In Pursuit of the Dole Whip

During our recent trip to Walt Disney World for Food Blog Forum 2013, Mr. Eats and I were excited to finally try the legendary Dole Whip. It’s probably the most well-known and sought-after treat in all the Disney lands. Available regularly only at the Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom (Adventureland) and at Disneyland, the Dole Whip (to me) just tasted like soft serve pineapple sherbet. As in, a sorbet with dairy. One of the Dole Whips I got was swirled with orange, which tasted just like a Push Up, so that confirmed my belief.

The orange swirl Dole Whip from Aloha Isle in Adventureland. Conveniently located next to Tinkerbell!
The orange swirl Dole Whip from Aloha Isle in Adventureland. Conveniently located next to Tinkerbell!

But how to make soft serve pineapple sherbet at home? Yeah, that’s a really good question. So I consulted Google. But for a Dole Whip recipe, not soft serve pineapple sherbet. The first hit was this one, written by what seemed to be an expert (or, at least, a superfan).

So, I gave it a shot.

The verdict? Not a Dole Whip. It tastes…fine [UPDATE: no, it doesn't and it freezes hard as a rock!], but it is not quite tart enough and it is way too rich, particularly when you’re brain is prepared for sherbet. The heavy cream, though whipped (and it needs to be whipped to near butter to have enough air in it), is the culprit. You see, the Dole Whip is almost entirely non-dairy. As in, it’s not made with whipped cream. The big clue is in the original post that indicates the only dairy is sodium caseinate. Which happens to be what was, until recently, the only dairy ingredient in (wait for it) Cool Whip.

[cue the sounds of my heart breaking]

A couple of years ago, though, the makers of the Dole Whip updated the recipe so that it is now dairy-free. This is something I wish I’d known when I thought this would be a suitable dinner substitute for my daughter (what? Milk is good for you!). Anyway, here are the ingredients of the Dole Whip mix, according to the producer (Kent’s Precision Foods):

Sugar, Dextrose, Coconut Oil, Stabilizers (Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Karaya Gum, Pectin), Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Natural & Artificial Flavor (contains Pineapple Juice), Modified Food Starch, Malic Acid, Beta Carotene (Color), Mono & Diglycerides, Less Than 2% Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking).

Note: water would be the first ingredient in the prepared mix.

Here are the ingredients of Cool Whip, according to various sources, NOT including the Kraft website:

Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Skim Milk, Light Cream. Contains less than 2% of Sodium Caseinate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Xantham and Guar Gums, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monostearate, Beta Carotene

Note: only recently did Cool Whip’s recipe change to include milk and cream.

So, it’s not quite the same. But there are many of the same principles at work here. That is, achieving a creamy consistency without cream. Because the cream did not work. Since it’s homemade, it doesn’t need the maltodextrin, which is what turns the recipe to powder or the colors or silicon dioxide. But it will need what they refer to as stabilizers to hold (gel) it together. So maybe the coconut oil (or coconut cream) is the trick. Plus starch and gelatin/agar agar powder, xantham gum and/or pectin. What about a pudding recipe or custard with added xantham gum? And then run it through the ice cream maker. Hrm. And more sugar, for sure. This recipe comes out of the freezer hard as a rock. Though one trick may have been to add confectioner’s sugar to the whipped cream.

Argh, I could experiment a hundred different ways and still not get it (but definitely go broke). Clearly, this is a job that’s beyond my skill and knowledge level. And beyond my kitchen’s ability as well. I need a test kitchen and Alton Brown’s staff and probably Wylie Dufresne as well.

Has anyone else tried making Dole Whip at home? I know the recipes that call for ice cream don’t work, but any other tips or tricks are appreciated. Or perhaps I should just leave it at Disney. Frankly, I actually liked the Violet Lemonade (available only during the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival) much better.


8 thoughts on “In Pursuit of the Dole Whip

  1. Glenna Gonzales

    I tried making it with pineapple juice and evaporated milk, and it wasn't bad. But, like you said, hard as a rock when stored in the freezer, like any homemade ice cream. I have started putting it in single serving containers when storing it in the freezer, then microwaving for 20 seconds prior to eating. But nothing tastes like the pineapple whip that I get at the fair.

  2. This has me wondering.... I wonder if this is the same stuff I ate a TON of in Hawaii (first at the Dole plantation, then at a few other spots) several years ago? Oh my gah, I could not stop eating it!

  3. I saw SO many Dole Whip pics on instagram when everyone was at Disney! Even though I've never had, seeing all the pics made me crave it (or something like it) in a major way. If you find a successful copycat recipe, do let me know!

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  5. Arnold Misra

    Vegetarians vary in their feelings regarding these ingredients, however. For example, while some vegetarians may be unaware of animal-derived rennet's role in the usual production of cheese and may therefore unknowingly consume the product,[^`..'

    My own, personal blog

  6. Crystal

    I was determined to make pineapple "ice cream" in my vitamix after trying some at a Costco road show today. I happened upon a google search for vitamix doke whip recipes and tried the one from the chocolate covered Katie blog.

    I doubled her recipe, and tweaked it a bit. For a double portion I use 4 cups of Costco amazingly sweet frozen pineapple chunks, 6 oz horizon orgsnic whipping cream, 4 tbsp lemon juice, a small pinch of salt, and 3 tbsp sugar.

    It took some scraping and mixing and tamping down, but I blended it in te vitamix until smooth and creamy and served quickly in custard cups.

    Took less than 2 minutes.

    Not sure if you could freeze it, but Costco's frozen pineapple is amazing and makes this desset almost instant to prepare, so no real need to freeze it.

    It's not an exact replica, but it's close, and darn tasty. 🙂

    For a dairy free version, one could go for a piña colada flavor and skip the cream as use coconut cream, but you might want to skip the salt then, and maybe increase the sugar and lemon juice as needed.

  7. Debra Jeltema

    One of the most remarkable properties of xanthan gum is its ability to produce a large increase in the viscosity of a liquid by adding a very small quantity of gum, on the order of one percent. In most foods, it is used at 0.5%, and can be used in lower concentrations. '^"'

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