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Coconut Rum Ice Cream

While exploring San Juan during our Carnival cruise, we visited a restaurant that’s famous for being the birthplace of the most popular vacation cocktail — the Pina Colada. Having lunch at this legendary restaurant, La Barrachina, and looking out at the Bacardi Rum Factory across the bay during our walk around Old San Juan, I couldn’t help but be inspired to create a recipe to enjoy here at home that reminds me of the flavors of Puerto Rico.

I started with a dairy-free coconut ice cream recipe with coconut milk, a base recipe that I found on The Kitchn. Then I added some pineapple, rum, and toasted coconut flakes to make it into a Pina Colada flavored dessert. It’s so creamy and delicious, and the combination definitely tastes like summertime.

At first glance, this recipe probably looks like it takes quite a bit of time to make.  Don’t let that deter you.  It only takes about 20 minutes to cook on the stove.  The rest of the time is just waiting for the ice cream to harden in the freezer.

Take a look at the step-by-step photos below, and at the bottom of the post I have a button to print the recipe.




  • 2 (13 ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 20 oz can of sliced pineapple rings
  • 1 8 oz can of crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut flakes
  • 2 ounces of Puerto Rican rum

Special Equipment Needed: Ice Cream Machine

(Note: Follow your ice cream machine’s instructions for freezing. Some need 24 hours in the freezer to freeze the bowl, others need a box of rock salt to get the correct frozen temperature. Just make sure to prep this ahead of time so it’s ready to turn your ice cream.)

1. Start by shaking up the cans of coconut milk.
The reason you want canned coconut milk versus the carton variety is that the canned coconut milk is a lot more creamy because the fat hasn’t been removed. The creamy part, however, does tend to separate from the water. This is why it’s best to shake it up while it’s still in the can. You can have fun with this. I danced around the kitchen a bit like I was shaking maracas.


2. Open the cans, and measure out 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and set this aside. Pour the remaining coconut milk into a sauce pan and turn the heat to low.


3. Add the corn starch to the 1/2 cup of coconut milk and whisk until it’s completely dissolved. Set aside.


4. Next, pour the sugar and salt to the sauce pan of coconut milk and briskly stir until it’s completely dissolved. This should take about two minutes. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut milk that you mixed with the corn starch.


5. Increase the heat to medium-low and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it’s thickened enough to coat the spoon. This should take about seven to eight minutes. Don’t try to hurry it along by increasing the heat as you don’t want it to burn at the bottom of the pan or come to a boil.


6. Once the mixture has thickened up, remove the sauce pan from the heat, set onto a trivet and stir in the vanilla and rum.


7. Let the mixture cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes), then pour it into a glass bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to keep it air-tight and prevent a skin from forming. Allow the mixture to cool for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.


8. Once your ice cream base has chilled, it’s ready to churn in your ice cream machine. Pour into the ice cream machine and follow the manufacturers instructions for turning. Typically, it takes about 8 to 10 minutes to have it freeze to the consistency of soft serve ice cream.


9. While the ice cream is turning, drain the can of crushed pineapple, and press it in between two paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Add the crushed pineapple to the ice cream turn during its last 2 to 3 minutes of churning.


10. At this point, it will be the consistency of a soft serve. You can either enjoy it soft or freeze it to get it into a more scoopable form. Using a spatula, transfer the ice cream from your machine to a freezer container. One great tip I learned from The Kitchn is to press a piece of parchment or wax paper against the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming. This works like a charm. After about 4 hours, your ice cream will be hardened and ready to scoop.


11. While the ice cream is hardening in the freezer, add the coconut flakes to a dry frying pan to toast. (Note: The reason you want organic flakes as I listed above, is typically the shredded coconut served in the baking aisle of your local grocer as added oils which make it difficult to toast.) No oil is needed, just add the coconut dry and set the heat to medium. After a minute or two, they’ll start to brown. Stir them with a wooden spoon to have all the pieces toast evenly. Once they’re all a caramel color, pour into a bowl and set aside to let them cool. This will be your topping.


12. To prepare for serving, open the can of pineapple rings and drain the juice. Add one or two rings to each servicing bowl, add a scoop of Coconut Rum Ice Cream, and top with toasted coconut flakes.



— You can omit the pineapple and add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a half teaspoon of nutmeg to make this into another Puerto Rican flavor — Coquito Ice Cream.

— You can omit the rum to make this non-alcoholic.

— You can omit the pineapple and serve with caramelized bananas or maduros (fried sweet plantains).


This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.