If you’re looking for a vanilla ice cream that's worthy of sprinkles and a flake this summer, our taste test reveals that you can get a superior scoop for less by swapping to supermarket own-brands.
We asked a panel of consumers to blind-taste and rate nine different brands of vanilla ice cream. These included Aldi, Asda, Sainsbury’s and other supermarket versions alongside Wall’s and Carte D’Or branded offerings.
Tesco and Asda were the top-scoring tubs, impressing on both flavour and texture and coming in at almost half the price of branded options.
Read on to find out where the branded ice creams fall short, and which other supermarket ice creams are worth considering.
These ice creams are the crème de la crème. Tesco and Asda are the top picks, but nearly all of the supermarket own-brand ice creams we tested went down well with our panel, so it's worth giving the cheaper option a try wherever you shop.
£1.80 for 900ml (20p per 100ml)
It’s tight at the top of our table, but Tesco took the top spot, showing you don't have to splash out to get great-tasting ice cream.
Our panel were big fans of its flavour and texture, with 83% rating it spot on for creaminess, and they also thought it had a more appealing aroma than most others we tested.
It's the third-cheapest ice cream we’ve tested, at just £1.80 a tub, too
£1.75 for 900ml (19p per 100ml)
Our tasters thought the overall flavour and texture of Asda's ice cream was impressive. It's one of the best-looking ice creams we tested too, with more than two thirds rating the colour just right.
Despite its name, our panel found it slightly less creamy than Tesco’s ice cream, but most were still happy with the texture overall. As the second-cheapest ice cream on test it’s a great value option, coming in slightly cheaper than Tesco too.
The discount supermarkets put in a good showing with these cheap and cheerful ice creams coming in just behind the top two, so if they're nearer to you there's no need to go out of your way to get your fix of frozen food.
£1.99 for 900ml (22p per 100ml)
Lidl's offering scored well on both flavour and texture, with two thirds finding the strength of the vanilla flavour just right. One third said it was too hard though, so you may need to warm your scoop to serve this one.
While it's not the cheapest, it still offers a considerable saving compared with Carte D'or.
It's one of the only ice creams we tested, along with Tesco, that contains palm oil, which Lidl says is RSPO certified.
Available from Lidl (in-store only).
£1.49 for 900ml (17p per 100ml)
This one lives up to its description – it was one of the creamiest ice creams we tested. If you’re less keen on creamy ice creams you’d be better off with Asda or Lidl. Our tasters gave it high marks for its great texture and well-balanced flavour, plus it looks the part too, with 72% finding the colour spot on.
This is a decent ice cream and the cheapest on test, but the 26 pence saving probably isn’t worth changing where you shop for if you’re a regular at Tesco, Asda or Lidl.
Big brands Carte D’Or and Wall’s were the most expensive ice creams in our taste test, but they were also some of the lowest scoring, showing that spending more doesn't necessarily get you a tastier treat.
Sainsbury’s and Co-op versions also fared relatively well, beating the brands above, so you shouldn't have to go out of your way to find cheap and tasty ice cream, but frozen food specialist Iceland somewhat missed the mark.
We all know ice cream is a treat, so of course it’s not going to be a super healthy choice. But if you want to find the healthiest option, that can be difficult to do with brands listing nutritional information in a mix of grams, millilitres and scoops.
We've done the maths, and at 150 calories per 100g – which is approximately two scoops – Sainsbury's vanilla ice cream is the least calorific on test. Tesco's Best Buy ice cream is the third lowest for calories.
|Brand||Calories (kcal) per 100g|
The ice creams were tested in April 2022 by a large panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume vanilla ice cream.
Each vanilla ice cream was assessed by 64 people, and the make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK.
The panellists rated the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of each product and told us what they liked and disliked about each one.
The taste test was blind, so participants didn’t know which brands they were trying. The order they sampled the ice cream was fully rotated to avoid any bias.
Each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others.
The overall score is based on:
These weightings are based on consumer rankings of the importance of different vanilla ice cream attributes.
The majority of ice cream cartons and lids are recyclable with household waste collection if you have kerbside collection for plastics.
If there is a film between the food and the lid, this is not usually recyclable, as is the case with Carte D’Or.
Prices correct as of 12 May 2022