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What's your favorite brand of vanilla ice cream??

  • p

Being a chocoholic, I'm unfamiliar with vanilla ice cream, but need to buy some to go with a dessert I'm preparing for Christmas dinner. Would love recommendations...I live in San Francisco....


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  1. I like either Haagen-dazs or (believe or not) Safeway's premium vanilla ice cream (the kind they sell in pints.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Nancy Berry

      I agree with you here about Safeway brand Vanilla Ice cream. So cheap, so good!

      1. re: myWeltanschauung

        I love almost all of Safeway brand dairy products.

    2. b
      Boris Carlitov

      Breyers vanilla with the eggs (french vanilla?)


      1. Double Rainbow. Trader Joe's carries it, but I believe it's a San Francisco based company. Creamiest, best vanilla I've ever tasted.

        3 Replies
        1. re: LBQT

          Agree Double Rainbow is nice.

          Ironically, as Nancy Berry likes Safeway brand, Ralph's Private Selection (or Kroger depending where you are) is pretty darn good too, especially the double vanilla, vanilla bean, and country vanilla.

          1. re: Emme

            While I heartily agree with your choice of Private Selection Double Vanilla, I (respectfully) fail to see any irony.

            1. re: Root Beer Slim

              i find irony in the preferences across chain markets of their generic brand ice creams over the pricey gourmet ice creams, some even that come in a can!

        2. Vanilla is probably my favorite ice cream flavor. My big-name, commercial picks depending on what you're looking for:

          1) Double Rainbow (from SF; I buy at Trader Joe's): rich, custardy, strong vanilla essence; perfect for pie a la mode

          2) Ben & Jerry's: medium body and texture; medium vanilla flavor; perfect for a sundae

          3) Breyer's (vanilla bean): more water content so lighter, but vanilla bean flavor is good; perfect for rich choc. dessert

          4) Haagen-Daz is good but I wouldn't serve alongside dessert; prefer it plain w/ fresh raspberries

          5 Replies
          1. re: Carb Lover

            Since you mentioned Haagen-Daz, I'd like to mention the best vanilla ice cream flavor of all time, which no longer exists (and hasn't for at least a decade):

            Haagen-Daz Honey Vanilla.

            This was back when Haagen-Daz was more popular with the health-conscious types for some reason, so it had both this flavor and carob, both of which were very good. Now, the only companies that make flavors like this really are in the health food business, and most of them taste terrible.

            Incidentally, if anyone *has* seen the Honey Vanilla flavor more recently, let me know. I'd be interested to find out about it.

            Neat factoid: one of the most expensive non-luxury items I encountered in China is Haagen-Daz ice cream. It costs around 35 yuan, or just over 4 bucks. To put that in perspective, a nice filling meal at a decent restaurant will cost you 30 yuan. They do have a few Chinese-inspired flavors there. I had the lychee flavor, which was nothing to write home about.

            1. re: FunnyYetTasty

              Yeah, this is my all time favorite ice cream flavor. Haven't seen it for years. Sad sad sad. Oh how I wish I had tried the carob--never saw it though. I've been jonesing for carob lately but all the carob I see out there has corn syrup or something corn-derived in it. (corn = food allergy)

              The Double Rainbow is okay for general-purpose ice cream (plain, with toppings, etc.). I prefer Breyers old-fashioned style (has like three ingredients), which is the only thing out there that tastes like homemade (well the way I remember it with the cranking and the rock salt); it is better for things like apple pie and the like.

              1. re: FunnyYetTasty
                Boris Carlitov

                Two of my favorite flavors as well. I've been hunting for a replacement for years...


                1. re: FunnyYetTasty

                  Have you had Haagen-Dazs latest new selection - Honey Bee Vanilla... I hated it because it was so heavy on the honey flavor, and I don't like honey, but if you like B&J's Honey Vanilla, definitely give the new H-D version a go.

                2. re: Carb Lover

                  Love love love Breyer's vanilla bean. The best IMHO.

                3. Other than my own home-made vanilla ice cream, I like Ben & Jerry's "Best Vanilla Ice Cream in the World," but only if it's hand-packed at one of their stores. Truly wonderful.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Tom Steele

                    I agree, although I've had no problems with the freezer case version either. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who ate boring old supermarket ice creams.

                    Also, if you're on a budget, Breyer's is not bad, IMHO.

                    Someone else mentioned Edy's. I'd recommend against it. I think that Edy's ice cream just doesn't turn out creamy enough.

                    1. re: FunnyYetTasty

                      I don't care much for the Edy's (Dreyer's is the same, no?) ice cream in the big round tub, but their Dreamery line (which I believe has a plain vanilla flavor) is pretty good IMO. Similar characteristics to the Ben & Jerry's version, if I recall correctly.

                      As I said below though, I think the specific brand one chooses really depends on the type of dessert one pairs with the ice cream (like food and wine pairing). I'm personally that obsessive about my ice cream...

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        I share your obsession. Vanilla is the best flavor for me, and I would choose it over any other. I like Edy's Dreamery a bit better than Haggan Daz or Ben & Jerry's, because the vanilla flavor is not as harsh to me. However, I don't like that ultra rich style of ice cream with cakes and pies, etc. For me Bryers is a bit too sweet and icy. I like the whole foods 365 brand, which I can buy in New York. Sometimes I even prefer a supermarket vanilla ice cream (as long as it uses real vanilla extract -- not with the beans because it seems like those less expensive brands grind up the whole not-so-premium pods instead of just the inside good part). I agree with your assessment of Edys regular brand in the tub. I would also put Turkey Hill in that category. For me, it's a constant search to find the right vanilla. So far, each brand is a bit of a compromise.

                      2. re: FunnyYetTasty

                        Agree that Breyer's vanilla bean is really good if you're on a budget. But if you're a billionaire, Breyer's is still really good. No store-bought ice cream is as good as homemade.

                    2. Without question, Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla (with vanilla bean specks in it.) As far as I know, though, it is only available in Texas.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Kirk

                        Correction ... Blue Bell apparently is sold in 13 states, including Alaska where there is a plant.

                        It is also available, albeit not cheaply, via overnight delivery from the company.

                        Link: http://www.bluebell.com/icecream_orde...

                        1. re: Kirk

                          I definitely agree. That's why I picked this name, as a tribute to the best vanilla ever. In our courting days, my now-husband sent me a delivery of the stuff to Boston. One of the reasons I married him!

                      2. There was a cooks illustrated or similar publication test of vanilla ice cream and they said the best was Edys. I tried Edys after reading that test and it is incredibly good. After having it, I noticed that Haagen Daz tasted like vanilla extract. I have not had TJ's ice-cream or Blue Bell.

                        1. dr. bob's Tahitian Vanilla. They ship overnight.

                          Link: http://www.drbobsicecream.com/icecrea...

                          1. c
                            ChowFun (derek)

                            Dr. Bob's is sold at Tower Market in Diamond Heights.
                            The brand that won the Cooks Illustrated test was from Dreamery (which you can get at any Safeway)
                            I THINK Double Rainbow may have come in second in their taste test.
                            Sorry, I can't give a personal opinion...I detest Vanilla Ice Cream being more of a Chocolate-coffee fan myself.

                            1. If cost is no object, it's gotta be Ben & Jerry's. The best for the price is Crystal.

                              Also, Edy's and Dreyer's are the same, in case you didn't know that.

                              1. Two words: Frusen Gladje.

                                If you are not up to breaking out the rock salt and making it yourself go with the Ben & Jerry's.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: cf

                                  Is Frusen Gladje still production? I haven't seen it in ages. I used to love it. Those little plastic bullets of ice cream were a joy to buy.

                                  1. re: poppytrail

                                    No. Sadly, it went the way of Burger Chef, O'Grady's potato chips and pizza flavored Slim Jims. Had to throw it out there for nostaligia.

                                  2. re: cf

                                    on Haagen Dasz v. Frusen Gladje....

                                    In a court action between Haagen-Dazs and Frusen Gladje, a manufacturer of ice cream attempted to keep a competitor from using features of its packaging which evoked a fresh, Scandinavian image of the product. Haagen-Dazs sought to keep Frusen Gladje from using a two-word "Swedish"-sounding name, a prominently displayed list of the product's natural ingredients, a list of artificial ingredients not found in the ice cream, directions for serving and eating the ice cream (essentially that it was best served soft), and a map of Scandinavia.

                                    Mr. Taster

                                    Link: http://www.adlaw.com/rc/newsltrs/ipr/...

                                  3. Although it's not traditional plain-vanilla vanilla, I can't resist Schwan's French Vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, it is only available during the Christmas season and only in a one-gallon tin.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: SuzyInChains

                                      I used to see the Schwans ice cream truck all the time where I went to school in the Jew-deprived midwest, where nobody seemed to realize that "Schwans" has the exact same pronounciation as a Yiddish word for the male appendage.

                                      You could actually hear respectable god-fearing midwestern housewives say to their kids "the Schwans Man is coming!!"

                                      Mr. Taster

                                      1. re: Mr. Taster
                                        Caitlin McGrath

                                        Little did they know, they were speaking redundantly...

                                        1. re: Mr. Taster
                                          ChowFun (derek)

                                          Ah! Thank you for that image.....and a good chuckle!

                                          1. re: Mr. Taster

                                            I'm sure poor Marvin Schwan was tormented in school for the unfortunate coincidence - if anyone was aware of it in Minnesota! Speaking of Minnesota, how fortunate that the Schwans were in that state, rather than down south, for him to start an ice cream and frozen foods business. Sometimes, things just work out.

                                            (and it's a good thing that he wasn't named Richard!)

                                            Link: http://www.theschwanfoodcompany.com/p...

                                        2. I was thinking of this post when I was buying some Vanilla ice cream at Trader Joes. Instead of the local San Francisco Double Rainbow brand I usually buy I thought I would test out Trader Joes French Vanilla, store brand. I am so glad I did. Sold in an oval tub, the ice cream is creamy,tastes natural and is absent the icy nature of some other brands of equal value. It really is good. Try it I dont think you would be disappointed.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: foodseek

                                            foodseek, I'll have to give TJ's vanilla a try. I'm still sold on HD vanilla (hold anyone's vanilla bean, it gives me the heebie jeebies) as the best, but if TJ's is as good as their peanut butter, oh boy.

                                            1. re: dolores

                                              This will not help the op since it is in New York but I recently discovered Ronnybrook Hudson Valley Vanilla. I am becoming addicted.

                                              1. re: maggiepc

                                                I just found another flavor, thanks to my exhaustive 'research' on the best HD flavors. BTW, all the 'reserve' overly priced flavors are from hunger.

                                                A tie for best of the best HD (why do I think they'll stop making it) is Creme Brulee, up there with Dulce De Leche. Amazing stuff.

                                                The lengths I won't go to seek out the best in the interest of science. Yeah, that's it, science.

                                                1. re: maggiepc

                                                  Ronnybrook ice cream is sold in several markets in NYC, and in their shop in Chelsea Market in Manhattan. Of course, the OP may not be reading this thread four years later.

                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                    Hahah! I'm usually pretty good at not answering really old threads, but I totally missed it on this one. I feel silly!

                                                2. re: dolores

                                                  Peanut butter ice cream? That's the flavor, straight up, no pretzels or swirls or anything?

                                                  Dolores, you and I may not have been on quite the same wavelength re bread baskets, but we're DEFINITELY kin on peanut butter!!

                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                    LOL, thanks for the laugh on the bread, tatamagouche. Oh yes on pb, it runs a close second to ice cream on 'if only' foods. I constantly try to outwit myself and have the stuff in the house -- but lose.

                                                    But no, sorry! I didn't mean TJ had PB ice cream, I meant if their brand vanilla ice cream was as good as their creamy peanut butter, then it had to be good.

                                                    I just tried HD's peanut butter cup ice cream, and it was darned good. I hate Reese's, so HD must be using another kind. The chocolate was not too chocolatedly, and the cups were dispersed just right.

                                                    Now I ask you, why doesn't HD have a creamy peanut butter ice cream?

                                                    Then again, since my ice cream maker has been sitting quietly for so long, I really should try my own with TJ's creamy PB. Oh boy.

                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                      As an aside, Brigham's ice cream shops have peanut butter ice cream in pint containers. We had a friend in the hospital, and his strongest craving was for peanut butter ice cream, and we found it at Brighams, with no peanut butter cup tie-ins.

                                                      Sadly, I've heard that Brigham's may be moving away from the retail business.

                                                  2. re: dolores

                                                    Häagen-Dazs, without question.
                                                    I still pine for Edy's The Dreamery Vanilla (sigh).

                                                    As I posted in another thread a couple of months back:

                                                    On the Double Rainbow website there is a copy of an article from a 2001 taste test of vanilla ice creams conducted by Cook's Illustrated magazine, in which Edy's Dreamery was judged the best tasting and "highly recommended." Double Rainbow's French vanilla was "recommended," as were Breyer's French vanilla, Blue Bell's vanilla and Häagen-Dazs's vanilla (tied), and Whole Foods' 365 Every Day Value French vanilla bean. Ben & Jerry's Worl'd Best vanilla and Edy's Grand French vanilla were just recommended "with reservations."

                                                3. When I moved from the midwest to the northeast, I discovered that the better vanilla's here had little flecks of vanilla bean in them. Stop & Shop used to have a pretty good version, but some years back they seemed to change the formula as well as the box. Breyer's is ok, but not as good as the S&S I remember. B&J is ok as well, but somewhat more expensive. I'll have to schedule a trip to TJ's to try their Double Rainbow on your recommendations.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: DonShirer

                                                    I really like Breyer's vanilla bean. If I need something lower-fat, Haagen Dasz makes a great vanilla frozen yogurt.

                                                  2. Hagen Daaz has just come out w a new flavor low fat frozen yogurt that is very yummy. Honey vanilla w granola/ OMG, soo good.

                                                    1. I like Ben and Jerry's or Strauss. Both have the black specks from the vanilla bean, which I really like.

                                                      1. The finest ultra-premium ice cream is Bassett's. It's hard to find outside Reading Terminal market, stores and restaurants are content to sell cheaper stuff, especially restaurants who are always looking to tighten their food costs. To make matters worse, Bassett's has always rigorously avoided mass distribution channels. That being said, it's worth going out of your way to treat yourself, they pack in dry ice if you ask.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: tudor3522

                                                          Tudor3522---In case anybody is looking for Bassett's ice cream in the Midwest, it's carried in Chicago by Treasure Island supermarkets.

                                                          1. re: tudor3522

                                                            To NYC hounds bassets is available in Penn Station in a booth near the Haagen-Dazs store.
                                                            BTW Mrs. Doc a dessert hound couldn't be swayed from Hagen Dazs until I discovered Turkey Hill All Natural (in the ever shrinking black container, went from 64 oz. to 56 oz. to quart and a half 48 oz.) very clean vanilla taste, balanced with the sweet and dairy flavors. A true contender.

                                                          2. I usually make my own, but if I have to buy, it's always Hagen Dazs.

                                                            1. Hagen Daaz for sure! There was another one I tried called Metropolitan that I think is a Canadian brand that was really good

                                                              1. I just tried Fanny Mae vanilla, which is called Buttercream, for the first time because my market just started stocking it. I think it's the best vanilla I've had in years, 'way better than Haagen-Daz or Ben & Jerry or Coldstone or even Dove (which is pretty good) and light-years beyond Breyer's or Edy's. Let it soften just a little and the mouth feel is lovely, also the flavor reminds me of vanilla ice cream of yore. I'm hooked.

                                                                1. While I generally eat premium ice creams (Haagen Daaz, Ben and Jerrys), I've got to say my favorite is Breyer's vanilla bean. It's very light and refreshing. The true vanilla flavor comes out because it's not as cloying as the premium brands.

                                                                  1. Oh god my sister's boyfriend just bought breyer's vanilla ice cream and boy was I disappointed. As soon as I saw the brand I kind of scolded him (we joke around a lot) for buying it but he insisted how good he thought it would be because of the all natural ingredients.

                                                                    Well my sister, her boyfriend, and I all had bowlfuls and eventually threw away our ice cream. I didn't really taste any vanilla or milk and it just tasted like frozen skim milk to me. You'd think with all natural ingredients the stuff would taste good...but instead it just tastes so watery. what gives? ew

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: bitsubeats

                                                                      Breyer's vanilla has changed and overnight it seems. The large box is now smaller and something was changed in the taste. Don't like it now.

                                                                      1. re: Karl2

                                                                        Really? I haven't had Breyers in about a couple of years. I loved its lightness.

                                                                        Bitsu, I can see why you probably thought it tasted like frozen skim milk. It doesn't have the fat of the premuim ice creams and doesn't have the stabilizers that the non premium ones have, so it's a bit more icy.

                                                                    2. Haagen Daz vanilla is great. DH and I did a taste test of B&Js side by side with HD and we both liked HD better and Hubby is HUGE B&Js fan. For even better taste test do the cookie dough ones against each other. Hubby was incredibly disappointed in his B&J version. The HD has chucks of cookie dough that tasted homemade like mom used to make. So, so, good. The B&Js cookie chunks, sadly, tasted processed.

                                                                      Truth be told, I love HDs vanilla bean 10x more than the regular vanilla!

                                                                      1. If you can get it, Blue Bell makes a very traditional vanilla flavor. Tastes just like the vanilla ice cream from your childhood. No air, fluff or other stuff added; basic ice cream with really nice vanilla flavor.

                                                                        1. Americas Test Kitchen voted Turkey Hill Vanilla as the best overall. I prefer Turkey Hill All Natural Vanilla.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                            Turkey Hill All Natural Vanilla is a slam dunk. Did not think anything about it when buying it at the store (was on sale as I recall), but WOW. May not be available in all areas, as it is a Pennsylvania brand.

                                                                          2. Greene & Black's vanilla is wonderful!