The "French" in French Vanilla, Explained

What’s the difference between vanilla and French vanilla?

French vanilla isn’t a variety of vanilla (those come from Madagascar, Tahiti, and Mexico), but rather a technique used in ice cream making. While American (also known as Philadelphia) vanilla ice cream is an uncooked mixture of cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla, French vanilla ice cream begins with a cooked custard containing egg yolks. The presence of egg yolks gives French vanilla ice cream a denser, richer texture and smooth consistency, as well as a yellowish color. The vanilla flavor, however, is no different from that of ice cream made with a similar amount and type of vanilla using the Philadelphia technique.

THE BOTTOM LINE: French vanilla can be marketing hype—or it can signify the use of eggs and thus a different textural style of ice cream.

NO PASSPORT REQUIRED: “French vanilla” means the ice cream contains eggs—or it means nothing at all.

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