Piña Colada Cupcakes

Have your piña colada and eat it too! These extra moist pineapple coconut cupcakes will make everyday seem like a trip to the beach. 

Pina Colada Cupcakes - moist pineapple coconut cupcakes topped with coconut frosting. Tastes like your favorite tropical cocktail!

Today’s recipe was inspired by one of my favorite “activities.” A beach, a book, a piña colada, and an impossibly blue sky. Pure contentment right there. Though today’s piña colada cupcakes don’t have any alcohol in them, I’m not stopping you from serving them with a beachy alcoholic beverage. No judging here!

I’m all about summer these days in my kitchen. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little over the cold weather. Winter was sooo last month. Bring on the flips!

Pina Colada Cupcakes - moist pineapple coconut cupcakes topped with coconut frosting. Tastes like your favorite tropical cocktail!

If you have an hour or two to spare, use it wisely and make these cupcakes. They’re a tropical-tasting medley of pineapple and coconut flavors, all mixed into my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe. One bite will instantly brighten your mood. Since no one stops at just 1 bite of a cupcake, just think what the entire cupcake will do.

Happiness in a cupcake wrapper.

I was inspired to make these cupcakes last week after we finished booking our trip to Mexico. Kevin and I are headed there at the end of this month for Kristen & Seth’s wedding. Riviera Maya to be exact. Have you ever been there? 5 days of sunshine, flip flops, and wedding festivities. I’m so excited for their wedding, pink sunsets, turquoise water, some great food, and of course – the fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. Always umbrellas.

Pina Colada Cupcakes - moist pineapple coconut cupcakes topped with coconut frosting. Tastes like your favorite tropical cocktail!

Today’s cupcakes are an upgraded version of my favorite cupcake recipe. Still keeping that brilliant vanilla flavor, I amped things up a bit and added the flavors of sweet pineapple and coconut. Making them is about as easy as a walk on the beach.

I used nearly all brown sugar in these cupcakes. Brown sugar + pineapple is exactly what I love about my Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, so the swap from white to brown sugar here was a no brainer. You’ll love how much flavor the brown sugar brings.

A couple things you’ll need that you may not already have: 100% pineapple juice and coconut milk. I use full-fat canned coconut milk in this recipe and highly suggest you do the same. This coconut milk (pictured above) is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. And it has a high oil content. It makes the cupcakes SO moist. The moistest cupcakes I’ve ever made.

Coconut milk and coconut cream are not the same items. Coconut milk is 1 part water simmered down with 1 part coconut pulp. Coconut cream is 1 part water and 4 parts coconut pulp. Coconut cream is much thicker – I’ve never attempted this recipe with coconut cream. Stick to coconut milk. More information about coconut milk can be found in my recipe notes at the bottom.

Pina Colada Cupcakes - moist pineapple coconut cupcakes topped with coconut frosting. Tastes like your favorite tropical cocktail!

The frosting I use for these piña colada cupcakes starts with my ordinary vanilla frosting recipe. The same vanilla frosting I use to top my cakes, cupcakes, and even cookies. If you’re looking for a go-to vanilla frosting, this recipe is it.

To amp up the flavor, I add a touch of coconut extract. Coconut extract can be found in the baking aisle in your grocery store with the vanilla extract and spices. There’s no way around the coconut extract unless you want to compromise the coconut taste or texture of the frosting. If you can’t find coconut extract, simply use a little extra vanilla.

This coconut frosting is ultra thick and creamy, perfect for piping and slathering on top of the pineapple coconut cupcakes. So rich, velvety, and buttery.

Ultra Creamy Coconut Frosting - I love this frosting on chocolate, vanilla, or even pineapple cupcakes!

May I suggest topping a spoonful of this creamy coconut frosting with mini chocolate chips? Or slather it on my favorite homemade chocolate cupcakes. Go ahead, indulge.

These cupcakes are certainly sweet, just like typical piña colada cocktails. I always like to add a pinch of salt to my frosting to offset some of the sweetness. Works like a charm. If you want a lighter frosting, try a simple whipped cream flavored with a drop of coconut extract. Or here’s a tasty strawberry whipped cream recipe if you’re interested as well.

(Add a splash of rum if you’re feeling jazzy!)

Pina Colada Cupcakes - moist pineapple coconut cupcakes topped with coconut frosting. Tastes like your favorite tropical cocktail!

Since there’s no alcohol in these piña coladas, they’re the perfect tropical treat to share with little bakers. They can help decorating the frosting with coconut – oh gosh, please do this over the sink.  I ended up with coconut pieces all over my kitchen floor and Jude jumped at the opportunity to help clean. He didn’t get to any in time, don’t worry.

CHEERS!

(Blue straws used as decoration are from Sweets and Treats Boutique.)

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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Piña Colada Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Super-moist pineapple coconut cupcakes topped with creamy smooth coconut frosting. Decorate each cupcake with a sprinkle of coconut (toasted or not), a slice of pineapple, and a cherry on top. Have your piña colada and eat it too! 


Ingredients

  • 1 and 2/3 cups (210g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) pineapple juice*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) full-fat coconut milk*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: coconut, pineapple slices, and cherries for decoration

Coconut Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream or half-and-half*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk in egg, pineapple juice, coconut milk, and vanilla extract until combined.
  3. Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  4. Make the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat the softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Turn mixer off and add confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla, and coconut extracts. Mix on low for 1 minute then increase to high speed and beat for 3-4 full minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (I usually add 1/4 teaspoon). Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. I used a Wilton #12 piping tip. Decorate cupcakes with coconut, pineapple slices, and/or a cherry.
  5. Leftover cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator up to 4.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cupcakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and the frosting covered tightly in the refrigerator. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
  2. Pineapple Juice: Use 100% pineapple juice (not syrup). You can freeze leftover pineapple juice and thaw overnight in the refrigerator to make another batch!
  3. Coconut Milk: I used 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk. I suggest using full-fat if you can for the moistest, richest taste and texture. The brand I used is pictured above in this post and was purchased at my regular grocery store in the international foods aisle. Do not use coconut cream or cream of coconut. You can always freeze leftover coconut milk and thaw overnight in the refrigerator to make another batch.
  4. Heavy Cream: Feel free to use coconut milk in the frosting instead of the heavy cream/half-and-half. I do not suggest using milk because you will lose a lot of its creamy texture.

Keywords: piña colada cupcakes

Pina Colada Cupcakes with Creamy Coconut Frosting-- one of my all-time favorites!

190 Comments

  1. These are so cute! I made these tonight and absolutely loved the frosting–it had a real coconut flavor, but I thought the actual cake part need something more. Do you think substituting 1 tsp vanilla for coconut flavoring would work?
    I love your blog by the way and have your cookbook 🙂

    1. Hey Chelene! Yes, that would be just fine in the cupcake batter. Glad you have my cookbook and enjoy my blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes you’ve made!

  2. oh my goodness, these are to die for! I made them this Saturday morning, and here it in Sunday evening, and they are all gone! Everybody LOVED them! Have you ever tried a pineapple upside down cupcake recipe?!

  3. Hi Sally! What an awesome site, I’m sooo glad that I stumbled upon it! Will definitely be trying out these cupocakes, if possible tonite itsellf! Just so in love with them! I have already liked u on facebook, do chk out my website and my facebook page and like them, am sure u’ll find sumthing u enjoy!

    Neets!

  4. Hi! I made those cupcakes yesterday and they tasted really good. The only thing that was a bit off was the texture… is it supose to be dense? I bake cupcakes all the time but for some reason the cake part was really dense…
    I followed your instructions step by step and my question is when you mix all the ingredients do you use a mixer? with paddle attachment? ( when you add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients). Hope you can answer my question. Thank u!

    1. Hi Sandra! I’m so sorry you found these to be dense. I usually mix the ingredients by hand, not a mixer. Did you use a mixer? You can try using one if you did not. And only mix until *just* combined. Also, you can try reducing the flour ever so slightly OR use cake flour instead – producing a fluffier, softer cupcake.

  5. I doubled this recipe to make 24 cupcakes. I find that they have a rich buttery flavoury with a slight, VERY subtle coconut and pineapple essence. I think the butter over powered the coconut and pineapple flavour. I used pure vanilla extract and maybe that overpowered the flavours of this cupcake also? I was expecting more of a coconut and pineapple flavour.

    1. Hi Deanna – how about adding shredded coconut to the batter? OR replace coconut milk in the batter with pineapple juice. And then add coconut extract to the batter.

  6. This may be the most delicious frosting I have ever tasted. It is creamy and has an undeniable coconut flavor. My cupcakes were a bit dry by themselves, but noone noticed with all that delectable frosting on them. Thanks for this recipe! I will be making them again and again.

  7. I finally made these the other day, and oh my gosh Sally they are so delicious! I think I could’ve eaten that frosting all day! so good! Plus it’s makes it seem like it’s still summer, even though it was 50 degrees out yesterday!

  8. Hey Sally,

    Who doesn’t love pina colada!!!

    Unfortunately I came across another pina colada cupcake recipe that I tried out a while ago. Unhappy is one word to sum up my experience. Followed it step to step. Yet something went wrong!

    Love your recipe more !! I have a question though. First I want to try making only 6 cupcakes. So can I still add one egg when I am halving the quantities?

    Can’t wait to try it 🙂

    1. Hi Maha, I truly don’t recommend halving a cupcake recipe calling for 1 egg. The cupcake’s texture and taste are always a little off. However, you can try it. I suggest cracking an egg, beating it, and then using half of it from there. OR you can just follow the recipe as written and freeze the remaining 6 for up to 2-3 months.

  9. These sound delicious!! Question: Can you put rum in the batter as well as the icing? Not too much to overpower, but to make them for adults?

    1. Absolutely, Janet. That would be so good. Play around with the amount; I’m unsure what the next amount would be without testing it myself.

  10. Just made these for my co-workers and they adored them! The frosting, I thought, was a little too sweet and didn’t taste coconut-y enough, so I added a little bit more coconut extract and it was perfect!

    Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  11. This recipe was AWESOME! I used it to make a pineapple shaped cupcake cake for a cupcake deco competition. I won 1st place, a lot due to flavor! Loved this recipe! Thanks so much 😀

  12. I have this can of crushed pineapple– Think it would weigh the batter down? Or just all sink to the bottom? Should I reduce other liquids, even if I drain it? I’ve never added fruit to the cake itself…
    Thanks for your thoughts!! Looking forward to trying the recipe tomorrow!

    1. Nicole, you can add the crushed pineapple. Maybe not the whole can. Go with half for now and add more if you decide to make them a 2nd time. I suggest reducing the pineapple juice down to 1/4 cup. I’ve never tried them this way, so I cannot be certain of the result.

  13. Hi Sally,
    Just made two batches of these cupcakes. They are very moist and delicious. I am really thankful I found your site. This is the third recipe that I have tried from your cupcakes section (chocolate salted caramel and lemon raspberry was delicious!)
    I wanted to ask if I want to increase the pineapple taste, can I core the cupcake and maybe add some reduced crushed pineapple inside? Do you think this could work?

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for reporting back, Maria! Your idea for adding crushed pineapple in the centers of the cupcakes sounds like such a great idea! Let me know if you try it.

  14. Ok these cupcakes are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing! So moist and yummy! Found some pinnapple coconut jubes at the bulk barn, topped the cupcake with coconut a candy,a cherry and a few umbrellas! 

  15. I Love the recipe and how it makes a more dense cupcake. For adult, I spoon malibu rum over the tops right when i take it out of the oven – about 1/2 shot each :).  It soaks in then i frost them.  

  16. been looking for a great pineapple or coconut cake recipe to use for our upcoming wedding cake. This recipe sounds exactly like what we’ve been wanting. What’s the best way to convert from a cupcake recipe to cake recipe? Thanks!

    1. This recipe yields a thick single layer cake. I recommend a 9-inch springform pan (the cake is quite tall) and bake for about 30-35 minutes.

  17. Hi! I love your Very Vanilla Cupcake recipe and use it often, and I’m wanting to try this recipe but wondering if I could switch out the pineapple juice for lime juice to make a coconut-lime cupcake! Would it work?

    1. That’s definitely something to try. Lime juice is quite potent, so how about 4 Tbsp lime juice and increasing the coconut milk to 3/4 cup.

  18. i can’t have dairy so do you think I can use coconut cream as an alternative to heavy cream? If not could you please give me suggestions. 

  19. Hi Sally, If I was to make the Piña Colada Cupcake recipe and convert it for a Cake, do I need to do anything different to the recepie ? Thank you

  20. Instead of buying coconut extract for the frosting, (considering the recipe only calls for 1/2 tsp.) do you think I’d still get the flavor if I used coconut milk in place of the heavy cream? Thanks!

  21. Hi Sally 
    I stumbled apon your website a when I was looking for blueberry muffins and they turned out really good. Let me tell you something, this has to be one of the best websites I have been on. You always have really good recipes and these cupcakes were like my favorite. 
    The frosting has to be one of my favorite by far 
    Anyway I just wanted to comment

  22. Do you think that I can add coconut extcrat instead of vanilla? To add more coconut flavor?  Then brush them with pineapple rum after they come out the oven? 

  23. Can you add rum extract to the batter for a rum flavor without adding extra liquid with real rum? How much would you recommend? 

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