Lucky Healthy Shamrock Shake

By Jennifer Fox Williams, MPH

Only offered for a few weeks around St. Patrick’s Day, The McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is coveted by many.  If you ignore the 530 calories and whopping 73 grams of sugar in a small shake, you might be able to enjoy this frosty treat.  But for better luck with your health, why not make your own minty shake at home? 

There are many recipes on-line for healthier versions of the Shamrock Shake.  Even making the shake at home with ice cream and heavy cream makes it a healthier than the McDonald’s version, because you will eliminate many extra chemicals, additives and food dyes found in the original. 

Try any of the home-made recipes that appeal to you, and it will be healthier. 

The recipe my family loves contains no added sugar, and is loaded with nutrients.  We recently gave it to ten of their friends and not one of them guessed the green was from spinach.  Everyone who tried this shake at our house, loved it.  It’s based on the recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie:

Healthy Homemade Shamrock Shake


¾ cup 2% milk

1 very ripe frozen banana

¼ cup frozen spinach

1 TBS chia seeds (optional)

1/4tsp peppermint extract

1 TBS mini chocolate chips (optional)

Pour milk into bottom of a blender.  Add banana, spinach, chia seeds (if using) and peppermint extract.  Blend well.  Optional: add mini chocolate chips and blend for 2-3 seconds.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!


*1 tablespoon of chia seeds add 60 calories, 4 grams of healthy polyunsaturated fat, 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  Click here for: Health benefits of chia seeds.

*1 tablespoon of mini chocolate chips adds 42 calories, 5 grams of sugar and 2.7 grams of fat.

If the comparison of calories, fat and sugar is not convincing enough, take a look at the very long list of processed ingredients in the McDonald’s Shamrock shake:


Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Cream, Nonfat Milk Solids, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono- and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Disodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.


Ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural Flavor (Plant Source), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Yellow 5, Blue 1.
May contain small amounts of other shake flavors served at the restaurant, including egg ingredients when Egg Nog Shakes are available.


Ingredients: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less Than 1%: Mono-And Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80, Beta Carotene (Color), Natural (Dairy and Plant Sources) and Artificial Flavor, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) to Protect Flavor. Whipping Propellant (Nitrous Oxide).


Ingredients: Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Natural (Plant Source) and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Red 40, Sulfur Dioxide as Preservative (Contains Sulfites).

Would you rather drink a cup of that, or a shake with just four ingredients that tastes just as good?

If you are still not 100% convinced, read this:

Why You Should Never Drink a McDonald's Shamrock Shake