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Pumpkin filled with coconut custard on a white plate.

Pumpkin Coconut Custard - Southeast Asian Dessert

Pumpkin Coconut Custard is pure sweet comfort food, Southeast Asian style. Soft pumpkin is filled with creamy coconut custard then baked into sweet dessert perfection - all with everyday, easy to find ingredients.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Lao
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 10 slices
Calories 1895kcal
Cost $5



  • Preheat your oven to 150˚C (300˚F).
  • Trace a hexagon on top of the pumpkin, and slice into it with a sharp knife to create a lid. Prise out with a butter knife and slice off the seeds from the lid. Using a spoon, scoop and remove the seeds and soft flesh from the inside of the pumpkin. Pop the hollow pumpkin in a Dutch oven.
    1 small Japanese pumpkin
  • Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, vanilla essence and salt. Whisk until evenly mixed, then pour in the coconut cream and whisk again until well combined (around a minute or two).
    4 eggs, ½ cup caster sugar / superfine sugar, 1 tsp vanilla essence, ½ tsp salt, 270 ml coconut cream
  • Pour the custard mixture into your pumpkin. Add the hot water into your Dutch oven (aim for 2cm / 1 inch if you can). This will steam the pumpkin as it bakes. Place the pumpkin lid either back on the pumpkin, to the side in the Dutch oven or leave it off altogether.
    2 cups hot water
  • Put on the Dutch oven lid and pop it in the oven for an hour and a half. After times up, use a clean knife and pierce the middle of the custard. If it comes out clean, your custard is set!
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool down to room temperature before slicing and serving [Important!]. Note: The custard may still be a little soft when you first finish cooking, but it will set once it cools down.


  • Small Pumpkin - Not too big, yet deep enough to hold a decent amount of coconut custard. We used Japanese pumpkins (Kabocha) which is the traditional variety of pumpkin for this recipe. You can also use other kinds of pumpkins, squash or gourd depending on what you have available in your area.
  • Coconut cream - Coconut cream is a thicker, more concentrated version of coconut milk. If you only have coconut milk, add an extra dash of normal milk for creaminess. You can also pop a couple of cans of coconut milk in the fridge, then once the 'fats' set, scoop out and use the solids, leaving the coconut water behind.
  • Sugar - Different sugars may lead to different colour custard. Use white sugar for bright custard, brown sugar for a deeper colour. Palm sugar (gula melaka) is used in the traditional version and will lead to a darker custard with a caramelised flavour.
  • Hot Water - This is key! It makes sure your coconut custard cooks and steams to perfection while it bakes. Without the water, your pumpkin won't get that lovely soft melty texture that makes this dish so scrumptious.
  • Pumpkin Size - Make sure to choose the smallest pumpkin (or two if they're really small). If it's too big, the custard won't set and all you'll get is a runny mess.
  • Preparing the Pumpkin - Clean the outside of the pumpkin before cooking and always use a sharp knife to cut through it.
  • Handle with Care - When removing from the Dutch oven, the pumpkin will be soft and tender, easy to split or break apart.
  • Keep the Seeds - Wash, dry and toast the pumpkin seeds separately in olive oil, salt & pepper for a tasty snack.
  • Alternative Cooking Methods - If you don't have a Dutch oven, you can steam it on the stove or cover the pumpkin in foil on a baking tray.
  • Garnish Ideas -
    - Top with pumpkin spice or maple syrup.
    - Top slices with shaved fresh young coconut (or desiccated coconut) + gula melaka syrup and toasted sesame seeds.
    - Top with the creamy white coconut sauce from our che ba mau Vietnamese dessert.


Calories: 1895kcal | Carbohydrates: 208g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 112g | Saturated Fat: 89g | Cholesterol: 655mg | Sodium: 1445mg | Potassium: 5744mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 139g | Vitamin A: 116727IU | Vitamin C: 130mg | Calcium: 414mg | Iron: 20mg