Why This is the Only Milkshake I Like

June 10, 2015

If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: The reason I've made peace with milkshakes, plus a smart technique to use on your summer fruit all season long. 

strawberry milkshake

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I have a clear memory of sitting in line at the McDonald’s drive-thru as a very young person: I am reclining in the backseat of my mother’s ’86 Nissan Stanza wagon, named the upside-down dumpster by my family for its unmistakable trapezoidal resemblance to where you leave your garbage in great big parking lots. My legs are stretched out the open window as long as my six years of life will let them. I always order a strawberry milkshake. It is good and neon pink and very cold, and I always test its wits by seeing how fast I can drink it down before getting brain freeze. I made a race out of most things then, and I still do. 

This is the story of how a memory can trick you into thinking that a certain food is really your style.

The truth is, I would never choose a milkshake over a bowl of ice cream. I like to eat my food, not drink it. I like to pick out all of the stuff in ice cream and save the non-stuff for later. And I get distressed just thinking about all of that stray milkshake you lose to the walls of your blender when you make one. Milkshakes are just lazy ice cream, and worse: They take something beautiful and sacred and return it to its pre-beautiful, pre-sacred state. Why even churn it if you’re going to melt it back down? 

There's another, practical problem: I can never figure out the right time for a milkshake. Sidling up to a diner counter for burgers and milkshakes sounds so 1950s romantic I almost want to put on a poodle skirt about it, but the idea of consuming both—in full, in tandem—gives me a stomachache. Are they meant to be treated like a beverage? A dessert? I considered getting one at breakfast a while back, because I was at a place where you could get fries with your eggs and that kind of beautiful chaos in meal order struck me as good a time as any to suck down a pint of liquefied ice cream. I don’t feel deliberate about milkshakes. I feel why not? about them. 

I asked a lot of you how you felt about milkshakes over regular ice cream (Have you not told me yet? Tell me below!), and you said that you’re more refreshed after milkshakes, less thirsty. You told me that they don’t demand complete attention. All fair: You can consume them with one hand, which means your other is free to dip fries or palm your burger like a basketball or straighten out that poodle skirt. 

I’m going to take your convenience and your refreshment—and I will add to them roasted fruit. Because, it turns out, that is really why you should make a milkshake.

But first: Crank your oven and your A.C., if you have it (and accept my promise to give you a more eco-friendly recipe next month). Toss a mess of strawberries in turbinado sugar and drape them with a few lemon slices. Play here: Try maple syrup, or olive oil (crazy!), or honey. Hit them with a little salt, like you do everything. After a solid 30 to 40 minutes, they’ll release their juice and relax into their bodies—they will be like you at the very end of a yoga class, when you’re allowed to lay flat and extend your limbs and forget how to move your toes. They are strawberries living their best life. 

You know the rest: Blend these with a pint of really good vanilla ice cream. I added buttermilk for tang because why not? But again, you should feel free to play. Throw in a little citrus zest, the seeds from a vanilla bean, or a splash of vermouth instead of the buttermilk. Or some tarragon. The six-year-old me would have turned up her nose at that, so I used mint instead. This one’s for her. 

Roasted Strawberry Milkshake with Buttermilk and Mint 

Serves 2 to 4 

For the roasted strawberries: 

1 pound strawberries (from the market if you can get them), hulled and halved
3 to 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar, depending on sweetness of berries
Pinch salt
4 to 5 thin lemon slices 

For the milkshake: 

1 pint good vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup good-quality buttermilk
Leaves from 3 healthy mint sprigs
Roasted strawberries 

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by Bobbi Lin

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Whiteantlers
  • Joy Belamarich
    Joy Belamarich
  • ruthy
  • monica_m
  • Charlene Wagner
    Charlene Wagner
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


Whiteantlers May 1, 2017
Milkshakes are good summer breakfasts and lunches during the week. Not smoothies-milkshakes-with ice cream, fruit, syrup (if appropriate) and so on. Ice cream is for eating in bed on hot nights when you can be contemplative about what you're spooning.
Joy B. June 15, 2015
kenzi, your writing makes me go weak in the knees.
Kenzi W. June 15, 2015
ruthy June 14, 2015
This looks yummy! Gonna put it on my must do list of things to make this summer! Thanks!
monica_m June 14, 2015
This looks awesome! I'm gonna try this technique with roasted peaches. That could be epic.
Milkshakes have always been "on the move... albeit slowly" treats for me. Walking in the park by the duck pond or doing a road trip. This is especially true on hot summer days when solid ice cream has the lifespan of a stray thought.
Charlene W. June 14, 2015
You drink milkshakes walking through the French Quarter or Audubon Park on a summer afternoon.
A L. June 14, 2015
I used to drive a silver 1986!nissan stanza wagon (it was my moms car first but of course she was happy to turn it over to her 16 try old daughter and have an excuse to get a new red jeep Cherokee for herself LOL). I've never known anyone else who even knew what the model was (again, there's a reason for that!). I love your dumpster comparison. Hilarious.

Anyway, I am excited to try this out! Thank you for sharing!
James B. June 14, 2015
Yes, ice cream is better & why take all that time to use it melted .
Because sometimes I just have to have a milkshake.! It brings back childhood memories for me too of a funky local place we went with wood tables and floors. They were locally famous for open faced sandwiches with sliced steak on buttered toast served with shoestring fries. The ice cold shakes topped off the experience in a way nothing else could. I can easily conjure the smells of the place and the buzz of people and conversation.
Thanks for taking me there
Barbara June 14, 2015
Guess I'm more of a malt person or a root beer or coffee float person who always preferred the three scoops option (or more) over the one. But this idea of roasting the strawberries for a milk shake is genius! OMG. Seems almost healthy, right?
BakerMary June 14, 2015
Nissan Stanza wagon! Sliding rear doors on borh sides AND you could drive with both of them stuck open!! Safety be damned, that was fun! Awesome car, so I will take your strawberry roasting to heart and report back. Thanks for the flashback, and the recipe.
Amanda S. June 10, 2015
Milkshakes are better, and this one RULES. Hold my hand while I try salt/olive oil/strawberry one? I am five if you are six.
Kenzi W. June 11, 2015
You know I will do this.
catalinalacruz June 10, 2015
You mean we can't use unhealthy mint sprigs? :)
Merrill S. June 10, 2015
This sounds A-MAZING.
BrooklynBridget June 10, 2015
Posie (. June 10, 2015
Roasted fruit -- this is so brilliant!!!!
Kristen M. June 10, 2015
This isn't the only milkshake I like, but I like it a LOT. Buttermilk! Mint! Roasted lemons?! Thank you for seriously one-upping the other shakes I love, and for this: "I like to pick out all of the stuff in ice cream and save the non-stuff for later."
Kenzi W. June 10, 2015
Thank you for helping me drink them down for the shoot! I was really counting on you and your love of liquefied ice cream, and you pulled through.
Hillary P. June 10, 2015
You summed up my exact thoughts on why ice cream is always better!
Kenzi W. June 10, 2015
You are my people.