vanilla extract for ice cream

Best Vanilla Extract for Ice Cream

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If you’re not making homemade ice cream, you are definitely missing out! Homemade ice cream is one of the best treats and it really is not super hard to make. It doesn’t take too many ingredients, but it does take a little bit of time. 

If you are making homemade ice cream or you plan to try, it’s important for you to know that the vanilla you use can make all the difference in the flavor of your ice cream. No matter what else you might be adding, the vanilla is one of the most important ingredients. 

So how do you know what is the best vanilla extract for ice cream? There are so many options on the market, including options that are made in other countries that may be stronger or have a bolder flavor. How can you possibly choose the best vanilla extract for ice cream?

Here’s the good news! We’ve done all of the work for you. We’ve researched and tested and we’ve sorted through everything you need to know about vanilla extract and how it might affect your ice cream. 

We’ve put together this resourceful guide to provide you with general information about vanilla extract as well as homemade ice cream and we’ve narrowed down the top options to provide you with choices for the best vanilla extract for ice cream. 

Keep reading to get all of the details and to be one step closer to choosing your vanilla extract. 

How Does Vanilla Extract Help My Ice Cream?

Vanilla extract is primarily a flavor additive. If you were to make ice cream without vanilla extract and compare it to ice cream made with vanilla extract, you would notice a considerable difference in flavor. 

Even if you are making chocolate ice cream or adding various items such as fruit or mixes, most likely vanilla extract will still be called for in the recipe and necessary.

Vanilla ice cream has a particular flavor, which comes from the vanilla extract. Additionally, most flavored ice creams are built from a base of vanilla ice cream. 

Another important piece of information to be aware of is that it does not take a lot of vanilla extract to make ice cream. Typically, 2-3 teaspoons are all that is required. In some cases, less may be needed, especially if using a version of vanilla extract that is not as heavily diluted. 

Many ice cream recipes tell you specifically how much vanilla extract to use and even instruct you at which point to add the vanilla during your process.

If you make ice cream without following a recipe, you are most likely already familiar with the need for vanilla and about how much you should be using for ultimate flavor. 

What Exactly is Vanilla Extract?

If you’re going to be adding ingredients to your ice cream, you want to know what you are adding and why. So what is vanilla extract?

We’ve already discussed why you might need vanilla extract for your ice cream, but that doesn’t really tell you what it is and ultimately what it may provide in your ice cream. 

Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla pods or vanilla beans in either water or ethanol. You can even make your own vanilla extract through this process.

vanilla extract for ice cream

Vanilla extract is very commonly used in baking such as cakes and cookies as well as ice creams and puddings. It’s an essential ingredient in many desserts. 

Pure vanilla extract is brown in color, but you will be surprised to know that it does not typically discolor your ice cream or other products. You use a minimal amount and it may cause your ice cream to be a cream tone, but it does not turn it brown. 

Some vanilla extracts are more diluted or purer than others. There are several countries that are known for their vanilla extracts such as Madagascar, Mexico, Tahiti, and Indonesia. There are several other countries, but this just shares a few. 

How Can I Choose the Best Vanilla Extract for Ice Cream?

Before you start choosing your vanilla extract, there are some basic things you should know about the various vanilla extracts you can purchase. Below you will find a short description of the various blends of vanilla extract from the different countries. 

This list could play a part in choosing your vanilla extract for ice cream if you have any specific flavor preferences. 

  • Mexican – has a bold, smoky flavor and is often very dark and pure. When you use Mexican vanilla you may want to use slightly less than called for in a recipe. 
  • Madagascar – has a very rich flavor with a creamier texture. The flavor is typically mellow and this is a common choice for chefs and restaurants for its versatility. 
  • Indian – full vanilla flavor, tends to be very strong. Indian vanilla is perfect when you want an extraordinarily savory flavor in your cooking. 
  • Tahitian – has floral notes in it and the flavor is an assortment of chocolatey and fruity in one. 
  • Indonesian – this is a very mild form of vanilla with well-balanced flavors. This is one of the most versatile forms of vanilla but the flavor is very mild so it may take more if you like full-flavored vanilla. 

This list does not necessarily include all forms of vanilla but is meant to provide you with the differences in the different makes and to inform you of some of the most common and well-known blends of vanilla extract. 

Now, let’s talk about our top recommendations of vanilla extract for ice cream. 

The 3 Best Vanilla Extracts for Ice Cream 

Here are our top recommendations for vanilla extracts perfect for making ice cream:

vanilla ice cream
RankProductKey Features
1.Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla ExtractMadagascar, Mexican, Tahitian blend
2.McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla ExtractMadagascar vanilla beans
3.Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co Mexican Vanilla ExtractAll-natural Mexican vanilla

Let’s check them out!

1. Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract

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Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract

The Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract is the perfect blend of every vanilla flavor to provide a rich and sweet flavor that is perfect for everything sweet.

This particular recommendation is not specific to a certain country’s vanilla extract, but those are available if you prefer. 

This is a high-quality vanilla extract that certainly takes the cake. It’s a bit higher priced, but you will find that the rich flavor is perfect for your ice cream. This vanilla extract is also quite versatile for other uses. 


  • Gluten-free, Kosher, Non-GMO, Allergen-Free, All-Natural
  • This vanilla extract is very rich so you can typically use less than a recipe requires
  • Perfect for both sweet and savory options, adding versatility 
  • A blend of multiple premium blends, including Madagascar, Mexican, and Tahitian


  • A bit expensive, but the superior quality
  • Does contain added sugar

2. McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract

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McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract

If you prefer to stick to the basics and just want your everyday common vanilla extract, this one is the perfect option for you. McCormick is well-known for their quality extracts, spices, and cooking goods of all kinds. 

This vanilla is a rich flavor that is best for sweets and baking but could easily be versatile for savory meals as well. McCormick uses quality, natural ingredients and their products are always a reasonable price point. 


  • All-natural and gluten-free
  • Does not contain corn syrup
  • Equipped with an easy-pour spout
  • McCormick is a historically trusted company that has operated for over 125 years


  • Newer bottles appear to be slightly diluted
  • A simple flavor, not extraordinary

3. Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co Mexican Vanilla Extract

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Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co Mexican Vanilla Extract

This vanilla is imported directly from Mexico. It is rich and flavorful and pure enough that you can use a bit less than what recipes call for, allowing it to stretch out even longer. Blue Cattle is a family-owned operation that has perfected the vanilla creation. 

This vanilla extract is very flavorful and has a richly sweet aroma as well. This vanilla extract has a nice short list of ingredients and does not contain added sugars. This is a high-quality vanilla extract at a price comparable to many other superior vanilla options. 


  • Gluten-Free, All-Natural Vanilla extract
  • Free of Coumarin
  • Made with vanilla beans harvested directly from Veracruz, Mexico
  • Does not contain sugar additives


  • Contains corn syrup
  • A higher-priced vanilla extract, but of superior quality

Related Questions

We hope you have found this guide for the best vanilla extract for ice cream to be informative and helpful. We are confident you will find satisfaction in your vanilla extract and your ice cream will definitely thank you! 

We invite you to check out our question-and-answer section below for further information. 

Do I Need to Have Multiple Vanilla Extracts for Different Uses?

You can keep various vanilla extracts in your pantry for specific uses, but it is primarily unnecessary. You can purchase a blended version of vanilla extract that blends together all of the best qualities or if you prefer a certain flavor, stick with that specific make of vanilla.

Most likely whichever one you choose will work well for all of your needs. Another way to use vanilla extract is to add it to plain almond milk to make vanilla almond milk for cereal and smoothies!

How Should I Store My Vanilla Extract?

Storing your vanilla extract is quite simple. It just needs to be stored in a cool, dry area. You can store it in your pantry or cabinet at room temperature and it stores well for long periods of time. 

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