Vanilla Milkshake Recipe

Vanilla Milkshake

The flavour of vanilla is universally loved, especially when combined with ice cream. The flavour is so ubiquitous that the term “plain vanilla”—meaning boring—became a thing, but don’t let that dissuade you from shaking up a vanilla milkshake because when done properly there are few flavours that can compare.

Most milkshake flavours come from fruits and vanilla is no different as the flavour comes from the fruit pod of the vanilla planifolia orchid. Unlike most fruits where freshness is important, the intense aroma of vanilla is brought out by a period of curing.

Great drinks require great ingredients and for the best vanilla flavour, look for genuine vanilla, not the artificial stuff. Tahitian, Madagascar or Mexican vanilla are all excellent options, but never buy a product that is clear, that is artificial and made from synthetic vanillin.

The next ingredient is whole milk, fresh is best. Though the local dairy produces great stuff, don’t discount the big milk makers as they produce some excellent dairy products. You can use low-fat options, but considering this is a milkshake, use something with some fat, it will be more satisfying. Historically, a portion a cream was sometimes added to a little more decadent. Today, most places add ice cream, but that isn’t always necessary.

Straight milk and vanilla is a good start, even low calorie, but a touch of sweetness will help bring out the vanilla flavour. For this, simple syrup is your friend. A teaspoon or two will get you started but the old soda fountains used one ounce of 1:1 simple syrup per drink. Add according to your tastes.

Yield: 1 Shake

Vanilla Milkshake

Vanilla Milkshake
The plain vanilla milkshake is anything but boring. This classic version goes back over 130 years and is a perfect way to highlight the aroma of vanilla.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes


  • 4 oz Whole Milk
  • 1 oz Heavy Cream
  • 2 tsp Simple Syrup
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cubes of Ice


  1. Combine all the ingredients in shaker
  2. Shake vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes
  3. Strain into a tall 8 to 10 oz glass
  4. Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg


The longer you shake this drink the frothier it gets. It can get really airy and takes on an amazing texture. If you have ever tried a Ramos Gin Fizz, it is similar.

Don't use more than 2 to 3 cubes of ice. Two medium sized cubes is enough to chill the drink, but not dilute the flavour. The other benefit is that they help aerate the shake. If you have ever shaken a spray paint can, the effect is similar, it helps to mix things up.

You can skip the cream, but it does help with the texture of the drink. You can also substitute a small scoop of vanilla ice cream for the heavy cream.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 160
Plain vanilla is a favourite, but historically the addition of pineapple to soda fountain dairy drinks was common and preferred. In the 1800s the flavour of pineapple was synthetic (flavour essence) and it was more intense than just adding an ounce or two of pineapple juice to a milkshake. Because of the intensity, people came to prefer the artificial flavour. The artificial flavour also lacked the acidity that fresh pineapple juice has, so the flavour was “smoother.” You can get pineapple syrups that have a more concentrated flavour as well as pineapple essence if you want that vintage experience.

If you want an all natural pineapple vanilla combination, add one ounce of table cream (18% fat content) to 3 ounces of pineapple juice, 3 ounces of whole milk, a little simple syrup and a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Shake for at least a minute with a few cubes of ice and serve in a highball glass. If you need to, you can substitute the cream, milk and vanilla for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you are curious, you can check out the history of the milkshake, it was much different than what you get today.

Related: The History of the Milkshake