How to Make Vegan Coquito: A Festive and Dairy-Free Holiday Delight

Coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican holiday drink that’s known for its creamy and indulgent flavor. Learn how to make vegan Coquito.

It’s typically made with ingredients like coconut cream, condensed milk, and various spices, making it a sweet and comforting treat. However, for those following a vegan diet or who are lactose intolerant, enjoying this delicious beverage can be a challenge. But fear not! In this article, we will explore how to make a delectable vegan coquito that’s equally rich and flavorful, ensuring that everyone can enjoy this festive drink during the holidays.

What Is Coquito?

Coquito, which means “little coconut” in Spanish, is a Puerto Rican holiday drink that’s often compared to eggnog due to its creamy and spiced nature. Traditionally, it’s made with a base of coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and various spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Some variations also include a touch of rum, adding an extra layer of warmth to this festive beverage.

Is Coquito Healthier Than Eggnog?

Coquito is not necessarily healthier than eggnog. Both beverages are high in calories, saturated fat, and sugar. A one-cup serving of coquito can contain up to 500 calories, 25 grams of saturated fat, and 40 grams of sugar. A one-cup serving of eggnog made with whole milk and heavy cream can contain similar amounts of calories, saturated fat, and sugar.

However, there are some nutritional differences between coquito and eggnog. Coquito is typically made with coconut milk, which is a good source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are a type of fat that is easier for the body to digest and absorb than other types of fat. MCTs have also been shown to have some health benefits, such as boosting metabolism and reducing inflammation.

Eggnog, on the other hand, is typically made with whole milk, which is a good source of protein and calcium. However, whole milk is also high in saturated fat.

Overall, coquito and eggnog are both unhealthy beverages when consumed in excess. If you are looking for a healthier option, you may want to consider making a homemade version of either beverage using low-fat or fat-free milk and less sugar. You could also try adding healthy ingredients, such as fruit or protein powder.

Here are some tips for making healthier coquito or eggnog:

  • Use low-fat or fat-free milk instead of whole milk.
  • Use less sugar or a healthier sweetener, such as stevia or monk fruit.
  • Add healthy ingredients, such as fruit, protein powder, or chia seeds.
  • Limit your portion size.

It is also important to note that coquito and eggnog can contain raw eggs, which can pose a risk of foodborne illness. If you are using raw eggs in your recipe, be sure to use fresh eggs from a reputable source and cook them thoroughly before consuming.

What Is a Substitute for Coconut Cream in Coquito?

There are a number of substitutes for coconut cream in coquito. Some of the most popular include:

  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk is a good substitute for coconut cream because it has a similar flavor and texture. However, coconut milk is less thick than coconut cream, so you may need to use more of it to achieve the same desired consistency.
  • Evaporated milk: Evaporated milk is another good substitute for coconut cream. It is thicker than coconut milk and has a slightly sweeter flavor. However, evaporated milk does not have the same coconut flavor as coconut cream.
  • Heavy cream: Heavy cream can also be used as a substitute for coconut cream. It is much thicker than coconut milk and has a richer flavor. However, heavy cream is also higher in calories and saturated fat than coconut cream.
  • Cashew cream: Cashew cream is a vegan substitute for coconut cream. It is made by blending raw cashews with water until smooth. Cashew cream has a similar flavor and texture to coconut cream, and it is also high in nutrients.
  • Soy cream: Soy cream is another vegan substitute for coconut cream. It is made by blending soybeans with water until smooth. Soy cream has a similar flavor and texture to coconut cream, and it is also a good source of protein.

If you are using a substitute for coconut cream in coquito, be sure to adjust the sweetness of the recipe to taste. Coconut cream is typically sweetened, so you may need to add more sugar or another sweetener to your recipe if you are using a substitute that is not sweetened.

Here are some tips for making coquito with a substitute for coconut cream:

  • If you are using coconut milk, use full-fat coconut milk for the best flavor and texture.
  • If you are using evaporated milk, add a little bit of sugar or another sweetener to the recipe to taste.
  • If you are using heavy cream, you may need to dilute it with a little bit of water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • If you are using cashew cream or soy cream, be sure to blend it until it is very smooth.

No matter which substitute you choose, your coquito is sure to be delicious!

Vegan Coquito: The Plant-Based Alternative

To create a vegan version of coquito, we’ll replace dairy-based ingredients with plant-based alternatives while retaining the traditional flavors that make this drink so beloved. Here’s what you’ll need:


  1. 2 cans (13.5 oz each) of full-fat coconut milk
  2. 1 can (14 oz) of coconut cream
  3. 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed coconut milk
  4. 1 can (12 oz) of evaporated coconut milk
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  9. 1/2 cup of your favorite vegan rum (optional)
  10. 1 cup of shredded coconut for garnish (toasted if desired)
  11. Vegan-friendly sweetener (optional, to taste)
  12. Pinch of salt


  1. Blender
  2. Whisk
  3. A large mixing bowl
  4. A serving pitcher or bottle

Now that we have our ingredients and equipment ready, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making vegan coquito.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

Before starting, make sure you have all the ingredients listed above. Ensure that your coconut milk, coconut cream, and sweetened condensed coconut milk are well-mixed and smooth. You can use canned or homemade versions, depending on your preference.

Step 2: Blend the Base

In a blender, combine the coconut milk, coconut cream, sweetened condensed coconut milk, and evaporated coconut milk. Add the ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt to the blender as well. If you’re opting for a non-alcoholic version, you can skip the rum at this stage.

Blend everything together until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are well combined. This step might take a couple of minutes, depending on your blender’s power.

Step 3: Adjust Sweetness

Taste the mixture to check for sweetness. Depending on your preference, you can add more sweetened condensed coconut milk or a vegan-friendly sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar. Keep in mind that the sweetness will mellow out as the flavors meld, so it’s better to start with less and adjust later.

Step 4: Add the Rum (Optional)

If you’re going for the traditional coquito flavor with a kick, now is the time to add the rum. Pour in your preferred vegan rum and blend again for a few seconds to incorporate it evenly into the mixture.

Step 5: Chill and Mingle

Transfer the coquito mixture into a large mixing bowl. Cover it and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight if possible. Chilling allows the flavors to meld and the drink to thicken.

Step 6: Toasted Coconut Garnish

Before serving, you can enhance the presentation and flavor by toasting some shredded coconut. Simply place the shredded coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until it turns golden brown. Remove it from the heat immediately to prevent burning.

Step 7: Serve and Enjoy

When you’re ready to serve, give the coquito mixture a good stir or shake. Pour it into glasses or small cups, garnish with toasted coconut, and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or nutmeg if desired.

Vegan Coquito Variations

Now that you’ve mastered the basic vegan coquito recipe, you can get creative with variations to suit your taste:

  1. Chocolate Coquito: Add cocoa powder or vegan chocolate chips for a rich chocolate twist.
  2. Spiked Coffee Coquito: Mix in a shot of cold brew coffee for a caffeinated kick.
  3. Almond Joy Coquito: Incorporate almond extract and chopped almonds for a nutty flavor.
  4. Fruit Flavors: Experiment with fruit flavors like mango, pineapple, or passion fruit by adding pureed fruit to the blender.
  5. Sugar-Free Coquito: Use sugar-free sweeteners and coconut milk varieties to create a low-sugar version.

Tips for Making the Perfect Vegan Coquito

As you embark on your vegan coquito-making journey, here are some tips to ensure your drink turns out perfect every time:

  1. Choose Quality Coconut Products: The quality of your coconut milk, coconut cream, and sweetened condensed coconut milk can greatly affect the final taste and texture of your coquito. Look for brands that use natural ingredients without additives or preservatives.
  2. Adjust Sweetness to Taste: Sweetness is subjective, so don’t be afraid to adjust the sweetness level to your liking. Start with less sweetener and add more as needed. Remember that the sweetness will mellow as the coquito chills.
  3. Use High-Quality Spices: Freshly ground spices will impart the best flavor. Consider using whole spices and grinding them yourself for an even more aromatic coquito.
  4. Blend Thoroughly: Ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly blended to achieve a smooth and creamy texture. No one wants chunks of coconut milk in their coquito!
  5. Chill for Best Results: Chilling the coquito for a few hours or overnight is essential for letting the flavors meld and the drink to thicken. It’s worth the wait.
  6. Experiment with Garnishes: While toasted coconut is a classic garnish, feel free to get creative with your toppings. You can also use vegan whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or fresh fruit for a unique presentation.
  7. Label Alcoholic Versions: If you choose to add rum to your coquito, make sure to label it as such, especially if you’re serving it at a gathering where some guests may prefer a non-alcoholic version.
  8. Serve in Small Glasses: Coquito is rich and indulgent, so it’s typically served in small glasses or shot glasses. This allows everyone to enjoy a taste without feeling overwhelmed.
  9. Store Properly: Store any leftover coquito in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for up to a week, but it’s so delicious that it might not last that long!
  10. Enjoy Responsibly: If you’ve added alcohol to your coquito, remember to enjoy it responsibly, especially during holiday celebrations.


Vegan coquito is a delightful plant-based alternative to the traditional Puerto Rican holiday drink, offering all the creamy richness and spiced warmth without the dairy. With just a few simple substitutions, you can create a delicious vegan coquito that’s perfect for sharing with friends and family during the holiday season. So, gather your ingredients, blend up a batch, and savor the festive flavors of this dairy-free delight. Cheers to a happy and vegan-friendly holiday!


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