How to Make a Milkshake in 3 Simple Steps

Strawberry? Peppermint fudge? Bananarama? Any flavor you like! Learn how to make a perfect shake from scratch with our step-by-step guide (plus pretty pictures).

By Nicole Doster, Digital Associate Editor and Christine Rukavena, Food Editor

Strawberry milkshake in a glass with a green striped straw sticking out

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. A single sip gets us dreaming of old-school diners and hamburger stands on a sultry summer day, and just a few more satisfy any sweet tooth. In the mood for more classic desserts? These recipes are making a comeback.

But you don't need to reserve a vinyl booth to enjoy this delightful dessert. 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.

You'll need:

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.

Person scooping ice cream from a measuring cup into a blender Person pouring strawberries from a metal measuring cup into a blender

Step 1: Combine the ingredients

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.

We're going to make a strawberry shake, so we'll add 1/2 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries and 1 tablespoon strawberry preserves.

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.

Ice cream, milk and strawberries in a blender

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.

Strawberry milkshake in a glass with a green striped straw sticking out

Step 3: Enjoy!

Pour your milkshake into a chilled glasse 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.

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 milk shake with lemon drop candies and...a silky secret, cream cheese!