Healthy Shamrock Shake

This Shamrock shake copycat recipe is a healthy, all real ingredient version of McDonald’s shamrock shake you can feel much better about drinking!

*This post was originally published 3/6/2012. It’s been updated with new photography and a video on how to make this healthier copycat version of McDonald’s famous shamrock shake. Some text is original.

This Shamrock shake copycat recipe is a healthy, all real ingredient version of McDonald's shamrock shake you can feel much better about drinking!

Sunday afternoon Ulysses, Ginger and I went for a run on the bike trail near our house.

As we were walking onto the trail from the parking lot, a family of 4 was coming off the trail headed to their car when all of a sudden the little kid on his scooter screams “AND I CAN GET AN EGG MCMUFFIN TOO?!”

Ulysses and I just turned to each other and burst out laughing.

There’s a McDonald’s not even a quarter mile from the bike trail parking lot (irony at it’s best) so I guess that family’s Sunday afternoon plans involved some exercise and then erasing any and all strides they had made with that effort at the good ole golden arches with everyone’s favorite March treat, the Shamrock Shake.

People rave about these disturbingly fake green shake concoctions every year around St. Patrick’s Day and after trying one out of pure curiosity, I honestly can’t say I understand the hype.

A copycat shamrock shake with healthy ingredients for a real food treat you can enjoy this St. Patrick's Day.

A shamrock shake basically just tastes like a vanilla milkshake with some fake mint thrown in.

I truly think its seasonality (aka: short availability during the year) is the main reason for the cult like following this green drink has. It’s really nothing crazy special in my opinion.

But, it’s definitely not the first time I’ve gone against the crowd when it comes to food choices.

So, I decided to play around at home and try and recreate this green wonder.

Except of course, in a healthier, more “real-food” kind of way.

The result is what I’m calling a healthy shamrock shake. You could easily called it a shamrock smoothie too. To be fair, it’s more smoothie than shake but hey, semantics.

Let’s break this shamrock shake thing down, shall we?

This healthier version of the famous McDonald's shamrock shake is a delicious, low-calorie option this season.

When Is The Shamrock Shake Available?

I’m pretty sure McDonald’s likes to keep this a secret to preserve the hype but if using years past is any indication of the future, the shamrock shake usually becomes available mid-late February and runs through St. Patrick’s Day.

And believe me, 3-4 weeks of this thing is plenty.


Well, let’s go over the ingredients McDonald’s uses in their version.

Enjoy all the taste of the shamrock shake without the guilt in this healthy shamrock shake recipe.

What’s In McDonald’s Shamrock Shake?

According to McDonald’s, there are 4 main ingredients in the holiday shake:

  • vanilla soft serve ice cream (not gonna lie, I love McDonald’s vanilla cones)
  • “Shamrock shake syrup” (aka: a bunch of artificial dyes and flavors we’ll never know)
  • whipped cream
  • a maraschino cherry

I don’t know about you, but the vague “shamrock shake syrup” disturbs me a little. As does most food at McDonalds though I guess.

ps- a “large” shake will run you over 800 calories. Ouch.

I will say this though, the origin of the shamrock shake is pretty cool.

Apparently a franchise owner in the 70s came up with the recipe as a festive way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It was originally called the “St. Patrick’s Day Shake” before being renamed to its catchier current title.

From what I understand, proceeds (or part of them) from the sale of shamrock shakes used to go to the Ronald McDonald Foundation as well (not sure they do any longer).

Healthier ingredients make this version of the shamrock shake one you can enjoy all season long without the guilt!

What’s In This Healthy Shamrock Shake?

So in a quest to mimic whatever the shamrock shake syrup does to turn a vanilla ice cream base into a pale green concoction that looks like a leprechaun died in the cup only this time with ingredients we can all understand and no food dyes (food dyes are such a pet peeve of mine – don’t even get me started on “red velvet” baked goods), I came up with an ingredient list like this:

  • Greek yogurt
  • banana
  • vanilla
  • baby spinach
  • fresh mint
  • milk
  • ice

And then some optional ones like:

  • additional sweetener
  • xanthan gum
  • whipped cream
  • cacao nibs or chocolate chips

The result is a sweet minty shake that borders on the line of smoothie.

Although, if you wanted it to be more shake like and turn this into more of a treat/dessert, replacing the Greek yogurt with vanilla ice cream would be perfect. Or even, matcha mint chocolate chunk ice cream! Don’t miss this Baileys ice cream either, it’s the perfect boozy way to celebrate St. Patrick’s day if shakes aren’t your thing.

I used to eat maraschino cherries by the handful when I worked in a restaurant in high school and college but these days, they’re just not something I keep in the house. By all means though, throw one on top for the full shamrock shake effect if you like.

So if you’re someone who loves the tradition of this green shake around St. Patrick’s Day but maybe you’re looking to keep the calories in check, I encourage you to give this healthier shamrock shake a try.

I think it does a great job of capturing that creamy vanilla milkshake like texture with the minty fresh taste of the original just in a way you can feel good about drinking while saving yourself some calories and the annoyance of the drive through line!

A healthy copycat version of McDonald's shamrock shake recipe.

Looking for more green drink ideas like this healthy shamrock shake recipe?

Try this Detox Green Smoothie, this Cold Buster Smoothie or this Roasted Apricot Green Smoothie too!

Or, try this Maple Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie Milkshake for a deliciously indulgent treat!

And if you want more green food recipes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without all the fake ingredients, try green oatmeal!

Healthy Shamrock Shake

Healthy Shamrock Shake

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This Shamrock shake copycat recipe is a healthy, all real ingredient version of McDonald's shamrock shake you can feel much better about drinking!


  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 frozen medium banana
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (vanilla flavor will work too)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 4 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk (any kind or non-dairy alternative)

Optional additions

  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (helps thicken the shake)
  • additional sweetener of choice (maple syrup, honey, sugar, stevia, monk fruit)
  • whipped cream for topping
  • cacao nibs/chocolate chips for topping


  1. Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender in the order listed, including xanthan gum if using.
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. Pour into glass and top with whipped cream and/or cacao nibs/chocolate chips if desired.


If you want it more of a shake consistency/taste, substitute vanilla ice cream for the Greek yogurt.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 349mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 8gSugar: 13gProtein: 25g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.


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  1. Kat

    I am weak around Big Macs. As much as I understand the wrongs that is fast food,when there is a Big Mac at stake, there is very little I can do to say no. Hence I avoid McD’s in general. Unless it’s Monopoly time. Then all bets are off.

  2. Amanda

    I had never even heard of a shamrock shake until this year, perhaps because I stay far, far away from McDonald’s. I haven’t clicked over to the list of ingredients you mention, but I’m sure they’re scary. Your version sounds really good, and I love that you used fresh mint leaves!

  3. Kerry @ Totes My Oats

    That sounds amazing! I can’t even tell you the last time I even stepped inside a McDonald’s but I totally agree about Chick-Fil-A… that is one fast food I will eat from time to time!

  4. katie @KatieDid

    I added parsley to a smoothie and someone (you?) suggested mint- brilliant idea, I bet it was so refreshing to drink! Honestly can’t remember the last time I ate at a fast food place either, and hope I never have to resort to it again!

  5. kari @ Running Ricig

    I can’t remember the last time I had fast food either. It makes me cringe when people get it for lunch at work. I can’t say the shamrock shake holds much appeal for me at all. I’m not a fan of cold foods when it’s cold out.

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      haha no, just made the changes yesterday. My friend/coworker did the header for me, I made all the other tweaks myself just playing around in thesis.

  6. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh

    I’m gonna show this to the Mr and see if he’s up for them since he likes an annual Shamrock Shake. I love how the calories in a McD’s SMALL is 540 calories but the footnote is they use low fat ice cream. Oh well, thank goodness! ;-)

  7. Anna @ On Anna's Plate

    Haha…those Shamrock Shake commercials have been tempting me to go through the drive-through– and I’ve never even had one! I don’t know why they sound so good to me all of a sudden…I guess I’ll blame the pregnancy :-) I should make your smoothie instead– much healthier!

  8. Aparna B. @ Not A Leaf

    Oh no you di’in’t! UNREAL. I need to make this asap. I have been craving Shamrock shakes (I do every year despite knowing how awful they are for me) but I gave up sweets! So this sounds like the perfect, healthier alternative!

  9. Margarita

    I understand how you tried hard not to judge… Right before entering the parking lot to my gym is a McDonald’s and it amazes me how many cars are in the drive through and the parking lot ALL the time. It’s really sad how society has relied so much on junk food. I sure hope none of my gym friends rush to get there after some serious workout! I love this drink and everything that’s in it!

  10. Cinnamon @ eatpraytri

    I tan easily and have a dog named Guinness. Does that qualify me to be Irish? Kinda sorta? HA! My husband loves these dumb shakes so now we can save money and he wont have to do a billion sit ups to work them off anymore which means he will have time to do the dishes! WINNING.

  11. Alexis @ Hummusapien

    I LOVE this post! I just read an article in our university’s student newspaper about how the shamrock shakes at our campus mcdonald’s are selling like ten times faster than any nearby mcdonalds!

    No thanks to me…I haven’t had McDonalds since I was like 10!

    What a wonderful “real food” smoothie! Perfect :)

  12. Deanna

    I can’t say I’ve ever had a shamrock shake. Even when I was little I hated McDonald’s. If I’m going to eat fast food its Chic fil A (for breakfast) or In N Out.

  13. Heidi @ Food Doodles

    Hah, I love this post! Of course your smoothie looks awesome and I cannot wait to try that when the mint plant in my garden goes crazy this summer. But I totally agree about McD’s. People are always saying how they crave it and I can’t help but cringe. Like, seriously?

  14. jessicaisbaking

    This looks amazing! I have always wondered what the flavor of a shamrock shake is. I mean, was it shamrock flavored? Whatever it is, yours looks like something I would actually drink and not have self-loathing immediately afterwards!

  15. Ashley

    I didn’t make the simple syrup – I was too impatient! I looked at all the ingredients, threw them in a blender (although I did combine the honey in some hot water first so it wouldn’t be clumpy) and drank it. Delicious! Will be repeating.

    BTW – it tastes nothing like a shamrock shake, this is way better! REAL, not fake. :)

  16. Pingback: St. Patty’s Day: Healthy Shamrock Shake | Our Sweet Somewhere

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