We Taste-Tested 6 Store-Bought Vanilla Ice Cream Brands and Found One Clear Winner

The natural successor to our popular chocolate chip cookie competition.
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After the success (read: very impassioned DMs) of our "break and bake" chocolate chip cookie competition, we knew we had to put another cornerstone dessert to an office-wide blind taste test. It didn't take long for us to land on: Vanilla ice cream. Unlike with cookies, our team entered the blind taste-test with some strong beliefs about their favorite ice creams: Emily and Jess both prioritize the flavor complexity and taste of the vanilla, while Leslie and Kelly are polar-opposites when it comes to texture. Leslie's all about dense, rich ice cream while Kelly covets a lighter, airy bite. You can watch our reactions on @shopcupcakesandcashmere later today, then read on for our winners:

*P.S., While only four judges were recorded for Instagram, our entire office weighed-in on this, since we take our vanilla ice cream preferences very seriously.

thrifty

Despite this ice cream's status as a L.A. cult-favorite, we were underwhelmed by the consistency and overwhelmed by the ice cream's artificiality. In addition to the intense lab-manufactured yellow tint, it was far too fluffy and tasted incredibly over-processed. While this could have been a walk down memory lane and reminiscent of summer Fridays after school, it was altogether disappointing and forgettable. 

Flavor of Vanilla: 4.2
Creaminess & Texture: 5.6
Appearance: 3.8

Overall score: 4.53

breyers

Kelly immediately recognized this classic family favorite and just as quickly deemed it a nostalgia-driven choice. The rest of us were divided: Emily and Leslie were deterred by the foam-like texture on top and lack of pure vanilla flavor. Jess, on the other hand, considers it the perfect accompaniment to a rich chocolate chip cookie. (Which Emily rationalizes by saying, "it tastes kind of like air.") 

Flavor of Vanilla: 4.9
Creaminess & Texture: 4.8
Appearance: 6.2

Overall score: 5.3

tillamook

Despite being made with real egg yolks and crushed vanilla beans, we found this one to be too white, light, and fluffy. The ingredients are simple and high-quality, but the ice cream just didn't deliver for our team.

Flavor of Vanilla: 6.6
Creaminess & Texture: 5.8
Appearance: 3.9

Overall score: 5.43

private selection

This generic option surprised us! The creamy, homemade custard flavor was balanced by an artificial sweetness in the best possible way. Like the generic Kroger's "break and bake" chocolate chip cookies, this unsuspecting ice cream is incredibly satisfying. Plus, it would pair well with a fresh cookie or dense chocolate brownie.

Flavor of Vanilla: 5
Creaminess & Texture: 7.8
Appearance: 5.4

Overall score: 6.07

whole foods

It's no surprise that Leslie selected this NYC-based artisan creamery as her favorite of the bunch. The ice cream is dense, creamy, not-too-sweet, and delivers a pure, vanilla-bean taste. Made with just a handful of the highest quality ingredients, Van Leeuwen's is now a favorite for some. 

Flavor of Vanilla: 6
Creaminess & Texture: 6.9
Appearance: 6.2

Overall score: 6.37

Artboard 2

If there's one thing this competition proves it's that love really is blind: Häagen-Dazs is Emily's trusted favorite and this classic vanilla is no exception. Although we've each enjoyed this vanilla ice cream countless times, we were surprised by the complexity of the flavor and the smooth texture. It's not cloyingly sweet, making it the ideal complement for any dessert, and is equally delicious with a cold spoon, straight out of the pint.

Flavor of Vanilla: 7.2
Creaminess & Texture: 9.3
Appearance: 8.7

Overall score: 8.4

P.S., See the winners of our blind taste-test of "break and bake" cookie dough here!

Do you agree with our results? What do you want us to test next? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to watch our live cookie reviews on our Hungry Games highlight on @shopcupcakesandcashmere.