Grandma’s Coconut Chews

Family tradition recipes are some of my favorite things to make, and to pass along, cherishing the memories that go with them. These Coconut Chews are just that, a sweet reminder of my Grandma Brown. She loved Christmas —  so much so that she and my grandfather were married on December 23rd (always stylish, she wore navy blue velvet and pearls).

Every holiday season, well into her 90s, Grandma Brown would make pies, date nut bread (what I wouldn’t do for a slice of that with some cream cheese slathered on top right now) and these ooey, gooey, bite sized Coconut Chews.

It wasn’t just the baking I loved about her at the holidays. She was always so joyful and excited to celebrate. Her face would light up on Christmas morning as we brought her the VERY OVERSIZED stocking full of goodies she loved.


Grandma being a good sport and dressed to impress for Christmas dinner 2008.


She made pies, oh did she make pies. She had the world’s best crust, seriously. Once she stopped baking, one of my goals as a baker was that she enjoyed my pies, and specifically my crust. I would bake the apple cranberry pies she and Mom love (I don’t liked cooked apple so I needed that special taste tester) and the mixed berry pies she would request. She always loved the filling but I sadly never mastered the crust. 

Christmas 1979- Excited for my new camera, less than thrilled about my haircut.


She passed along many traits and as families do, as well as many culinary traditions, like our Hearts and Caps that find their way to most of our holiday meals (I will share that one soon). However, I think most of us have stopped making the requisite Christmas Eve Presbyterian Casserole.


This recipe though, it’s easy to share and a winner for anyone who loves coconut. I delightfully found the old tattered recipe card a while back and recently dug it out to write up for my cousin so that we wouldn’t lose it when the well-loved card eventually falls apart. (It was hard to read, which is of course a good sign– the more weathered the card, the more loved the recipe.) 


I figured I would make a batch and share our family favorite with you. 



Grandma's Coconut Chews
A chewy little, shareable delight, perfect for the holiday season.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
  1. 1/2 cup shortening
  2. 1/2 light brown sugar
  3. 1 cup flour
  1. 1 cup Brown Sugar
  2. 2Eggs
  3. 2 Tablespoons Flour
  4. 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  6. 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  7. 1 Cup Coconut
  8. 1 Cup Pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Press and flatten crust in bottom of 9x12 pan. Bake for 10 min.
  3. Mix filling and spread over crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Let cool, cut into small (about 1" or 2") squares
These are awesome to make ahead (and freeze as Virginia would), and wonderful to share. They’d be a great addition to any holiday cookie swap, or you could try Grammy Cushman’s Hermits— another childhood favorite.


I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as Grandma enjoyed Christmastime. 


Share one of your family favorites or traditions in the comments!


Happy Holiday Dishing, 


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