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26 August 2020

Best vanilla ice cream

Whether you prefer your vanilla ice cream in a wafer cone or in a bowl smothered in sauce, find out how big brand Carte D'Or measured up to cheaper supermarket options.
Scoop of vanilla ice cream
RD
Rebecca Duff

Carte D'Or is certainly a familiar face in the world of vanilla ice cream, but we tasted them alongside eight own-brand supermarket products to find out which your family will be fighting over this summer. 

Our taste testers scooped their way through Carte D'Or vanilla ice cream in March 2020, rating it alongside eight own-brand ice creams from popular supermarkets Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Morrison's, Sainsury's and Tesco. This guide will help you to decide whether it's worth splashing out on a premium ice cream brand or saving your pennies.

The best vanilla ice cream

Only logged-in Which? members can view the vanilla ice cream test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the vanilla ice cream we tested.

Join Which? now to get instant access to our test scores and Best Buy recommendations.

All vanilla ice cream prices correct as of March 2020. Please note availability and supply will be changeable while supermarkets concentrate on maintaining essential stocks.

Aldi Gianni's Smooth Vanilla Ice Cream

17p per 100ml

Opting for budget brand Aldi's vanilla ice cream could save you a whopping 50% per 100g compared with Carte D'or (£1.50 rather than £3.50 per tub). But does buying cheap mean you'll end up buying twice?

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Asda Really Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream

19p per 100ml

Our testers were impressed with the appearance of Asda's vanilla ice cream, even if some were put off by the visible vanilla seeds. Find out whether it scored highly for taste, creaminess and texture too.

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Carte D'Or Les Classiques Vanilla Ice Cream

 35p per 100ml

Carte D'Or is certainly one of the most popular ice cream brands out there, but how does it measure up when compared to cheaper supermarket options?

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Co-op Vanilla Ice Cream

25p per 100ml

Co-op's vanilla ice cream certainly looks appealing in the photo on the tub, but what did our taste testers make of it?

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Iceland Made in Italy Vanilla Ice Cream

19p per 100ml

Iceland is famous for stocking a wide range of frozen foods, but how good is its vanilla ice cream compared with other supermarkets out there?

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Lidl Gelatelli Premium Bourbon Vanilla Dairy Ice Cream

22p per 100ml

Another popular budget option, Lidl's vanilla ice cream scored highly for its smooth texture. What did our tasters think of its creaminess and flavour though?

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Morrison's Vanilla Ice Cream

22p per 100 ml

Morrison's claims its ice ceam is made with real Madagascan vanilla but did it leave a bad taste in our testers' mouths?

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Sainsbury's Vanilla Ice Cream

22p per 100ml

Our tasters commented that Sainbury's vanilla ice cream looked like a premium product thanks to its rich colour. How did it measure up on texture, aroma and taste?

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Tesco Vanilla Ice Cream

22p per 100ml

Tesco's vanilla ice cream is the same price per 100ml as budget supermarket Lidl. If you're trying to cut back on your spending, which one is the better option?

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Vanilla ice cream recipe

If you're looking for an alternative to supermarket ice cream, you may want to try your hand at homemade vanilla ice cream.

Here's how to make vanilla ice cream:

You'll need:

  • One vanilla pod
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • Four egg yolks
  1. Split the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and tip into a pan with the full fat milk, double cream and the rest of the pod. Bring this to the boil, then take it off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Whisk the golden caster sugar and four egg yolks together in a large bowl until they turn pale and fluffy. 
  3. Put the vanilla mixture from step 1 back on the heat until it's almost boiling then carefully sieve it onto your egg yolks, beating with a whisk until combined.
  4. Pour this mixture back into the pan and cook on a low heat until it thickens, which usually takes about 10 minutes.
  5. Strain it into a small bowl sitting in a larger bowl of iced water and leave to cool completely.
  6. Churn the mixture until it's a scoopable consistency, then transfer to a container and freeze.

Top tip: placing a container in the freezer before you start making your ice cream means your mixture will freeze quicker once you've decanted it.

Here are what some top chefs suggest adding to give your vanilla ice cream that little bit extra:

  • Gordon Ramsey adds cinnamon to his mixture, before serving it inside cinnamon-coated croissants to make a posh ice cream sandwich.
  • Jamie Oliver puts a dairy-free spin on the traditional vanilla ice cream recipe, using coconut milk, soya milk and agave syrup.
  • Nigella Lawson's one-step recipe uses condensed milk and creme fraiche to make your vanilla ice cream super creamy. She also recommends serving it with hot fudge sauce, if that tickles your fancy.

Vegan vanilla ice cream

With an increasing number of people opting to eat a plant-based diet, it's no surprise that vegan ice cream has rocketed in popularity in recent years.

Essentially, vegan ice cream is exactly the same as normal ice cream but without the addition of any animal products. That means no dairy, so cream and milk are off the menu.

Instead, most vegan ice creams attempt to replicate the creamy texture of dairy ice cream with plant-based milks such as coconut, almond or soya.

A lot of popular brands are now trying to cater to vegan consumers with dairy-free ice cream ranges, including Haagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry's, Breyer's and Halo Top.

Homemade vegan vanilla ice cream

There are several different ways to make your own vegan vanilla ice cream at home, but perhaps the most popular way is with coconut milk.

One simple recipe from BBC Good Food involves two tins of coconut milk, caster sugar, cornflour, one vanilla pod, sea salt flakes and a pinch of turmeric. 

This recipe will be a lot easier if you have access to an ice cream maker, but if not you can just pop the mixture in your freezer for 6-8 hours, stirring it once per hour to incorporate air.

Vanilla ice cream calories

If you're reaching for a bowl of vanilla ice cream, chances are you already know that it's not the healthiest food on the planet - even though it is very tasty.

It would be understandable to presume that one ice cream is just as calorific as the other, but there's actually quite a significant difference in calories from one brand or supermarket to the next.

To make things even more confusing, some tubs are measured in millilitres, while others use grams. This means that it can be quite difficult to compare one to the other.

Manufacturer Calories per 100g
Iceland 193
Carte D'or 192
Aldi 186
Tesco 174
Sainsbury's 173
Co-op 169
Manufacturer Calories per 100ml
Lidl 113
Morrison's 97
Asda 92

As you can see, Lidl's Best Buy vanilla ice cream had the highest number of calories per 100ml and Iceland's vanilla ice cream had the highest number of calories per 100g, only 1kcal ahead of Carte D'or.

For ice cream, millilitres and grams are not interchangeable. There are a few online conversion calculators out there, but there's no real way of knowing how accurate these are.

Ice cream is high in sugar and fat. So long as you stick to the recommended serving size, which will be outlined on the tub, there's nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying vanilla ice cream as part of a healthy balanced diet. 

How we tested vanilla ice cream

The products were assessed by a large panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume vanilla ice cream.

The make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK.

Each vanilla ice cream was assessed by 60 people.

The panellists rated the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of each prouct and told us what they liked and disliked about each one.

The taste test was blind, so the panellists didn't know what brand they were trying. The order they sampled the vanilla 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:

  • 50% flavour
  • 30% texture
  • 15% appearance
  • 5% aroma
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