Vanilla ice cream is a workhorse in the world of dessert. Next to a warm brownie or piece of pie, it provides the perfect cool contrast, and that puddle at the end is essentially a bonus sauce to swirl your last few bites of apple pie through. It’s equally welcome next to a slice of birthday cake or nestled between two cookies. It’s the ideal blank canvas for an over-the-top sundae or is wonderfully acceptable all on its own.

For something that is so ever-present in the dessert world, we set out to find the best vanilla ice cream of major store brands widely available. For this taste test, we only tested brands with quart-size or larger containers available (sorry, no Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Dazs). Though our taste test wasn’t blind, we picked a favorite among each brand based on vanilla flavor and creaminess, then decided on a “best” among those top contenders.

Here’s the link for a full breakdown or scroll for the results.

The Contenders

  • Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla 
  • Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean 
  • Breyer’s Extra Creamy Vanilla 
  • Breyer’s French Vanilla 
  • Breyer’s Homemade Vanilla 
  • Breyer’s Natural Vanilla 
  • Dreyer’s Classic Vanilla 
  • Dreyer’s French Vanilla Slow Churned
  • Dreyer’s Vanilla Bean Slow Churned
  • Dreyer’s Vanilla Slow Churned
  • Farr Vanilla Bean 
  • Meadow Gold Vanilla Bean
  • Tillamook French Vanilla 
  • Tillamook Old Fashioned Vanilla
  • Tillamook Vanilla Bean

The Results 

Least Favorite Vanilla Ice Cream


Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean

Neither Blue Bunny flavor made the cut. This ice cream tasted more like frosting (not a good thing) and had an overpowering artificial taste. The sugar content also seemed much higher to compensate for other artificial ingredients. Just not for us.


Breyer’s Extra Creamy Vanilla

While this ice cream boasts an extra creamy texture, this was not a good thing, as this ice cream was more reminiscent of slightly frozen whipped cream. We are looking for something a bit more substantial to serve with our pie.

Best Vanilla Ice Cream


Dreyer’s Vanilla Bean

Out of the four Dryer’s vanilla ice creams we sampled, vanilla bean is the clear winner. The texture was neither icy nor overly creamy, and the vanilla bean flavor was pleasant though slightly artificial tasting. Not a bad middle-of-the-road option.


Breyer’s French Vanilla

Among all four of Breyer’s vanilla varieties, french vanilla is by far and away our favorite. While the appearance of vanilla bean specks without actually containing vanilla bean was a bit suspect, the ice cream had a more interesting depth of flavor than others and was decently creamy.


Farr Vanilla Bean

With a solid vanilla bean flavor that strikes a nice balance between overpowering and underwhelming, Farr’s vanilla bean did not disappoint. It’s a good quality ice cream that’s decently creamy and would provide a great base to complement other flavors well.


Tillamook Vanilla Bean

Coming in with a landslide victory is Tillamook vanilla bean. It has the balance of sweetness, vanilla flavor, and creamy texture just right. And with a short ingredient list of only cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla bean, it all makes sense. The quality of Tillamook’s products is noticeable, and this is the ice cream we will be serving with our Thanksgiving pies.