The Ultimate Pina Colada recipe

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If you like pina colada, you'll love this version. It's made with fresh pineapple, coconut milk, rum and lime juice. It's the perfect summer cocktail to enjoy all year long.

3 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 180ml white rum
  • 1/2 ripe pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 50ml coconut milk
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 6 ice cubes

MethodPrep:10min ›Ready in:10min

  1. Place all ingredients in a liquidiser. Blend until smooth and well combined.

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  • 5 ounces (140g) very ripe peeled and cored fresh pineapple, frozen pineapple, or drained canned pineapple chunks (see note)
  • 1 3/4 ounces (50ml) unsweetened coconut cream, shaken or stirred well to incorporate fat
  • 1 ounce (30ml) simple syrup (see note)
  • 3/4 to 1 ounce (20-30ml) fresh juice from 1 lime
  • 2 1/2 ounces (75ml) white or gold rum, kept in freezer until freezer-cold
  • 4 ounces (115g) ice cubes
  • Pineapple slice and/or maraschino cherry, for garnish
  • Paper umbrella and straw, for serving (optional)

In an airtight plastic container, combine pineapple, coconut cream, simple syrup, and 3/4 ounce lime juice, and transfer to freezer until frozen, at least one hour (the sugar in the mixture may prevent it from freezing solid this is okay).

In a blender, combine frozen pineapple mixture with ice-cold rum and ice and blend until thick and slushy. Taste, then blend in the remaining 1/4 ounce lime juice, if desired. Pour into a large glass, garnish with pineapple and/or a cherry, and serve, with or without an paper umbrella and straw.

If you want to make multiple drinks, you can pre-batch up to a double recipe (a blender may not hold much more than that easily) in a single container, then divide after blending for more than two drinks, use separate containers to hold more servings.

In Search of the Ultimate Piña Colada

The Piña Colada is a situational cocktail. When you picture yourself ordering one, you probably envision doing so at a warm-weather resort, at the beach or beside the pool.

The Top Three

Fanny Chu's Piña Colada

Erick Castro's Piña Colada

Will Pasternak's Piña Colada

“It’s an outdoor drink,” said bartender Joaquín Simó. “You’re using it basically like air conditioning. Having it indoors doesn’t feel quite right.” Fellow bartender Jelani Johnson agreed. “It’s air conditioning in a glass,” he said.

That truth notwithstanding, the PUNCH staff, in order to find the best rendition of the Piña Colada, recently gathered far from any waterfront, in a darkened, second-floor space in the East Village—better known during operating hours as Pouring Ribbons. Joining me on the judging panel were Simó, the owner of Pouring Ribbons tiki master Johnson, of Clover Club in Brooklyn and Ivy Mix, an owner of Leyenda, a Brooklyn bar known for its creative use of Caribbean, Central American and South American spirits. Pouring Ribbons bartender Devin Kennedy prepared the drinks.

All these bartenders have served their share of Piña Coladas over the years. “The No. 1 off-menu drinks at Leyenda are the Margarita, Daiquiri and Piña Colada,” said Mix.

Despite belonging to a different category of cocktail, the Piña Colada has enjoyed the same robust name recognition as the Margarita and the Daiquiri, among other top-tier classics, since its advent in 1954. It was then that a bartender at the Caribe Hilton hotel in San Juan first hatched the idea to add the newly created Puerto Rican product Coco Lopez, a sweetened “cream of coconut,” to the traditional tropical mixture of pineapple juice, rum and sugar. There’s been no stopping the dessert-like drink since (and the deathless 1979 Rupert Holmes anthem “Escape (the Piña Colada Song)” certainly didn’t hit the brakes).

Because of the cocktail’s easygoing, live-and-let-live reputation, the judges seemed to hold the Piña Colada to a less exacting standard than they might have for other cocktails with as famous a rep. “It’s the corner slice of cocktails,” argued Simó. “Everyone has had it. You’ve had very crappy versions and very elevated versions. But how much better is that elevated version?”

“Some of the best ones are at the shittiest places,” added Johnson. (Johnson, playing the provocateur, went so far as to half-seriously suggest that the best recipe for a Piña Colada was the coconut-heavy version on the back of the Coco Lopez can.)

Still, as always, the PUNCH judges revealed certain make-or-break measures of acceptability. The use of fresh pineapple juice seemed very little to ask of the competitors. (However, the panel didn’t rule out the idea that a good drink could be made from canned juice.) And fine-straining that juice was considered a mistake. “Why would you strain out all that flavor?” asked Simó. Judges were not opposed to the addition of a little lime juice, a common trick used to bump up the acidity of a drink that desperately needs it.

Coco Lopez was an expected, and historically accurate, choice for the coconut element. (It was used in nine of the 10 recipes tested.) Regarding rum, the judges were liberal minded. They liked the idea of layering multiple rums, but weren’t against using only a single brand, either. Breaking out high-end rums for the drink seemed pointless, but neither was the group opposed to the idea. The only rum sin punishable by expulsion was when the spirit in question couldn’t be detected in the mix at all.

Texture was as important, if not more, to the panel. The first two drinks in the competition were served on cobbled ice. These were judged with an even hand. But when the third contender arrived in blended form, the truth came out.

“It’s a blended drink,” the judges declared, almost simultaneously. Simó, for his part, understood why a bar might opt to not keep a blender on hand—they make too much noise, they take up too much room, etc. Still, the panel expected a silky uniformity of mouthfeel that one can only get from ice that’s been through a blender.

“There’s something about cobbled drinks,” complained Mix. “I don’t want to slurp.” PUNCH senior editor Chloe Frechette further pointed out that a cobbled drink will tend to disappear after a few sips. Blending, meanwhile, transforms a Piña Colada into a lengthy drinking experience. And, said Johnson, that’s what you’re after, since “you aren’t going to want a second one.”

Drinks that hit the right balance between rum, pineapple and coconut proved elusive. Frequently, one flavor dominated. Most often, evidence of the rum was scant. (Later, when the recipes for the cocktails were revealed, a confounding stinginess in rum measurements was discovered nearly across the board.) Textures, too, varied wildly among the blended versions. There were drinks that were thin and watery, and drinks so thick you could barely coax them through a straw.

The winning drink came from Fanny Chu, of Brooklyn’s tropical-minded cocktail bar, Donna. The recipe called for 1 ounce El Dorado 5 Year rum, 1 ounce Pedro Mandinga Panama silver rum (unable to secure a bottle prior to the tasting, PUNCH used Plantation 3 Stars), 1 ½ ounces pineapple juice, 1 ounce “Coco mix” (a blend of three parts Coco Lopez and one part coconut milk), ½ ounce lime juice, and ½ ounce demerara syrup. The judges found the balance of flavors to be nearly perfect. Their only quibble was that the drink was served on cobbled ice. (The judges enjoyed the recipe so much, after the competition was over, they ordered a blended version. It was good, too.)

Second place went to Erick Castro, of Polite Provisions in San Diego. Unlike many other contestants, Castro did not skimp on the rum flavor. The recipe called for a half ounce each of Plantation 3 Stars, Smith & Cross Jamaican rum, Plantation Original Dark and Clément Première Canne Rhum Agricole. To this was added 1 ½ ounces pineapple juice, 1 ½ ounces Coco Lopez and ½ ounce of lime juice. Again, it was served on cobbled ice, which irked the testers. But the formula was the most rum-forward of the drinks, and that strength of flavor went a long way with the panel.

Third place went to Will Pasternak from the Cuba-themed bar BlackTail in New York. There, the drink is served directly from a slushy machine, but his scaled-down rendition consists of 1 ¼ ounces Bacardi Havana Club Añejo Blanco, 1 ½ ounces Coco Lopez, 1 ¾ ounces pineapple juice and ¼ ounce lime juice, blended. Aside from wishing the rum quotient had been increased a bit, the judges felt the drink correctly answered the questionnaire all Piña Coladas must complete.

“Is this cold?” said Johnson. “Is this refreshing? Is this decadent?” And, it might be added, are you outdoors?

Keto Piña Colada

Traditional piña coladas, originating in Puerto Rico, are made with rum, coconut milk, and pineapple juice. It has been the national drink of the Island since 1978 and has grown in popularity around the world since. A song was even written about the cocktail, which is often the first thing to come to my mind when sipping. This sugar free piña colada recipe does not incorporate pineapple juice, which is loaded with sugar. Instead, this keto cocktail really enhances the natural coconut flavors for additional sweetness and flavor by using coconut milk. It is also sweetened slightly with a sugar free sweetener, either monkfruit or erythritol, but you can use allulose or stevia as well. Piña colada extract is featured to provide the tropical flavors, like pineapple, that are beloved in this cocktail. I like to top these keto piña colada drinks with adorable paper umbrellas and fresh pineapple wedges for a more festive look as well.

Piña Colada Flavor

The prominent flavor of this keto piña colada recipe stems from the coconut milk and piña colada extract. Try to find coconut milk that is full fat and unsweetened. Avoid the lite coconut milk as it has more sugar. Also avoid the cocktail mixers that you find at the grocery store. They can be higher in carbs.

If you can’t get ahold of piña colada extract, you can also use some popular brands include Baja Bob’s and Jordan’s Skinny Mixes. The skinny mixes still have sugar and actually high fructose corn syrup, but they are lower in carbs. This ingredient can be omitted if desired to still have a yummy low-carb piña colada. Another option is to use pineapple extract.

Although pineapples are not keto-friendly due to their high sugar content, you can add a slice of fresh pineapple as a festive garnish alongside a cute paper umbrella. Just don’t eat the pineapple. Toasted or untoasted coconut flakes are also great additions to add to the rim of the cup.

Is Rum Keto?

Luckily, this low calorie spirit is completely fine to drink while maintaining a keto diet. It has zero carbohydrates and approximately sixty-four calories per ounce. When paired with a low carb mixer or served on the rocks, rum is a great spirit to enjoy without any guilt.

Another substitute you could use if you don’t have rum is vodka.

Is Alcohol Allowed on the Keto diet?

Alcohol is certainly allowed on the ketogenic diet, so there is no need to say goodbye to your favorite drink, like these keto piña coladas (unless it is a stout beer or sugary wine coolers, unfortunately). Although, since alcohol is considered a toxin to the body, it is best to drink it in moderation. Suppose other food is consumed at the same time. In that case, it will be stored as fat since the liver is working hard to metabolize the alcohol instead of the food coming in. Thus, if you are keeping a healthy lifestyle and keto diet, it is best not to drink alcoholic beverages on a daily basis.

While not all alcoholic beverages are keto friendly, there are plenty of options out there to satisfy your cocktail cravings. Many popular spirits contain virtually no carbohydrates, such as gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, and vodka. Red wine, white wine, and prosecco are all allowed in moderation for the keto diet as well. If you are looking to try more keto cocktails, check out some of our other recipes, including these delightful cucumber lime margaritas and strawberry daiquiris.

Is Coconut Milk Keto?

Both coconut milk and cream are okay to consume on the keto diet. They are considered to be a keto pantry staple full of good, healthy fats. The beverage is packed with manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. It also contains significant contents of fiber and protein. Be sure to purchase an unsweetened and whole fat brand to ensure there are no added sugars or carbohydrates. Also, please stay away from lite coconut milk in your keto piña coladas as it is known to have way more carbs than other varieties.

Another option is to use coconut cream. Coconut cream has a higher fat content compared to the coconut milk so this is completely keto friendly and either can be used in this cocktail recipe.

Make it a Mocktail

Feel free to substitute water in place of rum for a virgin piña colada. This a wonderful piña colada mocktail option for anyone who does not like the taste of alcohol or children who still want to enjoy this delicious tropical drink.

Many piña colada mocktail recipe just use added pineapple juice, but we are avoiding that since pineapple is high is sugar and carbs. Luckily water works just fine! Or you can extra sparkling coconut water instead.

A good blender for frozen drinks

Once you have the ingredients selected its time to toss them in a blender to create the perfect frozen drink. A good frozen drink doesn’t have chunks of ice and is completely combined so the ingredients don’t immediately separate. When choosing a blender look for one that has a powerful motor, a variety of speeds and the ability to crush ice.

I love the Ninja blender for a few reasons.

  • The Ninja comes with a large blade that runs the length of the pitcher to completely crush all ice and frozen ingredients.
  • It features multiple blending containers so you can make a big batch or individual servings. This is ideal for breakfast smoothies when you only want to serve one. You make and drink your smoothie in one container less dishes!
  • This blender has many settings and presets allowing you to mix, chop, combine and blend just about anything.

A virgin piña colada is a fun non-alcoholic drink that is enjoyable to serve and drink, plus it tastes delicious! Go all out when serving up these drinks, add a wedge of pineapple to each glass, a maraschino cherry and a fun drink umbrella. Kids especially love the extra touches to make their drink special.

Make a big batch of this drink by doubling the recipe, or use the recipe as written to make 2 servings.

Pour the light rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. For a slightly less sweet colada, squeeze the juice of a lime wedge into the shaker.

Shake well for at least 30 seconds. When thoroughly shaken, the drink should be creamy with a luscious foam from the pineapple juice.

Strain into a chilled collins glass. Alternatively, it will fill 1 large or 2 small cocktail glasses.

Garnish with the pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry. Serve and enjoy.

  • The piña colada is a very thick drink, even the shaken version. To lighten it up, fill the glass with crushed ice before straining the cocktail.
  • If you can't find cream of coconut, you can use coconut cream—just be sure to add sugar or simple syrup, to taste, to compensate for the lack of sweetness. However, try to avoid the coconut milk in cartons, as it tends to be a little too runny for shaken cocktails like this one.
  • Canned pineapple juice is convenient. The small cans are 6 ounces and will make a few drinks. Unless you transfer it to another container, it can be difficult to keep large cans of pineapple juice fresh.
  • If you prefer, use fresh pineapple juice The average pineapple weighs 2 to 5 pounds, and yields about 6 ounces of juice per pound with an electric juicer. Without a juicer, crush 1 cup of pineapple chunks in the shaker using a muddler before shaking the drink. You can also blend fresh or frozen pineapple chunks and strain the resulting mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.

What Is the Best Piña Colada Mix?

While we don't have one single brand to recommend, the more expensive option is almost always better when buying cocktail mixes. Note that most piña colada mixes contain dairy, even though the original recipe does not, in case that's a concern. Regardless, because a piña colada has just three ingredients, it truly isn't worth your time or money to buy a mix. If you're understandably concerned about splurging on ingredients, you can save money by buying mini liquor bottles instead of a pricey handle of rum. While you might not get higher-shelf rums in this size, the added cost benefit can justify buying the cream of coconut and pineapple, which are likely to cost less than a mix anyway.

What Is Cream of Coconut?

Cream of coconut is similar to condensed milk, except that it's made with coconut milk instead of cow's milk. It's thick, syrupy, and sweet, and typically comes in a can. Note that cream of coconut is different from coconut cream, which is the fatty, creamy part of canned coconut milk that you can skim off the top. Canned coconut milk can come sweetened or unsweetened and has a milder, butterier flavor than cream of coconut. Cream of coconut is the best choice in this recipe because of its thickness and richness Coco Casa and Coco Lopez are two popular brands.

Recipe Variations

  • Try an aged or flavored rum (either commercial or a homemade infusion). Coconut rum is an obvious choice, but other fruits can work just as well.
  • If you prefer vodka, pour it instead of the rum. To add flavor, try either coconut or pineapple vodkas, or a combination of the two.
  • Brandy is used in the frozen kappa colada, and it's a great alternative in the shaken drink.
  • For a virgin version of the piña colada, skip the rum and shake 4 ounces of pineapple juice with 2 ounces of cream of coconut.

How Strong Is the Piña Colada?

This piña colada recipe is pretty average. It's not the lightest drink, nor is it the strongest cocktail you can make. With an 80 proof rum, the alcohol content is a reasonable 13 percent ABV (26 proof). It's similar to a glass of wine, only far more delicious.

Can I Make a Pina Colada Mix Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can! Blend all of the ingredients together except for the frozen pineapple chunks and ice, and keep in an airtight container in the fridge for several days until you are ready to enjoy.

Then to make blended frozen Pina Coladas, combine the refrigerated mix with frozen pineapple and ice in the blender. For Pina Coladas on the rocks, simply pour the pre-made mix over ice and serve.

What Can I Use Instead of Rum in Pina Coladas?

Vodka is a common substitute for rum in Pina Coladas. However, since vodka definitely has a distinct taste and lacks the sweetness of rum, it’s recommended that you add a splash of simple syrup or extra pineapple juice to the classic homemade Pina Colada Mix Recipe.

Skip the alcohol altogether for Virgin Pina Coladas. You can add a few shots of coconut milk to make up for the alcohol and create an even creamier colada.

Want your Pina Coladas a bit more potent?

Serve them with a floater (extra shot of rum) on the side to be mixed in as needed.

This smoothie-like strawberry banana pina colada is easy and delectable! It's the perfect drink for a brunch or ladies' night cocktail!

Each of the recipes above has the step-by-step on how to make a pina colada at home. They are all easy to follow and well-laid out.

Still, you need a few kitchen tools to prepare any of these best pina colada recipes.

    – We use and are absolutely in love with our KitchenAid blender! It is a powerhouse and makes the smoothest cocktails (and soups) ever! – Using a hurricane glass for tropical drinks, such as pina colada, is a no-brainer. It adds the summer feeling to the experience! This is the glass we used in all of these cocktails! – Having a jigger saves us so much time when preparing cocktails. It comes in the exact measure as 90% of alcohol usage in pina colada recipes, let alone other cocktails. Besides, this jigger has marks on the inside for additional quantities. – Some of the best kitchen tools we ever bought were reusable straws! It’s a one-time purchase, saves us money, and helps the environment. These stainless steel straws come in a set of 6 and have two flexible wire brushes.

Did you like this article about the best pina colada recipes? Then share it with a friend who might like it too or save it to your Pinterest board!

The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

Add all of the ingredients to a blender, including 1 1/2 cups of ice. Blend until smooth.

The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

Garnish with a maraschino cherry and pineapple wedge, or pin the cherry to the pineapple with a cocktail skewer to create a "flag" garnish. Serve and enjoy.

The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

Who Created the Piña Colada?

The Piña Colada's origin is one of the few cocktail histories that is well documented. The cocktail was created in 1954 by Ramón "Monchito" Marrero, bartender at the Beachcomber Bar in the Caribe Hilton of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The original recipe was nonalcoholic and shaken. His intent was to welcome guests with a taste of the tropics captured in a glass. Monchito added a local rum a number of years later, and the drink found a second home in the blender. In 1978, the Piña Colada became Puerto Rico's official drink.

Over the following decades, the cocktail was enjoyed by Caribbean travelers who brought tales of it home. It was not until the release of Rupert Holmes' 1979 hit song "Escape" that the drink skyrocketed in popularity. Don't recognize the title? It is also called—quite appropriately—"The Piña Colada Song." If you need a reminder of it, just stop by someplace hosting a karaoke night, and you're almost sure to hear it.

Flavorful Additions and Substitutions

  • The Caribe Hilton's original Piña colada recipe is heavy on the pineapple and uses Bacardi rum and Coco Lopez: Mix 2 ounces of light rum, 1 ounce each of coconut cream and heavy cream, and 6 ounces of pineapple juice in a blender. Add 1/2 cup crushed ice and mix for 15 seconds, then pour into a 12-ounce glass and garnish with a pineapple and cherry.
  • Use 5-6 ripe pineapple chunks instead of juice, cut them about 1 inch x 1 inch. It'll make for a fresher, brighter cocktail.
  • Add ¼-½ ounces of overproof Jamaican rum, such as Smith and Cross, to add an extra kick and an a layer of complexity.
  • Add a hint of background flavor with a flavored rum. Apricot, banana, grapefruit, kiwi, kumquat, orange, passion fruit, and vanilla pair great with both coconut and pineapple. If you can't find a particular rum flavor at the store, make your own rum infusions.
  • Switch the rum out for brandy and enjoy a kappa colada.
  • Make a mocktail with the coco colada or a big-batch virgin piña colada recipe.
  • Add more ice for a thicker drink, or more pineapple juice (or less ice) for a thinner version.
  • Replace the cream of coconut with full-fat or low-fat coconut milk for a lighter version.

How Strong Is a Frozen Piña Colada?

Not only is the piña colada refreshing, but it's also low-proof. All that ice adds volume and brings the alcohol content down significantly, so this recipe averages out at just 8 percent ABV (16 proof). That's right between beer and wine, only this drink is far more delicious.

Piña Colada

The Piña Colada has a bit of a bad rap among cocktail connoisseurs. For years, this now-classic drink was the poster child of the blender boom, a symbol of poolside bars and booze cruises. But the tropical cocktail—a mix of rum, coconut, pineapple and lime juices—dates to the 1950s and has been satisfying vacationers and Tiki aficionados since.

As the story goes, the Piña Colada debuted in 1952, when it was first mixed by Ramon Marrero Perez, the head barman at the Caribe Hilton in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Perez had blended up a winner, and the tropical drink enjoyed its place in the sun for decades, finding its way to American shores and faraway isles. However, the quality took a nose dive around the 1970s when barkeeps began making Piña Coladas with cheap, bottled mixers and serving them in comically large glasses.

Fortunately, the drink has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, as craft-focused bartenders reclaimed the original recipe, once again focusing on solid ingredients and proper proportions. Some also opted to sub shaker tins for the traditional blender, creating a lighter, less-icy cocktail.

This recipe follows that tack, silencing the blender blades and employing a nice, sturdy shake. This technique keeps the cocktail from becoming overly diluted, and serving it over pebble ice ensures a cold drink.

The new-wave Piña Colada will make you forget about the bad examples served on Bourbon Street and at all-inclusive resorts. This Colada is sweet, but balanced, with crisp rum and tart fruit complementing the rich coconut. Whether you’re on vacation or just making drinks at home, don’t neglect the Piña Colada. Put one of these in everyone’s hand, and good times are imminent.

Ultimate Frozen Pina Colada Recipe

To make our ultimate frozen pina colada recipe, you will need the same things that you would need to make a pina colada recipe from scratch: rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and ice. The method is just a bit different, but you can still modify the recipe according to your taste, so if you like it a little sweeter or a little bit stronger, you can easily make those adjustments on the fly and create a drink that anyone would love. The method for our frozen Pina Colada recipe follows:

  • 2 or 3 ounces of rum (you can use your favorite, but a white or silver rum is traditional)
  • 2 ounces Cream of Coconut (such as Coco Lopez)—not Coconut Milk!
  • 2 ounces Pineapple Juice (this can be from a bottle or can, or fresh!)
  • Ice

To begin with, measure and pour all of the ingredients into the blender. Fill the glass you plans to use to serve up with ice, but leave a little bit of room at the top. This is just so you know how much ice to use. This recipe is for a drink about 12 ounces. If you use a smaller glass, the drink will be thin (not creamy/frozen enough), so don’t use a smaller glass. If you use a larger glass, it will be thicker, so you can do it, but just add a bit more pineapple juice and rum to get it to mix properly, because it won’t blend if it doesn’t have enough liquid in the mix. Put the pitcher on the blender base and blend it thoroughly. You want it to blend until it is totally creamy. Depending on your blender, this may take 20 seconds, or it may take two minutes. Just let it run until it’s completely mixed and then pour it into your serving glass. The traditional glass is a hurricane glass for a frozen Pina Colada recipe, but you could certainly use another glass if you don’t have a hurricane. If you wish, garnish it with a piece of sliced pineapple. Add a straw and enjoy!

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