Piña Colada Cake is made with buttery soft rum-flavored cake layers, a sweet pineapple filling, and frosted in a silky coconut rum frosting. Top this stunning cake off with a pineapple caramel sauce for the most incredible cake you’ll ever have!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Fluffy Cake Layers – Fluffy, moist vanilla cake is flavored with coconut rum!
- Delicious Pineapple Flavor – Sweet pineapple filling is tucked between the cake layers.
- Beautiful Celebration Cake – This unique cake is impressive enough for any special occasion or celebration!
Piña Colada Cake Ingredient Overview:
A full list of ingredients is found in the complete recipe card below.
- Butter – I prefer salted, but you can use unsalted butter if that’s your preference.
- Egg Whites – Use large eggs for best results. Using just egg whites and not the egg yolks lends the lightest texture to this cake.
- Milk – I used 2% milk.
- Sour Cream – Use full-fat sour cream at room temperature for best results.
- Cake Flour – Cake flour gives this cake a lighter, more tender crumb than all-purpose flour, so I highly recommend using cake flour here.
- Vanilla Extract – Since the flavor in this cake comes from simple quality ingredients, be sure to use real vanilla instead of imitation for the best flavor.
- Vegetable Oil – Using a combination of oil and butter gives this cake the best of both worlds – oil keeps the cake tender and moist, while butter adds flavor.
- Rum – I used Malibu coconut rum, but you can use any brand you like that’s similar. Blue Chair Bay has a nice one, too.
- Sour Cream – Full fat greek yogurt will work in place of the sour cream.
- Flavor Alternatives- In the recipe alternatives below, I explain how you can add fruit preserves for extra flavor, or make this a sprinkle cake, or an almond flavored wedding cake.
- Rum – Use milk in the same quantity as the rum if you need to omit the alcohol from the cake. No substitution is needed elsewhere.
- Coconut – Omit the coconut and use rum without it, if you prefer.
How to Make this Piña Colada Cake Step-by-Step:
Make the Cake.
Step 1: Cream together butter & oil with an electric mixer or standing mixer. Then, add the sugar & beat on high for two full minutes.Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing between each for 45 seconds. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until just combined.
Step 2: Add the Dry Ingredients. Slowly add in the whisked flour mixture while the mixer runs on low. Then, slowly repeat this with the milk.
Step 3: Bake. Divide batter between three prepared pans (a scale helps here!) and bake as directed in the recipe card below. Let cool for 10 minutes before inverting to cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the Pineapple Filling.
Step 1: Make the Filling. Heat crushed pineapple and sugar in a pot and cook until thickened (full details in recipe below).
Make the Coconut Rum Frosting
Step 1: Make the Frosting. Cream together butter and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl with a mixer on high speed. Then, add the vanilla and rum. Beat in the cream cheese last – this prevents it from becoming weepy.
Make the Pineapple Caramel
Step 1: Make my salted caramel sauce recipe as directed, adding two tablespoons of pineapple juice and cooking for 2-3 minutes to thicken.
Assemble the Cake
Step 1: Use a cake turntable with your cake stand placed on top of it. Frost the first cake layer, then pipe a border for the pineapple filling. Place the second layer on top and chill for 10-15 minutes before repeating. Crumb coat then frost the cake – see more in depth directions below.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Let the Piña Colada Cake chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container, pressing plastic wrap over the cut portion, for 4-5 days.
Expert Success Tips:
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Food Scale – A kitchen scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since the amounts vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
- Cold Ingredients – Be sure that your cold ingredients all come out from the fridge ahead of time so they can come to room temperature.
- Scrape the bowl – Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go, to make sure everything is well incorporated.
Yes! You can cut the recipe in half and bake in a 9×9 square pan (use ceramic or metal, not glass as it doesn’t bake evenly) or two 8-inch round pans. Make half the pineapple filling, and 1/2 of the amount of frosting.
Cake layers can be baked, cooled, and wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temp for up to 24 hours before assembling. Pineapple filling and caramel can each be made and stored in a jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.
A piña colada traditionally has pineapple juice, cream of coconut, rum, and sometimes lime. All of these elements are present in this cake!
I find that cream cheese helps cut through the sweetness of traditional buttercream, so you don’t get that tooth-aching feeling that some of them give.
Yes, this will yield 36-40 cupcakes, and 18-20 if you cut the recipe in half. Be sure to fill the liners only 2/3 full, and bake for 12-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted pulls out moist crumbs. Use the full quantity of pineapple filling and frosting for a full batch of cupcakes, and half for half. Add a caramel drizzle if desired.
- Lime – If you want a hint of lime, add 2 tbsp of lime zest to the cake batter, and a splash of lime juice to the frosting.
- Cake Mix – Use a box of your favorite vanilla or white cake mix if you’re short on time, and then incorporate these fillings and toppings.
- Offset Spatula – Offset spatulas make assembling this delicious dessert so easy! They can also be used for spreading cake and brownie batters evenly in your pan.
- Cake Turntable – If you make at least a few cakes a year, a cake turntable makes the process a breeze!
- Piping Bag & Piping Tip – I like to use a reusable piping bag and a Wilton 1A or 2A piping tip, but you can use a plastic bag with the corner snipped off in a pinch.
More Cake Recipes to Love:
- Salted Butterscotch Crunch Cake
- White Forest Cake
- Peach Cobbler Cake
- German Chocolate Cake
- Raspberry Chocolate Ganache Cake
- Best Yellow Birthday Cake
- Mojito Cake
- Perfect White Birthday Cake
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Piña Colada Cake
For the Cake Layers
- 3 and 1/2 cups cake flour, spooned & leveled 385 grams
- 1 tbsp baking powder 14 grams
- 3/4 tsp baking soda 4.5 grams
- 3/4 tsp salt 5 grams
- 1/2 cup + 2 and 1/2 tbsp salted butter, softened at room temperature 148 grams
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil 116 mL
- 2 and 2/3 cup granulated sugar 543 grams
- 7 large egg whites, at room temperature 266 grams
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract 19.5 grams
- 3/4 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature 180 grams
- 1 cup milk 240 mL
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp coconut rum 136 mL
For the Pineapple Filling
- one 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, don't drain
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp coconut rum
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp corn starch
- pinch cinnamon
For the Coconut Rum Frosting
- 1 and 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp salted butter, softened at room temperature 367 grams
- 7 cups to 7 and 2/3 cups powdered sugar 840 – 920 grams
- 3-4 tbsp coconut rum
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 16 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature use the block style – 454 grams
For the Pineapple Caramel
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp salted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream
For the Cake Assembly
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut, optional
- pineapple slices for decorating
- Prep: Make sure all cold ingredients have come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans. Use a paper towel to rub shortening all over the inside of each pan, coating them evenly and completely. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside each (tracing is the easiest way). Place this on top of the greased pan bottom, then grease over the parchment paper as well. Add a handful of flour, and tap the pan around to evenly coat the entire inside with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Make the Cake Batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter for about 30 seconds, until creamy. Add the vegetable oil and beat together for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 full minutes. The mixture will be fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down throughout, to ensure everything is combined. Add the egg whites, two at a time and then the last one on its own, beating on medium speed between each addition, for 45 seconds. The mixture will be very fluffy. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix on medium low speed until just combined.Add half of the dry ingredients with the mixer running on low speed. Add the milk and rum with a few streaks of flour remaining, then when the milk is almost mixed in, add the remaining dry ingredients. When just a few streaks of flour remain, turn off the mixer and use a spatula to make sure everything is combined – don't over mix!
- Bake: Divide cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. (You can eyeball this or use a kitchen scale.) Bake the first two pans together, and then the 3rd pan on its own after the first two are done. This will ensure the most even bake. Bake the cakes for 22-26 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through (my oven has hot spots, so I need to do this). A toothpick inserted into the center will pull out moist crumbs. Let cakes cool in the pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes. Then, invert onto cooling racks to cool completely.
- Make the Pineapple Filling: Add all filling ingredients to a medium pot over medium high heat. Bring to a high simmer/low boil, then lower the heat a tad to keep it at a simmer and cook for 2-5 minutes – it should be sort of gurgling and should be thick – not super thick, but not watery.
- Make the Pineapple Caramel: Make the caramel sauce following the recipe in my salted caramel sauce post, adding 2 tbsp of pineapple juice after the heavy cream is whisked in. Return to the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, letting it bubble up, to thicken. Pour into a jar to cool at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Make the Frosting: Beat butter in a large mixing bowl on high speed until creamy – 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add powdered sugar, 2 cups at a time, mixing between each until creamy. Add 1-2 tbsp of rum between additions to help things come together. Add vanilla extract and salt & mix. Add cubed room temperature cream cheese, and mix well. (Adding this last prevents a weepy texture). Taste and add additional powdered sugar if desired.
- Assemble the Cake: Place the first cake layer on a cake stand placed on a turntable. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip with 1/2 cup of frosting. Frost with 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Pipe a border of frosting around the cake layer and fill with 1/2 cup of the chilled pineapple filling. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup of shredded coconut (optional). Place the second cake layer on top and spread the excess frosting peeking out from between to begin your crumb coat around the first two layers. Chill for 10-15 minutes to set things so the layers don't slide around. Repeat with the second layer. Add the final layer upside down (for a flat top!) and give the cake a thin amount of frosting on top and on the sides.Use a cake scraper to smooth out and remove excess. This is your crumb coat, so don't fret if it isn't perfect. Pop the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to set the frosting. Then, apply the remaining frosting, using the cake scraper to smooth the top and sides of the cake. Let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until frosting is set. Create a drip around the edge of the cake with the caramel sauce – simply pour it slowly along the edge while turning the cake, and let it drip down. If your caramel was made ahead and is solid, microwave for 30 seconds or so, until pourable but not runny. Pipe extra frosting in swirls on top of the cake and decorate with pineapple pieces and coconut. Chill the entire cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before slicing and serving. Tip: Plastic wrap will stick to the caramel. Use toothpicks to hold it up from the top and sides of the cake, or use a cake plate with a lid if you have one large enough.
- Serve & Store: Slice and serve once chilled! Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed over the cut portion of the cake, for 3-4 days.
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