Classic Piña Coladas (Plus a Lower Calorie Recipe)

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The Piña Colada is a classic, frozen summer cocktail that blends white rum with the tropical flavors of pineapple and coconut. Read on for two very easy recipes that will make you feel like you’ve been whisked away to a private island (even if you’re really just kicking back on the couch in front of the AC).

Piña Coladas are creamy and decadent and have developed a reputation for leaning a bit too sweet, but they don’t have to be! Below is a classic, but well-balanced recipe, plus a light version for those days when you want something with the traditional flavors but fewer calories and less sugar.

History of the Piña Colada

The Piña Colada was invented in the early 1950s in Puerto Rico by bartender Ramon Marrero. His delicious blend of rum with coconut and pineapple took off and has only grown in popularity, becoming the official cocktail of Puerto Rico in 1978.

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What does Piña Colada mean?

Piña colada translates to “strained pineapple,” which refers to the freshly pressed pineapple juice used in the original creation. Pressing and straining your own pineapple juice takes a bit of work, but it gives the best, freshest flavor, so I highly recommend trying it at least once!

Classic Piña Colada ingredients

The original Piña Colada was made with only white rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut, but modern recipes add freshly squeezed lime juice to balance the sweetness of the drink. If using canned or bottled pineapple juice, be sure to use unsweetened.

Cream of coconut is a prepared sweetened coconut cream that comes canned. There are many recipes on the internet for making your own, if you prefer. You can also pick up a can of a common brand like Coco Lopez at your local grocery store.

When it comes to the rum, go with any white rum you enjoy! While Bacardi is very popular, there are many other tasty ones to choose from, including Plantation, Diplomatico, Flor de Cana, Havana Club, or Brugal. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try it with cachaca!

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This classic version is made with:

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 cream of coconut 
  • ½ oz lime juice

How to make it:

To make a frosty Piña Colada, add all ingredients with a generous scoop of ice to a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour the cocktail into a tall glass and garnish with a wedge of pineapple and a cocktail cherry.

What glass should it be served in?

I always thought it was served in a Hurricane glass, but it turns out that the Piña Colada is actually meant to be served in a Poco Grande glass, which looks similar but is somewhat smaller and has a longer stem. Of course, if you don’t have a Poco Grande glass hanging around, or even a Hurricane glass, you can definitely use any glass you have on hand! Some great substitutes are a highball glass or even a small wine glass.

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How to make Lighter Piña Coladas

If you want a lighter version, the first step is to cut back on the rum a little bit. My Light Piña Colada uses 1 ½ ounces of white rum instead of a full 2 ounce pour, shaving off about 30 calories. You could even reduce the rum to 1 ounce, but I don’t recommend this because then you won’t be able to taste the liquor. And I enjoy tasting my rum! Next, we’ve reduced the pineapple juice and the cream of coconut by half, and then added a splash of coconut milk. The result is a deliciously creamy cocktail that doesn’t feel quite as heavy, and has nearly half the calories.

How many calories are in the Light Piña Colada?

The total number of calories will depend on things like freshly pressed pineapple juice vs. canned or the brand of prepared coconutmilk you use, but generally speaking this Light Piña Colada has about 180 calories. The full fledged version clocks in closer to 300.

You may also enjoy these other rum cocktails:

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Classic Pina Coladas (Plus a Lighter Version!)

Amy Traynor
Make a classic Pina Colada (that's not too sweet!) with just four simple ingredients.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 288 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz cream of coconut
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender with 1 cup of ice.
  • Blend on high until smooth, then pour into a Hurricane glass (or Poco Grande glass, if you have one).
  • Garnish with pineapple leaves, a pineapple wedge, and a cocktail cherry.

Notes

Lighter Pina Coladas

Ingredients:
  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • ½ oz cream of coconut
  • ½ oz lime juice
  • ½ oz coconut milk
Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender with 1 cup of ice. Blend on high until smooth, then pour into a Hurricane glass (or a Poco Grande glass, if you have one). Garnish with pineapple leaves, a pineapple wedge, and a cocktail cherry.
Serving: 1 cocktail
Calories: 180
Keyword cream of coconut, pina colada, pineapple, rum,, tropical cocktails