drinks + alcoholic beverages/ Party

Pina Colada Recipe

6 July 2019

The best classic Piña Colada (pineapple coconut drink) recipe. The original recipe consists only of 4 ingredients but there are still many Piña Colada recipes on the internet, including different ingredients from pineapple juice to fresh pineapple, different kinds of rum, cream of coconut or coconut cream and different proportions thereof. I’ve tried many recipes before finding my favorite one. My Piña Colada is not overly sweet, refreshing and tastes distinctly like coconut and pineapple. We love it and I could drink it all summer long!
For virgin Piña Colada – check out my Pina Colada lassi recipe.
Below you’ll find lots of information – basically everything you need to know on how to make the best Piña Colada.

pina colada in two glasses

PINA COLADA ORIGIN:

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:

I will talk now 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 not too sweet, refreshing 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.

pina colada ingredients in glasses

1. PINEAPPLE:

I used store-bought pineapple juice. Some recipes call also for fresh pineapple or frozen fresh pineapple. Piña Colada made with fresh pineapple is naturally thicker and tastes intensely of pineapple. This is actually my second favorite version of the drink.
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.

2. COCONUT:

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. Make sure that you buy coconut milk, that lists only 2 ingredients: coconut and water (or coconut cream and water) with no stabilizers added. After opening a coconut milk can (without shaking it) there should be 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 sweetened coconut cream that contains emulsifiers and other ingredients (its ingredients list doesn’t look very appealing). Its pros are: it’s thick and tastes intensely coconutty but there are also cons: is way too sweet. One of the popular brands is Coco Lopez. To reduce the sweetness but retain wonderful coconut flavor I used coconut rum.
  • Some recipes also call for regular cream (heavy cream) 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 above or in the note section of the recipe card).

3. RUM:

The original recipe calls for white rum. I used coconut rum (Malibu) to incorporate intense coconut flavor. Some recipes call also 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.

4. ICE:

I don’t like lots of ice in my drink, I find it dilutes its flavor. I’m using 15 ice cubes per 1 big drink. Depending on the preparation method you’ll need whole ice cubes or crushed ice. You can make crushed ice yourself. 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.

close up shot on a glass with pina colada

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 big drink – an amount that will fit in a big Hurricane glass.

PREPARATION METHODS:

There are two methods of preparation of the Pina Colada:

  1. SHAKEN Pina Colada – shaken with ice in a shaker (or really just in a jar). The drink can also be simply poured over ice. You need to shake the drink thoroughly, for a minimum of 30 seconds.
  2. BLENDER Pina Colada (Frozen Pina Colada) – all ingredients are blended in a blender, resulting in a slushie/smoothie consistency. To make the blended drink you’ll need a blender or a good immersion (hand) blender. My hand blender makes just perfect pina colada. Blended Pina Colada is the original version of the drink.

How to make blender Pina Colada (Frozen Pina Colada):

  1. Measure all the ingredients.
  2. 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.
  3. Serve chilled and enjoy!

How to make shaken Pina Colada:

  1. 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.
  2. Measure all the ingredients.
  3. Add all the ingredients into a shaker or a big jar.
  4. Close the lid and shake it thoroughly, for a minimum of 30 seconds.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

OTHER PINA COLADA VARIATIONS:

  • Virgin Piña Colada – you can omit the rum completely 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 (poured 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

ASIDE FROM A COCKTAIL, YOU COULD ALSO MAKE:

HOW TO SERVE PINA COLADA:

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).

pina colada
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5 from 2 votes

PINA COLADA RECIPE

My Piña Colada is not overly sweet, refreshing and tastes distinctly like coconut and pineapple. We love it and I could drink it all summer long!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 big serving
Calories 340kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice or less, to taste
  • 15 ice cubes

Instructions

Pina Colada can be prepared 2 ways:

  • 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).
  • BLENDER Pina Colada (Frozen Pina Colad- add all ingredients into a blender container and blitz until smooth. Blender Pina Colada will have a slushie/smoothie (thickeconsistency. You can also use a good immersion blender to mix the ingredients.
  • Serve chilled and enjoy!

Notes

1. 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.
2. From the recipe below you’ll have 1 big drink – an amount that will fit in a big Hurricane glass (pictured).
3. Pina Colada made with fresh pineapple: freeze 1-inch / 2.5 cm pineapple chunks. Blend 7 pineapple chunks (3 oz / 90g) with all the other ingredients for 1 serving.
4. Virgin Pina Colada: omit the rum completely or check out my Pina Colada Lassi recipe.
5. How to serve Pina Colada: in a tulip / Hurricane / highball glass. You can serve it with pineapple wedges and a maraschino cherry.
6. 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.
7. Lime juice is optional but very recommended.
8. Use canned full-fat coconut milk, shake it before opening (do not use: coconut drink, coconut water, coconut cream or canned cream of coconut).

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, international, Puerto Rican
Keyword pina colada recipe, pineapple coconut drink

Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it and give it a star rating in the comments below! You can also add a photo of your creation!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Kathy
    7 July 2019 at 00:01

    5 stars
    I love piña colada! It is one of my favorite drinks, especially when it is not overly sweet! Looks amazing

    • Reply
      Aleksandra
      7 July 2019 at 06:23

      thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    Megan
    9 September 2019 at 09:14

    5 stars
    Loved the drink!

    • Reply
      Aleksandra
      9 September 2019 at 12:53

      thanks for letting me know, Megan!

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