‘If You Like Pina Colada’ BBQ Sundae (Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Soya-free, Nut-free)

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If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, then this is the perfect British BBQ treat. Of course, if you live outside of the UK and like pina coladas then this dessert would also be ideal, but the chance of getting caught in the rain might be significantly lower.

I created this dessert for my aunt, who does like pina coladas. I was trying to come up with a pudding that could make use of the BBQ, while still being perfect for hot Summer days, and this is essentially a deconstructed version of the famous cocktail with extra depth of flavour from the caramelized and scorched pineapple. This is then served with creamy coconut ice-cream, drizzled with a rum-infused treacle sauce, and finished with a scattering of toasted coconut flakes for some crunch. It is essentially like some sort of tropical desert island fantasy in a bowl. Or if you’re doing things properly (which I am clearly not), a sundae glass.

Making the ice-cream yourself is surprisingly easy, but does require that you start at least a day in advance. I would definitely recommend giving it a try; it’s only four ingredients and the result is sumptuous, silky and deliciously rich. However, if you’re short of time or energy there’s no reason why you can’t use shop bought – any dairy-free coconut ice-cream or sorbet would be delicious, or even vanilla ice-cream, though you’d lose a little of the tropical flare.

Whether shop-bought of home-made, on the day of your BBQ you want your ice-cream ready-to-go in the freezer. The prep can largely be done any time on the day and set aside until you’re ready for it. You’ll need to slice the rough skin off a fresh pineapple (if you have a particularly large pineapple or fewer people to cater for you could always save some of the top for garnish), and then slice sections of the flesh away from the core, which you can discard. Cut the pineapple into thick slices (about 1.5 cm) and place in a bowl or tub with some light soft brown sugar (light muscavado or caster would also be fine) and some lime juice, and mix everything together. If you’re making this a few hours in advance, refrigerate until ready to use, then sear on the BBQ for a few minutes on each side, until the slices are charred with dark caramel coloured grill lines.

You can also toast the coconut flakes (also called flaked coconut, or coconut chips) in advance and set them aside until needed – you can also buy them ready-toasted for extra convenience. Otherwise, you’ll need a frying pan over a medium heat, and to watch the flakes like a hawk – they can catch and burn really easily so keep them moving in the pan until they are starting to turn golden brown, then transfer into a bowl. If you don’t have coconut flakes you could use desiccated coconut instead; again be very careful as you toast them so they don’t burn.

The treacle sauce can be made and served straight away, or if you make it in advance it will need to be warmed through to loosen it up again. Simply melt the vegan butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block), sugar and non-dairy milk in a small saucepan and let bubble for 5 minutes until it starts to smell toasty, then leave to cool before adding the sea salt and dark rum. You can always omit the rum if you don’t drink, or set some of the sauce aside and add rum to the rest if you’re also catering for children.

Then all that’s left is the assembly. Were I to own a proper sundae glass, I would have layered the pineapple, ice-cream and treacle sauce, then scattered the coconut flakes at the end, but rest assured it tastes just as good plonked unceremoniously in a bowl. It is also highly recommended to place a large and theatrical pineapple slice on the side, and to serve with a cocktail umbrella and sparkler.

'If You Like Pina Colada' BBQ Sundae

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: Some skill required
  • Print

A sumptuous sundae based on the classic cocktail; BBQ-charred pineapple and coconut ice-cream, draped in a rum-soaked treacle sauce and topped with toasted coconut flakes

Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Soya-free, Nut-free

For the coconut ice-cream*:

  • 2 tins full-fat coconut milk (I like Sainsbury’s own-brand)
  • 90g sugar (caster / light soft brown / light muscavado)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp fine salt

For the pineapple:

  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 tbsp lime (about ½ a lime)
  • 1 tbsp light soft brown sugar (or caster / light muscavado)
  • 50g coconut flakes (or desiccated coconut)

For the treacle sauce:

  • 75g vegan butter or spread (I use Naturli Vegan Block)
  • 100g sugar (caster / light soft brown / light muscavado)
  • 3 tbsp non-dairy milk of choice
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt (or 1/4 tsp of fine salt)
  • 1-2 tbsp dark rum


  1. To make the ice-cream you’ll need to start 1–2 days in advance. If you have an ice-cream maker ensure it’s been in the freezer for at least 24 hours, and that your 2 tins of coconut milk have been in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Open the tins of coconut milk and you should have a solid layer of coconut cream at the top. Scoop this out into a small saucepan, trying to minimize the amount of water than comes with it. If your coconut milk has not properly separated try to get as much of the opaque white cream out and as little of the translucent water as possible (your ice-cream will still work it’ll just be a little more icy). Add 90g sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla extract and ½ tsp salt, and melt over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and cool, and then transfer to a bowl or tub and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and ideally overnight.
  2. Put the mixture in your ice-cream maker and churn according to your machine’s instructions (usually about 40–45 mins until the mixture is the consistency of soft-serve), then refrigerate for at least another 6 hours. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, once the mixture has been in the fridge for long enough, transfer it to the freezer, then after 30 minutes take it out and whisk it with an electric hand whisk, being sure to incorporate anything that has frozen around the edges. Return to the freezer and repeat, whisking every 30 minutes until the mixture is at soft-serve consistency i.e. very thick and creamy. Then leave in the freezer for at least another 6 hours.
  3. Cut of the top and tail of your pineapple and slice off the skin. Cut the flesh away for the hard central core, and into thick slices, at least 1.5 cm thick. Put in a bowl with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp lime, mix together and refrigerate until you’re really to start grilling.
  4. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, toast the coconut flakes; make sure you move them around the pan constantly to avoid them burning. Once they’re golden brown, tip into a bowl and set aside.
  5. For the treacle sauce, in a small saucepan, add 75g vegan butter, 100g sugar and 3 tbsp non-dairy milk. Melt together over a medium heat and let bubble for 5 minutes, until it’s smelling toasty. Leave to cool for a few minutes then add the salt and 1 tbsp dark rum. Taste and add a little more salt or rum if you like. If you make this in advance, you’ll need to warm it up over a medium-low heat for a couple of minutes before you use it.
  6. Place the pineapple slices on the grill of a hot BBQ (you could also use a very hot griddle pan on a hob). Cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, until the pineapple is scorched with dark caramel stripes. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl, then assemble your sundaes, layering pineapple, coconut ice-cream and treacle sauce, and finishing with a scattering of toasted coconut flakes.


*You could of course use shop bought ice-cream if you’re in a rush. It never tastes quite as luxurious but it’s a great time-saver!

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