Review: McDonald’s Shamrock Shake


It’s time for St. Patrick’s Day, and with that comes a traditional limited-time drink from McDonald’s, the Shamrock Shake.

McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

The Shamrock Shake was brought to market by McDonald’s in the 1980s. It essentially is a vanilla shake with some mint flavoring brought out around St. Patrick’s Day. For a while it was sold alongside a ice cream sundae with mint-flavored topping as well. It was a big deal back then; not so much today.

McDonald’s went out of their way to advertise the shake, including using the McDonaldland characters. In one commercial, Ronald McDonald and Grimace meet Uncle O’Grimacey, an “Irish” character whose entire purpose was to promote the coming of Shamrock Shakes:

More adult-oriented advertising was also used to promote the St. Patrick’s Day favorite:

Source: YouTube

Over time, it’s been rumored that the formula for the Shamrock Shake changed, with Internet opinion hinting that the flavor now is worse than the original. I never had the chance to try an original version, so I cannot personally confirm if that’s the case.

McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

Today, Shamrock Shakes are harder to find. They are no longer widely promoted by the Golden Arches, and their distribution does not seem to be universal. Fortunately, I was able to find one at a nearby McDonald’s location… so I ordered the small (12 oz.) version.

The color of the shake is white with a hint of green. Unless you take the time to mix the green “mint” syrup into the vanilla shake, it remains primarily white. As for the flavor, it starts out mintish, more along the lines of a mouthwash like Scope. It’s tolerable and hints that “yes, this shake is supposed to be mint.” However, the aftertaste is where things go bad, evidencing the syrup/powder flavoring used in the mix. It’s just not very good at this point. Overall, the mint experience is weak, and combined with the poor aftertaste, the Shamrock Shake is really something that should not be partaken beyond the first few sips.

As for what’s actually in this thing, the official nutritional information from McDonald’s website itemizes the following:

Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream
Milk, sugar, cream, nonfat milk solids, corn syrup solids, mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, dextrose, sodium citrate, artificial vanilla flavor, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, disodium phosphate, cellulose gum, vitamin A palmitate.

Shamrock Shake Syrup
High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, sugar, natural flavor (plant source), xanthan gum, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), yellow 5, blue 1.

The 12 oz. drink that I had contains 420 calories (yikes!), including 6 g of saturated fat, 40 mg of cholesterol, 125 mg of sodium, and 72 g of carbs.

Overall, I’m not impressed with the current Shamrock Shake experience. Maybe it was great back during its early years, but no so much today!