What Makes Vanilla Ice Cream Vanilla?

The difference between vanilla and vanilla flavored ice cream is more than you may think.

  • Kate Merker

Vanilla is vanilla is vanilla, right? Not exactly, says John Harrison, the official taste tester for Dreyer's, the top-selling brand of ice cream in the United States. Below, Harrison and his taste buds―which are insured for $1 million―decipher common vanilla verbiage found on ice cream containers.

  • Vanilla: Made from pure Madagascar vanilla beans.
  • Vanilla flavored: Contains up to 50 percent artificial vanilla.
  • Vanilla bean: Includes specks of vanilla bean to intensify flavor and enhance appearance.
  • French vanilla: By law, this must contain at least 1.4 percent egg yolk―more than most vanillas. The result is a distinctive yellow color and a custardlike taste.
  • Double vanilla: Made with twice as much vanilla as the original.
  • Slow churned or double churned: The special processing results in a smooth, rich, creamy texture.