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Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice is the pretty sweet we fell in love with at fete stalls all those years ago.

Today, biting into the lovely layers of pink and white sends you directly to coconut heaven (and delivers a mighty good sugar kick in the process!)

coconut ice on cake stand

Coconut Ice: made the old fashioned way

This old-fashioned Coconut Ice Recipe uses milk and sugar and a traditional sweet-making process rather than the condensed mik version which is perhaps more popular today.  

While many Coconut Ice Recipes today use condensed milk, this recipe is from the 1930s and takes a more traditional sweet-making approach.

It uses only three ingredients, along with a few drops of pink colouring, however you should ideally read through the process in the recipe card below before launching into this recipe.

To make it easy, I’ve also created a how-to video which you can find within this post.

coconut ice collage pin

Tips for perfect Coconut Ice

It will also help to keep these tips in mind when making up a batch of this lovely coconut sweet treat:

  • You’re working with a hot sugar mixture which can easily cause burns. Don’t forget this!
  • Make sure the sugar dissolves in the milk over low heat before bringing the mixture to the boil.
  • Once you’ve added the coconut, the mixture needs to cook again and reach just the right consistency. Watch the video to get a good idea of the sloppy porridge-like consistency you’re working towards.
  • Did I mention that the mixture is super hot? Take care with this recipe. (Yes, I learnt the hard way – ouch!)

A traditional recipe from 1938

This recipe is similar to many published in the 1930s and 1940s. It appeared in the The Australian Worker newspaper, which was published in Sydney for the Australian Workers’ Union between 1890 and 1950.

Keep scrolling for the tested and tweaked version.

coconut ice recipe
coconut ice coloured white and pink stacked on cake plate

Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice made the old fashioned way with milk and sugar. Absolutely irresistible!
4.71 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Australian
Keyword: coconut ice
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 24 medium squares
Calories: 194kcal


  • Slice Tin (11 x 7 inch)


  • 4 cups caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
  • few drops pink food colouring


  • Remember, you are working with a boiling sugar mixture in this recipe which will easily burn your skin. I don't recommend making this recipe with children around. Take care not to touch the hot sugar mixture until it's set.
  • Grease a slice tin (11 x 7 inch) and line with baking paper, leaving some extra either side to lift the coconut ice slab out of the tray. See the video above for tips.
  • Combine sugar and milk in a large saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
  • Bring the milk and sugar mixture to the boil and allow to boil, stirring from time to time, for 5 minutes. Take the mixture off the heat for a few moments if it starts boiling too rapidly.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and add coconut. Stir to combine.
  • Return mixture to the heat and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. The mixture should start to thicken slightly. When ready, the consistency resembles porridge that needs just a little more cooking and as you stir it should momentarily lift from the bottom of the saucepan a little. It may need a little longer than 5 minutes but no more than 10 minutes.
  • Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin and place into the fridge for 5 minutes.
  • Add a few drops of pink food colouring to the remaining mixture and stir through to create an even pink colour. Place mixture on low heat to keep warm.
  • Remove slice tray from the fridge and check that the mixture has set enough to pour the next layer. Use a spoon to check as the mixture may still be hot. If it's not set enough, return to the fridge for another 5 minutes.
  • Pour pink mixture onto top of first layer in the slice tin and allow to set at room temperature.
  • Cut into 24 medium squares or 48 medium rectangles or 96 tiny squares.



Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 16IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating

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Mike Villeneuve

Thursday 23rd of September 2021

Why is the chocolate not included with your recipe?

Libby Hakim

Friday 24th of September 2021

Hi Mike. I've not come across coconut ice with chocolate before? Though I do love bounty bars (chocolate and coconut)!


Monday 28th of June 2021

Thanks so much for sharing, i dont like the condense milk method for ice coconut or fudge as texture not the same. it school holidays here now so ive made a small batch of ice coconut and soon gonna do the old fashion fudge too


Monday 28th of June 2021

Hi Rachel. Awesome - yes I love the texture of this one too. I made the fudge a while ago and need to revisit it so will be interested to see how you go with it. Enjoy the school holidays. Libby :)


Sunday 20th of December 2020

Hello, can you use fresh coconut? Anne


Monday 21st of December 2020

Hi Anne. I think you'd have to grate it and dry it out somehow or use less milk. Otherwise there would be too much moisture for the recipe. I'm sorry I can't be of more help. I'm sure flavour-wise it would be amazing if you can make it a success with fresh coconut. Good luck!


Thursday 17th of December 2020

Would this recipe work with normal white sugar or is the Castor sugar important? I've just got white sugar ๐Ÿ™„.


Thursday 17th of December 2020

Hi Helen. I haven't tried it with regular white sugar but it may work. Just remember that 1 cup of regular sugar is 250g compared to one cup of Caster Sugar weighing in at 240g. So the 4 cups of caster sugar in the recipe is equivalent to about 3.8 cups of regular sugar. Also, I'd just take extra care at step 3 when dissolving the sugar. Make sure you keep it at low heat until the sugar dissolves. Good luck x


Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Hi, thanks for the recipe. Iโ€™m looking to make this as Christmas gifts, how long would you estimate this would keep for?


Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Hi Jen. It should keep for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container. Ideally, I'd make it a week or two before at most. It'll make a lovely gift ๐Ÿ’• Libby x

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