Coquito is a creamy coconut, and rum cocktail from Puerto Rico served during the holidays. I’d venture to say it’s the most popular Puerto Rican drink ever. In this post, you’ll find every version of coconut-flavored coquito that exists. Whether you’re looking for boozy, vegan, virgin, or quick, this post has what you need.
I updated this post in October 2021 to include a quick video and a link to my YouTube video!
What is Coquito?
Coquito means “little coconut” in English. So, basically, it’s a drink with a lil’ bit of coconut and a whole lotta rum, LOL!!! Coquito is served from Thanksgiving through Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes) in Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. Traditionally, coquito is served during the holidays. However, you can make it whenever you want.
Does Coquito have eggs in it?
Authentic coquito is NOT made with eggs. Adding eggs to this drink turns it into ponche. We like it with or without eggs in my family, though, so I’m giving you that recipe, too.
The original recipe for coquito contains fresh coconut milk and pitorro (cane sugar moonshine or rum). It was sweetened with something to make that pitorro burn a little less going down. The cocktail had no dairy back in the day, so it was vegan. My favorite recipe is made with fresh coconut milk. Since it’s a process, I also include a couple of canned coconut milk versions.
There are dozens of recipes for flavored coquito, which I haven’t allowed myself to embrace. The coconut version is the only one I care to make or drink. Even plain, I have 6 different ways to make this coconut cocktail:
- Old School: fresh coconut milk with pitorro (or 151) and sweetener.
- Quick (Basic): canned coconut, evaporated, and condensed milks, cream of coconut, 3 rums, vanilla, and ground cinnamon.
- Quick Vegan (Basic): canned evaporated coconut and condensed coconut milks, cream of coconut, 3 rums, vanilla, and ground cinnamon.
- Vegan: fresh coconut milk, cream of coconut, sweetened condensed coconut milk, rums, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a spiced tea.
- Vegan-Virgin: fresh coconut milk, cream of coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a spice tea.
- Virgin: coconut milk, cream of coconut, evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Clearly, there’s a recipe for everyone. And, except for the vegan recipes, all of these can be made with (or without) eggs to make a creamier, richer drink.
Do I have to use fresh coconut milk?
Coquito tastes better when it’s made with freshly-squeezed coconut milk. Using fresh coconut milk makes for a smoother cocktail. But even I have to admit that it’s a chore.
I flavor my coquito with a spice tea because it adds flavor without making it murky.
Add star anise, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole cloves, and vanilla bean to a pot with 1 cup of water (or strained coconut water). Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Allow the water to boil for 2 minutes, then turn the heat off. Leave the spices to steep in the water for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, strain the tea into a blender. Press the paste from the vanilla bean into the tea in the blender. Alternatively, you can just omit the vanilla bean and add vanilla extract to the blender with the rums.
This tea is optional. Again, I use the tea because coquito made with ground spices gets a lot of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. I add ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg to the blender and the tea. Yes, there’s already cinnamon flavor from the sticks, but besides coconut, the most predominant flavor in coquito is cinnamon… and rum.
My go-to recipe base is simple:
- Add 6 cups of freshly-squeezed coconut milk to the rest of the ingredients already in the blender.
- Add the condensed milk and cream of coconut.
The rums are added, and everything is blended together.
The original recipe for coquito is coconut milk and pitorro, and it didn’t use any canned ingredients. The modern-day equivalent of pitorro is 151.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of 151 to a blender with the spice tea, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg. Next, add 6 cups of freshly-pressed coconut milk and 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey.
- Blend the mixture until smooth, then pour it to clean wine bottles. Add a stick or two of cinnamon and allow the mixture to cure in the fridge for at least 7 days.
This old-school version needs a longer cure time because the 151 is harsh. I don’t know many people who can handle (or actually enjoy) the old-school version. Many just aren’t built that way anymore. If you like it, I love it, though.
This is my most popular coquito recipe because it’s simple. You don’t need to squeeze coconut milk, and most of the ingredients are in your pantry. You will need a large-capacity blender for this recipe. My blender has a 72-ounce carafe, perfect for the egg-free recipe. If you’re making it with the eggs, you will need to make this in batches.
Not pictured is a can of evaporated milk, which we’ll also use. You can replace that evaporated milk with another can of coconut milk if you prefer a more pronounced coconut flavor.
What makes Coquito chunky?
The chunks (or lumps) in coquito are from coconut fat in the cream of coconut. You see that layer of fat when you open up some cans of cream of coconut. Though not very sightly, those chunks are not harmful.
Add the cream of coconut to the blender with the spice tea and the ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add full-fat coconut milk to the blender next. Light coconut milk doesn’t give the cocktail as much flavor or creaminess. Double the coconut milk to 2 cans if you want more coconut flavor, but omit the evaporated milk that’s used later in the recipe.
Follow the coconut milk with the sweetened condensed milk, which makes it creamy and sweetens the drink.
Finally, add the evaporated milk. This creamy milk makes the drink really decadent and gives it a great mouthfeel. Replace evaporated milk with canned coconut milk for more coconut flavor in your coquito.
Put the lid on the blender and blend for 30 seconds at low speed to combine everything.
What kind of rum do I use to make Coquito?
Most of the basic coquito recipes only use white rum. Since I’m not basic, I make my coquito with three types of rum: white, spiced, and gold. You can use my three or just go with your favorite rum.
Coquito should be made with Puerto Rican rum or at the very least a Caribbean rum.
Some Puerto Rican rums to use in your coquito are Palo Viejo, Don Q, or the popular Bacardí, which is really a Cuban-born brand but is popular in PR.
Aged (or regular) White Rum
Most recipes start with white rum. I prefer an aged white rum like Barcardí Maestro, but plain white rum works too. Aged rum has honey notes, which blend well with the coconut and cinnamon.
Add 1 cup of white rum to the blender.
Añejo or Gold Rum
Gold rum ages in toasted oak barrels which mellows it out and darkens the color. Añejo rum ages in the same container, but for a longer period. Whichever rum you prefer, add 3/4 cup of it to the blender.
Spiced rum adds a caramel-y note of flavor to the cocktail. You can add 3/4 cup of Spiced Rum to the blender or replace it with more gold or añejo rum.
Cover the blender again and blend the rums into the coconut milk base for 1 minute on low speed.
This is the basic canned milks recipe. All of the other recipes follow the same blending steps. Here are the ingredients for my other recipes.
Quick Vegan (Dairy-Free) Coquito:
To make vegan coquito with fresh coconut milk, add 6 cups of my freshly pressed coconut milk to the blender instead of canned coconut milk. Add the cream of coconut and sweetened condensed coconut milk to the blender to sweeten the drink.
The littles need something to toast with, too!
To make virgin coquito, blend together the coconut and condensed milks, the cream of coconut, spices, and spice tea on low speed for 1 minute.
Vegan & Virgin Coquito
To make alcohol-free, vegan coquito, blend coconut milk, cream of coconut, sweetened coconut condensed milk, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and spice tea in a blender for 1 minute on low speed.
How do I safely add eggs to my Coquito?
When you add eggs to any Puerto Rican drink, it becomes ponche. But I’m not going to call the police on you if you want to add them to yours to make it richer and more like eggnog. Someone else might, but I’ve got your back.
Add four large egg yolks to the blender if you want to make an eggnog-like coquito. Use the freshest eggs you can to avoid any illnesses. As with any recipe that includes raw eggs, the chance of contracting a foodborne illness is higher, especially if you don’t allow the mixture to cure long enough.
What kind of bottles do I need?
Bottle coquito in 3 750-milliliter wine bottles. You can find them at home brewing supply stores or online. The third bottle won’t be completely filled. Sanitize the bottles by pouring boiling hot water into them and leaving them filled for 10 minutes. Pour out the hot water, then add two, or three, cinnamon sticks to the bottles.
Again, cinnamon is a prominent flavor in coquito, so in addition to the ground cinnamon and the cinnamon sticks in the tea, I cure the coquito with two or three cinnamon sticks in it. You can omit them if you don’t keep cinnamon sticks on hand.
Grab a funnel and put a fine-mesh sieve over it. If you have cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel, line the sieve with that. Straining the coquito before curing it reduces clumping in it later on.
Place the funnel over a large pitcher. Pour the blended mixture into the cheesecloth to strain it. Discard the cloth.
This recipe makes about a 1/2-gallon of coquito.
Pour the strained liquid into the bottles. Leave a headspace of at least one inch at the top of each bottle of coquito so you can shake the spices back into it later.
Refrigerate and cure the coquito for at least forty-eight hours to allow the flavors to blend and the alcohol flavor to mellow out.
How do I serve Coquito?
Before serving the coquito, pull it out of the fridge and allow it to warm up on the counter for 10-15 minutes.
Give it a vigorous shake to mix the spices that will have settled. Some people serve coquito over ice. I don’t because it waters down the drink, and I’m trying to get as much of that flavor as possible.
Serve the coquito in old-fashioned glasses with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or grated from cinnamon sticks.
Why does my Coquito have lumps in it?
You can strain the coquito just before serving if it’s still lumpy after curing. You can also enjoy them. Think of them as lumps of coconut love.
How long does Coquito last?
When made with alcohol, you can store coquito in the fridge for up to 1 year, even with the addition of eggs.
The longer coquito cures, the smoother and more profound its flavor is.
Coquito made without alcohol should be consumed within a week, or 7 days, of mixing it.
Can I freeze Coquito?
Coquito that contains alcohol can be frozen for more than one year. Make sure you’re using a bottle that is freezer-safe. The alcohol in the drink will keep it from freezing solid. The consistency will be more like a milkshake than milk after freezing.
The virgin coquito will freeze solid, so you’ll need to store them in a freezer-safe container if you plan to do so. Freeze it for up to a year. Thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready to enjoy it. Don’t forget to shake it well to mix it evenly.
If you’re set on freezing it, you might as well try this Coquito Frozen Custard recipe.
What else can I do with this recipe?
I’m the queen of coquito recipes. Here are some ways you can use it that aren’t drinks:
- This Coquito Tres Leches is what dreams are made of.
- My Coquito Cheesecake has a cult following.
- Coconut-Rum Cream Pie has the flavors you know and love from the cocktail.
Here is a post with all my Coquito Recipes. Remember to share this recipe and shame the Puerto Rican friends who have withheld this from you. Pin this recipe to find it easily for your Christmas batch, too!
Coquito (Puerto Rican Coconut-Rum Cocktail)at Sense & Edibility
- Large capacity blender
- 3 750-milliliter bottles (the third bottle won't be filled completely)
For the Spiced Tea (optional)- Can Be Made 1 Week Ahead
- 1 cup coconut water or filtered water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 vanilla bean split
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
For the Coquito
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch kosher salt optional
- 15 ounce can (425 grams) cream of coconut
- 14 ounce can (396 grams) sweetened condensed milk
- 13.5 ounce can (400 milliliters) coconut milk
- 12 ounce can (354 milliliters) evaporated milk or 1 13.5-ounce (400ml) can of coconut milk (for more coconut flavor)
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) pure vanilla extract optional
- 1 cup (175 milliliters) white rum
- 3/4 cup (175 milliliters) gold rum
- 3/4 cup (175 milliliters) spiced Rum
- 6 sticks cinnamon (optional, used for bottling)
Optional Eggnog Version
- 4 large egg yolks (very fresh)
Make the Spiced Tea
- In a small saucepan combine the coconut water, cinnamon sticks, star anise, vanilla bean, cloves, and allspice berries.Bring the water up to a boil over medium-heat heat. Boil the tea for 1-2 minutes. Turn the stove off an allow the tea to steep for 15 minutes.
- Strain the spices from the tea and press the paste from the vanilla into the strained tea. Set aside to flavor the coquito.
Blend the Coquito
- Add the tea, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to a large capacity blender.Add the cream of coconut, condensed milk, coconut milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and all three rums to the spices and tea in the blender. If you're adding egg, do so now, then blend this mixture for one minute on low speed.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender, then blend for an additional 30 seconds- 1 minute on medium speed.
Strain and Cure the Coquito
- Add 2-3 cinnamon sticks to each of the glass bottles. Strain the coquito through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a large pitcher to remove excess foam from the liquid. Discard the cheesecloth.
- Pour the strained coquito into the bottles, leaving at least 1" of headspace in each bottle. Cap the bottles and refrigerate for at least 48 hours to age.
- Ten to 15 minutes minutes prior to serving, remove the bottle of coquito from the refrigerator to allow the fat in the coquito to warm up. Give the coquito a vigorous shake to mix the spices that will have settled. Serve cold with a sprinkle or grating of cinnamon and a cinnamon stick.
- 3 cups freshly pressed coconut milk
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk or condensed coconut milk
- 15 ounce can cream of coconut
- spices and spiced tea as listed above
- rum as listed above
Tea-less Coquito:Replace the whole spices with the following:
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch of ground allspice
Add these spices to the coquito along with the ground cinnamon and nutmeg just before blending.
- 6 cups freshly pressed coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups 151 rum
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Quick Vegan Coquito:
- 11.25 ounce can sweetened condensed coconut milk
- 12.2 ounce evaporated coconut milk
- 15 ounce can cream of coconut
- spices and spiced tea as listed above
- rum as listed above
- Use the freshest eggs you have access to to avoid any illnesses. As with any recipe that includes raw eggs, the chance of contracting a foodborne illness is higher. Consume any coquito made with eggs at your own risk.
- Add the egg yolks to the blender just after adding the spices. Continue as instructed above.
Virgin and/or Vegan Coquito:
- Substitute water or coconut milk for the rums. Make as instructed.
Swaps and Substitutions:
- You can omit the allspice, star anise, and cloves from the spice tea if you like.
- Replace the vanilla bean in the spice tea with 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or omit it altogether.
- You can replace that evaporated milk with another can of coconut milk if you prefer a more pronounced coconut flavor.
- You can make this coquito with one type of rum if you prefer. I recommend white if you plan to use just one.
Tips and Techinques:
- Coquito tastes better when it's made with freshly-squeezed coconut milk because it makes for a smoother cocktail.
- The spice tea flavors the drink without making it murky, but is optional.
- You need a large-capacity blender for this recipe. A 72-ounce carafe, is perfect for the egg-free recipe. If you're making it with the eggs, you will need to make this in batches.
- Coquito should be made with Puerto Rican rum- like Palo Viejo, Don Q, or the popular Bacardí, which is really a Cuban-born brand but is popular in PR- or at the very least a Caribbean rum.
- Use the freshest eggs you can to avoid any illnesses. As with any recipe that includes raw eggs, the chance of contracting a foodborne illness is higher, especially if you don't allow the mixture to cure long enough.
- You can find 750-ml bottles at most home brewing supply stores or online. Be sure to sanitize the bottles before using them.
- Virgin coquito does not need to cure the 2 days.
- If your coquito is still lumpy after the first straining, you can strain it again after it's cured.
- When made with alcohol, you can store coquito in the fridge for up to 1 year, even with the addition of eggs. The longer coquito cures, the smoother and more profound its flavor is.
- Because virgin coquito doesn't contain alcohol, it will only be good for 7 days after blending. Make it when you know you're going to be able to finish it within that time.
- Coquito that contains alcohol can be frozen for more than one year in a freezer-safe bottle.
- Because virgin coquito will freeze solid, store it in a freezer-safe container for up to a year. Thaw it in the fridge and shake it well to mix it evenly.