Shamrock Shake Recipe

This Shamrock Shake Recipe is full of eye-popping green color and creamy mint flavor. Make this seasonal treat whenever you need a minty pick-me-up!

The Shamrock Shake returns to McDonald’s menus each February to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s only for a limited time, but now you can make the minty milkshake year-round! This recipe is so easy to make and fun to share.

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, then you know I’m extremely picky when it comes to mint-flavored sweets. I am likely to pass up minty sweets on most dessert menus. Why? Because it’s difficult to know if you’re getting something that tastes light and refreshing, or something more akin to toothpaste. This is definitely not the latter. This copycat Shamrock Shake recipe is creamy and indulgent with light mint flavor.  It’s such an easy dessert for St. Patrick’s Day dinner – or heck! Anytime you’re looking for a sweet minty treat.

Shamrock Shake Origins

First, a bit of history. Because after some digging, I was shocked to see how long Shamrock Shakes have been around. Connecticut McDonalds franchise owner Hal Rosen brought the Shamrock Shake to life in 1967. He created it to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But get this – it wasn’t mint-flavored! It was made with lemon-lime sherbet. In 1983 that the mint-flavored shake made its debut. It was such a success, McDonalds decided to debut it nationally. Altogether, that’s more than 50 years of Shamrock Shake-ing!

Let’s Talk Vanilla Ice Cream

, McDonald’s Shamrock Shake recipe is made with reduced fat vanilla ice cream from the on-site soft serve machine. It’s perfectly fine to start with your favorite full fat, plain vanilla ice cream from the grocery store. It doesn’t have to be reduced fat. But it can be. However, full fat will blend better and the milkshake will be thick. Mayfield’s, Breyer’s, Turkey Hill – all the usual vanilla ice cream brands will work. Set the tub of ice cream out for about 10 minutes at room temperature to soften.

What Kind of Milk?

Use whole milk for the closest copycat of the McDonald’s shake. If you’re not a purist or stickler, then use whatever milk you prefer. 2% works well also. You’ll need about 1 1/2 cups for this recipe.

Shamrock Shake Flavor and Color

The McDonalds formula uses mint beverage syrup for the recipe. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep beverage syrups on hand. But as a baker I definitely have mint extract. Use mint extract, and sure to use bottles labeled as “Mint” and not “Peppermint”. You might think there’s not much difference. But peppermint flavor is much sharper and not as true to the original shake’s flavor.  Start with 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract. Then, add more to taste. I know that doesn’t seem like much. However, over the years, and through many bottles of mint extracts, I’ve learned that brands vary in strength. You can always add more to taste.

What makes the Shamrock Shake green?

Well, technically, the food industry’s Yellow 5 and Blue 1. Yep, food color! The shades seem to vary a little in person and in advertisements. Some show it as . And others are more emerald green.  So, use whatever green color you have on hand. A few drops of liquid green food color from a standard pack of grocery store food colors will work. I used a few drops from


In 2012, the shake was updated with whipped cream and a cherry on top. The squirt-y canister of aerosol whipped cream is a good standby. However, it is extremely meltable and goes flat rather quickly. I made some homemade using whipping cream, because it holds its shape longer. (And I needed it to last through an hour-long photo session!) Use whatever you prefer. But, while fleeting, the aerosol whipped cream is closest to its inspiration.

Blend it all Together

Get the ice cream, milk, green food color, and mint extract together in the pitcher of a blender. Then, give it whir. Taste-test, and add more mint extract if needed.

Pour in a Tall Glass

Divide the milkshake mixture between four glasses. Immediately top with the whipped cream of your choice (aerosol or homemade). Add the all-important red cherry on top!

If you’re feeling festive, you could add some sprinkles to the whipped cream. I had some cute , which I used as a nod to leprechaun’s gold. Green sprinkles would also look super cute and very spring-y. Enjoy!

Related recipe:

Shamrock Shake Recipe

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