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What Is Buko Pie?

By Rachael Cullins
Updated May 16, 2024
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Buko pie is a custard dessert dish popular in the Philippines and is similar to a coconut cream pie. Traditionally, young coconuts are used in the making the pie, lending the dish its name as “buko” means “young coconut” in the Filipino Tagalog language. There are many variations in buko pie.

This type of pie is popular throughout the Philippines and local versions can be enjoyed by those outside the region via freezing and quick-shipment. The pies are perhaps most popular in the Laguna Province located in the Luzon area southeast of Manila. Buko pie is sold at various restaurants and specialty bakeries in the Philippines, some of which focus exclusively on the pie.

The addition of young coconut meat to buko pie gives the dessert its rich, unique flavor. Several variations of the pie filling exist with some recipes calling for sugar, some for condensed milk, and some for a combination of the two. Using condensed milk gives the pie a richer, sweeter flavor. Most recipes use a homemade crust made of flour, egg yolk and shortening. Store-bought pie crust can be substituted for quicker preparation.

The filling, in addition to the sugar and/or condensed milk and the coconut, usually includes a small amount of cornstarch to thicken the texture of the mixture and some coconut water. Traditional pie only includes these ingredients in the filling, but some choose to add vanilla or almond extract for a more distinctive flavor. After the crust and filling are constructed, the pie is baked in an oven for approximately 45 minutes or until the crust has turned golden.

There are numerous pies that are similar to buko pie in texture and flavor. A coconut cream pie has a similar taste but does not include a top crust like buko. It also has a fluffier texture and is topped with whipped cream instead of crust. Buko pie is similar to custard-based pies served in Dutch and South African cultures. The pies in these regions, however, often include other fruits or flavorings such as raisins, nuts or cinnamon.

A similar type of pie also popular in the Philippines is macapuno pie which uses a specific type of dense coconut. This coconut has less water in its meat, giving the pie filling a thick, jelly-like texture. Preparation of macapuno pie is similar to that of buko pie. Macapuno is also commonly used in cakes and ice creams.

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