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The Thickest, Tastiest Milkshakes In The Fast-Food Universe, Ranked

Plant-based burgers, blind taste testing ketchup, knocking back shots of olive oil… there comes a time when a food writer must ask his editor: “Do I ever get to eat anything fun?”

“But Dane,” he replies. “you just reviewed fast-food double cheeseburgers — what more do you want?”

Milkshakes. Creamy, sweet, decadent milkshakes. Milkshakes are dope. So drinking a double-digit number of them in an absurdly compact window of time could never be a bad thing right?

Comedy Central

Turns out that you actually can have way too many milkshakes. I’m not lactose intolerant, but I am human. Eventually, the body lets it be known that you’re consuming way too many milkshakes at way too fast a rate. (Sorry… not the best visual to lead into a food article with.)

Luckily, you don’t have to try every fast food milkshake.* I did it for you! Over the past few weeks, I re-tested the best flavor from each fast food outlet** and ranked them. I also gave each shake a rating out of five for thickness (insert obligatory THICC joke here). And since I’ll only be ranking one milkshake from each fast food establishment, I’m going to take things even further by shouting out a second-choice pick (generally reserved for seasonal shakes). Let’s jump in!

*Apologies once again to Whataburger and Culver’s. I just got my second vaccine shot. In a few weeks, I won’t have any more excuses and promise that they’ll both start showing up in these reviews!

**Honorable mention to Burgerville and so many other regional spots. In fact, you could make a case that if you want a milkshake, regional fast food is a better option than national chains.

14. Burger King — Chocolate Mini Shake

Burger King

Calories: 365

Thickness: 2/5

The Milkshake

Oh Burger King, back at the bottom it seems. I don’t think there is a single fast-food restaurant that has more noticeable self-loathing in its own menu than Burger King. They have a section dedicated to “best sellers” on their online menu as if to convince all of us that they actually sell food that people like. You won’t find BK’s shakes on that menu, and it looks like the King knows that no one could stomach a whole shake from them, which is why they’re only sold in mini-sizes.

I’m sure when I ordered the shake it created a panic in the BK kitchen, like when someone orders the lobster from a diner menu. Because I doubt anyone is going to Burger King for milkshakes. Aside from not being very thick, the real offensive part of this shake is the whipped cream. Just what the hell is going on with this whipped cream? This stuff tastes like sugared air. The shake itself is sweet, but nothing remarkable, and the sludge-y not quite thick not quite watery consistency really doesn’t do it any favors.

This should’ve been a slam dunk for Burger King. The smaller form factor is great — a mini shake is only about nine ounces and it’s only 365 calories. But they just couldn’t nail the flavor for any of their three shake flavors (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry).

The Runner Up Pick

Just get a Coke.

The Bottom Line

How Burger King? It’s a f*cking milkshake, how did you screw this up?

Find your nearest Burger King here.

13. McDonald’s — Chocolate Shake

McDonald

Calories: 510 (small size)

Thickness Level: 3/5

The Milkshake

I’m surprised McDonald’s landed so low in this ranking. While far away from my favorite fast food joint, McDonald’s consistently ranks in the middle of our rankings (save for French fries). But their milkshakes just aren’t it. It’s important to note that a McFlurry is not a milkshake, as it’s served with a spoon and milkshakes are for at least kind-of drinking.

Like the McFlurry, the milkshakes utilize McDonald’s signature vanilla ice cream as its base, but it’s cut and blended with either McCafe vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate syrup, which slightly warms the ice cream and changes the consistency in order to make it drinkable. Which would be cool and make sense if it didn’t make it gross at the same time. It’s just way too sweet. The chocolate is easily the best flavor, it’s subtle and not overpowering, giving you a nice balance between chocolate and the vanilla base. The strawberry is the next choice, with the last place going to vanilla. It’s just too much vanilla.

The whipped cream is wholly unnecessary, it does nothing for this milkshake.

The Runner Up Pick

The Shamrock shake, despite its insane popularity, isn’t that good. But it is at least interesting. With a McDonald’s shake, that’s all you can really hope for.

The Bottom Line

Order a McFlurry if you want something sweet from McDonald’s, this isn’t worth your time unless it’s a Shamrock. And even then…

Find your nearest McDonald’s here.

12. Wendy’s — Chocolate Frosty

Wendy

Calories 350 (small size)

Thickness 5/5

The Milkshake

The Frosty, it’s not really a milkshake (Wendy’s defines it as simply “a dessert”) in that it’s essentially just dense as hell soft serve ice cream in a cup. But it’s still somehow smooth enough to drink through a straw, so it’s not really ice cream either… so it is kind of a milkshake?

Whatever. It comes with a straw, we’re including it.

People have a strange nostalgic allegiance to the Frosty but as far as milkshakes go, it’s simply not nearly as good as the other milkshakes on this list. This is a mid-tier milkshake at best, and I’d argue it’s way better as a fry dip than it is enjoyed through a straw.

As far as the taste goes, it’s just not very notable. It has a heavily watered-down flavor. You taste some chocolate but you mostly just taste ice. People love this shake because it’s thick, which I’d guess they’re mistaking for richness, but at the end of the day… who cares if it’s thick? Seriously, a thick milkshake might be essential to a good experience but when the flavor is this weak, it doesn’t matter how thick it is.

I want to walk away from a milkshake thinking “that was a good milkshake” not “that milkshake was thick!” People who care about thickness over flavor are shallow milkshake drinkers. Don’t be a shallow milkshake drinker, the milkshake is a generous and beautiful snack.

Anyway, if you don’t believe me about the weakness of the flavor, check out Wendy’s ingredients list for the Frosty: Milk, sugar, corn syrup, cream, whey, nonfat dry milk, cocoa, etc. In a chocolate-flavored drink, we’re getting chocolate as the seventh ingredient.

That’s an insult to chocolate milkshakes. You heard it here; The Frosty is an INSULT TO MILKSHAKES.

The Runner Up Pick

You don’t really have options here, chocolate is better than vanilla, but if you love vanilla, go for it.

The Bottom Line

It’s okay, doesn’t live up to its hype unless used as a fry dip.

Find your nearest Wendy’s here.

11. Carl’s Jr — Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Vanilla Shake

Carl

Calories: 690

Thickness: 4/5

The Milkshake

Carl’s Jr’s vanilla milkshake is a solid pick for fans of vanilla milkshakes. It’s creamy with a prominent vanilla-forward flavor that is really a key feature of this milkshake, not just a base to work off of like with a lot of the other shakes on this list. McDonald’s uses vanilla ice cream, Wendy’s… isn’t really a milkshake, but Carl’s Jr uses actual scoops of ice cream, and the depth of flavor that real ice cream has over a generic vanilla soft serve base sets this one notably higher than those ranked below it.

The whipped cream, which is more of a whipped topping, almost hits its mark but it’s not quite as creamy as we’d like it to be, leaning more on the sugary-air side.

The Runner Up Pick

Strawberry and Oreo are both great. This is one of the few milkshake lines where we’d rank chocolate last.

The Bottom Line

A quality milkshake! We’re officially out of bad fast food milkshake territory with Carl’s Jr. Everything from here on is great and definitely worth the cash and extra calories.

Find your nearest Carl’s Jr. here.

10. In-N-Out — Neopolitan Shake

Calories 590

Thickness 4/5

The Milkshake

When it comes to In-N-Out’s milkshakes, I have to admit my personal favorite is chocolate. But I’ve decided to go with my second favorite, Neopolitan, to prove a larger point about In-N-Out milkshakes. Each flavor is great, so if you like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry just go ahead and order them all by grabbing the Neapolitan via In-N-Out’s secret menu. It gives you everything, the only thing better than a Neapolitan shake is a Neapolitan Root Beer Float.

In-N-Out’s milkshake has a great consistency that starts off a little too thick but settles into a very creamy and drinkable state after the cup starts to warm slightly in your hands. Through some strange alchemy, it still manages to hold its thickness for the entire duration of your milkshake, whether you’re a fast or slow drinker. The flavor here has a strong ice cream-forward quality, which leaves the chocolate a little wanting (it’s not actually that chocolate-y, but I still like it).

The Runner Up Pick

Pick your personal favorite flavor, you can’t go wrong here. Vanilla-Strawberry mix is my editor’s pick.

The Bottom Line

Stop complaining about In-N-Out’s fries, just dip them in the shake — it’s a better experience than the Frosty could ever give you.

Find your nearest In-N-Out here.

9. Arby’s — Jamocha Shake

Arby

Calories: 592 (small)

Thickness 3/5

A coffee and chocolate-flavored milkshake? The fast-food world needs more milkshakes like this. A blended coffee drink and a milkshake almost scratch the same itch, but choosing between them can be hard. The Jamocha shake says “why choose?” and manages to give you that decadent bold coffee flavor with the consistency of a decently thick chocolate milkshake.

Arby’s also drizzles some chocolate syrup on the whipped cream, which is a strong move and helps the whipped cream seem like more than just an over-sweetened visual component. It actually looks worth stabbing with your straw and mixing into your milkshake. The coffee takes a back-seat to the chocolate here, it’s not quite a mocha blended coffee frap, but there is enough coffee there to add that complex bitter bite that lingers nicely on the palate.

The Runner Up Pick

Orange Cream Shake. It’s a nice flavor alternative to the other more standard milkshake flavors like chocolate or vanilla. It’s sweet and refreshing, perfect for summer sipping.

The Bottom Line

Coffee and chocolate in a milkshake, what more can you ask for?

Find your nearest Arby’s here.

8. Del Taco — Premium Strawberry Shake

Del Taco

Calories: 520

Thickness: 4/5

The Milkshake

You don’t expect a milkshake from Del Taco to be good but this is probably the best strawberry milkshake in the fast-food universe. I rarely prefer strawberry over chocolate and vanilla but Del Taco’s has a light and fresh flavor that pairs perfectly with its thick and creamy vanilla base and is further elevated by the inclusion of real strawberries, which occasionally come bursting through the straw — adding a bright hit of juicy flavor.

Our only complaint is that the straw isn’t quite big enough to always allow the strawberries to stream though, creating clogs that sometimes make enjoying this milkshake a bit of a chore.

The Runner Up Pick

Just get the strawberry, even if you don’t like strawberry milkshakes. I wasn’t kidding when I said I think it’s the best strawberry milkshake in the fast-food universe. Otherwise… I guess go for chocolate if you must.

The Bottom Line

Fresh and bursting with flavor. A true dessert treat and the perfect pick if a strawberry milkshake is your jam.

Find your nearest Del Taco here.

7. Shake Shack — Chocolate & Vanilla Shake

Calories: 680

Thickness: 3/5

The Milkshake

I’m a little torn on this milkshake. I like the Chocolate and Vanilla which is a mix of… you guessed it chocolate and vanilla. On the one hand, the flavor is great, both the chocolate and vanilla are creamy and sweet but it just seems like a milkshake from a place called Shake Shack should taste better… and thicker. This milkshake is way too watery in consistency. Luckily, that doesn’t translate to the flavor, which is rich (if not a little artificial and powdery).

If Shake Shack’s milkshakes had the consistency of the Frosty, it would be a winner, but unfortunately, it’s just an upper mid-tier milkshake that is only saved by its flavor. Shake Shack does have some delicious creamy high-quality custard to top their milkshakes though, we’ll give them that.

The Runner Up Pick

Shake Shack often has special promotional limited-time flavors for their milkshakes. My personal favorite is Black Sugar Vanilla, with its aromatic vanilla and complex notes of burnt butter and caramel. If it wasn’t a promotional item we’d probably rank this one higher.

The Bottom Line

Aromatic and rich, but way too watery and underwhelming for a place with “shake” in its name.

Find your nearest Shake Shack here.

6. Sonic — Strawberry Cheesecake Master Shake

Sonic

Calories: 890

Thickness: 5/5

The Milkshake

Are you seeing this thing? Sonic rarely ranks this high on any of our fast food lists but their Strawberry Cheesecake Master Shake is truly some next-level milkshake shit. It’s totally deserving of its ridiculous name. This milkshake is straight-up gourmet with a complex flavor that is creamy, then tangy, then sweet with hints of cherry and bright strawberry, and finishes with the slightly nutty earthy flavor of graham crackers.

This milkshake is pretty much a meal, so don’t plan to eat anything else if you order it. If you really want to go nuts, add a serving of bananas, which takes things to the next level.

The Runner Up Pick

If you love cheesecake but aren’t too crazy about strawberry, Sonic also makes a regular cheesecake and an Oreo cheesecake shake. If you can’t stomach the tangy richness of cheesecake, go for the Hot Fudge or Fresh Banana Classic shake. Better yet, go banana fudge!

The Bottom Line

It turns out Sonic is a place to go if you want a really good milkshake. Who would’ve thought Sonic was this good at anything? One of the fanciest milkshakes in the fast-food universe, if not quite in the convo of “best.”

Find your nearest Sonic here.

5. Jack In The Box

Jack in the Box

Calories: 690

Thickness Level 5/5

Is this one ranked too high? Maybe, but I love a good Oreo shake and Jack in the Box is probably the reason why. This is the Oreo shake that introduced me to the flavor, and it features large chunks of crunchy Oreos spread throughout a thick and creamy vanilla base. If anything, this milkshake is a little bit too thick, sometimes causing your straw to bend with the pressure it takes to drink it.

You’re going to wish you had a spoon to eat this one. Or at least some fries.

We wish this wasn’t the case but the whipped cream and maraschino cherry here are purely decorative. They don’t do much to add to the experience. But you don’t need all that flair, Jack in the Box Oreo Milkshake. We think you’re delicious as you are.

The Runner Up Pick

Sometimes Jack in the Box has a Mint Oreo Cookie Shake. When that’s an option grab that, otherwise stick to the OG.

The Bottom Line

If you like thick chunks of Oreo cookies in your shake and don’t care about quality whipped cream, it’s hard to go wrong with Jack in the Box’s Oreo Cookie Shake.

Find your nearest Jack in the Box here.

4. Steak n Shake — Oreo Mint Shake

Calories: 510 (small)

Thickness Level: 4/5

The Milkshake

Fresh and creamy, with cool notes of mint that pair nicely with the semi-bitter cocoa complexity of Oreo cookies, this milkshake is everything Jack in the Box’s Oreo shake wishes it could be. The whipped cream is much thicker, and it has bits of Oreos that mask its probably bland flavor, with a maraschino cherry that adds a nice bright contrast to the refreshing almost Andes Mint-like quality of this shake.

Admittedly, I’m probably the least familiar with Steak n Shake’s milkshakes, so maybe this deserves to be ranked higher. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to refresh my memory on this particular milkshake as there are only four locations in Southern California and the closest Steak n Shake to me is temporarily closed for the foreseeable future. The next closest is nearly two hours away and I like milkshakes (and my job), but not that much. So we’ll have to rely on the old memory for this one.

The Runner Up Pick

It was a toss-up between the Oreo Mint Shake and the Kit Kat shake so allow me to spend some extra time talking about the Kit Kat. Kit Kats are a perfect complement to ice cream, they add a nice hit of chocolate and a great mouthfeel thanks to the wafer cookie inside. It’s a great texture for a milkshake, and Steak n Shake takes it a step forward by crumbing Kit Kits into the whipped cream.

The Bottom Line

Steak n Shake know how to make a milkshake, it’s why they were comfortable enough to put it right in the name. But the Oreo Mint and Kit Kat are your best bet. Unless you don’t like Kit Kats, in which case you can get Butterfinger (weird) Peanut Butter Cup (acceptable), or even Nutella.

Find your nearest Steak n Shake here

3. Dairy Queen — Raspberry Chip Shake

Dairy Queen

Calories 470 (small)

Thickness Level: 5/5

The Milkshake

I love all of Dairy Queen’s milkshakes and admittedly I probably chose the Raspberry Chip for variety’s sake but come on — where else are you going to get a raspberry shake in the fast-food space? [Editor: BURGERVILLE!] You’ve got bitter semi-dark chocolate chips blended with tart and refreshing raspberries in a creamy vanilla ice cream base, offering a nice mouthfeel and a complex flavor that bounces between sweet, tart, and bitter.

The whipped cream is an absolute joke, skip it. This milkshake is remarkably thick and holds its consistency nicely, but it’s not too thick that you can’t get it through the straw. Be careful not to suck any chocolate chips down your throat without chewing, though.

The Runner Up Pick

If refreshing and bright isn’t your thing, grab the Choco Hazelnut Chip. It’s chocolate and hazelnut, you can’t go wrong!

The Bottom Line

Like Arby’s Jamocha combines the best of blended coffee with the best of milkshakes, Dairy Queen’s Raspberry Chip shake brings the refreshing quality of a smoothie to the milkshake space.

Find your nearest Dairy Queen here.

2. Five Guys — Bacon Milkshake

Calories: 670

Thickness 4/5

The Milkshake

Five Guys is the refined grown-up version of dipping your fries in a Frosty. You get salty smoked goodness from the bacon which contrasts nicely with the sweet and creamy vanilla base. The experience is entirely better than dipping your fries in a milkshake, providing a crispy crunch that makes the mouth feel of the shake a delicious savory part of the experience.

One of the things I love about Five Guys is that the menu is completely customizable but doesn’t lack character like a build your own pizza place or the food from Chipotle, and the customizability extends to the milkshakes. Don’t just throw bacon in there, add salted caramel, or peanut butter, or coffee. Or do another mix entirely with strawberry and banana. Anything goes here.

Runner Up Pick

Salted Caramel is always a great and easy choice, but feel free to get weird here. Go for that “coffee, malted milk, strawberry banana” milkshake. You do you.

The Bottom Line

Salty and sweet with a smokey complex flavor that is unlike any other milkshake on this list. But bacon in a milkshake… it’s not exactly what comes to mind when we want a milkshake, so for that reason, it can’t get the top spot, as good as it is.

Find your nearest Five Guys here.

1. Chick-fil-A — Cookies and Cream Milkshake

Chick-fil-A

Calories: 630

Thickness: 5/5

The Milkshake

I hate to give Chick-fil-A the top spot because they’re so easy to dunk on and are pretty generally overrated, but credit where credit is due, this is the best milkshake in the fast-food universe. I might be biased because Oreo milkshakes are my personal favorite, and this is the best one, but… them’s the breaks. Anyway, this is essentially a drinkable version of cookies and cream ice cream with perfectly sized bites of chocolate Oreos (or Oreo-esque cookies) that don’t get lodged in the straw and pose no threat to your life by lodging in your throat.

The consistency is dense, but not so dense that it’s hard to drink. The whipped cream is good, not great, but it has pretty ribbons so the presentation is on point.

Runner Up Pick:

The only thing better than Chick-fil-A’s Cookies and Cream milkshake is the seasonal Peach Milkshake which usually drops in the summer, but as it’s a seasonal option we can’t give it the top spot. It is damn good though.

The Bottom Line

The thickness is there with a rich and creamy flavor and perfect bits of semi-bitter chocolate cookie bits. Chick-fil-A has some of the best soft-serve ice cream in the entire fast-food universe so this shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m always actively rooting against Chick-fil-A but credit where credit is due.

Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.

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