We Asked 3 Chefs to Name the Best Ice Cream, and They All Said the Same Thing

published Jul 2, 2024
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overhead shot of a carton of Tillamook vanilla bean ice cream, with the lid off and sitting to the right of the pint.
Credit: Vicky Wasik

The thing about ice cream is that eating it is never a bad idea. I’ve eaten ice cream to celebrate triumphs, and I’ve eaten ice cream to soften the sting of failure. No matter which occasion it accompanied, it was always cold, sweet, and right on time. 

Case in point: When I was a line cook, I worked under a sous chef who kept a gallon of vanilla ice cream in the walk-in freezer at all times. As a former smoker, he had switched from taking smoke breaks to snagging a random spoonful of ice cream, and I always thought it was a particularly brilliant move. Thinking about him made me wonder what brand of vanilla ice cream — the standard bearer of all ice cream flavors — do chefs love most? So I asked, and here’s what I found out.

Credit: Vicky Wasik

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream to Buy, According to Chefs

Emma Hearst, chef, author, and founder of Forts Ferry Farm and the Farm Shoppe, thinks people shouldn’t overlook a high-quality vanilla ice cream: “Although vanilla ice cream can often be looked at as a sleeper, in my opinion it is actually the most useful of all the ice creams because it can serve as a blank canvas or be melted down into a sauce.” Hearst stocks an artisanal ice cream from Woodstock, New York, at the Farm Shoppe, but when it comes to a classic grocery-store vanilla, “I always go Häagen-Dazs.”

The same is true for designer, recipe developer, and content creator, Peter Som, who says Häagen-Dazs is his tried-and-true vanilla ice cream brand. Som gives Häagen-Dazs high marks, noting that it’s “creamy with just the right amount of vanilla, egginess, and richness.” The combination of consistency and flavor makes Häagen-Dazs his go-to. “And the little flecks of vanilla bean ensure the floral notes of vanilla flavor are front and center.”

Those flecks got a nod from baker and author of Breaking Bao (out this fall), Clarice Lam. “I love Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream for its ultra-creamy, custard-like consistency and splatters of vanilla bean freckles.” Lam likes to top crispy liège waffles with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a liberal drizzle of hot fudge. (The Belgian breakfast staple is popping up on shelves across grocery stores.) 

“The warmth from the waffle and fudge melt the outermost layer of ice cream from both the bottom and the top to create a delightful dance of textures and temperatures that are to die for.”

Buy: Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, $5.29 (on sale!) for 14 ounces at Amazon

Do you agree with these chefs? What vanilla ice cream is in your freezer?