Hillary’s Christmas Coquito—with a Classic Twist

Puerto Rican coquito

This coquito recipe is from my sister, who is our family-famous maker of this festive Christmas season concoction. Here is the story she sent when she emailed me her recipe. Gracias, Hillary.

“It was 1991. I had just moved to New York City from Washington, D.C. It was cold, gray and miserable. Christmas for me meant hot sunshine everywhere and running around outside barefoot—neither of which are possible in NYC in December.

“I was working and wasn’t going to be able to go home to D.C. that Christmas and be with the family. Feeling homesick,I decided to make some Puerto Rican food—or, at least read about it and imagine the flavors.

“I started with the bible of Puerto Rican cooking: Cocina Criolla by Carmen Aboy Valledejuli, a staple of every household when I was growing up on the island. 

“I came upon a recipe for coquito, and thought it seemed simple and easy  enough. The  perfect thing to take the edge off the cold and homesickness all at once. It was, and it did. First, here is Valldejuli’s classic recipe”:

Comida Criolla‘s Classic Coquito


  • 2 dried coconuts, large

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 2 cups white rum

  • 1 can condensed milk, undiluted

  • Dash of nutmeg or cinnamon

I went to the  grocery store, and of course I wasn’t able to find two large, dried coconuts. And even if I could have, I really didn’t want go through the effort of breaking open the coconuts and scraping out the meat and the juice. Right there is when I started improvising and altering the recipe.

I have made coquito every Christmas since. Every year I try something new in the name of making it better.

This is one of the reason I love this recipe. Valldejuli’s classic is the base on which we can all build. Plus, our palates have evolved and gotten more sophisticated since the 1950s.

This is my 2019 version of the recipe. Not yet sure what 2020 version will be. Maybe (much) more rum to erase the memory of this year? No matter what happens or how you make it, the best thing about this recipe is you can’t mess it up. Have fun with it.

Check out Hillary’s coquito, below. Familia Kitchen also has these coquito recipes. And if you want to make your coquito vegan, we got your back. Happy holidays!

Ready to Make Hillary’s Puerto Rican Coquito?

Hillary’s Christmas Coquito

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Hillary Caviness Cuisine: Puerto Rico

8 to 10

Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 cups 2 rum (silver)

  • 4 4 yolks from large eggs

  • 1 can 1 condensed milk

  • 1 can 1 coconut milk

  • 1/2 to 1 can 1/2 to 1 Coco Lopez

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 shredded coconut

  • 2 shakes 2 nutmeg

  • 2 to 3 2 to 3 star anise pods

  • 5 to 10 5 to 10 cloves

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cognac, brandy or whiskey


  • Mix rum, eggs, condensed milk, coconut milk, Coco Lopez, shredded coconut and nutmeg in a blender, adding one at a time so they thoroughly mix. (Or you can add them all at once. I usually do.)
  • In a separate saucepan, add alcohol, star anise and cloves and place on low heat, until it starts to boil. Take the pan off the burner and let steep, the longer the better. I usually let it cool for an hour or two.
  • Once cool, strain the star anise and clove. Place in blender and pulse blender one last time.
  • Pour coquito mixture into an empty rum bottle or a glass pitcher—preferably with a wide mouth (this makes it easier to serve). Place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. It’s ready once it has thoroughly chilled and the consistency has thickened.
  • Serve cold, straight out of the fridge, with a final dash of nutmeg on top. Let the holidays begin!


  • For rum, I use 1 cup Bacardi regular and 1 cup Bacardi Coconut rum—or any other coconut-flavored rum. For Coco Lopez, I use the whole can if I am using low-fat coconut milk.
  • Be sure to make extra because it goes down fast. Too fast.
  • Editorial note: Hillary’s coquito is no-BS out of this world. We beg for it every year. She usually makes it on Christmas Eve while playing El Gran Combo, loud. See below. We-savor—every—last—drop.

As the Grand Combo sings in their festive “Fiesta de Pillito”:
Y cuando se está
Acercando diciembre
Es fecha pa vacilar.
Y tu no olvides
Viene diciembre
Época de vacilar.

Vamos pa aquí
Vamos pa’ ya
Todo Puerto Rico
A comer pastel
A comer lechón
Arroz con gandules
Y a beber ro

Got a question or suggestion?

Please rate this recipe and leave any tips, substitutions, or questions you have!

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Suggestions and questions from our readers