Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

You just baked the perfect apple pie and you want the perfect type of vanilla ice cream to accompany it. However, once you get to the grocery store, you are faced with at least 10 different types of vanilla ice cream and you're not sure which one to pick. After reading the labels, you see that most are either labeled “vanilla bean” or “regular vanilla.” Know the difference so that next time you have to choose the best ice cream to complement your famous apple pie, you'll know exactly which one to pick.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla bean ice cream is what most people would call “real” ice cream. It can be purchased in most grocery stores but can be a little harder to find and more expensive because it gets its flavor from the actual unprocessed grains found inside a vanilla pod. You can see minuscule black grains in real vanilla bean ice creams which is an easy way to tell if you have truly natural ice cream or not.

Regular Vanilla Ice Cream

Most ice cream bought in store, at milk bars and in restaurants is regular vanilla ice cream. This type of ice cream is often mass-produced and either pure vanilla extract or processed vanilla flavoring is used to give it its taste. Because concentrated versions of vanilla are used, you cannot see the vanilla with the naked eye. Regular vanilla ice cream is normally white or off-white in color. The vanilla extract used in regular ice cream can also be used in recipes for cakes, muffins and other sweet baked goods.


Both types of vanilla ice cream are made from the majority of the same basic ingredients which includes eggs, sugar and heavy cream. They also both have a vanilla flavor and are generally white in appearance. Finally, both vanilla bean and regular vanilla ice creams can be made at home or bought pre-made.


The main difference between vanilla bean and regular vanilla ice cream lies in the substance used to give it its vanilla flavor. In the first instance, actual vanilla beans have been used. Normally, you can identify real vanilla bean ice cream easily because you should be able to see small black grains that come for the vanilla pod. Regular vanilla ice cream gets its flavor from either vanilla extract or processed vanilla flavor supplements. In this case, the ice cream simply looks uniform in color.

About the Author

Marie-Pier Rochon

Marie-Pier Rochon has been writing since 2005. She has served as a writer at PlaceForPoeple and a newsletter writer for the Creative Sydney festival. Previously, Rochon also worked as a communications adviser for various Canadian federal agencies. She earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors in organizational communications from the University of Ottawa.