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Are Vanilla Ice Cream and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Different?

A bowl is filled with vanilla ice cream.
Slavica Stajic/Shutterstock.com

It doesn’t get much better than the simple, refreshing goodness of a cup (or cone!) of vanilla ice cream. Vanilla doesn’t have to be your favorite flavor, but there’s no denying its lasting power. But, have you ever been perusing the grocery store aisles for a carton of vanilla, only to find a vanilla bean?

Vanilla and vanilla bean are both grocery staples, but aren’t they the same thing? It might surprise you to learn there’s actually a difference between the two.

If you see a carton of vanilla ice cream for sale, chances are it was made using artificial vanilla flavoring. Think about the imitation vanilla extract you might use while baking cookies or cake. It tastes just like vanilla, but it’s not the “real deal.” That’s what makes it so affordable.

Vanilla bean ice cream is typically made using real vanilla beans, not extract.

Vanilla beans are harvested from vanilla orchids. They have to be hand-picked, so it’s a labor-intensive process. If you’ve ever tried to buy a bundle of vanilla beans and were shocked by the price tag, now you know why!

Vanilla bean ice cream’s flavor is extracted directly from the inside of the beans. That’s why you’ll probably notice small flakes of “black” in vanilla bean ice cream. If you see that, you know you’re getting the real deal!

But, is vanilla bean ice cream really worth it? You’ll probably spend a few more dollars for it, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with regular vanilla ice cream. But, the flavor of the vanilla bean variety is likely to be much more intense. Consider doing a side-by-side taste test for yourself!

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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