Recipe Review

This No-Churn Pineapple-Coconut Soft Serve Is Even Better than Disney’s Dole Whip

updated Jul 15, 2021
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Credit: Patty Catalano

My sister-in-law’s obsession with Disney’s Dole Whip is something of family lore, and once I tried it for myself, I understood the hype. The cool and creamy tropical treat saved me during an especially sweltering trip to Orlando, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Needless to say, when I saw Food & Wine’s recipe for pineapple-coconut soft serve pop up on my Facebook feed, I knew I had to try it. Was it really possible to make the fruity confection in my own kitchen without a special soft-serve machine — or even an ice cream maker? I added a pineapple, a can of coconut cream, a bottle of agave, and some flaky coconut to my shopping cart to give this recipe a try. Here’s how it went.

Credit: Patty Catalano

How to Make Food & Wine’s Pineapple-Coconut Soft Serve

You’ll begin by breaking down a fresh pineapple. Slice off the top leaves and the bottom of the fruit, then stand it on one end and cut the rind off in long strips. Quarter the fruit from top to bottom and remove the tough inner core. Cut the fruit into half-inch pieces. You should have about six cups of pineapple chunks. Spread the pineapple onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid, eight hours or overnight.

Combine the frozen pineapple chunks, unsweetened coconut cream, light agave nectar, and a pinch of kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until the fruit is finely chopped, then process until the mixture is smooth and aerated. Serve immediately with flaked coconut, or freeze in an airtight container until just firm, about one hour.

My Honest Review of Food & Wine’s Pineapple-Coconut Soft Serve

I was blown away by how refreshing, creamy, and simple it was to make this tropical treat. The proportion of pineapple to coconut was just right, striking that delicate balance between sweet and refreshing. While the texture was softer than soft serve when I tried it straight out of the food processor, after about an hour in the freezer it was perfect.

I tested two versions of this recipe — one with fresh frozen pineapple and another with store-bought frozen pineapple chunks. There was no perceptible flavor difference between the two, although the version with store-bought pineapple had a thicker consistency right out of the food processor (although I still preferred the texture after a short stint in the freezer).

While I didn’t try an alcoholic option, the recipe’s headnotes indicate that you can substitute rum for a portion of the coconut cream. The alcohol will keep the ice cream from freezing solid, so serving this treat soft will be even easier. I can’t wait to try that for the next batch.

Credit: Patty Catalano

5 Tips for Making Food & Wine’s Pineapple-Coconut Soft Serve

  1. Use frozen pineapple chunks. Breaking down and freezing the pineapple is the most tedious part of this recipe, and makes last-minute soft-serve impossible. Using store-bought frozen pineapple chunks saves you time and effort — there’s no reason not to use them.
  2. Substitute honey for agave. If you don’t keep light agave nectar on hand, you can use honey instead. Agave is more mild-tasting, but the aroma and flavor of honey complements the pineapple’s sweet floral flavor.
  3. Make sure you’re using unsweetened coconut cream. There are a lot of canned coconut options on the shelves, so it is important to choose unsweetened coconut cream. The fat in the cream keeps the soft serve from developing an icy texture. It also traps the air during food processing, which gives the tropical treat its signature soft-serve style.
  4. Freeze for at least 1 hour before serving. The recipe gives the option of serving the soft serve immediately, but I found mine was too soft. Even if you’re looking for that soft-serve consistency, transfer the mixture to a container and freeze to your desired consistency, about 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Control the thaw for make-ahead soft serve. If your soft serve has been in the freezer for days or weeks, transfer the container to the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving. By controlling the thawing process in the chilly confines of the refrigerator, the pineapple-coconut mixture thaws evenly and keeps the edges from turning to soup.

Have you tried Food & Wine’s pineapple-coconut soft serve? Let us know what you thought in the comments!