How To Make An Even Better Version Of McDonald’s Iconic Shamrock Shake

McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is one of the most sought-after seasonal menu items in the entire fast-food universe. It might not be quite as revered as the McRib, but it’s close. It’s also a refreshing springtime change-up — a minty vanilla shake that’s just green enough for McDonald’s to call it “Irish.”

Since St. Patrick’s Day is next week, select McDonald’s around the country have brought the Shamrock Shake back. We kind of wish it never went away — the mix of mint and vanilla is a winning combo — so we’re making our own today. The recipe is essentially the same as what McD’s does, maybe a little more upmarket with some better ingredients.

We’re going to make our own mint syrup, which will be easy for anyone who knows how to make bar syrups. Other than that, it’s just a matter of throwing some stuff in a blender and you’re good to go.

Shamrock Shake

Zach Johnston


  • 1.5 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1-oz. mint syrup (see recipe below)
  • Whipped cream
  • Maraschino cherry

I’m using Häagen-Dazs Vanilla because that’s the good ice cream my corner grocery store carries. You can use any good-quality ice cream you have on hand. As for the half-and-half, you can also use just whole fat milk if you want. For me, the half-and-half hits just the right level of rich creaminess for a shake without getting too dense.

As for the whipped cream, my whipped cream dispenser is broken and I haven’t gotten a new one yet (they’re weirdly expensive). So, I’m using a standard store-bought spray can whipped cream. It’s not the best but it gets the job done.

What You’ll Need:

  • Blender
  • Pint glass or milkshake glass (pre-chilled)
  • Large spoon
  • Small pot with a lid
  • Muddler
  • Jar or small bottle
Zach Johnston

Method for the mint syrup:

  • Add one cup of water and one cup of white sugar to a small pot.
  • Bring to a boil and stir as the sugar completely dissolves.
  • While boiling, add in a handful of mint leaves.
  • REMOVE pot from heat immediately (if you boil the mint, it’ll turn bitter).
  • Quickly use a muddler to gently release the mint oils into the simple syrup.
  • Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove mint leaves and stems and pour the mint syrup into a waiting jar or small bottle.
  • Add two teaspoons of green food coloring. Stir.
  • Chill and use for up to two weeks.
Zach Johnston

Method for the shake:

  • Add the ice cream, half-and-half, and mint syrup to a blender.
  • Blend for about 20 seconds to 30 seconds, until the milkshake is smooth and completely blended.
  • Pour the shake into a waiting pre-chilled pint glass.
  • Top with whipped cream and a Maraschino cherry.
  • Drop in a straw.
  • Serve.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want a thicker shake but don’t have a blender that can handle more ice cream with less milk, blend your shake and then toss it in the freezer, stirring it every 20 minutes or so until it hits your desired thickness.

Zach Johnston

As you can see, the color wasn’t quite as mellow mint green as I wanted. It was a little more olive green. So, I added another teaspoon of green food coloring and stirred it in with a spoon. It gave the milkshake that nice, mellow green look I was craving.

Other than that, this worked!

Bottom Line:

Zach Johnston

This was tasty. That should be obvious. It’s a goddamn milkshake, after all. I didn’t add the Jameson in the photo, but that would have worked well with the mint and cream. My editor tried this recipe too and added Italian Branca-Menta by Fernet for double the mintiness. He still hasn’t stopped raving about it.

As for the un-boozy version of the recipe, the mint was subtle and a little sweet but added a clear brightness to the deep vanilla creaminess. Even after finishing the shake, there was still a lingering sense of fresh mint on my tongue for a good ten minutes.

The body of the milkshake had just the right balance of thick but drinkable. You could easily pull it through a straw, but it still had a certain heft when it hit your mouth.

Was this better than a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake from the Golden Arches? Yes. It didn’t have that plastic bag note that Mickey D’s shakes tend to have. The mint was much brighter and fresher and, of course, the base ice cream was significantly better in quality. (Plus, you don’t have to worry about all those fast-food ice cream machine horror stories.)

Was it worth making at home instead of buying at your nearest McDonald’s? Also yes. This is just better in every way — mintier, creamier, more vanilla flavor. It wasn’t that expensive at the end so of the day (the ice cream was about $5). It was also really simple. Once you have the mint syrup made, it takes less than a minute — so unless you literally live at a McDonald’s, you’re saving time.

This was a winner, folks!

Zach Johnston