Vegan coquito is a delicious creamy holiday drink with Puerto Rican roots. It is eggnog's cooler cousin and is the perfect allergy-friendly alcoholic beverage. Ready in minutes, made with sweet coconut milk, and warm notes of cinnamon, it’s easy to see why this is a favorite for so many!
This vegan coquito is the queen of conundrums. It is cozy and cool, warm and exciting, creamy but dairy-free! This drink is great to have ready for holiday parties and get-togethers because all you have to do is add everything to a blender and then let it sit in the fridge to marinate the flavors before serving.
While traditional coquito is not vegan, our vegan version is inspired by the original flavors and textures. So, if amped-up coconut flavor and a boozy kick are your things, then you will love this vegan coquito!
Need more holiday drinks to serve? Try one of these!
What is Coquito?
Coquito, or " Little Coconut " in Spanish, is a drink from Puerto Rico that is made with rum, milk, cinnamon, and coconut cream that is enjoyed during the holiday season. It is often considered the Puerto Rican eggnog (and in our opinion, is much better than eggnog without any egg yolks!). From our research, there is much debate as to whether the original coquito recipe uses spiced rum or white rum. So, use whatever you have on hand!
Ingredients and Substitutions
All substitutions are a 1:1 substitute unless otherwise noted
Condensed Coconut Milk: This condensed milk is very similar to traditional condensed milk. It is made with coconut milk and sugar, resulting in a super sweet and sticky sauce. You can buy it online here, at Walmart, and likely at your local grocery store.
Substitutions: Any condensed milk can be used including regular milk, goat, or oat condensed milk. You can also use additional cream of coconut in place of the condensed milk since they are very similar in makeup and consistency.
Cream of Coconut: This common drink mixer is very similar to condensed milk. It is typically found in the drink aisle, next to other alcoholic mixers. It is used in Pina Coladas and other tropical drinks.
Substitutions: Additional condensed coconut milk can be used in place of cream of coconut. This will result in a slightly icier texture, however. You can also use maple syrup or agave in place of cream of coconut but the coconut flavor will not be as pronounced.
Coconut Milk: For this amazing recipe, we need coconut milk from two sources: a box and a can. The reason is that a can of coconut milk is much higher in fat and therefore contains the coconut cream that makes this drink so creamy. Coconut milk from a box is more like cow's milk and is what thins out the drink and makes it drinkable.
Substitutions: Coconut cream or cool whip can be used in place of canned coconut milk. Any non-dairy milk can be used in place of fresh coconut milk found in a box. This includes oat milk, almond milk, or soy milk.
Almond Extract: The original recipe for coquito that we looked at uses vanilla extract. However, the flavor of rum is very strong, so I tried almond extract instead. This is because it's a much stronger flavor that can stand up to the rum but still has the same warm notes like vanilla.
Substitutions: Feel free to use vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste in place of almonds extract.
Nutmeg and Cinnamon: No holiday drinks are complete without a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg!
Substitutions: Any warm spice could be used in place of the nutmeg such as allspice, apple pie spice, or pumpkin pie spice. Cinnamon is necessary for the coquito but if you don't have ground cinnamon, you can add cinnamon sticks to the mixture and let them steep while the coquito marinades in the fridge. When ready to serve, just remove the cinnamon sticks.
Rum: Again, white rum or spiced rum is acceptable for this recipe but be aware that there is much debate about which is the “correct” recipe. So, make your decision but be wary of the consequences! We used a combination of the two because we like a little more spice but not too much, ya know - like getting a half vanilla, half chocolate shake.
Substitutions: Any type of rum can be used. You can also reduce the amount of rum to half of a cup of spiced or white rum if you are worried about there being too much alcohol.
How to Make this - Step by Step
Step one: Add everything to a blender. Add the condensed coconut milk and cream of coconut last to avoid having it stick to the sides of the blender.
Step two: Blend!
Step three: Pour the mixture into an airtight container or jar and let it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, to let the flavors all mix together. Then enjoy with coconut flakes and a sprinkle of cinnamon!
Watch How to Make This - Step by Step
It can be hard to find good canned coconut milk. Some are separate, some are curdled, and you don’t know until you open it. But! A quick trick to determine if the coconut milk will be good is the hold the can in your hand and give it a shake. As you shake it, it should feel heavy and like nothing is really moving in the can for the first few shakes but you still hear liquid. As you continue to shake, you should hear the filling drop from one side to the other (this is the coconut cream coming loose) and then mix into the liquid. After this “drop”, the can will sound like you are shaking a bottle of maple syrup - thick and flowable but still moving smoothly. Some trustworthy brands are Thai Kitchen, Nativ Forest, and Goya. Target brand and Trader Joe’s coconut milk can sadly not be trusted.
Facts and Common Questions
How do I thicken my vegan coquito?
Coconut cream is the best way to thicken coquito. It can be bought on its own (in the Asian aisle, next to coconut milk), or it can be scraped off of the top of full-fat canned coconut milk. You can also use coconut Cool Whip or regular Cool Whip if not vegan. Using Cool Whip is great if you will be serving it the next day, but it does not store as well as coconut cream and may require you to reblend the drink before serving.
Can you make a coquito without liquor?
Sure! This recipe works great to make an alcohol-free coquito that still tastes amazing.
Is cream of coconut the same as coconut cream?
No, cream of coconut is a sugary coconut add-in that is similar to a simple syrup or caramel. It also has less coconut fat than coconut cream, making it more viscous. Coconut cream is mostly fat with a little bit of coconut milk. When it's cooled, it solidifies, trapping the coconut milk with it and thus creating coconut cream. Coconut cream has no sweetener added to it and is great for thickening vegan sauces or making vegan whip cream.
Does it matter which rum I use?
Yes and no? Our recipe is not a traditional coquito recipe and is merely our take on one. However, we discovered there is much debate as to whether to use white rum or spiced rum. Our opinion is that using half spiced and half white rum results in more flavor but still a bright white color. Bacardi white rum or spiced rum is our preferred liquor brand, making this a vegan Bacardi coquito.
Is coconut sustainable?
Good question! Coconut is considered moderately sustainable. It does not require pesticides to grow but can result in damage to the land, soil, and forest. It is critical when purchasing coconut products that you are choosing brands that are committed to sustainable coconut harvesting. These brands are pretty easy to find now, just look for the certified “Fair Trade” logo.
Want to Save it for Later? Here’s how!
This recipe is great for making ahead! It stores well and even tastes better the next day.
Fridge: To store this, keep it in a sealed jar or container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I like to keep mine in an airtight glass bottle spouted jug with a lid for easy pouring.
Freezer: Sadly, this recipe is not freezer friendly. If frozen and thawed, the water content will thaw quicker and separate from the rest of the drink resulting in a drink that appears curdled.
Coconut is a type of stone fruit, like a peach or cherry. A single coconut tree can produce 180 coconuts in one harvest but when you harvest depends on what you want to do with the coconut. If you want to drink the water, the coconut will be ready in 6-7 months, but if you want to eat the flesh, it will be ripe in 12-13 months. Besides eating them, coconut husks and fibers have been used for brushes, as armor, as bowls, and as an insect repellent! (source)
More Joyful Recipes!
Try these other fun holiday recipes.
- 11.6 oz condensed coconut milk
- ½ cup cream of coconut
- 13.66 oz coconut milk canned, unsweetened
- ½ cup coconut milk boxed, unsweetened
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup rum spiced or white, or both
- Add everything to a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
- Either keep in the blender, sealed, or transfer to a sealed jar and store in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours to let the flavors mix. It is best left in the fridge overnight.
- Enjoy! If you don’t have time to let it sit overnight in the fridge, simply pour over ice and enjoy! It will still be delicious.