Monday, September 15, 2014

Cool Whip Copy Cat Recipe

I read Lili at Creative Savv on a regular basis.  A few days ago she had a post about the rising costs of dairy and mentioned several ways she was trying to cut her reliance on those products.  One of the things she mentioned was making an almost Cool Whip product at home using powdered nonfat milk, gelatin, sugar and water.  I had not only never tried it, but had never even heard of it before. So what does a NERD like me do when there is something I have no clue about? Well, of course I research it and then I try it!  Doesn't everybody?

                                          Completely and Totally  Fake Cool Whip Recipe

1 teaspoon plain gelatin
2 teaspoons water
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup ice water
1/2 cup powdered non fat milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*
3 tablespoons oil ( I used grape seed oil because I wanted a neutral flavored oil)

There are a couple of tricks to making this successfully. Before you do anything at all put the glass or stainless bowl you will be using to beat the cream into the freezer along with the beaters to your mixer. (I suppose you could use a whisk but if you do you will need forearms like Popeye)  To say they need to be cold is an understatement.  They need to be ice cold.  Also go ahead and fill your largest drinking glass with ice and pour 1/2 cup of water over the ice.    Put the gelatin in a small glass bowl and add the 2 teaspoons of water to soften it.  Pour the boiling water into the bowl and stir like crazy so it will dissolve completely.  Set it aside until it cools down a bit but does not start to thicken.  Now you are ready to begin the actual process of making it.  In the ice cold bowl beat  1/2 cup ice water with 1/2 cup non-fat powdered dry milk with the ice cold beaters. ( Do not use a full fat product like Nido because it will not whip.  I know because I tried both.) Beat it until the mixture holds stiff peaks.  Slowly add the sugar and vanilla.  Add the oil and gelatin mixture alternately until it is all gone.  Continue beating until everything is nicely combined.  Put it into the freezer for about 15 minutes, whisk and it is ready to use.

This is a very straightforward and "easy" way of creating a whipped topping to use in place of Cool Whip.  I will confess I am a purist and prefer whipped cream or nothing, but I understand that is my personal taste.  For that reason why anyone buys Cool Whip is a mystery to me.  I think it has a very slick mouth feel and tastes like a chemical sundae.  This did not have that unpleasant after taste nor the funny mouth feel.  It did have a very slight oiliness to it but it did nothing to detract from the overall consistency.  I found it tasted much closer to a true whipped cream than the frozen in a plastic bowl stuff.

I had to go to the store to by unflavored gelatin and found a 1 slice package of pound cake in the deli section.  It was the perfect vehicle for a taste test.  The cream formed a very nice dollop on the cake and was actually pretty darn tasty.  The down side was that there was a lot left over.  I put it in a covered container and set it back in the fridge.  According to all the comments for the original recipe it was just as good the second day.  I happened to find some jello when I was hunting in the pantry for plain gelatin, so I made it for my day 2 test. ( I should have just bought another slice of cake).  I will just let the picture do the talking and you can decide for yourself whether it holds up to your specs or not. To be honest I did not try beating it again.  It might have become fluffy again but it was more trouble than I thought "fluffy" was worth. ( I probably should have tried it in the name of science, but science would not clean the dirty dishes.)

                        There was just no way to make this look good, so I didn't try.  Sorry!

This made slightly under 1 cup of whipped topping.  I would only make as much as I was going to use in one sitting because, well you saw the picture. (Those who gave it a thumbs up for day 2 must have some mad beating skills that I do not possess.)  For that reason I would not use it in place of Cool Whip in a recipe.  It does not have the stabilizers, emulsifiers or hydrogenated oils that the commercial product has.

When I make it again I will make half as much so it can all be consumed at one sitting as a topping only.  And trust me, it was a pretty tasty topping!

* Using vanilla extract changes the color ever so slightly.  If having a pure white whipped topping is critical, I would suggest making vanilla sugar a few weeks beforehand. Just slice a vanilla bean and place it in a cup or so of sugar in a tightly sealed glass container.  Shake it daily and at the end of a couple of weeks you will have lovely vanilla flavored sugar.


  1. But I'm assuming that it still tasted good the next day even though it wasn't fluffy. Your picture reminded me of a short lived Jello product from years ago--Jello 1,2,3. It was Jello that separated out in three layers with Jello on the bottom and the "whipped" light part on the top. I really liked it as a kid.

  2. The taste was unaltered and still very tasty, it just had no shape. Even though it would not hold it's shape the "mouth feel" was fine also.
    I remember the old Jello product, but did not remember the name.

  3. I love making homemade whipped topping with heavy whipping cream. I don't make it as often because heavy cream is kinda expensive. Thanks for sharing an alternative.

  4. I agree with you Brandi. I prefer the real thing, but this was a reasonable substitution and it did not have the icky Cool Whip flavor.

  5. I didn't know that they even made unflavored gelatin. I learn something every day!

  6. Yeah, I don't really understand the whole point of jello/ gelled stuff to begin with, but at some time I must have thought I needed some because I found several packs in the back of the pantry. The only reason I ever have unflavored gelatin is for panne cotta which I have made 2 times in my long life.