Malt vs Shake: How are They Different?

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As summer is just around the corner, you might be thinking of all the chilled drinks you will have to beat the heat. There are loads of shakes and smoothies that you can drink over ice, but perhaps you have been considering trying a malted drink too!

This drink was once quite popular among children and is still enjoyed by many, including adults today. But what is a malted drink and how it is different from shakes? The malt vs. shake question confuses many and I’m going to end the debate once and for all.

This article will look at the difference between malt and shake drinks. So if you want to know what a malted shake is and how you can make a malted milkshake, keep reading to find out more!

What is Malt?

Malted Milk

In drinks, malt or malted milk powder is the evaporated powder made from malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk. Malt comes germinated barley that is dried in a process known as malting

The barley is made to germinate by soaking it in water and is then prevented from germinating further by roasting in hot air.

This malt powder or malted milk powder has a nutty and sweet taste that can be dissolved in water and drunk on its own. However, you can add it to milkshakes to make malted shakes and even make ice cream malts or malted puddings, cakes, and cookies.

Malted milk powders also have flavored versions in chocolate and vanilla, making malt for milkshakes a complementary addition. 

Also, when the powdered malt is blended in with the other ingredients of the milkshake, it makes it much thicker. While the texture becomes distinctly slushie-like, you can still drink malted shakes through a straw.

The best malted milk powder for making malted shakes and other beverages include Carnation Malted Milk and the King Arthur Malted Milk Powder

These two products are also great for incorporating malted sweetness into waffles, pancakes, and baked goods.

What are Milkshakes?


The timeless and beloved milkshake is an easily blended drink. It is made with a base made from blending ice cream and cold milk. 

Things like chocolate chips, cookie dough, and fresh/frozen fruits are added as well. Flavorings come from syrups or sauces; most often chocolate, caramel, strawberry, or butterscotch.

All you need to do is mix all the ingredients in a blender, pour them into a large glass, and garnish them with fruit or chocolate shavings (or extra syrup). Pop in a straw and you can enjoy your sweet and cold milkshake.

There are lots of fads and trends surrounding milkshakes. Using a variety of non-dairy milk and frozen yogurt instead of ice cream is pretty popular. Some people use coffee ice cream for a mild morning pick-me-up.

Many milkshake-stands also offer unique versions of the beverage that include things like cake and cookies blended in as well. You can even get pumpkin spice milkshakes and boba shakes with tapioca!

Different Malted Drinks and Shakes

Now that you’re all caught up on what each beverage is, let’s look at the different malted drinks and milkshakes you can find today.

Malted Shakes:

The simplest and most basic malted drink you can make is by dissolving the malted milk powder in some water or dairy of your choice. If you want to get experimental, you can add a little to your chai or coffee for a nuttier flavor.

Malted milkshakes, as the name might suggest, are the same thing as a basic milkshake but with the addition of the malted powder. After adding the milk, fruit, and syrups of your choice, add a few spoons of malted milk powder and ice cream into the blender. Blend until smooth and thick.

This will give you a classic malted shake, one that could be found in soda fountains and ice cream parlors in the past. However, they are still available in many breakfast spots and diners.

Another popular form of malted shake are malted floats. These are made by making a basic malted shake, then pouring them over a couple of scoops of ice cream in a tall glass. For some extra malted goodness, top with a couple of Maltesers!

You can also make a malted smoothie by adding a few tablespoons of powder before blending your everyday smoothies. Besides thickening the smoothie, the malt powder also acts as a natural sweetener.


Milkshakes generally have a tried and tested formula that isn’t changed. Flavors are most commonly switched up, as you can see with Braums shake flavors.

But ingredients are tweaked all the time as well; you can get milkshakes with Greek yogurt or coconut cream instead of traditional dairy.

Some recipes blend things like chocolate bars, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, and pretzels into the shake and garnish with them as well. Others top their shakes with a meringue of marshmallow fluff and use a blow torch to scorch the surface.

You can also add a splash of fresh brewed coffee and top with chocolate-covered coffee beans for a grownup morning milkshake. There are even recipes that add liqueur for a boozy milkshake!

Milkshake vs Malt

malt vs shake

Let’s check out how these two kinds of drinks differ and which one is better:

Taste and Texture:

As regular milkshakes are sweet and creamy, it is obvious that malted shakes won’t taste all that much different. However, malted milkshakes have that special ‘malty’ flavor that is rich and nutty. The malt powder also acts as a thickener, which makes them much thicker and sweeter than milkshakes.

Nutrient Profile:

The malted powder contains vitamins D, B2, and B6, as well as minerals like selenium and potassium. This makes malted shakes a little bit healthier than regular milkshakes. Moreover, they are also easier to digest which makes malted drinks a better option for children, seniors, and those who are sick.

There is often the question about which drink is better for you. While malted milkshakes are a tiny bit better in terms of nutrients and digestibility, both drinks have plenty of sugar, fat, and empty calories. It is better to consume them once in a while instead of too frequently.

Although they taste and feel a little different, the only difference between the two is that a malted has malted milk powder added, while regular milkshakes do not. In other words, a malted shake is a kind of milkshake with malted milk powder included.

Where You Can Find Milkshakes and Malted Shakes

In the past, it seemed like you could get milkshakes and malted drinks in any greasy spoon diner, soda fountain, or ice cream parlor. If you’re from a small town or passing one by during traveling, you might still find them.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good malted shake anywhere else. Places like Dairy Queen, Burger King, and other chain stores all offer milkshakes. You can also find them in almost any burger shop as the burger and shake combo is timeless and classic.

Ice cream shops and places that sell pancakes or waffles are also likely to have malted drinks and milkshakes. And if all else fails, there are hundreds of recipes online that you can follow to make these beverages at home. 

These can be made to your preference, customized for your taste, made in smaller portions, and with much fewer sweeteners than the stuff from the store.

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 classic vanilla malted shake is made by blending equal amounts of milk and vanilla ice cream with 4-5 spoons of malt powder. You can add things or change the ice cream to customize your drink.

02. Are Drinking Malts Better Than Shakes?

While malted drinks are better than milkshakes because they have more vitamins and minerals, they both have similar amounts of sugar and fat.

03. What Do Malted Shakes Taste Like?

Malted shakes taste like the flavor of the ice cream, syrups, sauces, and fruits you add, as well a nutty, sweeter note.

04. What are Malts at Whataburger?

This is a classic malted milkshake made with ice cream, milk, and malted milk powder.

05. Is Malted Milk Good for Me?

Malted milk contains a lot of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The malted powder also makes it easier to digest. These features make it a healthy drink, as long as you aren’t adding fats or sweeteners to your malted milk.

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!

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