Some people love rocky road. Others love chocolate chip or even Superman (remember that flavor?). But me? I love vanilla. Something about the purity of flavors in a good scoop of vanilla ice cream is irresistible. You can taste everything: the velvety cream, the sweet sugar, the lightly floral vanilla beans. There's a reason the most popular flavor of ice cream is vanilla. Whether it's topping a pie or just eaten straight from the carton, everyone loves it. Of course, there's always the stigma that vanilla is plain. Boring. And true enough, decent vanilla ice cream is nothing special. But exemplary vanilla? That's otherworldly.
So in order to better point you toward vanilla Valhalla, here are my top five store-bought vanilla ice creams.
5. Publix Premium French Vanilla -- Cheap ice cream is usually
bad ice cream. But I've got to say, the Publix Premium brand does some
pretty good things with the frozen treat. Unlike Breyer's, Edy's, and
other store-bought regularities, Publix's vanilla is not whipped so
much that it basically becomes frozen air. It's thick and creamy, with
plenty of vanilla flavor (even though said flavor comes purely from
vanilla extract). An affordable, easy-to-find option when you don't
have many. The custardy French vanilla is an improvement over the
4. Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla -- Most people coo over Blue Bell
ice cream, especially when used to make milk shakes. And there's a
reason you'd pick its vanilla as a milk shake base: Exceptionally
smooth with great vanilla flavor, it's an ice cream that you can really
stand by. Blue Bell's been around since 1907, meaning these cats are
doing something right.
3. Ben & Jerry's Vanilla -- Best-known for its creatively
named and dressed flavors like Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, Ben &
Jerry's also makes some damned fine vanilla. It's made from fair-trade-certified beans and plenty of all-natural ingredients with little in
the way of preservatives or corn syrups or what have you. The flavor is
pure cream -- like the richest whole milk you could find, laced with
just enough vanilla to smooth out the finish.
2. Julie's Organic Vanilla -- Remember that ice cream you got
with your school lunch, the kind with the little paper tab used to lift
off the top? Julie's Organic Vanilla reminds me of that stuff in the
best of ways. This vanilla is impossibly smooth and milky, almost pure
white, like a clump of snow. The vanilla flavor could be stronger, but
the texture is so good it makes up for it.
1. Häagen-Dazs Five Vanilla Bean -- If every other ice cream on
this list rates an 8 or 9 out of 10, Häagen-Dazs' newest line of ice
creams would rate a 20. The "Five" in the name denotes that this ice
cream is made with only five ingredients total: cream, milk, sugar,
eggs, and vanilla beans. The result is so pure-tasting, it's almost like
you churned it in your kitchen yourself. HD makes a bunch of other
"Five" flavors, and they're all stellar too -- the mint chocolate chip
has got to be the best version to ever grace the planet.