This Pina Colada Layer Cake is perfect for summer and tropical themed parties and for those who love the creamy coconut, pineapple, and rum cocktail that this gorgeous cake is based upon. Layers of pineapple cake are sandwiched between coconut rum frosting and decorated with toasted coconut and cherries – delicious!
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Pina Colada Layer Cake
The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions and to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required as well as understand the steps and timings involved.
If you’re looking for a tropical flavored cake for a birthday party, bridal shower, or a Hawaiian Luau party, then I think that this Pina Colada cake is it!
Despite its fancy appearance it’s actually pretty easy to make – yes really!
The cake itself is simply a box mix, and it’s easy to whip up a batch of coconut rum frosting in a food mixer.
Don’t worry if you can’t frost the sides perfectly because they’re covered in toasted coconut. Piping a swirl of frosting is honestly so easy (and you can practice a few times first – see my tips!)
Coconut rum goes into the frosting – so this isn’t a cake suitable for kids, or non-drinkers. However, make sure you read the tips section for alternatives!
This cake literally has the cherry on top and your guests will not be disappointed if you serve them a slice of this delicious cake that tastes just like Piña Colada cocktail!
Ingredients Used In This Recipe
Alongside some regular baking ingredients including things like eggs, butter, powdered sugar etc., there are some more specific ingredients that go into this cake.
For your convenience, I’ve linked any specialized ingredients needed for this recipe to Amazon below.
- Pineapple Cake Mix – plus the ingredients to make the cake (eggs, oil, water). If you can’t source a pineapple cake mix, make sure to check out my tips section for another option
- Coconut Extract
- Coconut Rum – such as Malibu.
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes – we toast these in the recipe, but you could buy toasted flakes if you prefer.
- Maraschino Cherries
For my UK readers: When I go on vacation to the USA, I like to stock up on my favourite American food products and ingredients, so you’ll find them used in some of the recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog. Luckily, we can buy a lot of American ingredients online these days, and in supermarkets (check the World Foods aisle!) which is awesome! (Although sometimes the price can be on the high side…) When I use American ingredients in recipes that I share on my blog, I always aim to suggest British alternatives or include Amazon affiliate links to where you can buy them online.
Equipment used in this recipe
You are likely to have many standard cooking tools in your kitchen but I’ve added some Amazon links for your convenience should you need to use something specific for this recipe.
- (2) 9-inch round cake pans
- (1) 10-inch round cake board
- Cooking Spray
- Wire Cooling Rack
- Piping Bag
- Large Open Star Piping Tip
- Icing Spatula
More Recipes Using Pineapple
Since this is a yummy pineapple cake, I thought I’d share a few more of my recipes using pineapple for you to check out next:
Pina Colada Layer Cake Recipe Tips
- This cake is made using a box of pineapple cake mix. But what if you can’t source this flavor? Don’t worry! Just buy a box of regular (yellow) cake mix and replace the water in the box recipe with pineapple juice instead.
- For more pineapple flavor you could chop up some canned pineapple into small pieces and throw them into the cake batter.
- Make sure the cakes have cooled completely (on a wire rack) before decorating.
- When the cakes have cooled, you will need to level off the tops so that they are flat. You can use a cake leveler which is a really handy tool to get a nice even cut. Or you can use a sharp knife and a steady hand.
- Do NOT throw away the excess cake though! You can use it to make cake pops! Simply crumble up the cake and mix it with some frosting and roll into balls. Insert a lollipop stick and dip into melted chocolate or candy melts. Leave to set, and enjoy!
- When toasting the coconut, make sure you keep a good eye on the pan. It can burn easily and you don’t want that burnt taste on your cake!
- Adding the toasted flakes to the sides of the cake takes some patience – you’ll make a bit of a mess, but you’ll get there in the end!
Making & Using Frosting
- When making the frosting you can adjust the amount of cream to get the consistency you require. The recipe suggests 3-5 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream (doubled cream in the UK). Start with 3 tablespoons and add more if needed.
- Place one cake layer onto a cake board or cake stand (I usually put a blob of frosting under the cake to hold it in place).
- Use an offset spatula/palette knife and/or a scraper to spread out the frosting on each layer and to make it smooth all the way around when frosting the whole cake.
- To prevent the frosting getting onto your cake board or cake stand, a tip I learned from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is to slip squares of parchment paper just under the cake all the way around. Once the cake is frosted you pull the paper away and you get a nice clean edge.
- If you are not confident with your swirl piping skills you can practice on some parchment paper first and scoop the frosting back into the bag to use on top of the cake.
- How many swirls do you need on top of the cake? Well, that’s up to you and how many servings you want to get! You could serve 6 huge slices of cake – so a swirl on each, or up to 16. Or you could do a continuous line of frosting around the cake edge and add cherries to indicate where to portion and cut.
You can’t have pina colada flavored anything without rum! However what if you want to serve this cake to non-drinkers or children? Well I have a couple of options for you which I have listed below.
I haven’t tried them, as they are just suggestions that came to mind as I write out this post. I would recommend you add the alternatives to taste, or make a test batch of frosting to check for flavor.
- You could leave it out altogether and just have a coconut flavored frosting.
- You could use a rum extract for baking – however, these do contain low or negligible traces of alcohol – check the brand you are using for replacement quantities.
- I found Ronsin non-alcoholic rum alternative, which describes itself as “a great alcohol-free alternative to rum” and “a woody, molasses flavor with a naturally sweet taste”
- Syrups come in so many different flavors including the Monin Caribbean syrup which is described as “Nose of Caribbean rum aged in oak barrel; sweet rum taste with notes of fruits and vanilla … will convert rum-based alcoholic cocktails to their non-alcoholic versions without losing the rum aroma“.
- The Spruce Eats has many alcohol substitutes and for rum they say “mix white grape juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, apple cider or water with a small amount of almond extract.”
More Tropical Recipes
Need some more tropical ideas? Take a look at these recipes next:
- Make These Tropical Fish Cupcakes For An Under The Sea Party!
- Totally Tropical Blue Hawaiian Cocktail
- 50+ Recipes for a Hawaiian Tropical Party
How Do I Make a Pina Colada Cake?
Just check out the recipe card below with full ingredients, and instructions. You can print the card out too (don’t worry, the pics don’t print to save your ink!).
For the Toasted Coconut
- 4 cups sweetened coconut flakes (approx 2 (7oz/198g) bags)
- 1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
For the Pineapple Cake
- 1 box of pineapple cake mix plus ingredients to make as directed on the box
For the Coconut Rum Frosting
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
- 3½ cups powdered sugar (icing sugar)
- 3-5 tbsp heavy whipping cream (double cream)
- 2 tsp coconut extract
- ½ cup coconut rum
- Maraschino cherries
- Place a large frying pan on medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Pour 2 cups of coconut into the pan and spread out evenly using a rubber spatula.
- Allow to fry for 2-3 minutes before flipping.
- Fry until almost evenly toasted - be mindful to not burn the flakes!
- Transfer and spread out onto a plate to cool.
- Repeat steps with the rest of the coconut.
- Preheat oven to the temperature indicated on the box of cake mix and spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray.
- Make the cake mix according to package directions and divide the batter between the two pans.
- Place in the oven for the time directed (around 30 minutes) or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool slightly in the pans before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Use an electric mixer (stand or handheld) to make the frosting by beating together the butter, powdered sugar, cream, coconut extract, and rum until combined and smooth and with stiff peaks.
- Scoop 1 cup of the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Set aside.
- Before assembling the cake, level off the dome that may have formed during baking.
- To assemble the cake, place one (cooled) layer onto the cake board (secure in place with a little frosting on the bottom).
- Scoop 1 cup of frosting onto this cake layer and spread out evenly to the edges.
- Place the second (cooled) cake layer on top and use the remaining frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake in an even layer using an icing spatula.
- Cover the entire cake with the cooled toasted coconut.
- Using the piping bag of frosting, pipe swirls around the top of the cake, and place a maraschino cherry on top of each one.
Please see blog post for tips and ingredient alternatives.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 731Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 146mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 4gSugar: 64gProtein: 2g
This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.
Make It A Tropical Meal!
You’ve made the showstopping dessert, but what about the rest of the courses?
Here are additional recipes to make a full meal!
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