We Tried Smashburger's New Plant-Based Shakes. Here's How It Went

This week Smashburger rolled out non-dairy shakes, and we headed straight to our local Smashburger to see if they were worth the hype.

This partnership between Smashburger and Eclipse Foods, the leader in plant-based dairy products, signifies the fast-casual chain's first plant-based menu item and the industry's first nationally-available plant-based shakes! This collaboration starts a considerable movement for fast-food chains looking to move towards plant-based and dairy-free offerings.

As the weather heats up, before you head to the beach or grab takeout for a picnic in the park, consider moving Smashburger higher on your fast-food restaurant list. Milkshakes have long been considered one of the most popular summer beverages, so Smashburger chose the perfect time to launch a quality dairy-free option.

The Smashburger and Eclipse Foods shakes come in six flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Tangerine Dream, Peanut Butter, and Oreo. We specifically tested the vanilla and chocolate flavors. Here's how it went.

What's in the new plant-based shakes?

As mentioned, the new shake offerings contain no dairy. The shakes are made with Eclipse ice cream, which uses the brand's proprietary plant-based dairy platform to mimic the taste, texture, and functionality of a traditional dairy milkshake.

Eclipse took a unique approach to dairy-free offerings; they looked at the composition of milk and restructured it using plants (via Eclipse). From there, the company utilized the milk to create things like creamy cow-less ice cream, cheesy dairy-free cheese, and more.

After testing the product, Smashburg reported via press release that customers couldn't tell the difference between an original milkshake and the new plant-based dairy-free option. While we found incredible similarities (review to follow shortly), we do feel like any true milkshake connoisseur could tell the difference between the two types of drinks.

We do want to add a disclaimer: To make these shakes, the workers use the same equipment and utensils as dairy shakes, so cross-contamination is possible; proceed with caution if you have dairy allergies.

How much does the drink cost?

Smashburger prices vary slightly from state to state, which can be expected with national food chains. Our Mashed team tried these plant-based shakes in Southern California, so consider this while reading about these dessert prices.

We purchased a chocolate non-dairy milkshake for $6.39. While referencing the menu for the normal chocolate shake, we found the price to be only 30 cents cheaper at $6.09. This surprised our team, considering dairy-free products tend to be vastly more expensive than their non-dairy or healthified counterparts.

Overall, this dairy-free shake did not break the bank. On the contrary, this price comparison gave us hope for a day where all dairy-free and gluten-free items offer more comparable price points. Now, pints of dairy-free ice cream cost much more than your typical Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry's pints. We appreciate Eclipse making the smallest move towards a more equally priced ice cream world.

How long and where will it be available?

Smashburger's Eclipse shakes will be available for purchase in participating Smashburger locations nationwide as of June 21. The Smashburger website highlights all locations offering non-dairy shakes. It appears the website lists a majority of their locations, so you have good odds of finding one of these frozen treats near you.

The website suggests the Eclipse shakes are available for a limited time, but we assume if they receive great feedback, they could land a permanent spot on the Smashburger milkshake menu. As a pioneer in the industry, it would be shocking to see these shakes be removed unless the audience's feedback gives reason to do so.

According to the Good Food Institute, demand for more dairy-free and plant-based options continues to roar across the fast-food chain as more people develop intolerances or preferences for these food groups. We will be watching closely to see what the future looks like for Smashburger and Eclipse dairy-free shakes and potential new products in the industry.

What's the nutrition information for this new drink?

We did our research on the Smashburger website and the shakes stack up a little less in the calorie department than a pint of Eclipse ice cream. For example, the Smashburger non-dairy Vanilla Shake contains 700 calories, 100 calories less than a pint of the Eclipse Vintage Vanilla. It should be noted, however, that a pint of Vintage Vanilla is 2.5 servings, and while you could drink only half your non-dairy shake and put it back in the freezer for later, let's be honest, most of us are probably gonna suck it down in a single sitting.

Eclipse doesn't offer a plain chocolate pint on its website, but Smashburger's non-dairy Chocolate Shake is a little less than its vanilla counterpart with 690 calories. 

While this ice cream does not contain dairy, please note it still contains 24 grams of sugar per serving, so you don't necessarily get a healthier version because you skipped out on the lactose. Eclipse ice cream remains dairy, gluten, and nut-free, so this makes a huge difference for those with intolerances and allergies.

How does it compare to normal dairy milkshakes?

Now to the most important part, how does the milkshake taste? As mentioned, we tried the chocolate and vanilla flavors, which we believe to be the most commonly ordered flavors. With any dairy-free or gluten-free item, it can be difficult to directly compare as the ingredients vastly vary.

In the case of Eclipse shakes, we overall found them to be a delicious dairy-free option. With the first few initial sips, it was difficult to distinguish between a dairy-free and dairy milkshake. After a few sips set in and we got further down in the cup, we picked up on these shakes being a bit thinner and less rich than classic dairy milkshakes. Additionally, the shakes held a bit of an aftertaste, but nothing stopped us from continuing our slurping.

Out of the different dairy-free pints we have tried over the years, Eclipse provides one that's fairly close to the real deal.

The verdict: it's only worth it if you can't consume dairy

If you don't consume dairy due to an intolerance or plant-based lifestyle, the non-dairy Eclipse shake makes for an incredible dessert or side option when dining at Smashburger.

Carl Bachmann, President of Smashburger, stated, "As part of Smashburger's aggressive approach to menu innovation and catering to our guest's evolving tastes, we have continued to diversify our product portfolio with the launch of new plant-based milkshake offerings." We appreciate this awareness and adaptation for those who need different options while eating fast food. This dairy-free milkshake collaboration is paving the way for the future of plant-based dining.

While we enjoyed trying the new plant-based shakes, in our opinion, if you tolerate or enjoy dairy milkshakes, continue to order the standard chocolate or vanilla milkshake. Something about a rich, thick, real ice cream milkshake satisfies like nothing else. If you live a dairy-free lifestyle or want to introduce more plant-based foods to your diet, swing by your local Smashburger.