Sunset's Easiest Vanilla Ice Cream. Photo by Annabelle Breakey

I’m not someone who normally follows all the national food holidays, but this July I have to make an exception. It’s National Ice Cream month! (It’s also National Baked Bean Month and National Pickle Month. Who decides this stuff?) In any case, this slim excuse is all I need to make a batch of Sunset’s Easiest Vanilla Ice Cream, the creamiest, most delicious ice cream I’ve tried. (And yes, the easiest.) And check this out: With one pour from a bottle of vanilla extract, you can customize it to create your own single-origin vanilla ice cream.

Just like wine grapes, vanilla grown in different regions produces a range of nuanced flavors. Inspired by the single-origin ice cream line from Pasadena-based Choctál, we experimented in the Sunset Test Kitchen with six vanilla extracts from around the world in our basic ice cream recipe, with six very different results.

Here are the vanilla extracts we put to the test, and where you can get them.

Madagascar. Big, round, ripe flavors. Williams-Sonoma sells it in a set with Tahiti and Mexico.

Tahiti. Floral, clean, light; see Madagascar.

Mexico. Smooth, deep creamy; see Madagascar.

Hawaii. Sweet and aromatic. You can get it from

Indonesia. Warm, caramel-like notes. You can buy it from

Papua New Guinea. Intense, coconutty flavor; spotty availability. Check with

Now to make Sunset’s Easiest Vanilla Ice Cream recipe, just whisk together sugar, the vanilla extract of your choice, and whipping cream. Then freeze it in an ice cream maker, and get a scoop ready.


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