Coconut Ice

All it takes is three ingredients!

I haven’t made coconut ice for years and while prevalent in the 70’s at just about every church fete, school fair and fundraiser, it seemed to then just disappear off the scene.  But recently I’ve seen coconut ice pop up in a few different places so I’m thinking all that’s old is new once again.  And rightly so; because this is a wonderful sweet treat to share with friends.

Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice

Back in the days of the church fete and the school fair, mothers were required to tie an apron around their waist and make an edible donation that would be divided into little cellophane packages and sold to raise funds for the worthy cause.  Three recipes featured heavily at these events; they were patty cases filled with toffee sprinkled in hundreds and thousands and set so hard you could crack your teeth; fudge that only came in one flavour, chocolate, and pink and white coconut ice.

All of these retro sweet treats were made with just a few ingredients and usually they were not ingredients you had to go looking for – they were typically found in every pantry.  There were some mothers (there’s always a few) who tried to outdo everyone else and take things up a level and they presented sweet treats like marshmallows covered in toasted coconut dyed bilious colours or chocolate crackles – five ingredients!

Just three ingredients

Just three ingredients

Coconut ice was always my favourite.  I would eat the toffees but found them sticky and if you had wobbly teeth the toffees would remove them swiftly.  One year I bought some fudge but the mother who made it had burnt it and there was a bitter, charred flavour to it.  The coconut ice not only looked super-pretty but was super-sweet with that beautiful coconut texture and flavour.

I don’t know why coconut ice is always pink and white striped.  The colour combination is certainly pretty and while this recipe is making a comeback, I think coconut ice would be lovely served at a bridal shower.  But I can see coconut ice also being good for baby showers where you can make either pink and white striped or blue and white or both.  Let’s not forge the festive season; coconut ice can also be Christmasy and you can make green and white or red and white.  So many options and this is a wonderful treat that deserves to be served at more than just the school fundraiser.

A no-bake recipe

A no-bake recipe

Making coconut ice is very easy.  You just need dessicated coconut, icing sugar and a tin of condensed milk – and a few drops of food colouring.  And that’s it.  It takes about 15 minutes to make, it will require some elbow grease to stir the mixture,  it doesn’t require turning on the oven but does need a few hours in the fridge to set; preferably overnight.

4.9 from 11 reviews
Coconut Ice
Recipe type: Confectionary
Cuisine: Australian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 36
Coconut Ice made with just 3 ingredients plus a few drops of food colouring.
  • 4 cups dessicated coconut
  • 3½ cups icing sugar
  • 1 x 390gm tin condensed milk
  • pink food colouring
  1. Lightly grease a 20cm (8") square tin.
  2. In a large bowl, combine coconut and icing sugar.
  3. Add condensed milk and stir - mixture will be very stiff and you'll need some elbow grease.
  4. Press half the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  5. Tint remainder of the mixture with a few drops of pink food colouring then press over the top of the white mixture.
  6. Cover tin with glad wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
  7. Remove glad wrap and cut into 36 little squares.

A retro recipe returns

A retro recipe returns

So easy and so pretty.


  1. What a fun dessert and so pretty. I bet this would be a hit at any gathering.

  2. Oh I love coconut ice – have made it for present boxes and celebrations a few times – so easy to make and I share your happy memories of coconut ice (that toffee sure were hard to bite into – though occasionally they were chewy and presented their own challenges – we never had posh marshmallows like that but chocolate crackles always went down well). I did try the white and green stripes and red and green stripes a few years ago at Christmas – they looked good but my red was sort of dark pink!

  3. I’ve never heard of this confection but it’s very pretty.

  4. I grew up eating coconut ice and fudge – still firm family favourites and I too have seen coconut ice making a comeback.
    Have a lovely day Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  5. I’ve never tried coconut ice before to be honest but it looks very pretty and I like your idea of making it different colours.

  6. I don’t think we ever had coconut ice here! But I want it.

  7. Nice and pretty are what comes to mind with these coconut ice bars. They’re so pleasing to look at. Thanks for the quick n’ easy recipe, Charlie!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  8. You’re right, these retro sweets are definitely making a comeback. I love coconut ice, it’s so pretty and perfect for a gift. I remember that fudge too, usually gritty as well as burnt. I’m definitely putting this down for Christmas Day treats. GG

  9. I have no idea what dessicated coconut and icing sugar might be. But I can google it, right? These seem easy to make and they are daintily beautiful.

    • Love of Modern and Period Cooking says:

      It is also called fine shredded coconut or coconut flakes also it is called confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar

  10. I’ve never heard of this. It sounds delicious and they are so cute. I love how simple they are too. Definitely going to have to try these!

  11. Well Charlie… I think it is a retro Australian confectionary if I read the comments correctly… I love this post… The funny thing is I was just thinking about making some toffee’s for my blog the other day!!! great minds hey! I can’t wait to make this, I think I am going to go with a green and white christmas theme for mine… and I will check your recipe against my everyday cook book from school to see if it is the same :0 Thanks for sharing! Liz x

  12. Hi Charlie, this is new to me, but looks beautiful. Love retro foods, there is usually a great story behind them.

  13. These look so simple to make, and so pretty and delicious!

  14. Oh, an old favourite – Charlie – it was one of my favourite sweets as a kid – used to make it and take back to boarding school. I too have seen it popping up on menus! One place had such pieces that I had to take three-quarters of it home!

  15. I’ve never heard of nor tasted coconut ice, but it’s certainly what I would have been munching on during a school function!

  16. Yum! My grandma used to have these at her house when I was growing up. They were very tasty. Yours are very pretty. 🙂

  17. It’s great to see the retro recipes returning! Your coconut ice looks pretty as a picture! Gives me an idea what to make for Christmas! 🙂

  18. Oh yes Charlie they were the days. i loved the toffee. Cant remember losing teeth but why would I care then?. I’d miss them now though for sure.

  19. I love this simple recipe, and I don’t remember ever having coconut ice! I was surely one of those very active church and school fundraising moms during the 70s, but this recipe didn’t seem to grace our circuit! I can introduce it now! I would really like to try Christmas colors. 🙂

  20. These are so easy and good 🙂

  21. I can enjoy the memory and the prettiness, even though it’s no more sugar for me.

  22. Yes…. It was the dessert of choice in my household, always had it for my birthday and was a big seller at the school fates. Yours looks super pretty, reckon Ill have to whip up a batch for ol time sake. 🙂 Happy Weekend to you Charlie, stay outta the heat, we are expecting 37 on Sunday, guess you’ll be in the 40’s.

  23. How gorgeous they look – what a road trip down memory lane – I grew up in New Zealand and this were hot in all the Fete’s along with; orange fudge, Russian fudge, afghan biscuits and homemade toffees in little cupcake cases – I can taste them all now. Off to find the food colouring and coconut. Thank you x

  24. Now that you mention it, coconut ice does ring a bell in my western memories. I think in India they make similar sweets with highly condensed milk and of course coconut and food coloring. In India the milk flavor is much more intense and if I could remember I would tell you the different regional names. Gotta ask somebody again, I tend to forget the names. Thanks for sharing your recipe Charlie!

  25. Oh yes, how fantastic to see coconut ice, I used to make it when I was a girl and young teen back in the – ahem – 1970s. Haven’t made it for … decades… your beautiful photos have stirred the passion, must print out the recipe and make some. Good for a teacher’s pressie, they are far too slender.

  26. Love coco-nut and ice-cream….this is the perfect combination <3

  27. This was definitely a childhood favourite. While toffee lasted longer, I got sick of them pretty quickly while coconut ice was a sweet, short sensation of sugar!

  28. This is also a popular sweeet in Sri Lanka for cultural events! So delicious! we usually make pink and green!

  29. My sister and I used to make this often when we were kids. I love the pink and white. Funny how no one ever made it any other colour!

  30. Charlie, these are so cute, I love the pink color…and yes, coconut dessert is always welcome!
    Have a great weekend 🙂

  31. Ooh I would love to try this at home, it used to be a favourite 😀
    Love the colours, they are SO me 😛

    Choc Chip Uru

  32. My Australian grandmother made this when we were children, and whilst it was never my favourite treat, it now holds a special nostalgic place in my heart. Your version looks great, and yes, anything with a short ingredient list deserves to be kept in rotation!

  33. I see it at every market etc we go too…. my favourite sugar treat, I see it many colours now, I once saw rainbow coloured coconut ice and always thought I would give it a try, maybe this year lol – hope the weekend is going well 🙂

  34. I have a little yellow recipe box full of recipes that I copied out before my weddiing way back in the 70s (late 70s, let me hasten to add, when I was a mere child bride, lol). Occasionally I make something from it, but mostly it sits neglected on a shelf. Thank you for reminding me that these retro recipes are worthy of another look! These squares are so pretty, and I imagine they’re pretty sweet too, so one recipe would go a long way.

  35. Wow, I’m so glad you included the handy ‘print’ icon. This is a definite in my upcoming holiday desserts. Thanks.

  36. Hi Charlie 🙂 Hope you’ve been very well! I’m so sorry for not dropping by lately! Life has just been so busy and slightly overwhelming! But I finally have some time to catch up on reading your blog and getting to know what fun you’ve been up to!

    Ohh Coconut ice! I’ve heard about them and know that they were quite popular in the 70s but I’m not sure if I’ve tried it before but since it’s so easy will need to making it myself!

  37. —OMGOSH,
    this is GORGEOUS ))))!!!!!! I love love love. xx

  38. This is my mum’s favourite. I see coconut ice, and I think of her!

  39. Coconut ice is one of those old favourites isn’t it… must try your version, Charlie… sounds good… my recipe uses cream cheese. Happy cooking lovely xox

  40. Such a fete favourite Charlie, and always stickily sinful 🙂 Now days for our school stalls, you must not use any fresh cram or butter products, every ingredient must be listed and allergy advice is usually requested. A bit different from the Old Days, and much trickier to make something for the fundraiser. I’ll be using your recipe from now on for sure xox

  41. Goodness that takes me back! I can’t remember the last time I had a coconut ice, but just looking at your photo brings back the memory of the taste as clearly as if it were yesterday! 🙂

  42. I remember a lot of the retro easy treats that were made in the southern US, but I don’t remember coconut ice. Must be an Australian thing because I know I would have remembered it. I can taste it now! This is going to make a nice little treat to include in holiday boxes. Thanks!

  43. Goodness, this takes me back to school fetes. My mother was never interested in making things for the stalls, so by the time I was 10 I figured it was going to be up to me. I loved coconut ice and had not thought of it for ages – It’s on my list for Xmas this year now!

  44. I need to try this!

  45. Wow … that’s a bit eerie … I was only thinking about Coconut Ice the other day and here it is! I think I’ll share this on my Facebook because it’s such a fantastic recipe to bring out at Christmas time x

  46. You inspired me, made this last night ready for Matilda’s 2 year old birthday party today. Haven’t made it since my kids were small.

  47. Oh the memories that are surfacing here. Your coconut ice looks gorgeous. I didn’t realize it was that easy to make, how fun! Yum, Hugs, Terra

  48. I love retro revival. This is a goodie!

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