When this colorful dessert appears on the McDonald’s menu, you know St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Though the only thing Irish about this Shamrock Shake recipe is that emerald green hue, it’s a part of the Irish celebration that we look forward to every year.

What’s in a Shamrock Shake?

The McDonald’s Shamrock Shake has always been bright green, but when it was first introduced in 1970, the flavor varied depending on where you bought one. It could’ve been mint, vanilla or even lemon-lime! The current Shamrock Shake is made with McDonald’s vanilla soft serve ice cream and “Shamrock Shake syrup.” It’s traditionally topped with whipped cream and a cherry, and we’ll garnish our Shamrock Shake recipe the same way.

Keep the St. Patrick’s Day fun going with even more green food and drinks!

How to Make a Shamrock Shake

The Shamrock Shake is usually available in February and March. Happily, this frosty milkshake is easy to re-create at home any time of year—plus it’s a perfect kid-friendly St. Patrick’s Day recipe.


1-1/4 cups vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Green food coloring, optional
1/3 cup whipped cream
1 maraschino cherry


Step 1: Add ingredients to the blender

Place the ice cream and milk in a blender. Add in the peppermint extract and squeeze in a few drops of green food coloring.

Step 2: Blend the shake

Blend everything together until the mixture is thick and smooth. The color should be a bright shade of green—blend in a bit more food coloring if necessary. Give the mixture a taste to see if it’s minty enough for you. If not, add another drop or two of peppermint extract.

Step 3: Pour and serve

Pour the milkshake mixture into a tall, chilled glass. Top it off with whipped cream and a cherry. Add a straw and serve immediately.

Before you take a sip, raise your milkshake and give the traditional Irish toast: Sláinte!

Tips for Making a Shamrock Shake

How can you tell when the milkshake is blended well enough?

Blend the shake just until there are no lumps of ice cream left, the green coloring is even throughout and it has a thick, frosty texture. You can stop once or twice during blending and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides or break up the ice cream to help the process.

What kind of vanilla ice cream should you use to make a Shamrock Shake?

Since ice cream is the essence of this shake, it’s worth using the good stuff! Choose creamy, full-fat varieties made with real vanilla beans. Our Test Kitchen’s recommended vanilla ice cream brands include Blue Bunny with its nostalgic sweetness and rich Trader Joe’s French Vanilla.

Jars of red maraschino cherries are in most stores and are fine as a garnish for this shake if you don’t mind their over-the-top sweetness and overall artificialness. You can also find more natural versions of maraschinos, like Mezzetta brand which are made with cane sugar and natural colors. Or top this shake with sophisticated cocktail cherries preserved in liquor, like Luxardo cherries or the tarter Fabbri-Amarena cherries.

What else can you add to a Shamrock Shake?

Chocolate and mint are always delicious together! Try blending a handful of chocolate chips into this milkshake to get little bits of chocolate in every sip. Or make a striking presentation by swirling chocolate syrup inside the glass before pouring the milkshake in. Have fun with the garnishes by sprinkling green, St. Patrick’s Day-themed sprinkles over the whipped cream. If you love Lucky Charms, top your shake with marshmallow bits from the cereal!

For a boozy version of this St. Patrick’s Day shake plus an extra dash of color, omit the peppermint extract and add a splash of green creme de menthe liqueur.

What can you serve with a Shamrock Shake?

While normally we love dipping French fries in our milkshakes, the mint flavor of the Shamrock makes it better paired with other sweet treats. The shake is perfect for dunking with Oreos, chocolate wafer cookies or Girl Scout Thin Mints. Served with a slice of chocolate cake or a fudgy brownie, it will be quite an indulgent dessert experience. Or keep the green foods theme going with a creme de menthe cupcake alongside your Shamrock Shake!

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