8 chains that serve the best vanilla ice cream

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Whether it’s for the delicious simplicity or the great nostalgia, Americans are absolutely in love with vanilla ice cream. in one Opinion poll Last year, more respondents said they liked vanilla ice cream than any other flavor, according to data research firm YouGov. The fact that consumers still love vanilla even when there are so many other creative flavors out there is a testament to just how popular it is.

Luckily for all vanilla lovers in this country, it’s almost impossible to walk into an ice cream parlor or fast food chain and not find a version of the popular flavor. And some chains take it a step further by making extra flavorful and creamy vanilla balls.

From fast-food brands to artisan ice cream parlors, here are the eight chains that serve up the absolute best vanilla ice cream.

RELATED: 7 Fast Food Chains With the Best Soft Serve

Andy's Frozen Custard
Andy’s Frozen Custard / Facebook

ANdy’s serves frozen treats well above what you’ll find in many ice cream parlors. Because the specialty of the chain is actually not ice cream, but frozen custard.

For the uninitiated, frozen custard is an ultra-creamy and luxurious frozen treat that’s richer than ice cream, thanks to the addition of egg yolk. Andy’s take on the classic frozen custard is a combination of cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and “a few other trade secrets.” Even if consuming frozen custard isn’t actually good for you, whenever you decide to treat yourself, you can go to Andy’s knowing that you’re getting something simple, quality, and delicious.

Of course, you can also enjoy the frozen custard like this. But if you want to take your dessert even further, consider ordering one of Andy’s Beton or Sundae, which combines the creamy custard with delicious flavors and toppings.

Jeni's honey vanilla bean ice cream
Jeni’s delicious ice cream

Customers stepping into one of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams ice cream scoops might be distracted by all the other creative, delicious flavors like Gooey Buttercake and Brown Butter Almond Brittle. But if you’re looking for a simple yet premium vanilla ice cream, fans say Jeni’s version is a head above the rest.

Jeni’s Honey Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is made with carefully selected ingredients such as fair trade vanilla beans, grass-fed milk from small Ohio dairies and a touch of honey from a family-run Ohio farm. The result is a vanilla ice cream that’s just a little more complex and premium than most people are probably used to.

“As far as pure vanilla ice cream goes, this is well above average,” wrote one customer in a review on Jeni’s website.

Since opening its first store in 2022, Jeni’s has expanded to more than 65 ice cream parlors across the country. If you’re not lucky enough to live near one of these locations, you can also find Jeni’s ice cream in many grocery store freezer sections.

Oberweis ice cream dishes
Oberweis / Facebook

The Oberweis name may not be well known to many people outside of the Midwest. But if you love vanilla ice cream — or any other type of ice cream — this regional dairy company should be on your bucket list.

All ice cream at Oberweis carries the coveted Super Premium label, meaning that the ice cream is denser, creamier and of higher quality than ice cream of lower grades. While the chain has a ton of great flavors to choose from, the classic vanilla will always stand out. It’s made in small batches from Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, sugar, and fresh cream, then served to hungry customers in one of Oberweis’s many Midwestern scoop shops.

Culver's Frozen Custard
Culver’s / Facebook

Andy’s isn’t the only chain that serves great frozen custard. This creamy, luxurious dessert is also a menu item at the Midwestern burger chain culvers.

A big part of Culver’s food philosophy only uses fresh, high-quality ingredients. That’s why the beef for the famous butterburgers is never frozen and the fresh dairy for the creamy, frozen custard is family-run. Additionally, the custard is made on-site and in small batches at Culver’s restaurants throughout the day. That means customers don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality or freshness just because they’re eating at a fast food joint.

You can take a scoop of this frozen custard straight in a bowl or bag. Or you can up the indulgence factor by ordering one of the mixed concrete mixers, sundaes or shakes with custard.

Van Leeuwen vanilla ice cream
Van Leeuwen

Van Leeuwen disagrees with the idea that vanilla ice cream has to be plain or boring. The New York brand’s classic Vanilla Bean French Ice Cream gets its signature flavor from ground Tahitian vanilla beans for an intense vanilla flavor. The ice cream itself is also of very high quality and consists of just a few simple ingredients such as milk, cream, cane sugar, egg yolk and salt. So when you order one of these vanilla balls, you can rest assured that you’re getting something carefully prepared that’s worth the calories.

If you’re not close enough to one of Van Leeuwen’s 40+ ice cream shops in New York, New Jersey, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington DC, Pennsylvania and Texas, all is not lost. The brand’s ice cream is also available in many grocery stores, and the company ships nationwide.

Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream
Häagen-Dazs / Facebook

Häagen-Dazs is one of the most well-known ice cream chains in the country, so it’s no surprise that this brand offers a great classic vanilla ice cream.

The beauty of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream is its simplicity. The flavor consists of just five ingredients in total: cream, milk, eggs, sugar and Madagascar vanilla. According to customers, this no-fuss philosophy makes for some of the best vanilla ice cream flavors money can buy.

“To me, vanilla is pure heaven, neat or over the cobbler my wife makes. It has a delicious texture and mouthfeel,” one customer wrote in a review on the brand’s website.

Shake Shack Frozen Custard
Shake Shack

The secret behind Shake Shake’s namesake milkshakes? While only the company truly knows the answer to that question, the fact that it uses frozen custard in its shakes has to be part of the equation.

Shake Shack keeps it simple with their frozen custard range, only offering chocolate and vanilla. Still, the extra creamy, luxurious texture and the fact that it’s made in-house every day put this frozen custard a step above other vanilla ice cream flavors.

You can grab a scoop of this delicious frozen dessert on its own or have it mixed into one of the chain’s popular shakes at your local shake shack.

Vanilla ice cream with salt and straw
Salt & Straw / Facebook

While Salt & Straw is best known for its more creative and offbeat flavors like pear, blue cheese and Arbequina olive oil, this ice cream chain also put a lot of thought into developing their Double Fold Vanilla ice cream.

This ice cream’s name was inspired by the double strength vanilla extract Salt & Straw uses from a brand called Singing Dog Vanilla. This double-strength extract is made with twice as many vanilla beans as usual and gives Salt & Straw’s vanilla ice cream an extra strong vanilla flavor. The strong vanilla flavor is paired with Salt & Straw’s simple but quality ice cream, which is extra creamy and rich thanks to an extra high butterfat content.

Salt & Straw currently has more than 20 ice cream shops across the country, but the chain also serves customers across the country who aren’t near one of these locations.

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