Things You Should Be Putting In Your Milkshake, But Aren't

Ah, milkshakes. The dessert you can drink. Nothing cools you off quite like a frosty cold shake on a hot summer's day. But if you're a little bored with your usual milkshake routine, it's time to shake things up with these add-ins you've maybe overlooked but should be putting in your milkshake. We're not talking about your usual mix-ins, either. Sure, cookies and candies are a match made in heaven when paired with ice cream. But we want to go beyond the basics here with ingredients that will make your taste buds come alive.

It's a fitting time to up your milkshake game, too, since 2022 is the drink's 100-year anniversary. According to Hankering for History, the modern milkshake was invented in 1922 when Ivan Coulson, a worker at Walgreens, began adding scoops of vanilla ice cream to the chocolate malts. The richer taste and thicker consistency was a hit, and the drink took off.

Here's to another hundred years of experimenting and improving this drinkable dessert, beginning with these interesting additions.


Smoothie fans won't find this add-in surprising. Avocado smoothies are smooth and creamy with a clean taste. Per Martha Stewart, avocado is an ideal ingredient because it blends into the background without overpowering the other ingredients. It follows, then, that it could be an ideal pairing with ice cream, too.

One Reddit user recommends pairing avocado with condensed milk or ice cream with honey or sugar to sweeten it as a tasty summertime treat.

Avocado milkshakes are popular in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other locations (per Reddit). It is usually a combination of condensed milk, avocado, and sugar, but the Indonesian version includes swirling chocolate syrup in the glass before the milk is added. In other locations, it may be as simple as avocado, sugar, and milk.

Don't be afraid to mix things up by adding more fruit, though. Oranges, limes, strawberries, mango, papaya, peaches, and blueberries all pair well with creamy avocado and could make for a tasty milkshake.


If it's good enough for Five Guys, it's good enough for us. While you may be skeptical about adding applewood-smoked bacon to your drink, it actually makes a lot of sense. The salty flavor of the bacon balances out the sweet ingredients nicely and adds a crunchy element to boot. Try a bacon, peanut butter, banana milkshake for total Elvis vibes (per Southern Living). Bacon with salted caramel sounds pretty good, too, especially if you really like that sweet and savory combination.

Five Guys isn't the first to pair bacon and ice cream, and they probably won't be the last. In 2012, Burger King debuted a bacon sundae. Made with soft serve, bacon, chocolate sauce, and caramel, it sounded good in theory. However, Insider described it as having a strange aftertaste that lasted forever.

Jack in the Box borrowed and modified the bacon shake idea, adding a bacon shake to its menu for a limited time. The shake was made with vanilla ice cream and bacon-flavored syrup topped with whipped cream and a cherry (via ABC). There was no actual bacon in this shake (just bacon-flavored syrup), which is rather disappointing.


Well, butter our biscuits, if this isn't the strangest milkshake add-in we've ever seen! But if culinary genius Bobby Flay says it's good, we'll take his word for it. The secret ingredient to his strawberry shake is buttermilk biscuits. But if you think for one second that he's cutting corners and using packed biscuits, you're wrong. He starts his milkshake by baking a batch of his famous biscuits from scratch. And while it may seem like a lot of trouble just for a milkshake, it's worth trying at least once.

Flay told the Cooking Channel that he actually has the recipe memorized because he makes them so often, so they must be good. The sugary biscuits are baked and then cooled before removing the tops.

Even the strawberries are next level. Flay sprinkles them with sugar and lets them sit for a while before cooking them in a saucepan with more sugar and strawberry jam. He recommends 11 ounces of ice cream for a 12-ounce shake. Once the ice cream is blended up with the strawberry sauce, he tops the shake with biscuit crust, a sprinkle of sugar, and another spoonful of cooked strawberries.


Did you know that the first milkshakes were boozy? It's no surprise that the tradition has made a comeback in a big way—like this boozy PB&J milkshake, for instance. Take inspiration from Burgatory and pour a hard milkshake for yourself. Grand-dad's Secret combines bourbon and caramel, while the Choco Taco is a heavenly mix of waffle cone, fudge sauce, and peanuts with chocolate vodka.

They're not the only ones who do boozy shakes. Ted's Bulletin in D.C. offers 10 of them, with the Millionaire Malt with Glenlivet 18 Year Whisky being the most expensive at $20. The key lime pie shake with coconut rum sounds like a dream.

Perhaps no one has more intriguing flavors than Holsteins' menu of Bam-Boozled Shakes. The restaurant's Drunken Monkey shake combines banana Laffy Taffy, banana, Reese's Pieces, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and a few other ingredients with hazelnut liqueur for a totally over-the-top drink. The Donutella shake fittingly pairs coffee liqueur with donuts, coffee, espresso beans, Nutella, and other goodies.

As you can see, from bourbon to vodka, the alcohol and milkshake pairings are endless.


According to a user on Reddit, adding buttermilk to your milkshake gives a tangy cheesecake flavor. And, because it's thicker than regular milk, it'll help keep your shake nice and thick, too. Many recipes we've found use buttermilk in shakes with peaches, berries, and chocolate. Hey, if it works in pies (like blackberry buttermilk pie), it'll work in shakes, too!

Adding buttermilk can actually make your milkshake "healthier" in a way. Although according to Healthline cultured buttermilk does not contain probiotics, traditional buttermilk (raw milk) does. Probiotics are good for gut health. Only a small handful of states allow the sale of raw milk, though.

Want to make a buttermilk shake for yourself? Try it with grilled or roasted fruits like strawberries or peaches. Cooking the fruit at a high temperature makes the sugars and flavor more concentrated as the fruit releases a thick, caramel-like syrup. The boost of sweetness will help balance the tang of the buttermilk.

Cake mix

Sweeten up your milkshake with your favorite cake mix flavor. To make a birthday cake milkshake, combine vanilla ice cream, milk, and funfetti cake mix. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles so it looks like a birthday cake in a glass. Make it boozy with an ounce or two of cake-flavored vodka. 

For a chocolate cake batter milkshake, add chocolate cake mix to chocolate ice cream and milk. Rim the glass with chocolate sprinkles to make it extra-decadent. Make a strawberry cake batter milkshake with fresh strawberries, strawberry ice cream, strawberry cake powder, and milk. Squeeze some strawberry syrup in there if your sweet tooth is really hangry.

While you can mix up the cake mix with all the ingredients (except eggs) that the recipe calls for before adding it to the shake, it's not necessary. The ice cream and milk provide plenty of liquids for it to combine with.

For those who aren't looking to consume a day's worth of calories in a single drink, you can lighten this up and make a "skinny" cake mix shake by subbing nonfat frozen yogurt for the ice cream and skim milk or plant-based milk for the whole milk. Sometimes you have to cut a few calories while treating yourself.


From Cinnamon Toast Crunch to Fruity Pebbles, cereal can add color, flavor, and crunch to a milkshake. The key is to make sure the flavor of the cereal complements the milkshake flavor.

Munchiez in Chicago has this down to a science. Its Puff Diddy shake combines Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, Oreos, and chocolate ice cream. If it's your birthday, the Go Shawty It's Your Birthday shake is a must. It's a crazy combination of Fruity Pebbles, strawberry shortcake, edible glitter, sprinkles, and strawberry ice cream. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without a birthday candle on top.

Now that you've gotten the idea from the Munchiez menu, it's time to come up with your own combos. Lucky Charms and cotton candy ice cream could work together. It would be pretty, anyway. Or how about Cinnamon Toast Crunch with vanilla ice cream, lots of caramel syrup, and a cinnamon stick for garnish? That sounds tasty. If you're nervous about combining cereals, try adding just one to your shake the next time. Golden Grahams would be fantastic in any cheesecake-flavored shake in place of graham cracker crumbs. 


Cut a slice of your favorite cheesecake and build a milkshake recipe around those flavors. No, we're not talking about freakshakes with a slice of cheesecake on top. We're saying you should add a slice of cheesecake to the ice cream, milk, and other ingredients. According to one Reddit user, the cheesecake adds body to the milkshake. That makes sense, considering the added crumbs from the crust plus the cheesecake layer, which is thick and somewhat firm when the cheesecake is set up. Of course, the straw may be useless with a shake this thick. 

Get a big slice of your favorite cheesecake and create a milkshake recipe around that. You'll dump the cheesecake in with your other ingredients to add body and flavor. Strawberry cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake, caramel cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake ... you can't go wrong, really.

Pour the cheesecake and ice cream mixture into a glass rimmed with graham crackers with a huge dollop of whipped cream on top. Freeze it first, and you can ditch the ice cream altogether, although that wouldn't be a true milkshake, would it?


As soon as eggnog hits the shelves this holiday season, scoop up a few pints to make your own holiday-inspired shake at home. Sub eggnog in place of the milk. For this easy eggnog milkshake from Tasting Table, you'll need vanilla ice cream, eggnog, freshly grated nutmeg, and a pinch of cinnamon. Top it with loads of whipped cream (think Leslie Knope levels of the stuff), cinnamon sticks, and an extra sprinkle of nutmeg for good measure. Mmm, it's like Christmas in a glass!

If you don't drink alcohol, don't worry. According to Bustle, most of the eggnog you find at stores is non-alcoholic. Just double-check the label before you add it to your milkshake or make your own eggnog so you can be 100% certain.

But if you slip a little of the boozy eggnog made with rum, brandy, or bourbon into your shake, we wouldn't blame you. Family gatherings are hard.

Espresso and coffee grounds

Coffee addicts — this one's for you! This espresso milkshake recipe from Tasting Table is the perfect cold pick-me-up on a hot summer day. You can enjoy an ice cold treat while getting a boost of caffeine at the same time. You'll need vanilla ice cream, espresso, milk, coffee grounds, and just a pinch of sea salt. If you don't have espresso at home, concentrated coffee brewed with half the amount of recommended water will work just fine.

The coffee grounds add extra coffee flavor, extra caffeine, and a delightful texture (yes, really). If you're worried that the espresso and coffee grounds combined are too much caffeine, you'll be glad to know that a single shot of espresso has about half the caffeine of an eight ounce cup of coffee (via Consumer Reports). While an ounce of espresso has about 63 mg of caffeine compared to coffee's 12 to 16 mg per ounce, people tend to drink way more coffee. Essentially, two ounces of espresso is equivalent to a cup of coffee in terms of caffeine.

However, people with cholesterol problems may want to avoid espresso and eating coffee grounds. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that compounds in unfiltered coffee and spent grounds can increase cholesterol and alanine aminotransferase levels.

Malt powder

Have you ever seen a malted milkshake on a restaurant menu and wondered how it's different from a regular milkshake? These days, the only significant difference is that a malted milkshake has a few scoops of malted milk powder added to it, whereas a regular milkshake does not.

A malted milkshake is not a malt, though. At the height of the malt shop or soda shop popularity in the '30s and '40s, malts were frothy drinks made with milk, chocolate syrup, and malt powder shaken up with ice.

What, exactly, does malt powder bring to the table when it comes to shakes? A milkshake and a malted shake side by side wouldn't look much different. But if you tasted the two, you'd notice a difference right away. Malted milk powder is a combination of powdered milk, malted barley, and wheat flour. It tastes sweet and nutty, enhancing the flavor of the shake it's in. A malted shake will also be thicker. You'll have a harder time slurping it through a straw.

While it's still added to some commercial shakes (it's one of the Five Guys milkshake add-ins), malt powder is a great addition to homemade milkshakes, too. You can buy malt powder in many grocery stores in the drink mixes or the baking aisle.


Try pineapple in your next shake! If you've heard that mixing pineapples and milk is dangerous, that's not true. According to Healthline, while pineapple can curdle milk and turn it sour, it is still okay to drink. But who wants a sour, curdled milkshake, right? To avoid curdling, cook or roast fresh pineapple before combining it with milk. Alternatively, use canned pineapple and pineapple juice, which has already been heated during processing to denature the enzyme responsible for curdling. Plant-based milk, which is lower in protein, is another option to avoid sour lumps in your shake.

Want to try it for yourself? Blend vanilla ice cream with bottled or canned pineapple juice and milk. Add caramel, a pineapple slice, and a maraschino cherry to make a shake that's similar to Red Robin's Pineapple Upside Down Milkshake. To get the "cake" flavor in the pineapple upside down shake, add a scoop of birthday cake protein powder or powdered cake mix.


Adding just a pinch of salt to your milkshake can enhance the sweetness and intensify the flavor. Take the Burgatory Salted Nutella Shake, for instance. It's ranked one of the best milkshakes in the United States. The sweet Nutella paired with a pinch of salt makes the chocolatey hazelnut flavor pop. Spike it with chocolate vodka, or enjoy the virgin version. Either way, it's delicious. Salt also pairs well with other chocolate, butterscotch, or caramel milkshakes. Those of you who like dipping your fries in your Frosty ought to know!

According to Science, sweet foods like fruit and candy also become sweeter when salt is added. In a 2003 study published in Cell, scientists knocked out the T1R receptors (sweet-tasting receptors) on mice, believing it would halt their responses to sweet stimuli. Instead, they found that the mice still liked the sweet stuff, indicating there was another pathway for the taste buds to detect the sweet flavors.

Researchers found that a sodium-glucose transporter protein responsible for glucose transportation in other parts of the body is also present in sweet-responsive taste cells. The addition of salt to the glucose solution presented to the mice caused the nerves connected to taste cells to fire more rapidly. So not only is salt a flavor enhancer, it's a flavor accelerator.

We recommend adding a pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt to your next shake for a new twist.