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

phernska Dec 19, 2004 10:30 AM

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....


  1. n
    Nancy Berry Dec 19, 2004 12:14 PM

    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
      myWeltanschauung Jun 13, 2008 09:08 AM

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

      1. re: myWeltanschauung
        Jacey Sep 27, 2009 04:09 PM

        I love almost all of Safeway brand dairy products.

    2. b
      Boris Carlitov Dec 19, 2004 12:43 PM

      Breyers vanilla with the eggs (french vanilla?)


      1. l
        LBQT Dec 19, 2004 12:50 PM

        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
          Emme Jun 12, 2008 12:20 AM

          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
            Root Beer Slim Sep 27, 2009 09:23 AM

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

            1. re: Root Beer Slim
              Emme Sep 27, 2009 07:36 PM

              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. c
          Carb Lover Dec 19, 2004 12:52 PM

          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
            FunnyYetTasty Dec 19, 2004 08:11 PM

            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
              cheyenne Dec 19, 2004 11:45 PM

              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 Dec 20, 2004 09:23 AM

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


                1. re: FunnyYetTasty
                  Emme Jun 12, 2008 12:21 AM

                  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
                  HungryRubia Jun 11, 2008 10:11 AM

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

                3. t
                  Tom Steele Dec 19, 2004 02:15 PM

                  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
                    FunnyYetTasty Dec 19, 2004 08:05 PM

                    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
                      Carb Lover Dec 19, 2004 08:45 PM

                      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
                        Nancy Dec 20, 2004 09:22 AM

                        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
                        Potomac Bob Jul 9, 2008 01:21 PM

                        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. k
                      Kirk Dec 19, 2004 04:29 PM

                      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
                        Kirk Dec 19, 2004 04:39 PM

                        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
                          Bluebell Dec 20, 2004 11:19 AM

                          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. r
                        rkn Dec 19, 2004 06:24 PM

                        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. c
                          Chino Wayne Dec 19, 2004 06:35 PM

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

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

                          1. c
                            ChowFun (derek) Dec 20, 2004 02:57 AM

                            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. r
                              ricepad Dec 20, 2004 04:28 AM

                              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. c
                                cf Dec 20, 2004 11:30 AM

                                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
                                  poppytrail Dec 20, 2004 01:45 PM

                                  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
                                    cf Dec 20, 2004 03:51 PM

                                    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
                                    Mr. Taster Dec 21, 2004 03:39 PM

                                    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. s
                                    SuzyInChains Dec 20, 2004 12:22 PM

                                    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
                                      Mr. Taster Dec 21, 2004 04:07 PM

                                      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 Dec 21, 2004 06:15 PM

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

                                        1. re: Mr. Taster
                                          ChowFun (derek) Dec 21, 2004 08:08 PM

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

                                          1. re: Mr. Taster
                                            SuzyInChains Dec 22, 2004 12:09 AM

                                            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. foodseek Jun 9, 2008 10:07 PM

                                          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
                                            dolores Jun 10, 2008 02:31 AM

                                            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
                                              maggiepc Jun 10, 2008 05:41 AM

                                              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
                                                dolores Jun 10, 2008 06:02 AM

                                                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
                                                  Caitlin McGrath Jun 13, 2008 08:24 PM

                                                  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
                                                    HungryRubia Jun 14, 2008 01:52 PM

                                                    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
                                                  tatamagouche Jun 11, 2008 08:24 AM

                                                  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
                                                    dolores Jun 11, 2008 09:01 AM

                                                    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
                                                      chowfamily Jun 11, 2008 02:21 PM

                                                      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
                                                    racer x Jun 11, 2008 12:06 PM

                                                    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. DonShirer Jun 10, 2008 05:11 PM

                                                  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
                                                    TripChick Jun 10, 2008 09:59 PM

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

                                                  2. s
                                                    shaebones Jun 10, 2008 10:58 PM

                                                    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. a
                                                      anzu Jun 13, 2008 05:21 PM

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

                                                      1. t
                                                        tudor3522 Jun 13, 2008 07:38 PM

                                                        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
                                                          Querencia Jun 14, 2008 08:00 PM

                                                          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
                                                            phantomdoc Jul 7, 2008 02:16 PM

                                                            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. p
                                                            polish_girl Jun 14, 2008 08:41 AM

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

                                                            1. c
                                                              cakesncookies Jun 15, 2008 04:33 PM

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

                                                              1. q
                                                                Querencia Jul 3, 2008 09:36 PM

                                                                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. Miss Needle Jul 4, 2008 08:10 AM

                                                                  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. bitsubeats Jul 7, 2008 08:43 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      Karl2 Jul 8, 2008 09:05 AM

                                                                      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
                                                                        Miss Needle Jul 9, 2008 05:16 PM

                                                                        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. livetocook Jul 9, 2008 08:27 PM

                                                                      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. d
                                                                        Dee S Sep 27, 2009 06:16 PM

                                                                        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. p
                                                                          phantomdoc Sep 28, 2009 09:33 AM

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

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: phantomdoc
                                                                            jfoj Dec 15, 2009 04:37 PM

                                                                            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. OCEllen Sep 28, 2009 12:38 PM

                                                                            Greene & Black's vanilla is wonderful!

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