Best Vanilla Ice Cream: Go Ahead, Be Vanilla

I never order vanilla ice cream. I think it is the most boring thing you can possibly eat. Or, I should say, I thought it was the most boring thing you could eat. After this taste test, I realized that vanilla ice cream can be extremely nuanced, complex, and delicious. I love being wrong!

When it comes to a pint of vanilla ice cream, I’m looking for gentle sweetness, thick creaminess, and, if the brand really wants to be elite, actual vanilla beans. Speckles that pepper the off-white base and make me feel fancy. Sam Hamilton, creator growth lead at Mythical, joined us to decide which store-bought vanilla ice creams you should be keeping in your freezer.

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Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Best of the Best

Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

It’s incredible. Like, it’s the absolutely perfect and most delicious vanilla ice cream you can imagine. The texture is ideal. Vanilla beans speckle the beautiful cream-colored base. It’s sweet without being too sweet. This would be great with sprinkles and hot fudge, slapped onto a piece of warm apple pie, or eaten completely alone in a cup. Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was, by far, Sam’s favorite vanilla we tried in our taste test and the rest of the Sporked team agreed!

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Alden's Organic Vanilla Bean

Best Organic

Alden’s Organic Vanilla Bean

Sometimes organic desserts worry me. I’m not upset that they’re organic; it can just occasionally feel like they are trying to pitch me a pseudo-healthy sweet treat. I’m sorry, but I am not interested in an organic, non-GMO, msg-free, whatever-other-greenwashed-word ice cream. Alden’s Organic Vanilla Bean, however, is extremely tasty. They are not trying to serve me health food ice cream. They are just providing 100% delicious vanilla flavor. And the vanilla flavor is deep. It doesn’t just taste like vanilla bean, it almost has a barky, woodsy flavor from the actual vanilla bean pod itself.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

McConnell's Fine Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Best Splurge

McConnell’s Fine Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

McConnell’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is the type of ice cream you buy when you’re making your significant other a fancy anniversary dinner and want to splurge on ingredients. It’s the type of ice cream you gently scoop onto a mixed berry clafoutis you spent hours making because the recipe wasn’t as simple as your favorite food blogger suggested. This ice cream has a soft, scoopable texture, creamy mouthfeel, and natural vanilla flavor. Danny Palumbo, my fellow Sporked staff writer, described this pint as “decadent.”

Credit: Ryan Martin / Vons

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Best for Sundaes

Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean Ice Cream’s subtle flavor and creamy texture make it a perfect base for any dessert, particularly an ice cream sundae. I want to load a bowl of this up with butterscotch sauce, sprinkles, and a handful of maraschino cherries. It’s tasty enough to hold its own when drenched with hot fudge and whipped cream, but it also doesn’t pull too much focus. It’s an ice cream that’s good on its own, but even better when it has some friends. Also, 10/10 for texture because it is so luxuriously smooth.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla Ice CreamBlue Bunny Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Best Sugary

Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I’m not sure how they get away with calling this “homemade” because it literally is not, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that this ice cream is stellar. Not only is the scoopability factor in the exact range I’m looking for, but the flavor is also unique. Yes, it’s vanilla, but it also has marshmallowy notes. My one warning would be that this ice cream is sweet. Like, it’s really really sweet. I have no issues with that whatsoever because I’m all about sugary ice cream, but it might not be for you if you’re not into that sort of thing.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Great Value Homestyle Vanilla Ice Cream

Most Nostalgic

Great Value Homestyle Vanilla Ice Cream

This tasted like a generic ripoff of the Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla. And I mean that as a compliment! Notes of marshmallow and strong sweetness permeate the base of this ice cream. All of our tasters agreed that there was something nostalgic about this one. Justine Sterling, Sporked’s editor-in-chief, even referred to it as “wooden spoon vanilla” because it tastes exactly like the tiny cups of ice cream you get at camp or school that come with a small, flat wooden spoon. I promise that the Great Value Homestyle Vanilla will have you unlocking childhood memories right and left.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

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Belmont Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Best Budget

Belmont Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Aldi’s Belmont Vanilla Bean Ice Cream tastes fancy without doing any damage to your wallet. Like some of the more expensive vanilla bean ice creams on the market, this one also packs tons of vanilla bean visuals and flavor. You might buy McConnell’s to make a fancy anniversary dinner, but you’re stocking your freezer with Belmont for your Friday night homemade milkshake ritual (which you actually enjoy more than a fancy dinner). This ice cream is accessible, affordable, and delicious. What’s not to love?

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream

In their vanilla ice cream taste test, Rhett & Link agreed that Ben & Jerry’s makes their favorite vanilla ice cream. Kind of coincidental that Rhett & Link selected a company named after two men whose names are separated by an ampersand. Now that I think about it, I’ve never seen Rhett & Link and Ben & Jerry in a room together at the same time…

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About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

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  • This video needs to get redone with the blue bell homemade vanilla. Nothing is better than that.

    Reply
  • You guys are missing so much contenders sadly due to location. East coast has Turkey Hill, Hood, Tilamook, and Friendly’s.

    Reply
    • We tried some of these!

      Reply
      • I bet Friendly’s you haven’t

      • Likely not hood or Friendly’s

  • Jenni’s Honey Vanilla Bean is hands down the best vanilla when compared to Haagen-Dazs. It’s sooooo good!

    Reply
  • Try Trader Joe’s vanilla ice cream! It’s the smoothest and creamiest! We keep it in the freezer at all times and add whatever mix ins to it or eat it on its own. The absolute best.

    Reply
  • You guys ever try Blue Bell Ice Creams? Feel like Blue Bell is consistently left off the ice cream lists.

    Reply
  • I wish there were more Tahitian Vanilla Bean Ice Creams available. They are so good.

    Reply
  • really suggest you guys try the Costco Vanilla ice cream, its the best vanillia ive ever had

    Reply