The Unexpected 1-Ingredient Vanilla Ice Cream Upgrade I’m Doing All Summer

published Jun 5, 2024
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Three small bowls filled with scoops of vanilla ice cream on a table, with two spoons
Credit: Joe Lingeman

I’m not a huge dessert person. At least, I’m not the type of person to make elaborate desserts at home. I’m more of a pour-some-chocolate-chips-into-a-bowl type of person. That said, I’m always up for new ideas for easy desserts for those times when I want a sweet treat, but don’t want to actually invest a lot of time and energy into making something. 

Imagine my delight when I came across the idea of sprinkling chile lime seasoning on plain ol’ vanilla ice cream on a recent episode of the Trader Joe’s podcast. Could this spice blend really take vanilla ice cream to new heights? I just had to find out.

Credit: Rivera Wawrzyn

My Honest Review of Vanilla Ice Cream with Chile Lime Seasoning

I would never have thought to combine these two products. While I love vanilla ice cream on a brownie, it’s not really ever my choice if I’m at an ice cream shop. And I’ll put Tajin on everything from corn on the cob to avocado toast to slices of watermelon, but I never even considered it as a possible dessert enhancement. Trader Joe’s chile lime seasoning is basically a generic version of Tajin clasico, a blend of chile peppers, lime, and salt. Because I do not live near a TJ’s, I tried this with Tajin and it did not disappoint. 

Chile lime seasoning packs a lot of flavor into one spice blend. It’s lightly spicy from the chile peppers, tangy from the lime, and savory from the salt. Every one of those flavors comes through on vanilla ice cream. The creamy sweetness of the vanilla rounds out the acidity of the lime, while the chile adds a hint of spice. And the salt makes for a sweet-savory combo. Kudos to whoever dreamt this up. 

Credit: Rivera Wawrzyn

Tips for Adding Chile Lime Seasoning to Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Don’t go too heavy. A light sprinkling is all you need to keep this in balance. Too much Tajin becomes overwhelming.
  • Try Tajin variations. Tajin comes in a few flavors, like habanero and a sweet blend called Tajin Twist. I could see both being just as delicious on top of vanilla ice cream.
  • Experiment with other flavors of ice cream. Vanilla is the perfect vehicle for chile lime seasoning because it’s so mild, but I bet the tangy, spicy flavor of chile lime would also be great on chocolate ice cream, or pistachio ice cream. Try new combinations and shout out what works in the comments.