Shamrock Shake Recipe

This Shamrock Shake Recipe is full of eye-popping green color and creamy mint flavor. Make this seasonal treat whenever you need a minty pick-me-up!

Shamrock Shake Recipe

The Shamrock Shake returns to McDonald’s menus each February to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s only for a limited time, but now you can make the minty milkshake year-round! This recipe is so easy to make and fun to share.

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, then you know I’m extremely picky when it comes to mint-flavored sweets. I am likely to pass up minty sweets on most dessert menus. Why? Because it’s difficult to know if you’re getting something that tastes light and refreshing, or something more akin to toothpaste. This is definitely not the latter. This copycat Shamrock Shake recipe is creamy and indulgent with light mint flavor.  It’s such an easy dessert for St. Patrick’s Day dinner – or heck! Anytime you’re looking for a sweet minty treat.

Shamrock Shake Recipe

Shamrock Shake Origins

First, a bit of history. Because after some digging, I was shocked to see how long Shamrock Shakes have been around. Connecticut McDonalds franchise owner Hal Rosen brought the Shamrock Shake to life in 1967. He created it to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But get this – it wasn’t mint-flavored! It was made with lemon-lime sherbet. In 1983 that the mint-flavored shake made its debut. It was such a success, McDonalds decided to debut it nationally. Altogether, that’s more than 50 years of Shamrock Shake-ing!

Let’s Talk Vanilla Ice Cream

According to their website, McDonald’s Shamrock Shake recipe is made with reduced fat vanilla ice cream from the on-site soft serve machine. It’s perfectly fine to start with your favorite full fat, plain vanilla ice cream from the grocery store. It doesn’t have to be reduced fat. But it can be. However, full fat will blend better and the milkshake will be thick. Mayfield’s, Breyer’s, Turkey Hill – all the usual vanilla ice cream brands will work. Set the tub of ice cream out for about 10 minutes at room temperature to soften.

What Kind of Milk?

Use whole milk for the closest copycat of the McDonald’s shake. If you’re not a purist or stickler, then use whatever milk you prefer. 2% works well also. You’ll need about 1 1/2 cups for this recipe.

Shamrock Shake Flavor and Color

The McDonalds formula uses mint beverage syrup for the Shamrock Shake recipe. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep beverage syrups on hand. But as a baker I definitely have mint extract. Use mint extract, and sure to use bottles labeled as “Mint” and not “Peppermint”. You might think there’s not much difference. But peppermint flavor is much sharper and not as true to the original shake’s flavor.  Start with 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract. Then, add more to taste. I know that doesn’t seem like much. However, over the years, and through many bottles of mint extracts, I’ve learned that brands vary in strength. You can always add more to taste.

What makes the Shamrock Shake green?

Well, technically, the food industry’s Yellow 5 and Blue 1. Yep, food color! The shades seem to vary a little in person and in advertisements. Some show it as bright lime green. And others are more emerald green.  So, use whatever green color you have on hand. A few drops of liquid green food color from a standard pack of grocery store food colors will work. I used a few drops from this Wilton’s set.


In 2012, the shake was updated with whipped cream and a cherry on top. The squirt-y canister of aerosol whipped cream is a good standby. However, it is extremely meltable and goes flat rather quickly. I made some homemade using whipping cream, because it holds its shape longer. (And I needed it to last through an hour-long photo session!) Use whatever you prefer. But, while fleeting, the aerosol whipped cream is closest to its inspiration.

Blend it all Together

Get the ice cream, milk, green food color, and mint extract together in the pitcher of a blender. Then, give it whir. Taste-test, and add more mint extract if needed.

Shamrock Shake Recipe

Pour in a Tall Glass

Divide the milkshake mixture between four glasses. Immediately top with the whipped cream of your choice (aerosol or homemade). Add the all-important red cherry on top!

Shamrock Shake Recipe

If you’re feeling festive, you could add some sprinkles to the whipped cream. I had some cute gold sugar pearls, which I used as a nod to leprechaun’s gold. Green sprinkles would also look super cute and very spring-y. Enjoy!

Related recipe: Irish Cream Coffee Milk Punch

Shamrock Shake Recipe

Heather Baird
This minty, green seasonal treat can now be enjoyed year-round! Shamrock Shakes are so fun to make and an easy St. Patrick’s Day dessert – although they shouldn’t be limited to the holiday. They're an evergreen favorite! (Pun intended!)
Be sure to use extracts labeled as “Mint” and not “Peppermint”. Peppermint extract is sharp and unlike the mint flavor used in Shamrock Shakes. Also, be a label-reader, and pay attention to the ingredients. Some mint flavorings labeled as ‘extract’ are oil based, and will be stronger than water-based extracts.
If your ice cream is frozen rock-solid, let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before using, or until it is easily scoopable.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Blend time 2 minutes 2 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • blender


  • 4 cups vanilla ice cream about 8 scoops
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon mint extract plus more to taste
  • 10 drops liquid green food color plus more if needed
  • Aerosol whipped cream see recipe notes for homemade
  • 4 maraschino cherries with stems patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons sprinkles, gold or green optional


  • In a blender pitcher, combine the vanilla ice cream, half of the milk, 1/4 teaspoon mint extract, and 10 drops of liquid green food color. Blend to combine; mixture should be very thick.
  • While the blender is running, add additional milk through the hole in the blender lid to achieve a thick, pourable consistency (you may not have to use all of the milk, depending on the ice cream temperature and brand).
  • Taste-test the milkshake mixture, and add more mint extract, 1/8 teaspoon at a time. My milkshake batch took exactly 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract.
  • When the mint flavor is just right, add additional green food color if needed for a bright, festive hue. Blend until completely smooth.
  • Immediately divide the shake between 4 glasses (about 12 oz. capacity, each) and top each glass with a large swirl of whipped cream.
  • Add cherries on top of the whipped cream, then add sprinkles, if using. Serve immediately.


Homemade Whipped Cream: Place one cup of heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whip attachment. Beat until slightly thickened, and add 2 tablespoons fine granulated sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star top (Ateco 856). Pipe swirls of whipped cream on top of the milk shakes. Or, just dollop whipped cream on top of the shakes with a spoon.
Boozy Variation: Omit the mint extract, and add 1/4 cup of crème de menthe liqueur to the milkshake mixture. Add more to taste.
Vegan/Dairy-Free Shamrock Shake: Replace the ice cream in this recipe with plant-based vanilla ice cream in equal portions (oat milk, cashew, or coconut milk to name a few). Also use plant-based milk. Use plant-based frozen whipped topping (thawed), such as So Delicious brand coconut whipped cream.
Copycat Oreo Shamrock McFlurry®: Crush 8 Oreo cookies and add them to the blender pitcher with the mint milkshake mixture. Blend in bursts to disperse cookie pieces throughout the shake. Don’t blend too much, or the cookies will turn the milkshake grey.
*Shamrock Shake is a registered trademark and brand of McDonald’s Corporation. 
Keyword maraschino cherries, McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, peppermint extract, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, whole milk
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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1 month ago

5 stars
You nailed it!! My son is obsessed with shamrock shakes this year. They really add up so I bet him we could make them at home with the right recipe. You are absolutely right re the mint extract. Peppermint would be too strong. The only thing I changed is I made it a food processor, not a blender. I have followed your work for years. Thank you for what you do and helping me win a bet/make a memory.