About Best Loved Brands
In efforts to find the best kitchen staples—everything from bacon to brownies, pancake mix to potato chips—Taste of Home put 100+ products to the test. Each offering was tested blindly by an expert panel of culinary and editorial staff, all of whom are avid home cooks and bakers. After undergoing a thorough review, our Best Loved Brands emerged. Find out which brands you should be shopping for.
Finding the Best Vanilla Ice Cream
Searching for the best vanilla ice cream is a difficult, though wonderful, task. To find the cream of the crop, our culinary and editorial teams tested 10 brands of vanilla ice cream—everything from generics to niche options. Every ice cream was tested blindly and scored with these qualities in mind:
The combination of perfect flavor, creamy texture and beautiful appearance is what makes diving into a bowl of ice cream so enjoyable. And when used in recipes, like our Test Kitchen’s favorite pick, a rich and refreshing cherry and chocolate ice cream pie, the right ice cream can really sing. After tasting 10 brands, we can confidently say we’ve found our best-loved brand, the one that’s going to make that pie (and your sundaes, milkshakes and more) shine. Check out our favorites for filling your freezer.
First Place: Trader Joe’s
The ice cream that had us wanting a double scoop was undoubtedly Trader Joe’s. This brand gained the highest marks for its exceptionally creamy, almost buttery, texture. The vanilla flavor in each serving was also very apparent—we noticed that it tasted authentic (no phony vanilla flavor here!). While the taste was obvious and incredibly lush, it wasn’t overpowering in any way. That not-too-subtle and not-too-strong balance is hard to find, but it’s exactly what you want for making your own treats at home.
Prices vary, available exclusively at Trader Joe’s.
Second Place: 365 Everyday Value
In a close second came 365 Everyday Value, a Whole Foods exclusive brand. Like Trader Joe’s, this ice cream gave us authentic flavor thanks to vanilla extract (not vanilla flavoring—there is a difference!). This ice cream was well-balanced: sweet but not cloying, flavorful but not overwhelming. This option was a bit less creamy than our first place pick, but it’s still an excellent option.
Prices vary, available exclusively at Whole Foods.
Third Place: Blue Bunny
Of course, a classic ice cream brand had to crack our top three picks. Blue Bunny proved to be a worthwhile contender with its exceptionally rich ice cream. The thick and totally indulgent texture kept testers going back for more. In terms of flavor, Blue Bunny tasted like the classic treats straight from your favorite ice cream truck—meaning it was darn tasty but just a bit artificial (but in that way you sometimes crave).
$3.69 for a 48-ounce container; available at grocers nationwide.
What to Make with Vanilla Ice Cream
It goes without saying: You don’t need to make anything with vanilla ice cream. Each of these brands was great right out of the container without a single topping. However, ice cream desserts—be they over-the-top milkshakes, ice cream cakes or vintage-style baked Alaskas—are some of the most decadent around. With the right ice cream, all of these treats turn from tempting to positively irresistible. Just look at all the creative ways you can make use of vanilla ice cream.
Anyway you scoop it, our best-loved ice creams are freezer-worthy and ready to be added to your favorite ice cream desserts. That cherry-chocolate ice cream pie we couldn’t stop raving about can get a boost from one of our best-loved brands. See for yourself. We’re sure you won’t be able to resist all the layers of fudge and pops of dark sweet cherries in every melty, creamy frozen bite. Enjoy!
Be sure to check out our other Best Loved Brands and stock your kitchen with trusted favorites.