How to Make a Milkshake Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

How to Make a Milkshake

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A strawberry milkshake and a straw, resting on a shiny metallic surface.
Q: How do you make a milkshake?
A: Sneak up behind a cow and yell 'Boo!'

There is nothing quite as refreshing and tasty as a tall, frothy milkshake on a hot summer afternoon. This simple drink made with milk or cream and ice-cream brings back memories of childhood, when the biggest decision to make was 'which flavour?'

It's easy to go to a cafe and order a milkshake but, as with so many things, homemade is often best. And you don't have to be a wizard in the kitchen; children and folks who 'don't know how to cook' can make milkshakes. Here are instructions on whipping up this quintessential summer treat.

Just What is a Milkshake, Anyway?

This isn't a trick question. For many, the term 'milkshake' refers only to drinks made with ice-cream. However, there are plenty of recipes for milkshakes that contain no ice-cream - just milk and some other ingredients such as fruit (these drinks are sometimes called 'smoothies'). In fact, there are even 'milkshakes' that contain no milk! For the most part, we're going to look at shakes made with ice-cream; if you're interested in the other kind, please see Smoothies below.

The Basic Recipe

It is easier and faster to make your milkshake in a blender, but you can use a jar with a tight-fitting lid instead. Be sure to use the freshest, good-quality ingredients. 'Super premium' ice-cream, with a high butterfat content, makes the best milkshakes.1 Note that for all of the recipes, the term 'milk' means cow's milk. Do not substitute goat's milk, sheep's milk, soy milk or coconut milk for the cow's milk, as it will alter the taste and texture of the final result.

The Vanilla Shake

  • 950 ml (2 pints, 32 oz or 4 cups) good-quality vanilla ice-cream
  • 475ml (1 pint, 16 oz, or 2 cups) milk
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract, if desired

Put ingredients in blender or jar with the lid tightly closed and blend or shake until the mixture is smooth. Be sure not to overdo it, or the ice-cream will melt. Pour into tall glasses and enjoy. Slurping your milkshake through a straw is traditional and indeed adds to the enjoyment.

Serves four, or one generously.

If you don't want to make such a large amount, simply use half or even a quarter of the amounts listed above - and feel free to play with the proportions. Some may prefer a thicker shake with plenty of ice-cream. Others prefer thinner shakes, using a bit more milk. Not only is the milkshake a true 'food of the gods', it is very forgiving if you don't get the measurements exactly as they are listed.

Beyond the Basics

Half the fun of milkshakes is coming up with new and interesting flavours. You can use various flavours of ice-cream - chocolate is especially popular - and add other ingredients such as fruit or a splash of your favourite liqueur. If you're not concerned with watching your weight, you can also substitute single cream for all or part of the milk. If you are weight-conscious, you can use frozen low-fat yoghurt in place of the ice-cream and low-fat or skimmed milk.

The Chocolate Shake

  • chocolate or vanilla ice-cream
  • chocolate syrup (if using vanilla ice-cream or you prefer a more intense chocolate taste)
  • milk or single cream
Use the same measurements as in the Basic Recipe. If you are adding chocolate syrup, use about 30 ml (2 tablespoons) per 950ml of vanilla ice-cream. Blend ingredients as in Basic Recipe.

The Coffee Shake

  • vanilla or coffee-flavoured ice-cream
  • espresso powder (if using vanilla ice-cream or you prefer a bit of 'punch' to the taste)
  • milk or single cream
Blend ingredients as in Basic Recipe.

Get Creative

The flavours of a milkshake are limited only by your imagination. (This Researcher has heard tell of a Vegemite milkshake but thinks this was probably a joke.) Experiment, using other flavours of ice-cream, or try adding some of the following ingredients:

  • peanut butter or chocolate spread with chocolate ice-cream
  • a splash of Irish cream liqueur with vanilla ice-cream
  • a splash of coffee-flavoured liqueur or cr�me de cacao with vanilla, chocolate, or coffee ice-cream
  • your favourite fruit, mashed, with vanilla ice-cream (strawberries and bananas are especially good)
  • crushed biscuits (try adding vanilla-filled chocolate biscuits to vanilla or chocolate ice-cream)
  • malted milk powder and crushed chocolate-covered malted milk candies with chocolate ice-cream
  • whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa or espresso powder and a cherry on top of your shake2


Smoothies, (made without ice-cream) tend to be lower in fat and calories and a bit more nutritious than the traditional shake, and for that reason are quite popular. As with milkshakes, you can adjust the ingredients and the amounts to suit yourself. Here is a recipe for a tasty treat that's even good for you!

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

  • 450g (2 cups) strawberries
  • 240ml (1/2 pint, 8 oz, 1 cup) orange juice
  • 240ml (1/2 pint, 8 oz, 1 cup) strawberry yoghurt
  • 450 g (2 cups) ice
  • A banana
Place ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serves two.

Further Reading

1Most commercially-made milkshakes do not use ice-cream at all but a similar concoction called 'milkshake base', which is denser, richer and contains more butterfat than all but the best of the 'super premium' ice-creams.2Purists may regard this as gilding the lily.

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