The best classic Piña Colada recipe (pineapple coconut drink). The original recipe consists of only 4 ingredients but there are still many Piña Colada recipes on the internet. They call for different ingredients from pineapple juice to fresh pineapple, different kinds of rum, cream of coconut or coconut milk, and different ingredient ratios. I’ve tried many recipes before finding my favorite one. My Piña Colada is refreshing, not overly sweet, and tastes distinctly like coconut and pineapple. We love it and we could drink it all summer long!
Below you’ll find lots of information – basically everything you need to know on how to make the best Pina Colada and recipes for Malibu pina colada and fresh pineapple pina colada.
Origin of the drink
Piña Colada is a Puerto Rican pineapple coconut drink – in 1978 it was named Puerto Rico’s national drink. Its name means “strained pineapple” in Spanish, referring to the freshly pressed and strained pineapple used in the drink’s preparation.
Pina Colada Ingredients
Now I will talk a little bit about the ingredients. Original Piña Colada recipe consists of only 4 ingredients: pineapple juice, white rum, cream of coconut, and ice.
My perfect Piña Colada recipe is refreshing, not too sweet, and tastes distinctly like coconut and pineapple. I’ve tested many drink variations and below I will explain which ingredients I’ve chosen and why.
You can use either pineapple juice or fresh pineapple – I’m providing two variations of the recipe below.
Making the drink with store-bought pineapple juice is easier than with fresh pineapple. It requires less work (peeling and chopping the pineapple), you can also enjoy the drink right away (the fresh pineapple needs to be frozen first).
The drink made with fresh pineapple is naturally thicker and tastes intensely of pineapple. To make the drink with fresh pineapple you need to freeze pineapple chunks. Add 3.2oz/90g (seven 1-inch/2.5 cm cubes) frozen pineapple chunks to the drink and blend with the other ingredients. Use only fresh pineapple, not canned pineapple, which is too sweet.
This is the ingredient that causes the most confusion. Most recipes call for cream of coconut, but I used coconut milk.
What is the difference between coconut milk, coconut cream, and cream of coconut?
- Coconut milk: I used regular canned full-fat coconut milk. Do not use light coconut milk (low-fat). Natural coconut milk that doesn’t contain any stabilizers consists of two parts: thick part on top (coconut cream) and thin part at the bottom (coconut water). For this recipe, you need to stir these two parts together (or shake with the can prior to opening it). Adding coconut milk leads to a thinner drink and incorporates the coconut flavor without being overly sweet.
- Coconut cream: Like mentioned above, this is the thick part of coconut milk. Pina Colada prepared with coconut cream is in my opinion too fatty. I do not recommend using it.
- Cream of coconut – This is a sweetened coconut cream that contains emulsifiers, stabilisers and growth inhibiting agents (its ingredient list doesn’t look very appealing). Its pros are: it’s thick and tastes intensely coconutty but there are also cons: it’s very sweet (plus the long ingredient list). One of the popular brands is Coco Lopez. To reduce the sweetness but retain wonderful coconut flavor I used coconut rum. If cream of coconut is what you have on hand, you can of course use it in place of coconut milk. You can make a homemade cream of coconut without the weird ingredients where you can control the amount of sugar – here’s the recipe: homemade cream of coconut (Coco Lopez alternative).
- Some recipes also call for regular cream (heavy cream made from cow’s milk) which is, in my opinion, a huge misunderstanding. It does make the drink more creamy and thick, but doesn’t have any flavor and is just fatty. If you want your drink thicker without adding Coco Lopez I would recommend adding fresh frozen pineapple (instructions are in the note section of the recipe card).
The original recipe calls for white rum. I used coconut rum (Malibu) to incorporate intense coconut flavor. Some recipes also call for golden rum. I find white rum more suitable as it tastes more neutral. Golden rum or any aged rum could be too bold-tasting for this drink.
If you want to use white rum instead of coconut rum it’s better to use cream of coconut (coconut flavor + more sugar) or just add simple syrup to the drink to sweeten it (combine equal amount of sugar and water, cook until sugar is dissolved then leave to cool).
I don’t like lots of ice in my drink, I find it dilutes its flavor. I’m using 15 small ice cubes per 1 large drink. Depending on the preparation method you’ll need whole ice cubes or crushed ice. You can make crushed ice yourself.
How to make crushed ice: Place some ice cubes in a thick ziplock bag, close it and pound the bag with a rolling pin or just the bottom of a rum bottle.
5. Lime juice
Adding lime juice is optional and not very traditional but this is really my secret ingredient. It brightens the whole drink up, makes it refreshing, balances the flavors and sweetness of the drink, and makes it really amazing. I highly recommend adding it, even just a very small amount.
Proportions of the ingredients
The IBA (International Bartenders Association) calls for 3 parts white rum, 9 parts pineapple juice, and 3 parts of cream of coconut. This was my base recipe, with which I started my recipe tasting. It was good but not great in my opinion – it was too fatty, too sweet, and not enough boozy.
My proportions are easy to remember: it’s 3-2-1 (3 parts pineapple juice – 2 parts coconut rum – 1 part coconut milk). From the recipe below you’ll have 1 large drink – an amount that will fit in a big Hurricane glass.
There are two methods of preparation of this drink:
- SHAKEN Pina Colada – shaken with ice in a shaker (or really just in a jar if you don’t have a shaker). The drink can be also simply poured over ice. You need to shake the drink thoroughly, for a minimum of 30 seconds. Note that this version of the drink will be rather thin!
- BLENDER Pina Colada (Frozen Pina Colada) – all ingredients are blended with ice in a blender, resulting in a slushie/smoothie (thicker) consistency. To make the blended drink you’ll need a blender or a good immersion (hand) blender, that is able to crush ice. This is the original version of the drink.
How to make blender Pina Colada (Frozen Pina Colada)
- Measure out all the ingredients.
- Add all the ingredients into a blender container and blitz until smooth. You can use either a stand blender or a good immersion (hand) blender.
- Serve chilled and enjoy!
How to make shaken Pina Colada
- Make crushed ice (this step is optional): Place some ice cubes in a thick ziplock bag, close it and pound the bag with a rolling pin or just the bottom of a rum bottle.
- Measure out all the ingredients.
- Add all the ingredients into a shaker or a big jar.
- Close the lid and shake it thoroughly, for a minimum of 30 seconds.
- Serve and enjoy!
Pina Colada variations
- Virgin Piña Colada – you can omit the rum completely and add more coconut milk and pineapple juice, or check out my pina colada lassi recipe!
- Chi Chi – replace the rum with vodka.
- Staten Island Ferry cocktail – add equal amounts of coconut rum and pineapple juice. Serve on the rocks (pour it over ice).
- Lava Flow – this drink is made with the addition of strawberry puree.
- Pina Colada Mule Cocktail – combines two favorite drinks (Piña Colada and Moscow Mule) into one delicious tropical cocktail.
- Mango Piña Colada
How to serve this drink
Piña Colada is traditionally served in a tulip/Hurricane/highball glass. You can serve it with pineapple wedges and a maraschino cherry. You could also decorate the glass rim with shredded coconut (like you would do with a margarita).
What to eat with Pina Colada
If you want to use up leftover Malibu rum, you can make this simple, 3-ingredients drink: Malibu Bay Breeze.
Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!
PINA COLADA RECIPE
for the Malibu Pina Colada:
- 4.5 oz pineapple juice (135 ml) 3 PARTS
- 3 oz coconut rum (90 ml) like Malibu, 2 PARTS
- 1.5 oz coconut milk* (45 ml) from a can, shake with the can before opening, 1 PART
- 1 teaspoon lime juice optional, can be omitted
- 15 small ice cubes
for the fresh pineapple Pina Colada:
- 3 oz (90g) frozen fresh pineapple chunks seven 1-inch / 2.5 cm chunks
- 3 oz coconut rum (90 ml) like Malibu
- 1.5 oz coconut milk* (45 ml) from a can, shake with the can before opening
- 1 teaspoon lime juice optional, can be omitted
- 10 small ice cubes or less
Malibu Pina Colada can be prepared 2 ways:
- BLENDER Pina Colada (Frozen Pina Colada – this version is served more often in restaurants) – add all ingredients into a blender container and blitz until almost smooth. Blender Pina Colada will have a slushie/smoothie consistency. You can also use a good immersion (hand) blender to mix the ingredients.
- SHAKEN Pina Colada – add all the ingredients into a shaker or a big jar. Shake it thoroughly, for a minimum of 30 seconds. It's best to use crushed ice here. You can also serve it on the rocks (simply pour the drink over ice). This drink will be a little thinner.
Fresh pineapple Pina Colada:
- Add all the ingredients into a blender container and blitz until the drink has a slushie consistency (or until smooth). You can also use a good immersion (hand) blender to mix the ingredients.
- Serve chilled and enjoy!
- You can use cream of coconut (from a can) instead of coconut milk. Cream of coconut is sweetened coconut milk that has stabilizers added in order to prevent it from separating.
- PROPORTIONS FOR THE DRINK ARE: 3-2-1 (3 parts pineapple juice – 2 parts coconut rum – 1 part coconut milk) + a little lime juice to taste.
- From the recipe below you’ll have 1 large drink – an amount that will fill a large Hurricane glass (pictured).
- To make Pina Colada with fresh pineapple: peel and core the pineapple, freeze 1-inch (2.5 cm) pineapple flesh chunks. You will need 7 for one large drink (pictured).
- Virgin Pina Colada: omit the rum completely or check out my Pina Colada Lassi recipe.
- How to serve Pina Colada: in a tulip / Hurricane / highball glass. You can decorate the glas with pineapple wedges / leaves and a maraschino cherry.
- How to make crushed ice: Place some ice cubes in a thick ziplock bag, close it and pound the bag with a rolling pin or just the bottom of a rum bottle. If you don’t have a thick ziplock bag, you can use a clean kitchen towel.
- Lime juice is optional but very recommended.
- Use canned full-fat coconut milk and shake it before opening (do not use: coconut drink, coconut water, coconut cream). If your coconut milk is separated and won’t come together despite shaking with the can, try to warm the milk up, just slightly. Whisk until the coconut milk is smooth and take the pot immediately off the heat.
- I love that this Pina Colada is light and not overly sweet but if this is not sweet enough for you, you can add a little powdered sugar to the drink (since it’s not a clear drink anyway). You can also make a simple syrup (cook equal amounts of water and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved), but then you need to wait for the syrup to cool down.