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Epicurious indulged in 13 brands of vanilla ice cream, but only one got rave reviews from the editors.
W hen it comes to vanilla ice cream, you might be tempted to ask whether there's really that much of a difference in taste from one brand to another. But having tried 13 different brands of vanilla, we can positively confirm it: Not all vanilla is created equal.
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In search of the best vanilla scoop, we started by excluding French vanilla and vanilla bean varieties in favor of plain old basic vanilla. What did we want from the perfect pint? A natural-looking frozen scoop that can be enjoyed in a bowl, on top of a sugar cone, or à la mode.
Best Vanilla Ice Cream:
Whole Foods Market Vanilla Ice Cream ($3.59)
Pros: "This one really stood out because of its perfectly milky taste and whipped mousselike consistency," stated one judge.
Others liked its snow-white appearance and the fact that it's made from only six ingredients.
Cons: Can be bought only at Whole Foods Market.
Editors' Rating: 4 forks out of 4
Breyers Natural Vanilla ($4.99)
Pros: All judges commended this pick for being just sweet and creamy enough, capturing the essence of vanilla.
Cons: Some believed it lacks that signature vanilla fragrance.
Editors' Rating: 3.5 forks out of 4
Ben & Jerry's Vanilla ($4.69)
Pros: "Good, thick consistency and precise vanilla flavor," stated one judge. "Creammmy," said another.
Cons: Contains more fat per serving than the others.
Editors' Rating: 3 forks out of 4
The Other Contenders
Most tasters thought SoCo Creamery was icy and tasted fruity, almost pineapple-y. 365 Organic was an unappealing yellow color, very thick and surprisingly bland.
And while we're fans of Blue Marble's other flavors, their brand's vanilla missed the mark: "Tastes like bad vanilla frosting," said one judge. "Needs a serious dosage of hot fudge," suggested another.
Additional Taste Test Details
All 13 types of vanilla ice cream evaluated are available nationwide in supermarkets or online. Listed from highest to lowest score achieved, they are: Whole Foods Market Vanilla Ice Cream, Breyers Natural Vanilla, Ben & Jerry's Vanilla, La Salle, Turkey Hill Original Vanilla, Häagen-Dazs, Graeter's, Stonyfield Farm Gotta Have Vanilla, Ronnybrook Farm, Edy's Slow Churned Classic Vanilla, SoCo Creamery, 365 Organic, Blue Marble.
Methodology: In a blind taste test, judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of 13 types of vanilla ice cream. Results were ranked using the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being best).
Prices and availability subject to change.
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