Piña Colada Cupcakes Recipe

Can't afford a trip to Hawaii? Join the club. The island of Maui, after all, ranks as one of the world's most expensive vacation destinations and accommodations on any other island (plus the airfare to get there) won't come cheap, either. Still, you can always add a little aloha spirit to your staycation with this recipe that developer Jessica Case calls "a vacation in Hawaii, in a cupcake form." She goes on to describe the dish as "The perfect end-of-summer treat that's overflowing with tropical flavors," these being pineapple and coconut like the eponymous piña colada cocktail.

Case points out that a few of the ingredients she uses in this recipe are optional. While she herself feels that using rum "makes the cupcake feel complete," she understands that not everyone keeps alcohol in the house and says you can omit the booze or substitute rum extract instead to make them into virgin colada cupcakes. She also likes to garnish her cupcakes with toasted coconut (instructions for toasting are included), as well as maraschino cherries and pineapple wedges, but tells us, "You don't really have to add anything to these to decorate them." As she explains, "You can just top them with frosting and eat them; they will still taste amazing."

Prepare the ingredients for piña colada cupcakes

To make the cake batter, you're going to need quite a few ingredients. These include cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, cream of coconut, vanilla, coconut extract, rum extract or rum, butter, crushed pineapple, and sweetened flaked coconut. Some of these ingredients repeat in the frosting, but the additional items you'll need for this include cream cheese, powdered sugar, and heavy cream.

If you do choose to use rum, which is incorporated into both batter and frosting, don't feel as if you need to purchase an expensive bottle of the stuff. A miniature one would work just fine, and, as Case assures us, "Any kind of rum would work for this recipe."

Make the cake batter

Turn the oven to 350 F so it can preheat as you make the batter. Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat in each chunk of butter one at a time (Case likes to use a stand mixer for this part). Once you're finished, you should have something resembling a coarse meal.

Beat the egg whites with the whole egg, then beat in the cream of coconut, water, vanilla, coconut extract, and rum. You can use a hand tool such as a fork or whisk for this part. Pour 1 cup of the liquids into the butter mixture, beating all the while on medium-high speed. Once the mixture is light and fluffy, pour in the rest of the liquids, beating as you do so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then keep beating until the mixture is homogeneous. Finish off the batter by folding in the coconut and pineapple.

Bake the cupcakes

Put a paper liner in each well of a standard-sized muffin pan, then fill each one ⅔ of the way up with batter. Bake the cupcakes for about 10 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake them for 10 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Take the cupcakes out of the oven, but leave it on if you want to toast the optional coconut to use as a garnish. If so, spread it out over a baking sheet and cook it for 15 minutes, stirring it every once in a while until it looks golden brown. If you prefer using untoasted coconut or would simply like to skip this step, feel free to do so.

Frost the cooled cupcakes

To make the frosting, beat the butter with the cream cheese, rum, and salt on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is nice and creamy. Case uses her stand mixer here too, although she washes the bowl and beaters first to avoid contamination from the raw eggs. Now, add the rest of the ingredients and stir them in at a low speed until the powdered sugar is entirely mixed in. At this point, switch to high speed and beat the frosting until it becomes fluffy and light.

Once the cupcakes have cooled for 10 minutes, you may take them out of the pan, but leave them in their paper liners. When the coconut finishes cooking, let it cool down, as well. Frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool. If you're using the toasted coconut as a garnish, make sure it's also cool before sprinkling it over the top. Plop a cherry and/or pineapple wedge on each cupcake if you like, then you're good to go.

Case says that leftover cupcakes should be refrigerated and the USDA concurs, suggesting that you might have a full week or even up to 10 days to eat the entire dozen if you do so. If this is impossible, you can always freeze them for as long as you need, although there may be a drop-off in quality after 6 months or so.

Piña Colada Cupcakes Recipe
4.9 from 37 ratings
These cupcakes offer a delicious treat that's overflowing with the tropical flavors of being pineapple and coconut, just like a piña colada cocktail.
Prep Time
Cook Time
white-frosted cupcake with cherry
Total time: 50 minutes
  • For the cupcakes
  • 1 ½ cup cake flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter softened, cut into 12 pieces
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup cream of coconut
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • ¾ teaspoon rum extract or 1 tablespoon rum
  • ¼ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • For the frosting
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum or ½ teaspoon rum extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
Optional Ingredients
  • ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • fresh pineapple cut into small triangles
  • maraschino cherries, drained
  1. ‌Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift the cake flour with the sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Beat 1 chunk of butter at a time into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Beat the egg whites and whole egg, then beat in the cream of coconut, water, vanilla, coconut extract, and rum.
  5. Pour 1 cup of the egg mixture into the flour and butter, beating on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the rest of the egg mixture, scraping down the bowl and beating until the mixture is well combined.
  7. Fold in the flaked coconut and pineapple.
  8. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and fill each one ⅔ of the way up with cake batter.
  9. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  10. Check the cupcakes for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center, removing them from the oven when done. (Don't turn off the oven just yet if you'll be making toasted coconut for a garnish.)
  11. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes, then take them out of the pan.
  12. Optional: Spread the coconut for the garnish out in a pan and toast it in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it appears golden brown.
  13. Beat the butter, cream cheese, rum, and salt on medium speed for about 2 minutes until creamy.
  14. Beat in the rest of the frosting ingredients on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated, then on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  15. Frost the cooled cupcakes, garnishing them with optional toasted coconut, pineapple, and cherries, if desired.
Calories per Serving 542
Total Fat 25.4 g
Saturated Fat 16.2 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 76.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 75.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Total Sugars 60.2 g
Sodium 186.3 mg
Protein 4.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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