Piña Colada Cupcakes

published May 11, 2023
Piña Colada Cupcakes Recipe

If a cupcake slurped up a pina colada, it would become this tender and tropical dessert.


Prep30 minutes

Cook20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Pina colada cupcake with pineapple wedge garnish on yellow background.
Credit: Sara Haas

Only good things happen when you combine coconut and pineapple. Add a splash of rum and you have the makings of a piña colada, which is key for hot summer days at the beach. Luckily, you don’t need a beach to enjoy those same tropical flavors — you can make these piña colada cupcakes right at home!

What Are Piña Colada Cupcakes?

A piña colada, typically made with pineapple, coconut cream, and rum, is a blended, icy cocktail that’s garnished with pineapple slices. These piña colada cupcakes capture the essence of that drink — in dessert form. 

Credit: Sara Haas

How to Make Piña Colada Cupcakes

The cupcake consists of a simple yellow cake base with the addition of canned crushed pineapple and coconut cream. I add in a little bit of brown sugar, which helps bring out the rich, tropical flavors. You may notice that these cupcakes come out flat after baking — that’s by design! Those flat tops create the perfect surface for an even layer of frosting and all of those beautiful garnishes. 

A swipe of a pineapple and rum-infused simple syrup over the top of each cupcake (which I’ve made optional in the recipe) adds a touch of sweetness and keeps the cupcakes moist. The small amount of rum is just enough to elicit those piña colada flavors, but without all of the alcohol. If you have leftovers, use it as a flavoring ingredient for drinks or as a topping for ice cream.  

You’ll need coconut cream for both the cake and the frosting. It can be found next to the canned coconut milk at your grocery store. Coconut cream has a higher fat content than coconut milk, meaning it has less water, too — making it the perfect creamy addition in both applications.  

Topping it all off is flaked coconut. If you can’t find it at your store, unsweetened shredded coconut is a fine replacement; the only difference between the two is how they’re cut. 

And don’t forget the fresh pineapple slices! While not required, they help evoke that tropical feeling. 

Tips for Making Piña Colada Cupcakes

  • Keep ingredients at room temperature. This batter performs best if the eggs, coconut cream, and butter are all at room temperature, which creates the creamiest emulsion.
  • Give the coconut cream a stir. Coconut cream can separate while it’s sitting on the store shelf. Once you open it, you’ll notice the solid, white coconut oil on the top. Break through it with a spoon, and then break it apart a bit before whisking. Be patient, as this may take a minute or two to complete.

Piña Colada Cupcakes Recipe

If a cupcake slurped up a pina colada, it would become this tender and tropical dessert.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Makes 12

Nutritional Info


For the cupcakes:

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 12

    paper cupcake liners

  • 1 (20-ounce) can

    crushed pineapple in juice

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    bread flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 3/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    canned coconut cream, well-stirred and at room temperature

  • 1/3 cup

    vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

For the pineapple rum simple syrup (optional):

  • 1/4 cup

    reserved pineapple juice (from the can of crushed pineapple)

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    white rum

For the frosting and garnish:

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks)

    unsalted butter

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 5 cups

    powdered sugar (about 1 1/4 pounds)

  • 1/4 cup

    canned coconut cream, well-stirred and at room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    coconut extract (optional)

  • 1 cup

    unsweetened flaked coconut

  • Fresh or unsweetened dried pineapple slices, (optional)


  1. Let 2 large eggs and 2 sticks unsalted butter sit at room temperature until the butter is softened.

Make the cupcakes:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Line a standard 12-well muffin pan with paper liners.

  2. Drain 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple through a fine-mesh strainer fitted over a large measuring cup or bowl.

  3. Place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup bread flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Place the eggs, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.

  5. Add 1 cup of the drained pineapple (save the remaining for another use), 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup coconut cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula.

  6. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin wells (they will be about 2/3 full).

  7. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the simple syrup and frosting.

Make the simple syrup (optional):

  1. Transfer 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice to a small saucepan (reserve the remaining for another use). Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons rum and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Make the frosting:

  1. Wash and dry the mixer bowl (or electric hand mixer and large bowl). Place the butter and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  2. Gradually beat in 5 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl and beating well between each addition. Add 1/4 cup coconut cream and 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract if desired. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

  3. Brush some simple syrup onto the top of each cooled cupcake, about 1 teaspoon per cupcake (refrigerate any remaining syrup for another use). Spread the frosting over the cupcakes, or transfer to a piping bag fitted with a tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Garnish with 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and pineapple slices if desired.

Recipe Notes

Substitution: Unsweetened, shredded coconut can be substituted for the flaked coconut.

Make ahead: The cupcakes, syrup, and frosting can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover the cupcakes or place in an airtight container and store at room temperature; they can also be frozen for up to 3 months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for about 1 hour). Refrigerate the syrup and frosting in separate airtight containers for up to 5 days. Let the frosting come to room temperature and stir before using.

Storage: The assembled cupcakes can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.