it is not firming! Been in the fridge for hours. Was so excited to serve it to family, and taste it myself (just like my Grandma’s!), and now I don’t know what to do because it’s runny. I used the full-fat Native Forest coconut milk. Any advice? I have it in the freezer, but hope it doesn’t get ruined.
I’m sorry it isn’t working out for you. This is one of my favorite recipes, and I make it quite a bit, and have made it with a few different coconut milks that can be found locally here, but I’m not familiar with Native Forest coconut milk. (I live in Spain.)
When you had your coconut milk in the fridge, did it mostly thicken up, or was it mostly liquid?
All of the brands that I have used here mostly thicken up in the fridge, leaving only a little bit of liquid in the bottom of the can.
I’m suspecting that if yours isn’t setting like mine, it’s because the coconut milk you used is a lot more liquid when cold, and doesn’t have the same sort of thickeners in it.
Honestly, if it hasn’t set by now, it probably won’t, so I would propose saving it into something useful by adding more gelatin to it. I’d probably proceed by dissolving more gelatin into a tiny bit of water and then pouring the liquid part of your filling into the mixture, stirring well until fully incorporated. You may need to slightly heat it to get it all mixed in, but I wouldn’t heat it too high or you’ll affect the fresh taste of the strawberries. How much gelatin you’ll need will be a bit of guesswork depending upon how liquid-y your mixture is right now.
You may not end up with a pie that is as creamy as mine (because mine works with the creamy thickness of the cold coconut milk to help thicken it, and not just the gelatin), but you should end up with something tasty still, and useable (with more of a consistency of gelatin).
I’m really sorry that the recipe didn’t work out exactly as written for you. Thank you for your comment, though- it really will help me make notes on the recipe that will hopefully prevent this from happening to other people. It is very important to me to have good, solid, easy to follow recipes on my blog, and comments like yours help me target problem areas that can be dependent upon using different brands of the same ingredients. Up until now, I hadn’t heard of any issues, but I had already figured that using homemade coconut milk wouldn’t work in this recipe. I hadn’t thought about how the more natural coconut milks, though.
I hope you are still able to fix it, and that it is still tasty.
Happy New Year.
The green Great Lakes is collagen, not gelatin. You need to use the red Great Lakes, which is gelatin.
Yes, we realized what the Stephanie’s issue was. Well, I didn’t catch the problem, Daphne did. 😉
I haven’t used the green Great Lakes, which is why I didn’t notice what her problem was. I really appreciate it when people comment to help each other out, so thank you! 🙂
You need to use the red Great Lakes gelatin. The one in the green can doesn’t gel! You should be able to add the correct gelatin to it and let it firm in the fridge. I’ve done this before many times with gummies. Not sure if it will work in this pie.
I totally overlooked that!
I was worried about the coconut milk because some varieties don’t use the same thickeners and thought that might be the problem. I didn’t notice that she had specified the green variety.
I really appreciate your help. 🙂
Would almond meal work in the crust instead of coconut?
Yes, definitely. While I haven’t made it with only almonds and dates, it should totally work.
I often do a mixture of coconut and almond with the dates. If you process the coconut long enough, it starts to turn into coconut butter which helps hold it together. Of course, the same happens with almonds, they turn into almond butter. You don’t really need to process that long, though, because the dates really help hold everything together. It’s more about a matter of taste, and if you’re trying to use less dates.
I hope that makes sense. Play with it until you get the consistency you want, and you should be fine! 🙂
I was wondering if this recipe would work with blueberries instead of strawberries?
I haven’t tried it to know how it would turn out, but I imagine that it would work well. The consistency of the pie is mainly determined by the coconut milk and the gelatin, so the strawberries are there mostly for flavor.
You might have to play with the recipe a little to get the consistency right (You could probably get away with less blueberries and since they probably bring less moisture, you may not need as much gelatin), but I’m sure it would be tasty. 🙂
In any case, when going for a pie consistency, erring on the side of too much gelatin is probably a good thing- so as not to have a runny pie.
Oh, that’s beautiful! And so easy, too! Thanks so much for sharing it!
This is so pretty!
Thanks, Bethany! 🙂
Bethany @ athletic avocado
This pie looks incredible! I love that its paleo and no-bake!
It’s super easy to make, too. 🙂