3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake

3-2-1 Piña Colada CakeI wrote this post earlier in the week as I packed for a short family trip to Sanibel Island, Florida. Hopefully, we will relax while soaking up healthy amounts of vitamin D. Though our family has been to Sanibel Island before, we have never visited during the dreaded Spring Break crowds. However, that is when my 2 adult children were available and we all needed a warm get-away,so we decided to give it a try.  In the past, we found Sanibel to be a wonderful destination for family time, just hanging out, shelling, biking, breathing. That is our unscheduled plan for this trip as well.

3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake

If you can’t get away but  need a break from still wintery weather (or want to send a care package to someone needing warmth) I offer you a cup of instant sunshine in the form of a 3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake. Imagine fluffy vanilla cake speckled with shredded coconut and juicy bits of pineapple. Then top this tropical treat with generous drizzles of sweet coconut cream. Now stop imagining and grab a mug. A 3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake can be ready to eat in 1 microwave minute!

3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake

A 3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake is made with the magic mixture of one box of vanilla cake mix plus one box of angel food cake mix. I combine mine in a large zip lock bag. Three tablespoons of this cake mixture is stirred together with two tablespoons of water. Then mix in a tablespoon of sweetened coconut and a tablespoon of drained pineapple bits. After one minute in the microwave, drizzle generously with coconut cream. Take a bite and taste the sunshine.

3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake

When I first started playing with 3-2-1 cakes, I wasn’t thrilled. Plain microwaved cake tastes a little like a sponge. Adding goodies to the mix helped, but something was still missing. The trick, it turns out, is syrup. Sweet, moist syrup turns a novelty dessert into an on-purpose, I-really-love-this dessert! In the case of 3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake, the coconut cream (not to be confused with coconut milk) is a must. It moistens the cake and adds a big splash of sweet coconuty flavor.

Coconut cream, in cans or plastic bottles, can be found in the baking aisle or sometimes in the liquor aisle with ingredients for mixed drinks. Our supermarket only carries it in cans but I have seen coconut cream online in plastic bottles. World Market carries coconut syrup, another good choice, in a small plastic bottle. I prefer the bottle for care packages because the bottle can be easily opened and then closed for storage.

3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake

For care package use, pour the two cake mixes into a gallon-size zip lock bag labeled with directions, add a bag of sweetened shredded coconut, a few small cans of pineapple tidbits, a measuring spoon and a package of microwave safe paper cups or a can of non-stick spray.  Please note that aerosol cans are not allowed in international care packages. To mail internationally and/or for no clean-up, I highly recommend adding microwave safe paper cups to your military or college care packages.

A note to those who are gluten-free: 3-2-1 cakes CAN be made with gluten-free cake mix! The angel food cake mix is not necessary. We use Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes for gluten-free  3-2-1 cakes but I see no reason why other brands wouldn’t work as well. Enjoy!

3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake

3-2-1 Piña Colada Cake
Makes: about 24 mugs of cake
  • 1 box Angel Food Cake mix
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • Non-stick spray (if not using disposable cups)
  • Water
  • 1 bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits, packed in pineapple juice, drained
  • 1 can/bottle coconut cream or coconut syrup
  1. In a gallon sized ziplock bag, combine the two boxes of cake mix. Shake the bag to mix thoroughly.
  2. Lightly coat the inside of a microwaveable mug with non-stick spray or use a disposable microwave safe paper cup. (Without the spray the cake will not transfer out of the mug and the mug is harder to clean.)
  3. (Here comes the 3-2-1 part) Into the prepared mug, stir together 3 tablespoons of cake mix and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix in a tablespoon of coconut and a tablespoon of pineapple.
  4. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the cake with a little coconut, a few bits of pineapple, and a generous drizzle of coconut cream/syrup. Then eat it right out of the mug. If you want to transfer the cake onto a plate, run a knife around the edge between the cake and the mug to loosen, dump out onto a plate, then add the coconut, pineapple, and coconut cream/syrup.
Packing tips
Combine the two cake mixes into a labeled gallon-size ziplock bag. Include a measuring spoon, a bag of sweetened shredded coconut, a can of pineapple tidbits packed in juice, and a can/bottle of coconut cream/syrup. If the care package is international, include microwave safe paper cups. If the care package is domestic, add either a can of non-stick spray (for use with a ceramic mug) or microwave safe paper cups.

If you enjoy this 3-2-1 cake, you might also enjoy:


3-2-1 Magic Cake                                        3-2-1 Molten Lava                                      3-2-1 Caramel Apple

3-2-1 Collage 3C

3-2-1 Candy Bar                             3-2-1 Strawberry Lemonade                          3-2-1 Mandarin Orange

3-2-1 Boston Cream                                 3-2-1 Piña Colada                                         3-2-1 Black Forest




  1. Christine says

    Sanibel Island is my favorite place on the planet. I have been going every year since I was a little girl. (I’m 45 now) I will be there in October, I, like you, have never been during the dreaded spring break. I will definitely be making this in our condo sometime this upcoming trip!!

    • says

      Good news, Christine….even during Spring Break, Sanibel is amazing! Periwinkle was to be avoided when the day trip beach goers were arriving or leaving and also at dinner time, but the beaches were magnificent, the shelling was so much fun, and the aura of Sanibel was as peace-filled as usual! How wonderful that you get to look forward to a yearly Sanibel refill! 3-2-1 cakes are great for individual treats when you don’t have tons of ingredients on hand and don’t want to turn on the oven!
      p.s. Jerry’s carries the cream of coconut in a bottle…..I checked :)

  2. says

    I hope that you have a great time in Florida and get to soak up some sunshine! I love this spin on the 3-2-1 cake with pina colada! With the cream of coconut and pineapple I bet this is delicious!

    • says

      We did have a great time, Ashley, thank you! The sunshine warmed us as the sound of the surf calmed us. Sanibel is such a wonderful place to unwind and recharge. I was especially happy because we were together as a family….something that is hard to do when your “kids” grow up and are working or going to school in different cities. If you like pineapple and coconut, this 3-2-1 cake is really good!

  3. says

    I hope you had a wonderfully relaxing time on vacation, Wendy! I love these quick mug/cup cakes. I made a chocolate mug cake with my son a month or so ago and he was so impressed with himself and thought it was so amazing. You have a slew of recipes for us to choose from here. You know I want that lava cake! Yum!

    • says

      Thanks, Monica! We did have a relaxing time! There is something so soothing about the sound of a gentle surf lapping at the beach. :) Even during Spring Break, Sanibel is a mellow sort of place. Dinner time restaurant waits were unpleasantly long, but the beaches were not crowded even at peak times of day and the shelling was so much fun!
      I have to agree with your son. :) I am amazed every time I make on of these microwave cakes! The lava cake is so fast and easy….you may not want me to tell you how good it is!

  4. says

    I hope you enjoyed your vacation, Wendy! In the meantime, I will definitely be enjoying this lovely tropical cake!!! The Spring doesn’t know if it wants to stay yet, so until then, I can scarf down a few of these cakes. 😀

    • says

      Thanks, Jess! We had a great vacation…everyone needed it! I don’t think I would want tropical weather year round, but it did warm our frozen souls! :) Tropical flavors, on the other hand, I will take any time. These cakes will make you think you are on vacation…if you close your eyes!

  5. says

    This sounds so good and easy, and I’m excited because I actually already have almost all of these ingredients! I’m making a similar recipe for cupcakes later next week, but I only wish they were as easy to make as this! I think I will make this more often. :) Hope you enjoyed your vacation and I love the theme of your blog. My hubby is in the army so I send care packages to him when he is away, and also to family and friends back home. Looking forward to getting some great ideas from you! :)

    • says

      Hi Ashlyn! Thank you for stopping by! Living in Hawaii, I bet you have many opportunities to enjoy pineapple and coconut treats! 3-2-1 cakes are fun and yummy but for The Monday Box they have to be care package-able! (The ingredients must be storable at room temperature, at least until opened.) As long as the recipient has access to a microwave, they (and quite a few of their nearest and dearest buddies) can enjoy a hot, gooey, sweet treat. :) I am always open to advise and suggestions from experienced military care package senders. The military side of care packages is still new to me and I am trying to learn all I can. Hopefully, you will never need desert-safe recipes, but if you do, I have a bunch here. :)
      Are you going to post your tropical cupcake recipe? I will be checking your blog to see!!
      p.s. The photo of your family on your “about” page is great! I am guessing those two little ones keep you moving. :)

  6. ashlyn16 says

    This sounds so good and easy, and I’m excited because I actually already have almost all of these ingredients! I’m making a similar recipe for cupcakes later next week, but I only wish they were as easy to make as this! I think I will make this more often. :) Hope you enjoyed your vacation and I love the theme of your blog. My hubby is in the army so I send care packages to him when he is away, and also to family and friends back home. Looking forward to getting some great ideas from you!

    • says

      ¡Gracias. Irmina! ¡Es un postre divertido, facil, Y rico! ¡Espero que te gusta! :)
      ¡Tus Galletas Puzzle de Animales de la Granja son tan encantadoras¡ :) Estoy feliz que encontró mi blog porque ahora he encontrado la tuya.

      Your Animal Puzzle Cookies are so adorable! :)

  7. Julie Hatchett says

    I made the piña colada and needless to say it was all gone, I didn’t get to try it. My guys said they loved it and it was really easy! Way to go! Julie

    • says

      Thanks, Julie, for letting me know that your guys loved their 3-2-1 cake!! The Pina Colada version is so magic-easy that its hard to believe that it tastes soooo good until you try it! Of course you didn’t get to try it, only your guys. I say, wait until they are all out of the house, then take 1 minute and make your very own! :) There are a bunch of 3-2-1 flavors to pick from so that everyone can have their favorite!

  8. says

    I hope you had a lovely vacation! I will have to make one of these awesome piña colada cakes and then close my eyes and pretend I’m somewhere tropical! 😉 They sound delish!

    • says

      We DID have a great vacation, Jocelyn! Thanks! A combination of much needed warmth, stress-free time, and together time made it great. :) With a little imagination (and eyes closed), 3-2-1 Pina Colada cake is a mini tropical get-away! :)

        • says

          Hi, Peggy! I have only tried one cup at a time. The timing would probably be a tiny bit longer for more cups. You would have to experiment because the microwave strength, number of cups, and the shape of the cups can make a difference in the timing. If you try it, please let me know what your results are!

  9. says

    total sunshine in a cup: hope you had a lovely time in Florida! I’ve been to Sanibel many times as a child, and i remember it always being lovely (although we always went at un-spring break times as well, so i hope it wasn’t too busy when you were there). :)

  10. says

    Pina colada must be on both our minds because I made a quickbread this week using the same flavors! They just scream of summer. Hope you’re vacation is going great!!

    • says

      Thanks, Reenie! Pineapple and coconut do scream summer and we are all so anxious to say goodbye to this past winter! A Pina Colada quickbread sounds great! I will be looking for the post! :)

  11. Jessica says

    Well, this sounds super delicious! Is there anyway to make this as a regular cake and without microwaving? Would loooove to make this for a family get together :-) Thanks!

    • says

      Hi, Jessica! I agree that the Piña Colada flavors would be delicious in a regular cake as well! I haven’t made one (yet) but this is what I would do: Mix up yellow vanilla cake batter according to package directions (or your favorite homemade recipe). Mix in a cup of shredded coconut (sweetened coconut is softer) and 1/2 – 3/4 cup of pineapple bits. Bake according to directions. After baking either top the whole cake or individual portions with sprinkled shredded coconut, pineapple bits, and coconut cream. I think any shape (round, rectangle, or bundt) would be beautiful! Let me know how it turns out! :)


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