13 Fast Food Milkshakes, Ranked Worst To Best

When it comes to fast food, some choices are no-brainers — a cheeseburger, a side of fries, perhaps even a chicken nugget or two. But the decision becomes less clear-cut when you roll up to the drinks section. Soda might be the default choice for many, but there's another contender that's hard to ignore: the milkshake.

The range of milkshake offerings at fast food spots is astonishingly diverse. Some stick to the tried and tested flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry while others venture into more adventurous territories, providing a rotating carousel of inventive combinations. Navigating this landscape can be a sweet challenge. After all, even though a milkshake essentially boils down to ice cream spun into a drinkable treat, there are definitely standouts and let-downs in this fast food category. When evaluating our favorite milkshakes, we considered each restaurant's flavor options, taste, consistency, and unique aspects.

We believe a good milkshake is more than a mere add-on to your meal; it can be the show's star. A perfect blend of rich creaminess, a hint of frostiness, and that distinct nostalgic vibe — a well-made milkshake can transform your meal and evoke nostalgia. But not all shakes are created equal. The thickness can vary, the balance of sweetness tilting from delightful to sugar overload, and the flavors offering more than just the holy trinity of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. And when it comes to ranking, that's where things get interesting.

13. Burger King

When the cravings hit for the unique taste of a Whopper and the only complementary drink that will quench your thirst is a milkshake, Burger King beckons. At Burger King, the milkshake menu doesn't disappoint in terms of variety, providing a selection of traditional flavors: tried-and-true chocolate, all-American strawberry, and the always-comforting vanilla. Not to be outdone, they've also thrown options like Chocolate Oreo and Classic Oreo into the mix, which adds a delightful twist to their standard fare.

However, it's in the overall experience where these shakes don't fully satisfy. While the variety of flavors is a commendable effort, it doesn't completely compensate for the somewhat lackluster taste. The milkshakes at Burger King, while undeniably creamy and cold, could use a bit more oomph when it comes to their flavor profile. They lack that extra punch of depth and richness that turns a good milkshake into a great one. It doesn't help that they're extremely sweet, almost excessively so. A certain level of sweetness is expected and even desired in a milkshake, but the balance should be just right. While we are fond of a sweet treat, the Burger King shakes can sometimes push those boundaries a tad too far.

12. Sonic

There's an undeniable charm to Sonic, steeped in nostalgia with its signature drive-in feel. From the pleasingly crunchy nugget ice to the sheer variety of flavors and flavor combinations available, there's plenty to love. The menu teems with intriguing options such as the Strawberry Cheesecake Shake, appealing to adventurous taste buds and traditionalists alike.

However, even with this impressive assortment, Sonic's shakes fall short in a vital area: consistency. The texture of a milkshake can make or break the experience, and unfortunately, Sonic's shakes have a tendency to be unpredictable. This is a significant drawback, especially for those who prefer their shakes to maintain a specific consistency.

Whether you like your shake to be thick and creamy or prefer a thinner, easier-to-sip concoction, consistency is key. At Sonic, this particular attribute can be hit-or-miss. When that friendly hand extends out of the drive-thru window to pass you your eagerly awaited treat, there's an element of suspense. Will the shake be just right, or will it swing too far on the spectrum of thickness or thinness?

11. Arby's

Arby's shakes carry a distinctive taste, something that we've grown to recognize and even appreciate for its uniqueness. The roster of flavors, though not expansive, brings a certain charm, with some options you wouldn't commonly find at other fast food joints. The occasional appearance of the refreshing Orange Cream shake on its menu adds a delightful surprise, and you can always rely on the classics like chocolate or vanilla to be there. We can't overlook the Jamocha shake, a harmonious blend of coffee and ice cream. It holds a special place in our hearts, largely because anything that combines caffeine and dessert tends to win us over.

However, despite its strengths, Arby's shake menu isn't without its shortcomings. While we enjoy the available flavors, its lineup is relatively limited, which might leave those seeking adventurous flavors a bit underwhelmed. Also, much like Burger King, Arby's shakes can sometimes stray into the realm of excessive sweetness. While the right amount of sweetness can elevate a milkshake, tipping the balance too far can overshadow the flavors and become overwhelming.

10. McDonald's

McDonald's is practically synonymous with fast food. Beyond its famous burgers and fries, many of us hold cherished memories of sipping a creamy vanilla shake alongside a Happy Meal, engrossed with a shiny new toy. The McDonald's vanilla shake is an entity unto itself; it carries a distinctive flavor that has managed to captivate our palates over the years, even inspiring toy companies in the '90s to create toys that could make candied versions of these beloved menu items.

But even with these nostalgic ties, McDonald's doesn't quite hit the mark when it comes to the complexity of milkshake flavors. Aside from the occasional introduction of a seasonal item, its milkshake menu remains quite basic. Classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry may satisfy the traditionalist, but those seeking a bit of excitement in those milkshakes might find the options somewhat underwhelming (its recent Grimace Shake promotion notwithstanding).

A common issue, and a running joke amongst fast-food lovers, is that McDonald's ice cream machines always seem to be broken. This unpredictable variable can be quite disappointing when you're in the mood for a chilled, sweet treat.

9. Wendy's

When envisioning a classic milkshake, a Wendy's Frosty inevitably pops into mind. These delectable treats, straddling the line between soft serve and a milkshake, present a delightful dichotomy. Initially, they're spoonable like a thick dessert, but as they gradually melt, they take on a consistency more akin to a traditional milkshake. These delicious treats take inspiration from a treat from Thistledown, the Cleveland racetrack, and date back to the 1960s. Without a doubt, the Frosty stands as Wendy's closest offering to a milkshake, and it's an item that has earned our affection over the years. 

However, our love for the Frosty is somewhat hampered by its limited flavor range. As delightful as they are, these treats currently only come in two flavors: chocolate and strawberry. Granted, the brand has been known to offer vanilla or other flavors on occasion. As anyone with a taste for sweet indulgence knows, the world of milkshakes thrives on variety and innovation. While the Frosty's classic flavors do indeed evoke a sense of nostalgic comfort, the menu could benefit from a little more adventure.

8. Whataburger

While it's mainly known for its burgers, Whataburger invites you to stay a bit longer for a creamy milkshake treat. With a few unique offerings on the menu, such as the currently featured Banana Pudding Shake, it brings a distinctive twist to the milkshake landscape. There have also been such fun flavors as a Dr. Pepper Milkshake, and while appreciate this nod to creativity, it's a bit of a one-off since the rest of the menu largely adheres to traditional milkshake flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and their malted counterparts.

In terms of texture, Whataburger's shakes lean towards the overly creamy side, leading to a concoction that can feel a bit too thick for some. This inclination towards extreme creaminess can eclipse the overall enjoyment, transforming what should be a light, sweet indulgence into a heavier affair. Moreover, when it does venture into unique flavors, there's a chance the taste can veer towards artificial. While the ideas are intriguing, the execution doesn't always hit the sweet spot.

7. BurgerFi

BurgerFi boasts a chef-curated menu that tempts the taste buds with its unique and crave-worthy burger offerings. Given the culinary artistry that goes into its burgers, it's not surprising that its milkshakes follow suit. We're fans of the flavorful variety that it offers, with options like Red Velvet and Coffee Mocha standing out among the crowd.

However, one issue with BurgerFi's milkshake offerings is the inconsistency from location to location. Your favorite flavor might not be available at every outlet, which can be a bit disappointing if you're yearning for a particular taste.

Additionally, while we appreciate the extravagant flavors, these might be a tad overwhelming for those who lean towards simpler, more traditional milkshake options. The inventive variety is a selling point for adventurous taste buds, but if you're looking for a more classic flavor, you might find these elaborate offerings a bit too much and opt for a spot that offers a more simplistic milkshake.

6. In-N-Out

In-N-Out delivers a delightful sense of nostalgia with its classic atmosphere. Its refreshingly simple menu harks back to a time when burger joints offered just that: burgers, fries, and drinks. Its milkshake, made with real ice cream, delivers a satisfyingly thick and creamy texture that acts as the perfect counterbalance to a mouthwatering cheeseburger and crisp fries.

However, where it falls short is in its limited flavor offerings. The classic trifecta of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla may be sufficient for those seeking traditional milkshake comfort, but for those with a more adventurous palate, these options may seem a tad restrictive.

While its shakes stay true to the original fast-food ethos, the lack of variety can leave some customers yearning for something a little more unique. The conventional flavors it serves are done well, but if you're in the mood for a more extravagant milkshake experience, you may need to seek your sweet satisfaction elsewhere.

5. Dairy Queen

As the name implies, Dairy Queen reigns supreme when it comes to frozen treats. With an array of delicious options from dipped cones and extravagantly decorated ice cream cakes to the famed Dilly Bar, it's always a good move to stop at Dairy Queen for a quick indulgence.

On the milkshake front, it offers classic flavors such as strawberry, caramel, chocolate, and vanilla, but also branches out into unique territory with options like the Peanut Butter Shake or Banana Shake. But what really sets Dairy Queen apart is its Blizzard line-up. While not traditional milkshakes, they bear enough resemblance to be considered in the same category, and we can't help but be enamored with the abundant variety on offer.

The chain is continually introducing new flavors and combinations, but also gives you the freedom to concoct your own delectable mix. However, the multitude of options doesn't always translate to consistent quality. Despite the wide array of choices, the quality of its offerings can be hit-or-miss, and some flavors may come off as more artificial than we'd prefer.

4. Chick-fil-A

Well-known for its thirst-quenching lemonade, Chick-fil-A has become a beloved stop for a refreshing citrus hit. However, its sweet drink repertoire extends beyond this classic favorite. Chick-fil-A's milkshakes stand out due to their unique base component, Ice Dream, which is similar to ice cream but falls just short in butterfat content to earn the official ice cream label. This distinctive foundation makes Chick-fil-A milkshakes subtly different from the standard offering.

In addition to its traditional flavors, Chick-fil-A scores points for its revolving lineup of seasonal options, adding a dash of intrigue to the milkshake menu. We, for instance, always look forward to the juicy Peach Milkshake. However, these unique aspects may not appeal to everyone. If you have a strong preference for classic ice-cream-based shakes, Chick-fil-A's unique twist might not be to your liking. Additionally, its shakes are known to tip the sweetness scale quite a bit, which could be overwhelming for those who prefer a more balanced flavor profile.

3. Five Guys

For the milkshake connoisseurs out there, Five Guys could be your perfect milkshake destination. Here, each shake is hand-spun by the diligent staff, starting with a versatile vanilla base. From this starting point, the power is in your hands as you get to select from an assortment of mix-ins to craft your own unique shake.

The choice ranges from traditional add-ins like chocolate or strawberries to unconventional ones like bacon, peanut butter, coffee, and salted caramel. By offering these unique mix-ins, Five Guys ensures your milkshake is tailored specifically to your liking.

However, if you're in the mood for a simple, unadulterated milkshake, such as straightforward chocolate or strawberry, all these additional options might seem unnecessary and even overwhelming. Indeed, while the extensive mix-in options might be a bit much for the milkshake traditionalists, we think the ability to customize is really what makes Five Guys milkshakes so delicious.

2. Shake Shack

With the word shake right there in its name, it's no surprise that Shake Shack delivers when it comes to this frozen treat. Living up to its moniker, it serves up a range of exquisite milkshakes that go beyond the conventional flavors.

Here, you'll find traditional favorites of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry sharing the menu with an impressive roster of rotating, inventive options. From an Oreo Cookie Funnel Cake Shake to a Triple Chocolate Brownie Shake, Shake Shack constantly keeps things interesting and flavorsome on the shake front. Plus, occasionally, there are offerings where you can earn a free milkshake by ordering other specific items, like a Veggie Shack. 

But perhaps one of the most commendable aspects of Shake Shack's milkshake menu is its inclusivity. By offering non-dairy shakes, it ensures that those who prefer or need to avoid dairy products can still partake in the delightful shake experience it offers. Even though the dairy-free offering may be easier on some stomachs, it still packs a punch in the calorie arena with the chocolate shake containing 750 calories and the dairy-free one having 850 calories.

1. Culver's

Born in the dairy-laden heartlands of the Midwest, Culver's has swiftly won our hearts with some of the best milkshake experiences we've savored. For a truly delightful milkshake that is customizable in myriad ways, Culver's unequivocally stands out.

Start your Culver's journey with one of its renowned ButterBurgers and enhance the culinary delight with a shake handcrafted from Culver's proprietary frozen custard. The outcome is a blend that is thick, creamy, and oh-so-gratifying.

What makes Culver's particularly alluring is the fact that its menu features seasonal offerings, ensuring there's always something new to tantalize your taste buds. From Pumpkin Spice in the fall to a mint explosion in the summer, these rotating treats maintain an air of anticipation and novelty around the Culver's shake experience. If you're a fan of denser, more substantial treats, Culver's offers the Concrete Mixers, a delightful twist akin to Dairy Queen's Blizzard. However, the list of mix-ins at Culver's is notably more diverse and appealing.

Culver's isn't just a formidable contender in the milkshake scene, but also a delight for those seeking a customizable and continually evolving dessert experience. Between its unique frozen custard base, the abundant mix-in options, the rotating seasonal specials, and the decadence upgrade with a Concrete Mixer, Culver's has truly carved a niche for itself in the fast-food milkshake landscape.