A quintessential summer and tropical get-away drink, you just can’t beat a Piña Colada! Easy, fruity, sweet and creamy, made with only 4 ingredients, this frozen concoction can also be made without alcohol so everyone can enjoy it!
If you’re looking for a refreshing, sweet, blender drink to feature at your next backyard party, this piña colada recipe is it! Not watery and not sticky-sweet. Just solid ingredients and proper proportions for the perfect balance of flavor and frosty texture. Pass these out and good times are guaranteed.
Piña Colada Drink Origin
The classic piña colada may forever be associated with the hit 1979’s song “Escape” by Rupert Holmes, but this popular cocktail dates way further back then that. The original drink, which means “strained pineapple” in Spanish, was invented in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton. A blended, frothy mixture of pineapple juice, rum, and coconut cream, it became an immediate favorite and has since cemented itself as the head of the tiki drink category.
Blended or shaken? We prefer a frozen piña colada, but they both essentially use the same ingredients, making them equally delicious. The blended, frozen version is a bit sweeter and not as strong as the shaken kind, which also includes Angostura bitters, giving it a spicy note. We sort of equate the frozen piña colada with daytime drinking by the pool and the shaken piña colada nice for enjoying at nighttime out on the porch.
Piña Colada Recipe
What is in a Pina Colada? Aside from its sweet, fruity taste, colorful look, and pretty garnish, one of the things that makes this drink so appealing is how few ingredients are needed to make it. The International Bartender Association’s official cocktails definition of a piña colada is white rum, coconut cream, and fresh pineapple juice. Our piña colada recipe is still classic and simple with easy to find ingredients, but we bump it up just a little.
Pina Colada Ingredients
Here’s what we put in ours:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Rum: The alcohol base of the drink is rum. A classic Colada is made with white (light) rum, which is more subtle than flavored aged rums. Some people prefer the aged rum and some people prefer using both! More information below.
- Frozen Pineapple: A traditional blended pina colada doesn’t use frozen pineapple, but we prefer it. Using frozen pineapple reduces the amount of ice needed, adds more flavor, and the chunks make the drink thicker and more ice-cream like! For optimal flavor, buy fresh pineapple, cut it up and freeze it instead of buying it already frozen.
- Pineapple juice: 100% pure pineapple juice for best flavor.
- Cream of Coconut: Do not substitute with canned coconut milk or coconut cream – they are not at all the same as cream of coconut. Cream of Coconut is sweet and creamy, usually sold in a squeeze bottle found in the liquor aisle in most common grocery stores (although doesn’t contain alcohol.) Coco Lopez is our preferred brand.
- Lime juice (optional): This is optional, but just a little bit cuts the sweetness and adds a more tangy flavor. Bartenders love adding it in.
- Ice: Cubed or crushed ice is fine, since you’ll be blending this drink. If you’ve got a lower-end blender, definitely use crushed.
- Garnish: Top your drink off with either a fresh pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry (or both), and a cute drink umbrella!
Piña Colada Glasses
What Rum Is Best for Piña Coladas?
As mentioned above, a traditional Colada is made with white (light) rum. While we don’t think it’s necessary to buy a high-end product, especially since it will be masked quite a bit by the sweet cream of coconut and pineapple, you definitely don’t want to use super cheap stuff, either. Cheap rum and several drinks – you’ll be feeling it in the morning! We recommend a mid-priced rum like Plantation or Flor de Caña, which are both pretty smooth.
Having said that, if you want a deeper flavored drink, you can always go the “aged” rum route. Aged rum (also known as amber rum, golden rum, and añejo rum) is more complex with notes of vanilla, coconut, almond, and caramel. Old Meyer is a classic choice or Brugal Añejo Rum is very nice.
3rd option? Use light and dark rum varieties for a balance of flavor.
Virgin Pina Colada Recipe
Don’t drink alcohol? Serving this to guests who don’t? Need a drink for kids or pregnant women? No problem! Make a Virgin Pina Colada (aka rum-free piña colada mocktail) by keeping all the ingredients listed except omit the rum. Ya, it makes it more like our Pineapple Smoothie, but who cares. They’ll still feel like they’re participating in the fun.
How to Make a Pina Colada
The Pina Colada might be the easiest blender drink around. Just combine all ingredients together in a blender, and puree until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, feel free to add in a bit of water or coconut milk to help it blend. Serve immediately, topped with your desired garnishes. To make our recipe, follow the steps below included in the printable recipe card. Make sure to refer back to the article for additional information.
More Tropical Drinks:
- 3 cups frozen pineapple chunks
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) white rum
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) cream of coconut (Coco Lopez brand)
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) fresh pineapple juice
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice (optional)
- 1 cup crushed ice
- fresh pineapple slices, maraschino cherries, and cute drink umbrellas , for garnish
- Combine all ingredients together in a blender, and puree until smooth.
- If the mixture is too thick, feel free to add in a little water or coconut milk to help it blend.
- Pour into Goblet, Tikka, Hurricane, Rocco, or Poco Grande glasses.
- Serve immediately, topped with your desired garnishes and enjoy!
- NOTE: Do not substitute with canned coconut milk or coconut cream. For a deeper flavor use dark rum or a combination of light and dark. And for optimal flavor, buy fresh pineapple, cut it, and freeze it instead of buying it already frozen. See additional notes and variations in the full article.