What Is Coquito?

Everything you need to know about this Puerto Rican specialty.

Updated on December 20, 2023
home made Christmas drink typical of the Christmas holiday, sweet eggnog with rum or cognac, called eggnog, coquito, Eierlikör, Crème de Vie or Auld Man's Milk


Learn what coquito is and get our best coquito recipe.

Photo by: RHJ/Getty Images

RHJ/Getty Images

By Hadiya Presswood for Food Network Kitchen

Hadiya is a contributor to Food Network.

During the December holidays, many people toast the season with glasses of creamy coquito. So, what is coquito, exactly? We spoke to Jessie Marrero, general manager of Qui Qui DC, a Puerto Rican restaurant in Washington, D.C., to learn more about what coquito is and how to make it.

What is Coquito?

Coquito is a Puerto Rican beverage made with vanilla, coconut milk, coconut cream, rum and spices that is traditionally served during the December holidays.

Coquito means "little coconut" in Spanish, and coconut provides the majority of the drink's flavor and texture. Marrero says experimenting with proportions and flavors is a great way to develop your signature coquito. “Culturally, this is Puerto Rico’s largest drink during the holiday season. It signifies the coming of Christmas. It is served to friends, family, and guests. Every family has their own unique recipe that’s usually a carefully guarded secret. It’s a signature [drink] to celebrate life, success, love and culture.”

Coquito Ingredients

While almost every household has its own take on this festive drink, coquito ingredients typically include cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, white rum, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Some versions might also call for unsweetened coconut milk and/or evaporated milk, while others use egg yolks to create a rich, creamy texture.

Does Coquito Contain Alcohol?

Rum – specifically Puerto Rican rum – is a signature ingredient in most coquito recipes. However, you can make non-alcoholic coquito by tweaking some of your ingredients or using rum extract. “Go easy on the booze at first,” Marrero advises. “It’s not supposed to slap you in the face; it’s supposed to warm you up slowly.” You can also customize the amount of rum in your coquito, using less or more depending on personal preference. Either way, keep in mind that coquito typically ages in the fridge for a few days before serving, which will affect how you perceive its flavors.

Does Coquito Need To Be Refrigerated?

Coquito should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; kept that way, it can keep for anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks. The ingredients may settle between servings, particularly if you used eggs, so be sure to stir before you pour. Serve cold, garnished with a cinnamon stick or sprinkling of nutmeg if you like.

Coquito vs Eggnog: What's the Difference?

Although they might seem similar, coquito and eggnog are different beverages entirely. The main difference is that coquito’s base is rum and coconut, whereas eggnog’s base is egg and cream with the optional addition of rum or brandy. Eggs are not a part of traditional coquito recipes, but over time some recipes have changed to include them. It’s important to note that coquito recipes that contain eggs or are non-alcoholic have a shorter shelf life.

Our Best Coquito Recipe

There are all sorts of ways to make this festive Puerto Rican holiday drink. This is our go-to coquito recipe.

This is the receipe for Coquito

This is the receipe for Coquito

Photo by: Kate Mathis

Kate Mathis

Our traditional coquito recipe gets its luscious texture from a mix of cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and evaporated milk.

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