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Jul 12, 2014 10:46 AM

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

The only threads I've found on this topic were pretty old, so I'm starting a new one. This is for Mr Rat, who is using it to make alcoholic milkshakes and has decided that Ben and Jerry's vanilla is terrible. He thinks it just tastes "gummy" with sweeteners. Any suggestions? We are in NYC. Oh, and while we are enthusiastic home cooks we're not going to be making ice cream, so I'm just asking about commercially available brands. Thanks in advance.

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  1. In Texas we like Blue Bell vanilla bean!

    6 Replies
    1. re: CVCVCV

      I had some Blue Bell (not Vanilla) while in Louisiana, but it would cost a small fortune to have it shipped to NYC.

      1. re: mcsheridan

        I can get Blue Bell and I tried their vanilla and was not impressed. It seemed to be thin and a bit icy.

      2. re: CVCVCV

        Well, if I ever see this in NYC I will give it a shot.

        1. re: ratgirlagogo

          Don't be confused by Blue Bunny; more available here, but very definitely *not* in this Same League with Blue Bell.

        2. re: CVCVCV

          We used to get Blue Bell vanilla shipped to CA for an annual BBQ. Highlight of the meal!

        3. Would this ingredient list pass muster? "Milk, Cream, Sugar, Skim Milk, Glucose Syrup, Egg Yolk, Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Carrageenan and Vanilla Extract." That's Yuengling's Vanilla, made in PA and available in selected markets regionally.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mcsheridan

            I'm sure the ingredients list is equivalent to the Ben and Jerry's ingredients list. I don't think that's the problem, it's that he doesn't like the taste of the Ben and Jerry's, despite the decent ingredients. Have you eaten this vanilla and do you like it? I've never seen it in NYC but then I wasn't looking for it.

            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              It's my go-to Vanilla. Not to your point, but their "Black and Tan" (rich chocolate & salted caramel) flies off the shelves - it's scrumptious! Worth driving into NJ for? Only you and Mr. Rat can say.

              You're right; you rarely see what you're not really looking for.


              1. re: mcsheridan

                No car, so not happening. But I'll keep an eye out for it.

                1. re: mcsheridan

                  I just noticed on the site that this ice cream IS connected to the Yuengling brewery! Who knew? Fascinating.

                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

           history and family connection, yet they are completely separate businesses.

            2. I'm in NY too and really like the ice creams from Adirondack Creamery: My favorite is the coffee flavor; they claim it will keep you up at night! Haven't noticed that. The vanilla is certainly worth a try. It's very good ice cream. Buy a pint and see what you think. Fairway has it, but after mentioning it at my local market in lower Westchester (De Cicco) they have it now too.

              7 Replies
                1. re: Pat Hammond

                  Hmmm, I'll have to look for it when back in Plattsburgh. I've never heard of Adirondack Creamery. Is it a fairly new company? I just looked at their site. The closest to Plattsburgh is Saratoga. Maybe next summer.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Really no idea how long it's been around. I tried to figure it out from the website, but failed. I first heard about it 2 years ago around Thanksgiving when a friend was raving about the pumpkin flavor. I don't like pumpkin, but spotted the coffee flavor, my all time favorite, but I do love the vanilla. Hope you can find it.

                  2. re: Pat Hammond

                    My friend in NYC told me about this brand and raved about their kulfi flavor.

                    1. re: ninrn

                      This is a delicious pistachio cardamom ice cream.

                      1. re: EM23

                        woo, now i must hunt for this ice cream flavor.

                    2. Haagen Daz is very good, and carrageenan-free.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: EM23

                        I much prefer Haagen Dazs to Ben and Jerry's. It's really creamy and natural tasting and not quite as sweet as B&J's. The flavor is pretty much what you get from homemade vanilla made from a good custard base. You can even use it, melted, as a quick creme anglaise in a pinch.

                        1. re: bear

                          Of course this will be the easiest to find, so I hope he likes it. Thanks.

                          1. re: bear

                            B&J is another brand with additives, whereas HD is just cream, milk, eggs and vanilla.

                            Friends were telling me that they had the best hot chocolate they have ever tasted at a little café, out east. The server told them it was warmed HD chocolate ice cream.

                            1. re: bear

                              HD is the way to go! Along with the crème anglaise, you can also melt it and add nutmeg for eggnog.

                              Blows B&J and most others out of the water.

                              1. re: bear

                                Yes nothing like HD. Even a lot of high end restaurants use HE if they don't make ice cream.

                                1. re: Monica

                                  I can't think of hardly any high-end restaurants in NYC these days that actually offer ice cream for dessert.

                                  Seems it's always gelato, sorbet, or granita.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    maybe the popular trendy ones that always get mentioned here in Manhattan board but there are a lot of high end restaurants that still serve ice cream.

                                2. re: bear

                                  I prefer Haagen-Dazs' vanilla bean to their regular vanilla flavor, which tastes too much like vanilla extract to me.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    Bean, extract, either works for me as long as it's real.

                                3. re: EM23

                                  I prefer Häagen Dazs to B&J. What makes me unhappy is that it's now a 14 oz. "pint." Since I refuse to spend >$4 for a pint of ice cream, I wait for it to go on sale.

                                  Trader Joe's vanilla isn't bad. I love Bassett's French Vanilla but it's not available in NYC that I know of.

                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                    $2.50 at Shoprite this week!
                                    Friends served TJ's vanilla with dessert last week, and while I liked the taste, it had an odd whipped texture. Turns out that it has a couple of gums as ingredients, so I guess that's the reason.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        So "natural vanilla flavor" is not so real? Good to know.

                                        1. re: EM23

                                          Good to know, and disgusting that that's the way it is!

                                      2. re: EM23

                                        Considering its price, it's okay.

                                  2. Growing up in the fifties & sixties around NYC Breyers Vanilla was very good & popular then when Unilever bought the company it went downhill. Now it's nothing special.
                                    I get what Mr.Rat says about Ben & Jerry's and other super premium ice creams tasting gummy. Besides the thickeners & emulsifiers etc. sometimes the butterfat content is just too high, IMHO. We briefly had an Abbotts Frozen Custard store locally that closed. They never found an audience here, I suspect, because it was more expensive than DQ or Carvel. Too bad, it was awesome, especially the vanilla! It's a Rochester NY based company but I don't see any NYC locations.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: zackly

                                      Intriguing. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                      1. re: zackly

                                        We used to have Custard Beach but it closed a long time ago. :( However, you just reminded me that the Shake Shack has awesome frozen custard and I'm sure their vanilla is just as good as their less mainstream flavors.