Malt vs Shake: How are They Different?

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Are you a staunch milkshake supporter or curious about the resurgence of malts? Dive into our comprehensive guide on malt vs shake and discover which might become your next favorite beverage.

Malt Origin & CompositionMalt is derived from germinated barley and has a distinct nutty taste; used in various beverages & dishes.
Milkshake BasicsA blend of ice cream and cold milk, often flavored with syrups, fruits, or other additions.
Malt vs. Milkshake: DifferencesWhile both are creamy, malted shakes have a unique ‘malty’ flavor and tend to be thicker.
Nutritional InsightsMalted shakes, due to malt powder, contain vitamins like D, B2, B6 and minerals like selenium & potassium.
Whataburger MaltA classic malted milkshake comprising ice cream, milk, and malted milk powder.

What is Malt?

Malted Milk

Malt, especially in beverages, refers to malted milk powder. This is an evaporated powder made primarily from malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk. Malt originates from germinated barley, which is dried using a process termed as malting. The germination starts when barley is soaked in water, but is halted by roasting it in hot air.

The resulting malt or malted milk powder has a distinct nutty and sweet taste. It’s versatile: dissolve it in water for a standalone drink or add it to milkshakes to transform them into malted shakes. Beyond beverages, this powder can elevate the flavors of puddings, cakes, cookies, waffles, and pancakes.

Fun Fact: Malted milk powders come in different flavors such as chocolate and vanilla, allowing for richer and more varied malted beverages.

Popular brands to consider if you’re keen on trying malted beverages include Carnation Malted Milk and King Arthur Malted Milk Powder. These are trusted names in the industry, often recommended for their consistent quality.

What are Milkshakes?


The timeless milkshake is a blend of cold milk and ice cream. Add-ons can range from chocolate chips, cookie dough, to fresh or frozen fruits. Syrups or sauces like chocolate, caramel, and strawberry enhance the flavor. Once blended, these ingredients yield a creamy and luscious drink, perfect for any sweet tooth.

Current Trends: There’s an ongoing wave of innovation in milkshake preparations. Non-dairy milk alternatives, frozen yogurt, and even coffee ice cream have made their way into milkshakes. Quirky blends featuring cakes, cookies, or even boba shakes with tapioca pearls are changing the traditional milkshake game.

Malted Drinks vs Shakes: A Direct Comparison

malt vs shake

Wondering how these two beverages stack up against each other? Here’s a quick breakdown:

CriteriaRegular MilkshakeMalted Shake
Taste & TextureSweet and creamy consistency.Richer and nuttier flavor with a distinctive slushie-like texture.
CompositionDoes not include malted milk powder.Contains malted milk powder.
  • Taste & Texture: While regular milkshakes are renowned for their sweet and creamy consistency, malted shakes introduce a richer and nuttier flavor. The addition of malt powder makes the drink thicker, offering a distinctive slushie-like texture.
  • Composition: The primary difference lies in the malted milk powder. A malted shake essentially includes this powder, while a regular milkshake does not.

Nutrient Profiles: Malted Shakes Vs Milkshakes

CriteriaMalted ShakesMilkshakes
VitaminsSource of vitamins D, B2, and B6.Not specifically mentioned (standard vitamins from milk).
MineralsContains selenium and potassium.Not specifically mentioned (standard minerals from milk).
DigestibilityMore digestible due to the malted powder.Standard digestibility.
Sugar, Fat, & CaloriesContains substantial amounts (enjoy in moderation).Contains substantial amounts (enjoy in moderation).

Malted shakes have an edge when it comes to nutrition. The malted powder is a source of vitamins like D, B2, and B6, and minerals including selenium and potassium. This nutritional boost makes malted shakes slightly healthier and more digestible than regular milkshakes.

However, a word of caution: both beverages contain substantial amounts of sugar, fat, and calories. It’s wise to enjoy them in moderation.

Where You Can Find Milkshakes and Malted Shakes

Classic Diners: Rewind a few decades, and you’d find malted drinks and milkshakes in almost every diner, soda fountain, or ice cream parlor.

Modern Franchises: Fast-food chains like Dairy Queen and Burger King have incorporated milkshakes into their menu. Many burger joints also champion the iconic burger-shake combo.

DIY: With countless online recipes, whipping up these beverages at home is a breeze. Homemade versions grant the flexibility to adjust sweetness levels and portion sizes.

More Questions?

Below you’ll find answers to questions we are often asked about the malt vs shake debate.

01. How Do I Make a Malt?

A vanilla malted shake blends milk, vanilla ice cream, and about 4-5 spoons of malt powder. You can customize with your preferred ice cream flavor or additional ingredients.

02. Malt Vs Shake – Which is Healthier?

While malted drinks boast added vitamins and minerals, the nutritional content in terms of sugar and fat remains similar.

03. What’s the Flavor Profile of Malted Shakes?

What’s the Flavor Profile of Malted Shakes? Malted shakes have the characteristic flavor of their added ingredients (like ice cream or syrups) enriched by a nutty, sweeter note from the malt.

04. What are Malts at Whataburger?

Whataburger’s malt is a classic malted milkshake, a blend of ice cream, milk, and malted milk powder.

05. Benefits of Malt?

Malt improves digestion, provides essential nutrients, and even assists in enhancing the flavor profile of various foods.

06. Is It Safe to Drink Malt Every Day?

As malted powders are pretty inoffensive, it is okay to drink malted milk or smoothies every day. If you have a child or are recovering from an illness, it is actually a good thing. However, drinking a malted shake every day is a very unhealthy choice.

07. What are the Benefits of Consuming Malt?

As malt comes from barley grains, it contains a good deal of fiber, folate, potassium, and selenium. It also has vitamins like B6. These make it a good option for those with mineral or vitamin deficiencies. The fiber also makes it good at digesting cholesterol and reducing insulin activity.

To Settle 

Besides coffee or caffeinated beverages, milkshakes and malts are some of the most popular drinks that you can have at any time during the day. There’s a lot to love about them- they are filling, taste amazing, and are great for cooling down. 

No matter which side you are on in the malt vs shake debacle, we can all agree that they are both drinks that will never fall out of popularity and are great ways to sneak in extra ice cream every week!

About BoatBasinCafe: Our dedicated team of culinary enthusiasts and beverage aficionados tirelessly test and research to bring you the best insights from the world of food and drinks. With backgrounds in food science, nutrition, and gastronomy, we’re here to quench your thirst for knowledge.

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