Traditional recipes

For the Love of the Shamrock Shake

For the Love of the Shamrock Shake

About 20 web pages deep into research about a mint milkshake it hits you: those folks over at McDonald's are a real clever bunch. Newspaper articles, blog posts, online forums, videos, websites — all dedicated to the fast food giant's elusive seasonal confection, the Shamrock Shake. But why?

First introduced in 1970, the green-tinted milkshake was originally developed as a special offered during the month of March in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Since then it has become one of the company's most popular seasonal products. It is also credited by some as having paved the way for the success of other companies' seasonal beverages. Oh yeah, and it has basically skyrocketed into the stratosphere of cult phenomenon. Think of it as the drink equivalent of the McRib.

And it makes sense — it's a very tasty mint shake. But of course, there's more to it than that. Here's a look at what makes the Shamrock Shake a beloved cult classic.

1. Limited Supply Only. The three magic words — because nothing pushes a product better than an expiration date. Though it is supposedly only available during March, this year sightings were reported in the last week of February. What kind of erratic behavior does this get-it-while-you-can strategy inspire? I'll have four Shamrock Shakes for breakfast, please. What? I want to get it before they run out of the syrup!

2. The Hunt. Headlines for the first Shamrock Shake sightings of the season read like eyewitness accounts of seeing the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman. The shake has a history of playing peek-a-boo during its already-limited one-month-only stint. In 2007, it was noticeably absent from the New York market — apparently branches vote by region as to whether or not they want to stock it. Suddenly milkshake becomes coveted treasure hunt prize. Fortunately, dedicated sites like make the quest a whole lot easier.

3. Ripe for Debate. Don't mess with a sentimental food memory, man. Last year, loyalists were outraged when the company decided to "revamp" the flavor. Too much vanilla! Not enough mint! Someone even started a Facebook fan page protesting the reformulated recipe (granted it currently only has 63 members). Good news though, fans, early reports seem to suggest that this year's batch lives up to the hype.

4. The Nostalgia Factor. Just about anything with retro appeal does well these days and the Shamrock Shake is no exception. (Who here votes to bring Uncle O'Grimacey back?) It also doesn't hurt that the shake was featured in a viral video-worthy, oh-so-not-PCadvertisement in the 1980's.

5. Many Imitators, One Original. Copycat Shamrock Shakes, "healthy" Shamrock Shakes, "adult" Shamrock Shakes. When McDonald's is a source of recipe inspiration, well, that's just badass. What is it they say about icons: Often imitated, never duplicated?

Have you had your Shamrock Shake encounter yet this year? Weigh in on the minty madness in the comments below!

Shamrock Shake

When St. Pat's Day rolls around one thing I always try and get is a McDonald's Shamrock Shake. The challenge is they don't sell them at every location. So, the hunt begins to get my Shamrock Shake and it wasn't till my fifth try did I find one. They did make them a little different this year but they were still very tasty.

And when I want one at home here is a recipe I came up with after searching at least a dozen faux recipes. Just in case, you have never had one this will come close to the real thing.
Also, you can check this website and see if they sell any in your area.

I added a little history behind the famous Shamrock Shake for all to read below. It is a great story! Hope you enjoy and tell me if you love them as much as I do.

Interesting fact- The shamrock plant (three leaf clovers) is considered to be a sacred plant, symbolizing the arrival of spring.

While awaiting Springs (overdue) arrival, look no further for the most scrumptious minty treat. Start your Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations with this perfected Shamrock Shake that is sure to make a memorable treat. Truthfully, this Minty shake can be an indulgent dessert for anytime of the year. Personally, my children are obsessed with anything mint flavored and a side of chocolate something.

Do you get a visit from leprechauns? On St. Paddy’s Day (March 17th) our favorite little leprechaun always leaves gold chocolate coins around our home for the kiddos.

How to customize your Mint Milkshake

This mint milkshake is flawless as is, but a drizzle of chocolate syrup to the inside of the glass pairs beautifully. Additional topping options, more drizzled chocolate, chocolate shavings, whipped cream, cherries or sprinkles.

Furthermore, wear your green clothing, make your St, Paddy’s day Irish bangers, cabbage and drink the green beer, if that’s your thing. Talk about those sneaky leprechauns and go on a hunt to find where they left their gold chocolate coins. Saint Patrick’s day is a holiday that’s loved by all and traditionally celebrated in America with a tasty Shamrock Shake with a side of fun!

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Copycat McDonald's Shamrock Shake

The original Shamrock Shake is only available at McDonald's for a limited time (end of February through March) each year, but we'd drink it any day of the year. So we created our own.

What does it taste like?

Minty and very creamy. These are the ingredients McDonald's shares on its website: reduced-fat vanilla ice cream, whipped light cream, and "Shamrock Shake Syrup." 😒 Instead of the syrup, we use peppermint extract and green food color. Warning: A little bit of the extract goes a lonnngggg way.

Can you add alcohol?

Is that even a real question? YES! McDonald's doesn't offer a boozy version, for obvious reasons. But when you make this at home, you can add as much as you want. You could use plain or flavored vodka. Marshmallow vodka could be kinda genius.

Do I need ice cream?

As with all good milkshakes, yes, ice cream is key. You could go the way of the fast food chain and opt for a reduced-fat pint. But we went all out with regular vanilla ice cream PLUS a little bit of cream. It makes the milkshake extra-decadent and special. Milk can be substituted in a pinch.

Are there different flavors of Shamrock Shakes?

In the past, McDonald's has offered Shamrock Chocolate Chip Frappés and Chocolate Shamrock Shakes. To make the latter, we'd make one batch of chocolate shakes and one batch of Shamrocks, then swirl the two together. The reason: Adding chocolate syrup to the blender with the green shake turns the whole thing an ugly shade of green-brown. (Though it'd still taste delish.)

Looking for something a little more boozy to celebrate with this year? Try our Irish Floats on for size!

McDonald's Shamrock Shake is back for St. Patrick's Day, but our easy homemade recipe has booze

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Published March 15, 2021 2:30PM (UTC)

Shamrock Shake (Mary Elizabeth Williams)


In "Quick & Dirty," Salon Food's Mary Elizabeth Williams serves up simplified recipes and shortcuts for exhausted cooks just like you — because quick and dirty should still be delicious.

Like countless Irish Americans, I find St. Patrick's Day a real mixed pot o' gold. On the one hand, I'm proud of my heritage and my melancholy, pugilistic people. On the other hand, is there anything about the way the holiday is celebrated in the U.S. that isn't just . . . gross? Even as we mark our second restrained and pandemic-influenced March, the season is still a little too overwrought with green beer, public vomiting, boiled meats and Bono for my liking. Worst of all, though, are the shakes.

Growing up, I had a fraught relationship with McDonald's famed Shamrock Shake. Who doesn't love a once in a while item, like a Peep or a pumpkin spice latte? What sweeter words are there than "limited time only?" In my family, McDonald's was a rare treat, and the Shamrock Shake was the rarest of all. I still have happy memories, as vivid as the green liquid in my plastic cup, of sitting in a McDonald's booth with my cousins, our napkins flecked with French fry grease and our heads throbbing with seasonally induced brain freeze.

After all this time, can I now confess now my dark truth? Mint is disgusting. There. I said it.

Why anyone would sully an eating experience with flavors associated with tooth brushing remains a lifelong source of bafflement to me. I can grasp the branding leaps of faith that must have been involved in the creation of the famed fast-food treat: What's Irish? Green things! What else is green? Mint! But we don't have to forever shackle ourselves to such arbitrary and (again) disgusting restrictions.

Did you know that the original Shamrock Shake wasn't minty at all? When the "St. Patrick's Day Shake" (as it was first known) was introduced in the '70s, it was more of a lemon-lime sherbet affair. It next enjoyed a decade-long run as a simple vanilla-flavored concoction embellished with green food coloring. The mint was introduced — like many other bad ideas — in the '80s. In other words, it's not canon, and we don't have to be precious about it.

So why not make like St. Patrick and drive the shakes out this year? Why not make something that plucks at your nostalgia chords but actually tastes the way you want it to taste? Maybe that means vanilla extract, or maybe it means coconut ice cream. Maybe it means something slightly different.

My daughter asked me recently if Shamrock Shakes have alcohol, because, as she put it, "I just assume anything Irish does." She had a valid point. It seemed only right to explore that, so when I made a batch of shakes this week, I spiked mine with a shot of Jameson. I did so confidently, inspired by the example of the wonderful New York bakery Baked and the famed bourbon milkshake recipe from their cookbook.

Obviously, it was incredible, because ice cream and alcohol go together like Irish people and alcohol go together. Heady with vanilla, mellow with whiskey, this shake is, as they say in the old country, feckin' brilliant. Suddenly, this traditionally lame mid-March holiday seems a little more authentic.

Recipe: Boozy Shamrock-ish Shake

Serves 2 (or 1, no judgment!)

  • 2 cups of vanilla, coconut or white chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or mint, for a truer McDonald's vibe)
  • 6 - 10 drops of green food coloring (less if you're using gel) (optional, but darn good!)
  • Whipped cream

It's simple to make this recipe vegan: Just swap in your favorite non-dairy ice cream and milk!

More Quick & Dirty:

Salon Food writes about stuff we think you'll like. Salon has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

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Copycat Shamrock Shake Recipe

Do you wait each year for the return of the Shamrock Shake? With this copycat Shamrock Shake recipe, you never have to wait again!

Every winter, people eagerly await the return of the Shamrock Shake at a certain fast-food restaurant. and then get sad when it goes away.

I'm not sure what the big deal is. Yes, it is delicious, creamy and minty, but making a copycat version is just about one of the easiest recipes that you can make. All you need is a blender and a few ingredients that you probably have at home.

For a truly "authentic" Shamrock Shake recipe, just make it as directed. If you want to have some fun with it, you can make it the way that my son likes it - by also throwing in some semisweet chocolate chips!


  • 1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half
  • 5 drops Mint Extract
  • 4 drops Green Food Coloring
  • Whipped cream & maraschino cherries (optional)

Making it is easy!:

Combine ice cream, half and half, mint extract and food coloring in a blender and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Shamrock Shake

This may come off sounding snobby, but I pretty much refuse to eat at McDonald’s, except under extreme duress. (Basically, only on road trips through the middle of nowhere with zero other options and/or urgent need to use their bathroom). I could list a whole lot of reasons for this, but suffice it to say, McDonald’s and I are just not on the same page environmentally, nutritionally, or ideologically.

There is one other exception to this rule besides the starving/gotta pee scenario. And that, my friends, is the Shamrock Shake. Every year around St. Patrick’s Day, McD’s rolls out this seasonal treat of minty deliciousness and I lose all common sense and decide I NEEEEEED one, like:

The thing is, I’m still not crazy about actually patronizing McDonald’s, and I never really know the timeframe of when they offer the Shamrock Shake, or if it’s only available at select locations. Plus, these things are (unfortunately) astronomically high in calories. A small Shamrock Shake will run you 530 calories–a small! This year I finally realized I might as well just try making my own.

Using just Breyer’s Homemade Vanilla ice cream, milk, a little green food coloring, and a few drops of peppermint extract (just enough to make it nice and minty but not toothpasty), this DIY version totally hit the spot. And at about 250 calories instead of 530, this will be my new go-to Shamrock Shake.

Craving satisfied, internal psycho Gollum voice quieted….until next year.

Shamrock Shake
(A Love Letter to Food Original)

3/4 c. vanilla ice cream
3 Tbsp. milk
3 drops peppermint extract
4 drops green food coloring
Whipped cream, for topping

Blend ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, and food coloring until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream.

Sugar Free Shamrock Shake Recipe

The shamrock shakes at back at McDonald’s but I wanted a healthier version.

The shamrock shake tastes like a mint chocolate chip ice cream shake! They are absolutely delicious. I have always been able to make a healthy version of anything I fall in love with so here’s the McDonald’s Shamrock shake but with a healthy twist and sugar free! Cheers!

You can make this recipe totally dairy-free by removing the whey protein isolate. I always try and sneak in protein any chance I get but the recipe tastes amazing with or without it.

This sugar free shamrock shake recipe is totally gluten-free. It does contain almond milk though. If you have a nut allergy, feel free to change this ingredient to unsweetened coconut milk with the exact same measurements. You can also use coconut whipped cream too!

Our friends told us about the Reddit shamrock shake recipe but decided to make it low carb, keto, and sugar free! We made a perfectly delicious treat that everyone enjoys!! You won’t even know it’s sugar free. Promise!

No artificial colors in this recipe! The green spinach and avocado make the perfect shamrock shake color without the food coloring! How cool is that. You don’t even taste the spinach either. In fact, my kids didn’t even know I snuck some spinach in this recipe. They thought it was an ice cream shake.

If you are wanting an extra creamy sugar free shamrock shake, you can skip the protein powder and add a scoop of your favorite keto vanilla ice cream. So, so yummy! I make many different versions of this sugar free shamrock shake and they are all winners.

Makes 1 sugar free shamrock shake (double or triple the recipe for more)

Expert Tips for Making Shamrock Shakes

  • Booze: Absolutely, add some mint schnapps, vodka, cream de mint, or Bailey’s for an adult milkshake to adore.
  • Cookies: Blend up some thin mint or oreo mint cookies to your shake.
  • Healthier: Feel free to add dairy free, high protein or other ice cream substitutes.
  • Alternate ingredient: You can use almond milk or whipped cream if you are dairy sensitive.
  • Sprinkles: Indeed, a sprinkle of your favorite shamrock or green sprinkles will make these shakes extra festive.


If you’ve tried this recipe, please rate it in the comment section below.

Watch the video: MAGICSING Karaoke SHAMROCK - SANA karaoke. Tagalog (January 2022).