I’ve always envied people who could satisfy their sweet tooth with a piece of fruit. For me, a handful of grapes just doesn’t come close to a scoop of sweet, rich ice cream. It wasn’t until I discovered Yonanas, a kitchen appliance that turns frozen fruit into soft serve, that I realized what was missing in my losing battle of tricking my brain into thinking fruit was dessert: texture. Sure, flavor is half of what makes ice cream, well, ice cream, but I’d argue to say that it’s that decadent, creamy texture that keeps me coming back for more. And that’s exactly the void Yonanas fills.
While there are several appliances that have ice cream-making capabilities, Yonanas is different in that it doesn’t involve a recipe, tedious prep work, or a two-day long process. Instead, the nifty appliance allows you to transform frozen fruit into an ice cream-like dessert that those with an affinity for the cold, creamy treat would appreciate. Not to mention, the machine is decently priced (pick one up Amazon for around $40), and doesn’t require the addition of cream or milk (which can add to the calorie and fat content of your treat).
Made by Dole (yes, the same folks who have their sticker on your bunch of bananas), Yonanas is a machine that allows you to create healthy “ice cream” using bananas as a base (though you can whip up banana-less recipes too). Upon purchasing a machine you’ll receive a packet containing 36 recipes but really, the options are endless when it comes to what you’re able to add in (think: other frozen fruit, nuts or nut butter, frozen chocolate, and even coffee if the day calls for an affogato).
The Yonanas machine comes with a plunger, chute, blade, and gasket. Assembly was intuitive (I didn’t need an instruction manual) and took no more than one minute. The machine itself doesn’t take up much real estate on my countertop — it’s smaller than a food processor but slightly bigger than a NutriBullet — which I appreciate.
How to use Yonanas
Yonanas is extremely easy to use and involves three basic steps: freeze your fruit, thaw your fruit, and insert it into the chute. Yep, it’s that simple. You can use any fruit of your choosing (bananas, strawberries, pineapples, mango, peaches — you name it), and they can be store-bought or pre-frozen from fresh fruit. Just keep in mind that if you prefer to pre-freeze the fruit yourself, you’ll want to freeze them for at least 24 hours before placing them into the machine. As for the bananas (which is the base for many of the recipes you can make in the Yonanas), the brand recommends taking over-ripe “cheetah-spotted” bananas, peeling them, and letting them freeze for that 24 hours. (Pro tip: the riper the banana, the sweeter your treat will be.)
Before using the machine, you’ll have to remove your frozen fruit from the freezer and allow it to defrost for seven to 10 minutes — no more, no less. This is important and has a direct effect on how your end result will be: thawing for any less time and the fruit will be too frozen, thawing for any longer and you’ll have a goopy mess on your hands.
After thawing, it’s as simple as ensuring the base is locked, clicking the “on” button, throwing the fruit into the chute, and pushing it down with the plunger. And of course, make sure to place a bowl underneath the opening at the bottom to catch the “soft serve” as it comes out.
Does Yonanas work?
Now, let’s talk about what really matters here: flavor and texture. The texture was eerily identical to ice cream, so much so that my anti-fruit toddler niece was surprised I was letting her have bowls upon bowls of “ice cream.” The three recipes I tried (plain bananas, bananas and a tropical fruit medley, and a mango and raspberry sorbet) were all impressive — and completely sweet tooth-satisfying — to say the least.
As far as flavor goes, achieving that sweetness you get from ice cream will all depend on the ingredients you’re using. For instance, if you’re using only bananas, it’ll taste like…bananas. But with a creamy, cold twist. Still, I didn’t miss that “artificial” sweetness I’d normally get with standard ice cream. Rather, I found my treat to check every box when it came to the characteristics I love about ice cream: creaminess, rich flavor, and, of course, coldness.
If you’re using other fruits in addition to bananas, it’s best to alternate between banana halves and the other fruit to ensure the mixture has an even distribution of both. Also, because the end result mimics the texture of ice cream so well, you can treat it as such when it comes to toppings. Crumbled graham crackers, chocolate shavings, granola, and shredded coconut are all welcomed additions to the soft serve.
Is Yonanas worth it?
I must admit, I didn’t have high hopes for Yonanas, but I’m seriously impressed that I, a self-proclaimed ice cream fiend, was satisfied with what I made in this machine. Plus, it’s a great way to make use of over-ripe bananas that one would may otherwise toss or use for yet another loaf of banana bread. My only complaint with the machine is that a good amount of fruit tends to get stuck in the blade and in the bottom of the chute. While not the biggest deal in the world (I simply scrape any excess into my bowl), it certainly counteracts the “minimizing food waste” attribute if you don’t end up using the remnants that get stuck.
All in all, if you’re a die-hard ice cream lover and are trying to pump the brakes on how much of it you consume, or if you’re following a vegan, keto, or dairy-free diet, Yonanas is definitely worth it. While it won’t taste exactly like ice cream, its unique mechanics allows it to provide a “dessert” that mimics the texture of soft serve. And, because it’s made out of fruit, the treat you make in the Yonanas can be eaten as a midday snack or post-dinner treat minus the extra calories.