Dairy-Free Piña Colada Fruit Dip

I love summer. I love the long evenings, sitting on a patio with friends, hikes in sunny mountains, and the freedom to leave my house without grabbing a jacket.

Traditional girls' night spread. We don't mess around.

Traditional girls' night spread. We don't mess around.

There are certain foods that define summer for me: watermelon, gin & tonic, cucumber-tomato salad, grilled burgers, and homemade ice cream, to name a few. This week at girls' night, Paige introduced me to a new summertime favorite, which we dubbed Piña Colada Fruit Dip.

It's easier to make than it sounds, requiring only two ingredients: the cream from a can of coconut milk and a bit of sugar. Dipping a piece of freshly cut (and even better grilled) pineapple in this whipped coconut will be sure to bring you back to a beach in the Caribbean..

Most whipped cream dishes are made from the cream of cow's milk. However, there are some poor souls who are not able to eat dairy.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is the sugar (i.e. carbohydrate) found in milk. It's a disaccharide (that's pronounced: die-sack-uh-ride), which means it's made of two single carb molecules: glucose and galactose.

Our digestive system has to break down foods we eat into their tiniest components before we can absorb them into our bloodstream to be transported and used as energy. Lactose is broken into its components via an enzyme called lactase.

Dairy Free Pina Colada Fruit Dip from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Babies and kiddos produce lots of the enzyme lactase, because the primary carbohydrate in breastmilk is also lactose. Thus, it's pretty important for infants to be able to break down and absorb this nutrient. However, as we age our bodies begin to produce less lactase. In fact, many adults produce such little lactase they can hardly digest lactose at all.

This is called lactose intolerance.

People who are lactose intolerant experience discomfort when the undigested lactose passes through the small intestine (where it should have been digested and absorbed) and into the large intestine. In the large intestine (also called the colon), gut bacteria have a hayday with the influx of carbs. They eat, they digest, and they make gas - thus causing the characteristic symptoms of lactose intolerance: bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Someone who is lactose intolerant doesn't need to avoid dairy completely; it's more the level of tolerance. Some foods have more lactose than others. It goes like this:

milk > yogurt > cheese > butter

Dairy Free Pina Colada Fruit Dip from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

As you remove the carbohydrates (i.e. milk sugar, i.e. lactose), you remove the reason for discomfort for lactose-intolerance sufferers. So if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you likely can tolerate some dairy products - just not all of them and not in too large of quantities.

Dairy Allergy

A dairy allergy is potentially much more dangerous than lactose intolerance. Someone who is lactose intolerant and consumes milk will be uncomfortable, but his or her life won't be in danger. This is not true for some people who have an allergy to dairy.

So what's the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy? A lot, actually. The human immune system is pretty incredible, but an allergy occurs when someone's immune system goes awry.

In the case of a dairy allergy, an individual consumes milk and the immune system incorrectly identifies the milk protein as an evil foreign invader. It then launches a similar attack to what it would do to a bacteria or virus: histamines cause swelling, increased mucus production, and general feelings of icky-ness. 

The allergic reaction to dairy can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening anaphylaxis, but it only takes a very small amount of exposure to trigger the allergic response. Thus, someone with a dairy allergy must avoid all milk products completely.

Dairy Free Pina Colada Fruit Dip from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Even if you don't suffer from either of the aforementioned afflictions, you'll still love this light and creamy dessert. Better yet, you'll love how simple it is!

Start with two cans of full-fat coconut milk (don't bother with the light version - we want the coconut fat!). It's better to find cans which have been sitting on a shelf for a few weeks, allowing time for the cream to separate from the water. Put the cans in the fridge overnight to cool the milk, making it easier to separate.

Whip it good!

Whip it good!

Once cool, skim the cream off the top of the coconut milk and place in a bowl to whip. Add one tablespoon of sugar and stir to combine, then using the whisk on your favorite mixer, whip it good!

Turn up the speed to full and whisk until the cream starts to form soft peaks.

Soft peaks!

Soft peaks!

And you're done! Wasn't that easy?

Refrigerate to make the cream a little more firm. It will last a few days in the fridge before starting to liquefy again. Enjoy with your favorite tropical fruits!

Dairy Free Pina Colada Fruit Dip from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Dairy-Free Piña Colada Fruit Dip


  • Cream from 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk (about 1 cup)

  • 1 Tbsp. sugar (or sugar substitute)


  1. Place cans of coconut milk in refrigerator and allow to cool for several days, or at least overnight.

  2. Skim cream off top of coconut milk and add to mixing bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine.

  3. Using whisk attachment, turn speed to "high" and whisk until cream begins to form soft peaks.

  4. Store in refrigerator for several days and serve with your favorite tropical fruit.

Note: the original recipe doesn't include alcohol, but I'm not against experimenting!

Serves 16 - Serving Size: 2 Tbsp. - Nutrients per serving:  53 calories -- 5g total fat -- 5g saturated fat -- 0g trans fat -- 0mg cholesterol -- 0mg sodium -- 2g total carbohydrates -- 0g fiber -- 1g sugar -- 0g protein