I’m Puerto Rican on my father’s side, and one thing Puerto Ricans love at Christmas time is coquito.
Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone has a family recipe.
When I asked around no one actually had a recipe for me to make. And with Pandemic ChristmasTM looming and not seeing family for yet another holiday, I figured that now is the perfect time for us to have a shared family recipe for coquito.
So I embarked on a taste testing spree to find out what I liked best. I only tested recipes from sites that were either in Spanish or from Puerto Rican bloggers.
And one steadfast rule: NO EGGS.
What is Nog?
Let’s back up. Some people confuse coquito with eggnog. It’s not. But what is a nog, anyway?
The term “nog” comes from a strong ale that was brewed in Norfolk, England. The word was first used at the end of the 17th century. The origins are fuzzy, but the drink was served in “a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol,” according to Wikipedia. That mug was called a “nog.”
What most people associate with nog is eggnog. Coquito is NOT eggnog. But it can be a very strong drink.
What Does Coquito Mean?
Coquito means little coconut in Spanish. It’s a coconut based drink with all the ingredients blended together and served cold.
And it’s very popular at Christmas time. We like our little coconut rum drinks!
Finding a Coquito Recipe
Coquito has a million variations. It differs from house to house and none of them are wrong. Like with just about everything, the “correct” way is the one that pleases you the most.
Starting my quest for the ultimate coquito recipe to deem MY family recipe was pretty easy. There are tons of recipes online. But I knew off the bat that I wasn’t going to use eggs, and that made whittling the list down easier.
Why no eggs? Shelf stability. I don’t want to worry about this going bad, since there are only 2 of us in this house and we aren’t going to get drunk on rum cocktails all month.
The testing phase was fun. Not all the recipes were the same, and wow did the taste differ wildly. I tested 5 coquito recipes looking for what I wanted. Some were terrible, some were okay.
My favorite had a 1:1 ratio of almost all the ingredients and then I added a little something extra.
The main mix is made with coconut cream, coconut milk, evaporated milk, and condensed (or sweetened condensed) milk. (More on that in a bit.)
And…rum! And it’s served cold.
Note that this is a very sweet drink. The rum helps cut that cloying sweetness. But you can keep this a virgin drink. Just remember it has to be drank cold!
Coquito Liquid Ingredients
The base recipe for this version of coquito is 1 can each of coconut milk, coconut cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk (as seen in the picture above).
One coquito recipe used cream of coconut instead of coconut cream, and left out the coconut milk. I wasn’t able to get my hands on cream of coconut, but according to The Kitchn it’s just sweetened coconut cream.
Speaking of coconut cream vs. coconut milk, what’s the difference? It’s how much coconut is boiled along with water.
Again according to The Kitchn, coconut milk has the same consistency of regular dairy milk and is made with equal parts shredded coconut and water. Coconut cream is thicker has a larger ratio of coconut to water at 4:1.
So what about the other milks? Evaporated vs condensed vs sweetened condensed milk?
There’s no difference between sweetened condensed milk and regular condensed milk. Nothing. They’re the exact same thing, sometimes the word sweetened is added and sometimes it’s not.
Condensed milk is actually sweetened evaporated milk. It’s also a lot thicker than evaporated milk (which has had 60% of the water removed). You have to scrape it out of the can.
You can then lick the spoon or spatula!
Side note: I recommend the full fat versions of each of these ingredients. This isn’t the time to sacrifice flavor for a few calories.
Coquito Spice Ingredients
The coquito spices are also very important!
All of the recipes had cinnamon and vanilla in them. The amounts differed, and in the end I needed more vanilla in mine.
Some recipes also add ginger and nutmeg. I wasn’t wild about the ginger but I’m totally on board with nutmeg.
For a quick second I also considered playing with other winter spices like cardamom, star anise, and all spice. But why complicate it? This isn’t mulled wine, after all.
Coquito Secret Ingredient
I couldn’t resist adding a secret ingredient to my coquito. This tips the scale from virgin drink to adult beverage though. You’ve been warned.
What’s the secret ingredient? Rum soaked raisins!
Yes, rum soaked raisins! One recipe I found added them in at the end, but this isn’t boba. I don’t want gnarled raisins floating in my cup looking like dead grapes.
Soak the raisins in your preferred rum for about 10 minutes. Only use enough to cover the raisins.
I observed that 1 ounce of raisins absorbs about 1/2 oz of rum. This whole recipe makes 8 cups. Most recipes will add 1-2 cups of rum for the entire batch. Plan your rum-soaked raisins accordingly.
Then blend those suckers in with the rest of your ingredients!
What about the Rum?
Rum is a mainstay in the Caribbean and all the islands make it slightly differently. But anyone whose ever wanted to be a pirate knows that they all drank rum!
What kind of rum should you use in coquito? Whatever you want.
Some recipes call for white rum, which is clear. Others call for spiced rum, which will impact the flavor depending on what those spices are.
I’m partial to gold rum, for the extra pop of color.
As for aged or dark rums, don’t use anything expensive. Stay away from complex double distilled dark rum that’s made for sipping. Or a fire starter rum like Bacardi 151. You don’t need that kind of fire power.
Basically just use what you have on hand or can get relatively cheaply.
How to Make Coquito
My ultimate coquito recipe was finally found in a 1:1:1:1 ratio of all the cream and milks.
I used 1 can each of all the liquids (coconut cream, coconut milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk), 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 1.25 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, a pinch of nutmeg, and 2 ounces of raisins soaked in gold rum.*
Then I blended that all together until the raisins were fully obliterated.
I poured that into a pitcher and popped it in the fridge for at least an hour.
That’s it, that’s my new family recipe. Any maybe next year we won’t have a Pandemic ChristmasTM to worry about, and I can actually share it with my extended family. I know they’re going to love it, dammit!
*Not enough rum in your nog? Then go ahead and put a cup or two of rum. Alternatively, I’d add 1 ounce of rum to a 8 oz glass of the fully mixed coquito.
If you want to see me talk more about coquito and the quest for this recipe, check out my new video series Chingona Kitchen on IGTV!
I’ll have new videos up every Monday in December.
Low-Alcohol Coquito Recipe
- 2 oz raisins
- 2 oz gold rum
- 1 can coconut cream
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 can condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1.25 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- In a small dish soak your raisins in just enough rum to cover. It should be about 2 ounces, if not less. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.
- Pour all of the liquid ingredients into a blender, along with the cinnamon, vanilla, freshly ground nutmeg, and drained raisins.
- Blend until the raisins are full incorporated and no raisin bits remain.
- Pour into a pitcher or other large glass container and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Serve cold by itself, or add in a bit of rum to your liking.