The Vanilla Ice Cream Taste Test: We Tried 6 Brands and Picked Our Favorites

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Whether you pile a few scoops in a cone or use a single mound 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 rising, we decided it was time for an ice cream taste test.

We tried six brands of vanilla ice cream and highlighted two best ones. Want to see which ones won?

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Call me boring, but when it comes to ice cream, vanilla ranks as my all-time favorite flavor. Or more accurately, good vanilla ice cream ranks as my all-time favorite flavor. 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.

(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.

(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.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

The Taste Test Results

Here are the two brands that got the best reviews from our tasters.

(Image credit: Breyers)

This ice cream was loved by all. It makes sense when you realize that the Breyers website has a page dedicated just to its vanilla flavors! Vanilla is a flavor that this brand really focuses on. 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.”
(Image credit: Ben & Jerry’s)

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 kept going 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.”

Do you have a favorite vanilla flavor that we didn’t mention here?