Recipes Holidays and Seasons Spring St. Patrick's Day

Copycat Shamrock Shake

This popular green shake flavored with mint is easy to make at home for one, two or a crowd. Keep it alcohol free or add vodka, whiskey or Irish cream to make this Shamrock Shake boozy!

Two McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes with cherries.
Elana Lepkowski

With March and spirited St. Patrick's Day celebrations comes the onslaught of green foods and drinks.

There is one green beverage, however, that’s longed for by a cult of followers: the Shamrock Shake. Tall, minty, frosty, creamy goodness and only available for about a month at McDonald’s.

But why limit this indulgence? With just a handful of quality ingredients, you can make your own Copycat Shamrock Shake at home any day of the year.

What is a Shamrock Shake?

Since the 1970’s, McDonald’s has offered this limited time shake with its recognizable green hue as a specialty treat to celebrate St. Patrick’s day from mid-February to mid-March. Its limited run has elevated its status and it’s looked forward to by many all year long. This year, 2021, the Shamrock Shake is celebrating its 50th(!!!) anniversary.

Two Copycat McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes on a platter.
Elana Lepkowski

What's in a Shamrock Shake?

At its core, the recipe consists of vanilla ice cream, a “Shamrock syrup,” whipped cream, and a cherry (but maybe don’t go looking at the McDonald’s ingredient list, as it’s a tad longer than three ingredients).

Here, we’re simplifying the list down to just a handful of ingredients, but the end result is a creamy texture with balanced mint taste and a mound of whipped cream.

Variations on the Shamrock Shake?

Shakes are the dessert you get to drink, but you don’t have to limit this one to after dinner! This bright, minty shake can also be served up nicely at a springy lunch, or, if you decide to add alcohol to the recipe, you can serve it at your next adults-only brunch. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Try some of your favorite add-ins to make it your own. Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Chocolate! Chocolate and mint are an iconic duo! Adding a drizzle of chocolate syrup over the top.
  • Make it boozy! I like adding either vodka, whiskey or Irish Cream!
  • Two ounces of vanilla vodka per serving adds an extra hint of vanilla to the shake without dramatically changing the flavor.
  • Two ounces of bourbon per serving will take the shake into a mint julep direction and a bolder flavor profile.
  • Two ounces of Irish Cream per serving ups the rich and creamy factor of this ice cream delight.
Placing a cherry on top of a Copycat McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.
Elana Lepkowski

Tips and Tricks for Making Shamrock Shakes at Home

This recipe makes two 8-ounce shakes, but it’s easy to scale up or down. I love a small blender like a bullet or even an immersion blender when I’m making shake servings for two, but a large blender is best when making them for a crowd.

My version of a Shamrock Shake is a smooth milkshake you can easily pull up through a standard straw.

  • To make it thinner: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk
  • To make it thicker: Reduce the milk by 1 to 2 tablespoons.

Another aspect to consider is: How green do you want to go? You can use either gel or water-based food coloring.

  • Gel based: A small drop of gel-based food color will add vibrant hues to your drink. I like to use LorAnn’s gel-based food dyes here (and in most of my other dessert and baking applications).
  • Water based: You will need to use at least 1 teaspoon of water-based food coloring to reach a minty color. You might also want to reduce the amount of milk you're adding by the amount of liquid food coloring to maintain the consistency of the shake.
Copycat McDonald’s Shamrock Shake with a straw and cherry.
Elana Lepkowski

More Great Ice Cream Recipes

Copycat Shamrock Shake

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 2 servings
If using gel-based food dye, 1 lentil-sized drop will sufficiently color both milk shakes. Water-based food dye is not as concentrated. If using water-based or liquid food coloring you may need to use approximately 1 teaspoon depending on the desired color.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 drop green gel food coloring (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • For garnish
  • Whipped cream (store bought or make your own)
  • 1 tablespoon green sprinkles
  • 2 maraschino cherries

Method

  1. Make the shake:

    In a blender, combine vanilla ice cream, milk, and food coloring. Blend until smooth.

    Ice cream in a blender to make a Copycat McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.
    Elana Lepkowski
    A blender with green colored cream to make a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.
    Elana Lepkowski
  2. Divide it into two glasses:

    Pour the milkshake mixture evenly between two glasses.

  3. Dress it up and serve:

    Top with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry. Straws encouraged but not required.

    Topping a Copycat McDonald’s Shamrock Shake with whipped cream.
    Elana Lepkowski
    Sprinkles added to a homemade McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.
    Elana Lepkowski