Easy Milkshake Without Ice Cream Recipe

What are the critical ingredients for making a milkshake? Milk and ice cream, of course. And really that's all you need, right? Well, sure, if you're going for the most basic milkshake ever made, that will do. But what's to be done if you have a hankering for the ultimate frozen dessert yet you don't have any ice cream on hand? You make a milkshake without ice cream, naturally. That's no so hard to do, actually, especially if you're following this deliciously quick and easy recipe from chef and recipe developer Susan Olayinka of The Flexible Fridge

If you cook often, there's a good chance you will have all of the ingredients needed for an ice-cream-free milkshake on hand already. If not, there's nothing fancy on the ingredient list here, meaning you only need one easy trip to the grocery store. Rather it's just a repurposing of common items in the sweetest of ways. And once you have all of the said ingredients measured out, the entire production process will take you about 10 seconds of blending. You can also put your own tasty little twists on this recipe — that's where things get really exciting.

You can stick with classic toppings like Olayinka's suggestions of whipped cream and vanilla powder. You can also drizzle on some chocolate sauce and add some cherries, or you can get a bit wild, adding in crumbled candy cane bits, coconut shreds, sprinkles, and more. Here's how to get it all started.

Gather your milkshake ingredients

While this recipe may be just a bit more involved than the mere two ingredients you need for the most basic, classic milkshake recipe, this really is a simple treat to prepare. All you need to make three generous servings of these ice cream-free milkshakes are two cups of whole milk, a cup of heavy cream, three teaspoons of vanilla extract, a cup of powdered sugar (also frequently known as icing sugar or confectioner's sugar, depending on where you are), and three cups of ice cubes. And that's all you need for what Olayinka calls "an easy vanilla milkshake."

The optional ingredients to strongly consider picking up are some canned whipped cream and about ⅛ of a teaspoon of vanilla powder. You can also make your own whipped cream at home, using heavy whipping cream or even canned coconut milk. Any other sweetness you want to add is welcome too, from various sauces (think chocolate or caramel, for starters), or colorful additions like sprinkles.

A brief history of the milkshake

As the story goes, the word "milkshake" first appeared in print back in the year 1885 (via South Florida Reporter). But back then, the recipe included eggs and whiskey, a far cry from the sort of milkshakes you've probably enjoyed recently. Within a couple of decades, more kid- and family-friendly versions of milkshakes were cropping up around America without the liquor and with more sweet syrups and cream. 

But it was not until 1922 when a Walgreen's soda jerk named Ivar Coulson would come up with a sweet, cold treat that's much more like what you think of as a modern milkshake. Coulson reportedly added malted milk powder in with other sweet ingredients and, soon after, a sensation was born. By the 1930s, milkshakes (also often called malts in this era) were popular across the United States and were getting their due around the globe, too. The rest is history.

Add everything to the blender

Once you have all your ingredients measured out for your mise en place, there is precious little work left to do here. First, simply add everything into the blender. Frankly, the order in which you add the ingredients doesn't even matter much, though to play it safe, you can first add the ice, then the cream, sugar, milk, and finally the vanilla extract.

This order will help ensure the ice cubes are fully pulverized and the sugar fully integrated. That said, as long as you have a decently high-powered blender, there's really no way to get this recipe wrong!

Blend it all together, then serve the milkshakes

Here at last is where we get to the only truly challenging part of this recipe: the blending. Once all the ingredients are in the blender, you need to run it on high speed for about 10 seconds. Yeah, just kidding, there is no challenging part — except for maybe keeping yourself restricted to eating just one serving.

Now you can go ahead and pour (or scoop and push out of the blender as needed) those servings right out into three glasses. Top the shakes with whipped cream, vanilla powder, cocoa or cacao powder, drizzles of this or that, or whatever sounds great. If you can find it, vanilla powder is especially well suited for sprinkling atop a shake for a really pleasing visual impact. Enjoy!

Easy Milkshake Without Ice Cream Recipe
5 from 73 ratings
What to do if you have a hankering for a frozen dessert but don't have any ice cream on hand? You make a milkshake without ice cream, using this easy recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Three milkshakes in glasses
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cups ice cubes
Optional Ingredients
  • Whipped cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla powder
  1. Place whole milk, heavy cream, vanilla extract, icing sugar, and ice into a blender.
  2. Blend on high speed for 10 seconds.
  3. Pour into a serving glass and top with optional whipped cream and vanilla powder or other favorite toppings.
Calories per Serving 540
Total Fat 34.6 g
Saturated Fat 21.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 125.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 50.5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Total Sugars 50.1 g
Sodium 110.8 mg
Protein 6.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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