Beachside coconut flan


Beachside coconut flan

I do love the change of seasons in the Eastern United States. The fall leaves change to different shades and make fluffy mountains where the boys jump a thousand times in a single day. I also like the smell of winter winds waiting around the corner as our home heating starts to warm up. And I have so much fun getting all of us coats and hats and gloves, something I never did growing up.

But I do miss my piece of beachside coconut flan. The one I used to have in Acapulco, many Decembers ago, growing up. My favorite was from Pipo’s, a restaurant in “la Costera”, an old neighborhood along the beach. It has a creamy and smooth layer on top that blends into a bottom layer of softened and nicely chewy coconut. I have tried a couple versions and the best one is also the simplest one.

First, make homemade caramel. Some cooks like to make caramel mixing sugar with lime juice or water, I prefer the most straightforward way: plain sugar over low-medium heat. Simply pour sugar onto a saucepan and gently tilt the pan, here and there, as the sugar starts to melt.

Coconut Flan 1

You need to be a bit patient, as the caramel is jealous: if you leave it unattended it will burn and taste bitter.

Coconut Flan 2

As it starts to melt it will look like this… glorious mountain shapes of sugar starting to caramelize… Once it becomes liquid you have choices. The lighter the color of the caramel, the mellower the taste. If you let it brown it will gain a deeper flavor, more nutty and strong. However, if you let it brown too long, it may taste bitter. And that can happen fast.

Coconut Flan 3

This is the color I like. It is rich, with a lot of personality and makes a great combination with the sweet and mellow flan. Coconut Flan 4

Quickly pour it into individual molds or round tube pan, it does harden fast.

Now it’s time to make the flan. As much as you had to be patient and careful with the caramel (after you make it a couple times it becomes an easy task) making the flan requires a minute of mixing a couple things in the blender.

Coconut Flan 5

The secret to this coconut flan is to use unsweetened dried shredded coconut, now found in many stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. It sounds redundant, but sweetened coconut makes it too sweet and gives the flan a shallow taste.

Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk, a cup of water, a couple eggs and the coconut in the blender. Puree until smooth and pour over the hardened caramel. Coconut Flan 6

Place it in a hot water bath, a baking dish filled with hot water up to at least half the height of the molds, and place it in the oven, about 35 minutes later, you have your flan.

Coconut Flan 7

Now, everyone has their favorite flan. As far as I have tried there’s orange, chocolate, rum, cajeta (similar to dulce de leche), rompope (eggnog), pine nut, pecan, and ancient style.

As the Fall and Winter colors and sounds make their way into your home this year, you may want to try a piece of beachside flan. It will bring you a couple steps closer to the beach, the ocean breeze, nice warm comfort, and why not, fresh coconut from those shady palm trees.

Beachside coconut flan

Flan de Coco Playero
8 to 10 flans
Pati Jinich
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Caramel, coconut, flan, pati's mexican table, Sweetened Condensed Milk
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
But I do miss my piece of beachside coconut flan. The one I used to have in Acapulco, many Decembers ago, growing up. My favorite was from Pipo’s, a restaurant in “la Costera”, an old neighborhood along the beach. It has a creamy and smooth layer on top that blends into a bottom layer of softened and nicely chewy coconut. I have tried a couple versions and the best one is also the simplest one.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened dried and shredded coconut
  • Optional garnishes, slices of fruits, or if you want to go wild, drizzle chocolate syrup or whipped cream on top

To Prepare

  • In a saucepan heat sugar over medium-low heat until it achieves caramel consistency. You may need to tilt the saucepan as the sugar starts to dissolve. Once it has melted, decide how dark/strong you want the caramel. The lighter the color, the lighter the flavor. But be careful because if it gets too dark it can burn and taste bitter. Remove from the heat and pour onto the bottom of a flan/round tube mold or into 10 individual custard cups. Do so quickly, since caramel hardens fast.
  • Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
  • Place sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup water, eggs and coconut in the blender and puree the mixture for 1 minute or so. Pour mixture on top of the hardened caramel in the mold or individual molds. Place the molds in an already hot water bath, a baking dish already filled with hot water which should come up to at least half the height of the molds, into the oven.
  • Remove once flan has set and top has achieved a nice golden to brown tan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let them cool and serve or cover and refrigerate. They will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
  • To unmold, remove them from the refrigerator at least 10 minutes before serving, so the caramel will soften. Run the tip of a knife around the flan and turn onto a plate. Drizzle the caramel on top. Serve it with fresh fruit of your liking, or go wild and add chocolate syrup or whipped cream on top.

55 comments on “Beachside coconut flan

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  1. Oh, oh, I think I deleted my question. Pati, you made a coconut pie a couple of weeks ago; your show on PBS I recorded them; however, this particular show wasn’t recorded. I bought the ingredients but I am missing some. You made the pie crust with (like) Ritz crackers and you told your boys about the crackers. Anyway, I hope you will send me the recipe.

    Cosinas delicioso! Gracias, Kitty

  2. So the other day my husband, who is from Veracruz, Mexico, told me that his abuelita used to make him boxed flan (Royal) and he was nostalgic for it. So he asked me to make him some boxed flan. I made it, and tried it, and it was so disappointing that it got me craving some real flan. So I googled until I found your lovely recipe, Pati. I made it for him and he literally asked me to marry him again. He could not stop eating it and said it was the best thing he’s ever eaten. So thank you for that! I am holding on to this recipe forever! 🙂

  3. Thank you but my request was for a recipe for a Mexican dessert, corn cake which I had in San Miguel de Allende & Puerto Vallarta, not a flan. Could you provide a corn cake recipe?

  4. I have made many recipes (or variations) from your cookbook. Last week I tried ChocoFlan. We loved it, but made one change that you might want to try. Cajeta does not exist in this part of Alaska, and since neither of us really like caramel sauce or anything similar, I just skipped that part.
    As we were enjoying the “volcanoes” and suggesting various replacements for the cajeta, I said that I bet mezcal would be good. Oh! and we just happened to still have some Oaxaca mezcal on hand, so poured a little on top. Exquisite.

  5. Hi Pati. Love your show and recipes! Please help. Every time I make flan, a portion of the Carmel topping comes out hard like candy and I don’t get a decent amount of Carmel sauce. Am I doing something wrong or is this normal? Tried cooking sugar more time/less time. Tried adding to container already sitting in hot water (thinking it might not harden). Flipping warm/flipping cooled. I am stumped. Candy good, but I really want more sauce…liquid gold. 🙂 Thank you.

    1. Ok: here is the tip for you. When you make your caramel and you first add the sugar to the pan, add 1 tablespoon water. Continue making the caramel as you do. This will make the caramel come off easier and more liquid. Give this a try!

  6. Pati,

    Thanks for the quick response to my question. I know this flan is going to be delicious.
    I’ll be trying it out very soon



  7. How long would I bake this in a tube pan instead of individual servings?

    I’m looking forward to trying this, I love flan.

    Thanks, Silvia

  8. Hi I wanted to make your flan I saw with caramel but it had tequilla whipped cream. Instead of using tequilla do I just leave it out or do I have to substitute something in its place?
    Thanks, amanda

  9. Hola Paty nomas keria saber si tambien le podria poner un poco de philadelphia cream cheese al flan para k este un poko mas cremoso

  10. Hi! Was wondering if I used evaporated milk and sweetened coconut instead of sweet milk and unsweetened coconut, would it work? Can’t eat sweets.

  11. I just saw a flan with tequila whipped cream on your tequila special but can’t find it here at all. Can you please post this recipe because it looks amazing! Thank you! Love your recipes especially since I feel I can somehow reconnect with my Mexican heritage, not everyone has recipes handed down from their grandmother. 😉

  12. Hmm… Could you make chocococo flan by just making the coconut version in place of the other and using the chocolate cake as normal in the original chocoflan recipe?

  13. I wonder if you could use canned or fresh coconut milk/nectar in substitution of the water to make it more coconutty…

  14. Pati,
    Everything you make sounds so good! I love the way you write. It’s just like the way you talk on TV. Thank you for sharing your recipes and your time with the world.

  15. I made this for 5 de mayo tonight and EVERYONE loved it. I was a little nervous since there were Mexican, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, and Italian people all at the fiesta and you know we all have our favorite flan version but it was a hit! Thank you!

    1. Melisa, It sounds like you had a lovely group at your Cinco de Mayo party. I’m so happy to hear everyone enjoyed the coco flan! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Maritza, Thank you for your comment. It is making me laugh! I love flan, too, and there are so many different kinds to enjoy!

  16. Dear Pati,
    On the coconut flan recipe , should it be cooked for longer if you make it in one large ring pan rather than individual portions?
    I’d appreciate some advice on that point. Many thanks!

    1. Hi Angela,
      Yes, if you do it in a large ring pan, give it another 5 to 10 minutes, if it is browning in the top, you can go ahead and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. The top should look golden brown and if you stick a wooden toothpick, it should come out barely moist, but not wet. My pleasure!

  17. Hi Pati, i’ve enjoyed making the different items from the website that i’ve liked. I tried the flan 3 times and they all tasted ok but they have never come out with the exact consistency I see in the picture. i was wondering if maybe this was due to to much carmel in the cup or maybe the dishes were too big. My first batch was more solid but the bottoms were more brown. The second batch was light in color but the flan took on more of a custard texture not solid. the third i put less flan in the dishes and it seemed better. any help would be appreciated. What size dishes do you use? thanks.

  18. I saw a flan you made on your show but could not find it on your web site. It had orange juice and almonds plus 10 eggs. Is it on line? Never made a flan but now I would like to try this one. Enjoyed your show.

  19. Oh my gosh! It looks and sounds so good! I’m a big flan lover and I can’t wait to try and cook this! I’m also going to try making your horchata. Your recipes are really good and I can’t wait to try them out on my family. Thank you!