What’s the Difference between a Smoothie and a Milkshake?

During the hottest days in the summer, I like to mix frozen fruits with milk in my blender.
One day, I was speaking about that, and I had no idea about the correct word to use: Milkshake? Smoothie? Ice cream?
I will share here what I have found about these words.

What’s the difference between a smoothie and a milkshake?
The main difference between smoothie and milkshake is the ingredients used in the recipe.
A milkshake mainly contains milk or dairy products, with some fruits.
However, a smoothie is made only with fruits, or fruit juice.

That’s it for the main difference between these two drinks.
I recommend reading the following of the post if you want to know more.

The milkshake


A thoroughly shaken or blended drink made of milk, a flavoring syrup, and often ice cream


Even if the milkshake word comes from “milk”, most of the time there is ice cream in it, rather than milk directly
It is then flavored with various ingredients such as coulis, caramel or some fresh fruit
I will talk about the recipe later


The milkshake exists for over a century
It has developed little by little, taking advantage of technological advances in household appliances

I will try not to get too bored with the history of the drink, but it still seems interesting to me 🙂

In the 1880s, milkshake was an alcoholic beverage made from whiskey and eggs
In 1900, we add syrups to flavor it: strawberry, chocolate, vanilla …
In 1910, the blenders are invented and improve the recipe a little by making it lighter and closer to the one we know
Then in 1930 it is the refrigerators that make their appearance to accelerate milkshake preparation in the restaurants

Finally, in the 1950s, the famous American “diners” became the main selling point for milkshakes, the drink for all, often supplemented with a good ladle of whipped cream ????


Nowadays, milkshake is a very popular product all over the world, whether at home or in restaurants
It’s easy to do, even at home, and allow to vary the pleasures
The presence of ice cream is very refreshing at the end of the meal

We don’t really track sales of milkshake in the world as it’s not a product that is found in supermarkets.
But the restaurant milkshake machine market is very important, not to mention blender that is found almost in every home

Even McDonald’s is selling milkshake now
But you can also find it on the menu of most restaurants, from the economic brewery to the greatest chefs who revisit it constantly

Easy recipe at home

Here is a recipe basis of a milkshake that you can try at home:

  • 17 fl oz (ca. 0.5 l) of milk, preferably whole, but semi-skimmed will go very well if you do not have one
  • 34 fl oz (ca. 1 l) of ice cream, taste according to your preferences (vanilla, chocolate, fruit)
  • If you want: vanilla pods, fruit coulis or some fresh or frozen fruits
  • For the presentation: whipped cream, chocolate shavings, fruits, food pearls, …

Then we put everything in the blender for a few seconds, and it’s ready
I’ll talk about my blender that I love in conclusion if you don’t have one or are not satisfied with
Otherwise, most mixers or household robots offer this option

You are free to adapt this recipe according to your tastes, the base is milk and ice, but the rest is up to you ????
There are variations with frozen yogurt or ice cubes, but the taste will not be quite the same (maybe more economical on the other hand)

Here is a video to illustrate how to do this:

The smoothie


A creamy beverage made of fruit blended with juice, milk, or yogurt


I think this definition is a good summary of what a smoothie is

You will notice on the illustration that the smoothie is very liquid
It may vary a bit depending on the recipe, but it’s very close to a fruit juice


I found very little info about the smoothie history, so I’ll do this briefly don’t worry ????

The marketing of this original product began in the 60s
The sale was then organized by the ice sellers, but they haven’t been very successful

It was only in the 2000s that smoothies really began to follow the healthy eating movements and to make their way into our supermarkets
That’s what I’m explaining in the next paragraph


Many well-known brands offer smoothies, for example:

  • Naked Juice
  • Bolthouse Farms
  • Odwalla

These 3 brands are listed in order of their market share in the US in 2019 (source: Statista)
The smoothie market was estimated at more than 72 million euros in 2018, or nearly 15% of sales of chilled fruit juices, and has been growing rapidly for 20 years with the growth of the “organic” and “healthy” movements.

Nutritional values

As I said, the smoothie follows the trend of healthy eating, but is that justified?

It will highly depend on the recipe used or the product purchased, but yes, it’s often the case
Smoothies are a simple solution to consume more fruits (or even vegetables by the way), and we know all the benefits they have on our body

For example, the Innocent brand premium smoothies contain 100% fruit and a portion of 2 fruits (out of a total of 5 recommended daily by WHO)

For those who like numbers, the smoothies of this brand bring on average (data per 100 ml of drink):

  • Calories: 55 kcal
  • 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C (so easily 100% in your morning drink)
  • No added sugar
  • Almost no fat and very little protein

Easy recipe at home

We can’t do more simple as a recipe
You take seasonal fruits that please you, cut them into pieces and mix all that in the blender
Ice cubes, fruit juice or a bit of milk are usually added to bind the whole thing
Up to you to vary the pleasures according to your desires

I tell you about my blender in conclusion, if you don’t have any, feel free to look at the one I advise you
As for the recipe, here’s a video illustration of a multi-fruit smoothie:

Differences between milkshake and smoothie

Let’s compare the two drinks now on the most important points to remember


As was said in the introduction and detailed with each recipe, the two drinks differ mainly by their ingredients

The milkshake may contain some fruit, but mostly contains milk and ice cream
For the smoothie we are on something lighter, with mainly fresh fruit, and possibly a little fruit juice or milk


Of course, you can eat it at any time, that’s not the question
But I remember that milkshake is closer to a dessert for me, with its whole milk, ice cream and often whipped cream
While the smoothie is healthier, and seems much more suitable for breakfast or drink at any time of the day


This is the end of this article which I hope will have been clear enough to answer your question about the differences between milkshake and smoothie

Anyway on my side, I didn’t really find out how to call my homemade drink consisting of frozen fruit and milk, probably a mix between the two ????

Small bonus for you

As I promised you, if you’re looking for an efficient blender, small and easy to clean, I give you the link here
It has the advantage of being also very affordable, I let you check for yourself on Amazon here

What I love is that the blender container is also the container in which you can drink, very handy for a quick morning smoothie
There are actually just 2 lids: one with the blade and another with the lid to drink

So yes for large families it may not be ideal, but all is simply washed under a trickle of water, and nothing prevents you to take extra bottles separately
That way, every family member will have their smoothie or milkshake with their favorite recipe ????

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