Difference between Shake and Malt

By: | Updated: May-28, 2019
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If you’re after a sweet, creamy, and refreshing drink, we bet milkshakes and malted milkshakes would be among your top choices. These delicious ice-cream based beverages will surely satisfy your sweet tooth. These two are often prepared and presented the same way, so how do you tell them apart? Continue reading this article so you’ll understand what differentiates a shake (or milkshake) from a malt (or malted milkshake).

Summary Table

Shake Malt
Composed of ice cream or frozen yogurt, milk, and other flavorings Composed of ice cream, milk, other flavorings, and malted milk powder
Has a sweet taste Sweet and nutty, with a slightly sour taste
Usually available at modern creameries and restaurants More commonly found at diners and soda fountains


A shake

A shake or milkshake is a cold dessert drink that is made up of milk, ice cream or frozen yogurt, and other sweeteners or sugary flavorings. Given the ingredients, it is definitely a sweet beverage. Milkshakes are commonly available at modern creameries and restaurants.


A malt or malted milkshake is a refreshing dessert beverage that is made up of milk, ice cream, sugary flavorings, and malted milk powder. Malted milkshakes usually have a sweet, nutty, and slightly sour taste. Since a malt or malted milkshake is an old-timey beverage, you will often find it in diners or soda fountains.

Shake vs Malt

The main difference between a shake and a malt is a single ingredient: malted milk powder. Both a shake and a malt are made up of milk, ice cream, and sugary flavorings. However, only a malt has malted milk powder. Shakes are sweet dessert beverages that you can order at modern creameries or restaurants. Malts are also sweet drinks but they have a nutty and slightly sour taste. This type of drink is usually available at diners and soda fountains.

The sweeteners commonly used for shakes are caramel sauce, butterscotch, chocolate syrup, or fruit syrup. These flavorings, together with the base ingredients, are blended together in a milkshake machine to achieve a creamy consistency. The drink is then topped with whipped cream and other sweet toppings. The milkshake’s original recipe, though, was intended to be more of a cocktail drink than a dessert. During the 19th century, the recipe included whiskey, milk, and eggs!

Malted milkshakes are made with malted milk powder, which is made from malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk. The malted milk powder is combined with ice cream, milk, and other flavorings to give the drink it’s sweet and slightly savory taste. Typically, malted milk powder doesn’t pair well with fruity ice cream flavors or syrups. Malted milk powder was invented by William Horlick in 1897. It was initially intended to be a health drink for children and infants.

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