The Vanilla Ice Cream Taste Test: We Tried 6 Brands and Ranked Them

The Vanilla Ice Cream Taste Test: We Tried 6 Brands and Ranked Them

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Kelli Foster
Jun 17, 2015
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Whether you pile a few scoops in a cone or use it as a topping for your summer pie, crumble, or cobbler, there's something truly satisfying about the simplicity of vanilla ice cream. And with the temperature breaking 90 degrees in New York City last week, we decided it was time for an ice cream taste test.

We tried six brands of vanilla ice cream and ranked them from our least to most favorite. Want to see how they did?

Call me boring, but when it comes to ice cream, vanilla ranks as my all-time favorite flavor. Or more specifically, good vanilla ice cream. There aren't any bold or overpowering flavors, no gooey swirls, and no distracting add-ins. Instead it relies on good-quality ingredients to make this flavor shine.

The lineup of ice creams.
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Selected the 6 Brands

I selected a variety of well-known national brands of vanilla ice cream that can be found at most grocery stores across the country, as well as one locally made brand. Because of melting potential and lack of freezer space, the selection was dictated by what was available at two grocery stores closest to the Apartment Therapy office, as well as brands offered for delivery via Amazon Fresh.

Going in for a taste.
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Set up the Blind Taste Test

I purchased six brands of vanilla ice cream. I assigned each brand a letter, then scooped each one into a bowl, and lined them up on a table. I placed two cups filled with wooden tasting sticks on the table for the tasters to use as a vehicle for sampling the ice cream.

I asked everyone in the office to give me their thoughts on all six types of vanilla ice cream and to comment on their favorite, their second favorite, and their least favorite.

Susannah from our sales team ponders her next taste.
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

The Taste Test Results

Here are the results, from the least favorite to most favorite brand of vanilla ice cream:

6. Whole Foods Vanilla Ice Cream ($.10/ounce)

The first thing I noticed about this ice cream was the color. While other brands of vanilla were vibrant white, this one was not nearly as bright. Off the bat this ice cream also looked really airy and soft. It seemed like it had the potential to melt fast, which is definitely not something you want, especially during the summer.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "Yuck, too light and foamy."
  • "Tastes airy and cheap."
  • "Doesn't have a lot of flavor. It's kind of underwhelming."
  • "It's really bland."

5. Edy's Grand Vanilla Ice Cream ($.11/ounce)

While firmer than the Whole Foods brand, this ice cream was also softer than the other brands in the taste test. What surprised me about this brand was that the flavor was a little bland, and easily got lost with all the others.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "It leaves a creamy coating on my mouth."
  • "Tastes oddly bland."
  • "It's really sweet."
  • "Ehh."

4. Blue Marble Vanilla Ice Cream ($.50/ounce)

This is a locally made organic ice cream from Brooklyn. I really thought it would blow the competition away, and was surprised when it received mediocre reviews across the board. For being the priciest ice cream in the lineup, it had a pretty standard flavor and nothing that really set it apart.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This tastes like restaurant ice cream."
  • "It reminds me of Friendly's."
  • "Tastes a little fake. I don't like it."
  • "Oh, this is super buttery."

3. Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream ($.30/ounce)

I was surprised to see Haagen-Dazs fall in the middle of the pack. While this ice cream had good flavor, that's just it — it was good but not great or very memorable. This one tasted like a standard vanilla ice cream.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "Light and a bit too icy."
  • "Mmmm, super creamy."
  • "Tastes like standard vanilla ice cream."
  • "Good, but not memorable."

2. Breyers All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream ($.10/ounce)

This ice cream was loved by all, and just narrowly missed taking the overall win. I think Breyers has a distinct look and taste and was sure the tasters would be able to identify it. They proved me wrong.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "Yummy, but it melts in my mouth too quickly and disappears."
  • "My favorite!"
  • "This tastes like the Upper East Side of ice cream."
  • "I'm really into this."

1. Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Ice Cream ($.25/ounce)

I have to be honest, when I think about vanilla ice cream, Ben & Jerry's isn't a brand that jumps to my mind. But just as they excel with super-rich, indulgent flavors, they definitely know what they're doing when it comes to basic vanilla.

It was a really close call between Ben & Jerry's and Breyers, but this one took the win by a margin. Forget going back for seconds, everyone in the office went back for more until the bowl was empty.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "My favorite — it's fresh and beany."
  • "Has a strong vanilla flavor, in a good way."
  • "Yessss!"
  • "I just wanna keep eating this."

Have you ever done a taste test with vanilla ice cream? Or any other flavor? Do you have a favorite that we didn't mention here?

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