How to Make a Milkshake With Any Ice Cream, Any Toppings, Any Time

A milkshake is the absolute best way to treat yourself in five minutes or less.

August  6, 2019

If you ask me, a milkshake is good any time of year—from the height of spring to the dead of winter. But there's no denying that summer is its peak season.

Picture this: You've just spent a long, lazy Sunday afternoon at the beach. Salty, sun-drenched, and in need of a snack, you plop a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and milk into the blender. A few quick blitzes and a shower of sprinkles later, and you're sipping on a smooth, super-cooling milkshake that hits all the right spots.

Sounds perfect, right?

Luckily, a milkshake is just about the easiest dessert you can pull off in under five minutes (probably less). The best part: At a minimum, you need just two ingredients.

Here's how to make a milkshake using any ice cream and toppings you've got lying around in your kitchen, plus some of our favorite recipes and flavor combos to help you get milkshaking.

How to Make a Milkshake

The best part about making a milkshake is that it is totally customizable, depending on the type of ice cream you have in the freezer, what type of milk you like to drink, and your favorite sweet-crunchy-salty-nutty additions. Here's how you get started to make a single-serving milkshake.

Ground Rules

  • You can use any type of milk you like (whole, skim, or even a dairy-free alternative like oat or almond milk would all work well), but full-fat milk will give you the thickest, richest results.
  • Don't use heavy cream, though—it'll clump up in the blender.
  • The better quality the ice cream, the better your milkshake will taste. This shouldn't come as a surprise, but since the ice cream makes up more than half of any milkshake, its quality will affect the flavor and texture.
  • If you're avoiding dairy for any reason, coconut milk ice cream brings a nice creamy smoothness.


  • 2 to 3 scoops ice cream (plus more to thicken the milkshake, as needed)
  • 1/3 cup milk (plus more to thin out the milkshake, as needed)
  • Mix-ins and toppings of your choosing, to taste (optional)


  1. Pour the milk into the blender first so that everything blitzes up nice and easily.
  2. Add the ice cream to the blender (let it sit out on the counter for about five minutes beforehand to soften slightly) and whichever mix-ins you like. If you want the mix-ins to stay crunchy, add them towards the end of the blending. (See below for some of our favorite mix-ins.)
  3. Blend everything until it reaches your desired consistency. If the milkshake is too thin, add a small scoop of ice cream to help thicken; if too thick, add a splash of milk.
  4. Top your milkshake with anything from whipped cream to chocolate syrup, and enjoy!

Milkshake Toppings & Mix-Ins

When it comes to mix-ins and toppings, the sky is pretty much the limit (though we've listed some of our favorites below). Just chop them up if needed and blend them in with the milkshake itself, or for a little more textural variety, reserve some to sprinkle/drizzle/crumble on top of the blended milkshake.

If we're talking cookies or nuts, it's usually easiest to crumble or chop them before adding on top. (But hey, there are places that put whole slices of cake on their milkshakes, so have at it.)

You can even combine different ingredients to mimic classic flavor combos like, blueberry pie (blueberries + graham crackers + whipped cream) or your favorite candy bar (chocolate chunks + caramel + nuts).

Here are a few of our favorite milkshake mix-ins and toppings:

  • Syrups (chocolate, strawberry, caramel, maple)
  • Extracts (vanilla, mint, almond, banana)
  • Nutella
  • Peanut butter
  • Frozen/fresh fruit (banana, strawberries, blueberries, mango)
  • Cookies (chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, graham crackers)
  • Chocolate chips/chunks
  • Candy bars (Twix, Reese's, Kit Kats)
  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, pumpkin spice)
  • Leftover cake
  • Malt powder
  • Whipped cream (in the milkshake or on top, or both!)
  • Sprinkles

Our 6 Favorite Milkshake Recipes

What's your go-to milkshake combo? Share it with us in the comments below!

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.