14 Tips You Need When Making A Homemade Milkshake

There isn't a more nostalgic childhood treat than a milkshake. Although there's something about the cold, metal milkshake cup and the satisfying feeling of pouring the remainder of the milkshake into its glass serving vessel, going out to a classic American diner for a milkshake isn't always practical — especially when you realize you can craft an outrageous and delicious milkshake without leaving your home. 

The milkshake was invented in America in 1922 by Walgreens employee Ivan "Pop" Coulson (via Hankering for History). In a desire to improve Walgreens' chocolate malt beverage, Pop added ice cream to the beverage to make it more creamy. And with the rise of home appliances, it isn't a surprise to see that the milkshake never truly lost its popularity. Milkshakes have expanded in flavor beyond the chocolate malt to include fruit flavors, heaps of whipped cream and elaborate decorations, and alcohol. Metal Billboard

14 Tips You Need When Making A Homemade Milkshake

To get a better handle on how to make delicious milkshakes at home, we've teamed up with Black Tap, a milkshake lovers' dream restaurant with locations in New York City, Disneyland, Las Vegas, the Middle East, and Europe. Black Tap is known for its CrazyShakes — unique and gravity-defying milkshakes topped with sweet confections, sauces, and everything in between. 

The perfect milkshake is creamy, yet not thick enough to clog up the straw. One of the easiest ways you can make your milkshake more creamy is to add milk powder. Milk powder is just milk that has been dehydrated to remove excess water. It is shelf-stable and can be found in the baking section of most major grocery stores. Powdered milk offers the milky flavor that is the hallmark of a good milkshake, but does not dilute the sweetness of the ice cream. Adding milk to your milkshake can dilute the flavors in your ice cream and other additions that make your milkshake unique. 

Milk powder has utility in the kitchen outside of milkshakes. It can be added to baked goods like chewy cookies, plush flatbreads, and crave-worthy brownies. You can also add milk powder to the pie crust for a more pronounced golden brown hue. 

When preparing milkshakes at home, your inclination is probably to pull out your blender. But your food processor can make a better milkshake than a blender. The food processor incorporates more air into the milkshake, which keeps the shake a bit more frothy than a dense blender shake. This is because the bowl in a food processor is rounder and closer to the blade than an upright blender. The food processor also tends to heat up faster than a blender. While too much heat can be detrimental to a shake, a little bit of heat can discourage ice crystals from forming in the ice cream. This means that your milkshake will be smoother on your tongue as you sip it (via America's Test Kitchen).

Another benefit to using your food processor to make your shakes is that you can use the machine to pulse your toppings and mix-ins without having to use a totally separate device. Your food processor can make quick work of chopping pretzels, chocolate chips, and nuts down to tiny pieces for your shake.

Fat is a key component of a rich milkshake. And one of the best ways to keep your milkshake thick, unctuous, and delicious is by adding nut or seed butter. One of our favorite additions to a creamy shake — without disrupting the other flavors in the shake too much — is tahini. Tahini is a thick sesame paste with a nuanced flavor. Besides making your milkshake deliciously creamy, the tahini can balance out some of the sweetness from the ice cream and other mix-ins like salty pretzels, chocolate, or plain vanilla. 

You may also consider adding Medjool dates or date syrup to sweeten your shake if you're looking to infuse more Middle Eastern flavors into your milkshakes. The dates provide an unexpected sweetness to the shake and complement the tahini perfectly. You can also add neutral flavor fruits and seeds to bulk your shake; our favorites are banana, chia, and flax seeds.

What would a milkshake be without ice cream? If you have a late-night hankering for a milkshake but don't find a tub of ice cream in your freezer, you can make a shake without the ice cream instead. You'll need whole milk (the more fat, the better), heavy cream, vanilla, and a bit of powdered sugar. Powdered sugar is finer than granulated sugar so it blends better with the other ingredients. You can also substitute other types of sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, or agave. 

After you've combined your fats in a blender, you can blend in a few cups of ice on high for about ten seconds. It's important to pulse the ice quickly to prevent melting and to get the finest texture possible in the shake. A high-powered blender brand, like a Vitamix, will produce finely crushed ice that is indistinguishable from a milkshake recipe made with traditional ice cream. 

Malted milk powder is an ambiguous ingredient that most people connect to malt ball candies like Milk Duds. Malted milk powder is made with powdered milk, malted barley, and wheat flour — which act as a thickening agent in the milkshakes. Malt powder, which can be also labeled as diastatic malt powder, does not contain the same milk solids as malted milk powder. Therefore, the two are not interchangeable in recipes.

According to GoBarley, barley is often used to make malt because it has a high enzyme content. When the barley is malted, as a precursor to fermentation into alcohol like whiskey and beer, the enzymes are easily converted into sugars like maltose and sucrose. These sugars add a nutty and slightly caramel flavor to the powder. Malted milk powder can be purchased in both vanilla and chocolate flavors at most major grocery stores.

One Reddit user recommends adding a splash of buttermilk to a milkshake for a unique tangy flavor that resembles cheesecake. Buttermilk is a refrigerated dairy product that is a byproduct of the butter-making process. It is thicker than regular milk (but not as thick as whipping cream) — meaning buttermilk can act as a secret weapon in making your milkshakes thick. The flavor pairings that work well with buttermilk are variable — we recommend pairing the tangy ingredient with the sweetness of peaches or strawberries. With all ingredients, you should incrementally add your buttermilk to avoid souring your dessert. To keep your liquid-to-ice-cream ratio perfect in your milkshake recipe, you should stick to substituting some (not all) of the milk for buttermilk. 

Another alternative to using liquid buttermilk in your milkshake is using buttermilk powder. Buttermilk powder is the dehydrated, and shelf-stable version of liquid buttermilk so you won't have to worry about finding creative ways to use up your leftover bottle of buttermilk.

Courtney Wright, creative director at NYC's Black Tap, recommends using a quality ice cream to make the perfect milkshake at home. Higher-quality ice cream brands like Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's use ice cream that is high in butterfat. This imparts a smoother, creamier flavor to the ice cream base — which is what you need for the perfectly creamy shake. Wright also recommends sourcing high-quality milk to help smooth out the flavor of the ice cream and make your homemade milkshake all the more decadent.

The question of what flavor of ice cream you should use is all up to you. Vanilla and chocolate are classic options for more than just nostalgia; rather these flavors are blank canvases for whatever you want to add to your ice cream. If you want to make a double chocolate shake, you can use chocolate milk and chocolate ice cream. If you're feeling fruity, you can use strawberry milk and strawberry ice cream to craft your dream milkshake — just don't forget to garnish with strawberry syrup.

Cake mix is a relatively inconspicuous ingredient when it comes to baking. Snobby home bakers may shun the colorful boxes of funfetti and classic yellow on grocery store shelves, but boxed cake mix is actually an incredibly versatile (and easy-to-use) ingredient in the kitchen. You can easily make a cake batter milkshake by combining vanilla ice cream, milk (or half-and-half for more indulgence), and funfetti or vanilla cake mix into your food processor and blending until smooth.

One of the major precautions you need to take when working with raw flour (such as cookie dough or cake mix) in a milkshake is to heat-treat the flour. According to Shugary Sweets, flour particles can harbor food-borne pathogens like E. coli and salmonella. If you're baking a cake, the pathogens are killed off during the baking process. To imitate this, you can put your cake mix on a lined baking sheet and heat it to 160 degrees F to kill off whatever pathogens might be hiding within. This won't change the consistency of the mix, but you can always run a balloon whisk through it to break up any clumps before adding it to your shake.

Ice crystals are not a friend when you're making a milkshake. If you want the creamiest texture in your shake, you should leave your ice cream at a warm temperature for about 10 minutes to let it soften. You'll want the consistency of a soft-serve ice cream rather than a rock-hard version that you can barely scrape with a spoon. 

If you are impatient as ever to get your ice cream to soften to room temperature, you may resort to shoving the carton in the microwave. But this method of warming up ice cream is not effective because it creates temperature inconsistencies — some parts of the ice cream will be rock solid while other regions will be reverted into a puddle. If you want to evenly soften your ice cream, you should stick to leaving your ice cream in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before making your milkshakes. Softening your hard ice cream with a stand mixer is another option. 

Making a perfect milkshake at home all depends on the ratio of ice cream to milk. While other ingredients like peanut butter and tahini can increase the thickness of your shake, the balance of milk and ice cream is at the root of your recipe. Our vanilla milkshake recipe uses a 4-to-1 ratio of creamy vanilla ice cream to whole milk. To make your ice cream vegan, you can use a dairy-free alternative like oat milk or coconut milk. We've found that these milk alternatives are the creamiest and have the most nuanced flavors, which are perfect for a shake where you want your flavors to shine.

Black Tap uses a 70% ice cream to 30% milk ratio to craft the perfectly creamy shake. If you want a thinner shake, you can use slightly more milk. For a thicker shape, add more ice cream — just don't forget to use a thicker straw.

Courtney Wright from Black Tap notes that one of the best things a home cook can do to make a delicious milkshake is to strategically layer ingredients in the milkshake. She recommends starting with your milk, adding the toppings, and finishing it off with the ice cream of your choosing. The order of layering your milkshake will result in maximum efficiency in blending your ingredients. Layering your toppings with a scant amount of milk on the bottom and soft-serve-consistency ice cream results in maximum creaminess without you having to dilute the milkshake with more milk.

Adding liquid to the bottom of your milkshake is also important in creating a vortex that will pull in the toppings on top. If you plan to add powdered milk, malted milk powder, or peanut butter powder, you should add it to the milk to ensure the powder dissolves before adding the rest of your ingredients.

Milkshakes should never be boring — and Black Tap's CrazyShakes is a testament to all of the creative and crazy ways you can upgrade your milkshake. Courtney Wright recommends stepping outside of the box from the standard diner chocolate shake by adding flavorful toppings and garnishes. Nutella can be used to thicken your milkshake and impart a chocolatey, nutty undertone. We recommend sprinkling some chopped Ferrero Rocher chocolates on top of your shake to complement the Nutella. You can also keep it classic and add a handful of chopped chocolate sandwich cookies to your shake to upgrade a vanilla shake to a cookies and creme version.

In the winter, a milkshake may not be on the top of your list. But a peppermint milkshake with chopped candy canes, peppermint extract, and chocolate shavings may just be a sip of heaven. Garnish your winter shake with both whipped cream and a candy cane.

How do you make anything better in the kitchen? Add booze of course. 

You can make milkshakes at home that are more adult-friendly by adding a bit of alcohol. When choosing alcohol to add to your shake, it is important to choose a complementary flavor. The vanilla notes of bourbon pair well with a classic vanilla milkshake; add pureed bananas with the vanilla ice cream and the bourbon for a twist on a vanilla shake. If you're adding strawberries to your shake, you can complement the organic flavors with gin and rhubarb liqueur. The liqueurs have gentle citrus notes that amplify the fruity undertones in the strawberries. 

Other popular pairings for milkshakes are coffee and Kahlúa. You can add a cooled espresso shot to your milkshake with a splash of coffee liqueur — just be aware that adding more liquid to your milkshake may upset the precarious balance of milk and ice cream.

When thinking about using milk for a milkshake, you may be inclined to use the fattiest types of dairy: heavy cream or whipping cream. But, you should be wary that these dairy products can cause more harm than good. Heavy cream has between 36% and 40% butterfat compared to skim milk at around 1%. Whole milk, which has around 4% fat, is often used in milkshakes because the butterfat complements the creaminess of the ice cream. If you were to use heavy cream in a blender for your milkshake, you'd find tiny chunks of butter floating among your ice cream. This is because when the butterfat is mixed around, it sticks together and forms butter. Whole milk, or lower fat types of dairy products, won't produce butter in your blender because the butterfat content is so low.

14 Tips You Need When Making A Homemade Milkshake

Magnetic Poster Hanger If your milkshakes need a bit more fat, you can add a scant amount of half-and-half to your whole milk. Half-and-half is a type of cream with a butterfat content between 10.5% and 14%, which is also too low to solidify into butter. If you want to thicken up your shake but use a dairy-free alternative, you can add a bit of coconut cream or high-fat spreads like tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter.