Best Vanilla Ice Cream: Go Ahead, Be Vanilla

The best vanilla ice cream is creamy, rich, and actually tastes like vanilla. Real vanilla. It shouldn’t have the mild alcohol taste of vanilla extract. It shouldn’t taste like cake batter. It should taste like real vanilla beans.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t normally buy 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 those sweet, sweet speckles of actual vanilla beans.  After tasting an unbelievable amount of the stuff in two separate taste tests, I’m confident this is the best vanilla ice cream you can buy at the grocery store.


best 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. This “homemade” vanilla ice cream is some of the best store bought ice cream we tried in this taste test. 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: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

best vanilla ice cream

Best for Vanilla Haters

Favorite Day Homemade Vanilla Flavored 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. This “homemade” vanilla ice cream is some of the best store bought ice cream we tried in this taste test. 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: Liv Averett / Target

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

best vanilla 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 up a bowl of this vanilla ice cream with caramel 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. That’s why it’s one of the best vanilla ice cream brands at your local grocery store.

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

best 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, making it some of the best vanilla bean ice cream out there.

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

best vanilla ice cream

Best Organic

Alden’s Organic Vanilla Bean

occasionally it can 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’s one of the best vanilla bean ice cream brands we tried because it doesn’t just taste like vanilla bean. It almost has a barky, woodsy flavor from the actual vanilla bean pod itself.

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

best vanilla bean ice cream

Best of the Best

Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

It’s incredible. Like, the most 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, the best vanilla ice cream we tried in both of our taste test.

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

10/10

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…

Other Products We Tried:
Ben & Jerry’s, Belmont, Great Value, Aldi, Breyers, Signature Kitchen, Tillamook Old Fashioned, Edy’s/Dreyer’s, Kroger, Private Selection, Simple Truth, Graeter’s, Trader Joe’s, Favorite Day Vanilla Bean, Tillamook French Vanilla, Tillamook Vanilla Bean, Tillamook Old Fashioned

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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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  • The notes on the Blue Bunny and the Favorite Day are the same review. I want to know which one has a marshmallow after-taste!

    Reply
  • Blue Bunny and Favorite Day are the exact same review…whoops!
    Thank you for your reviews, I love this site!

    Reply
  • Blue Bunny must be made with different ingredients in different areas, because in PA its probably the worst Icecream brand you can get. Its awful. It has such a strange artificial aftertaste. Turkey Hill is always a good choice though.

    Reply
    • Agreed! Blue Bunny is so awful tasting imo and full of junk! I’m really surprised it made the list when there are so many better options but then everyone’s tastes aren’t the same lol. I do enjoy Turkey Hill but am trying to completely cut HFCS from my diet, and unfortunately it’s in there. I don’t know if they already have but I wish they’d do one of these with just all natural/organic vanillas.

      Reply
  • I’m surprised Costco’s Kirkland Signature super Premium vanilla didn’t make it in this list. I believe it’s best of the best.

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  • I recently picked up a pint of the Strauss Organic Vanilla and really loved it. I wonder where it would fall in the rankings with both the Chocolate flavor and Mint Chip being so highly rated.

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  • Did you try Kirkland super premium vanilla ice cream??!? It’s hands down the best and a great value.

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  • I haven’t tried most of these, but my personal favorite is Tillamook french vanilla

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

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

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

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

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    • Yes! It’s delicious. If you go to a Jeni’s location instead of getting the pints at the store, you have to try their honey vanilla whipped cream. It’s to die for.

      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

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

    Reply