Milkshakes are one of the most iconic American desserts. They’re refreshingly cool, slurp-ably sweet and come in pretty much any flavor you can imagine. But you don’t need to belly up to a vinyl booth to enjoy one. Making a milkshake from scratch is simple. If you’ve got a tub of ice cream on hand, you’re halfway there. Follow along as our test kitchen shows how to make the most flavorful milkshake.
In the mood for more classic sweets? These vintage dessert recipes are making a comeback.
How to Make the Best Milkshake Ever
- 1/3 cup milk.
- You can use 2%, whole milk, or a blend of milk and half-and-half.
- 1-1/2 cups ice cream
- Vanilla makes a good base for most shakes, or you can use a flavor like chocolate.
- Delicious mix-ins!
- Think a swirl of chocolate syrup, peanut butter, a chopped banana or other fruit, a handful of chocolate or butterscotch chips (we could go on and on…)
- A blender, of course.
- You can use a classic stand blender-or an immersion blender if you want to make it right in your glass.
Step 1: Add the Milk, Ice Cream and Mix-Ins
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Send your ingredients straight to the blender. For best results, put in your milk first. That will get the blender mixing quickly. Be sure to let your ice cream soften before scooping. If it’s too hard, you might end up having to add more milk, which thins the shake.
Test Kitchen tip: For an ultra-rich shake, use whole milk or milk with a little half-and-half cream. But never use heavy cream. If you send that through the blender, it’ll create little bits of butter.
We’re going to make a strawberry shake, so we’ll add 1/2 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries and 1 tablespoon strawberry preserves.
Editor’s tip: Remember that any ingredients you add will soon be pulverized in the blender. If you want to keep the size and shape of mix-ins like sprinkles, cherries or chocolate chips, it’s best to reserve as a garnish.
Step 2: Blend ’til smooth
It’s time to blend away. You’ll want to keep an eye on the consistency. This recipe creates a Goldilocks-style shake: not too firm and not too soft (runny). Of course, you can always customize it either way. Use less milk for a thicker, spoonable shake; more for a thinner, sippable one.
Be sure to check our our Test Kitchen’s recommendation for the best blender for your milkshake.
Step 3: Pour and Enjoy!
Pour your milkshake into a chilled glass to serve. It tastes great straight-up or topped with a tower of whipped cream. Feeling fancy? Layer on toppings like chocolate syrup, sugary cereal or rainbow sprinkles. Once you’ve mastered the classic garnishes, try these crazy takes!
Easy Milkshake Ideas to Try
Now that you know how to make a basic milkshake, try some additional variations:
- Low-fat milkshake: Substitute frozen yogurt or sherbet for the ice cream, or fruit juice for part of the milk.
- Make it a malt: It’s easy to mimic those old-fashioned malted milks you get at a restaurant. Simply pick up malted milk powder from the store. (It’s usually found near the breakfast and chocolate milk mixes.) Add 2-4 tablespoons per 1 cup of milk. Or try this fancy caramel pecan version!
- Old-fashioned soda: Stir in ginger ale or soda after making the milkshake. Just make sure not to blend; it’ll cause a fizzy mess! Check out our recipe for Old Fashioned Strawberry Soda to see how it’s done.
- Love lemon? You won’t want to miss this luscious lemon milkshake with lemon drop candies and…a silky secret, cream cheese!