54 Ingredients in McDonald’s Shamrock Shake – Make Your Own Superfood Version

shamrock shake

By Heather Callaghan

It’s that time of year again to witness the ever growing Shamrock Shake phenomenon at McDonald’s – complete with ads for shakes that are 50 shades of alien-green.

It’s been said that you should never eat something with an ingredients list thicker than your pinky – the ingredients in McD’s annual Shamrock Shake read more like a contract with fine print.

And it is a contract. A contract that uses your body as collateral – collateral damage, that is.

The McCafe menu would have you believe that the Shamrock Shake is an innocent once-in-a-while wholesome treat with four basic ingredients – ice cream, minty syrup, whip cream and a cherry on top. Hey, you deserve a treat right? Actually, when you see the ingredients list – you may not feel that your enemies deserve to ingest this glowing sham.

Since the 1970s, over 60 million Shamrock shakes have been sold – now, all McD’s store chains bring them out. The start of this shake is actually the beginning of the Ronald McDonald House which helps families stay near their children who are getting treatment in the hospital. And that’s where the redeeming goodness ends.

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I have to admit, having warm, nostalgic childhood memories of getting a Shamrock with my Grandpa makes me yearn for a taste of the minty-cool shake when March rolls around. But I now know that it is an illusion and just one ace-in-the-hole McD’s has going for it – butting in on my childhood and making the inner-child cry out for one from time to time. That’s all right, because I’ve created one that is entirely guilt-free.

But first… What’s in a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

Here are the 54 ingredients via Huffington Post:

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, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, More Water, More Sugar, Natural Flavor (Plant Source), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Yellow 5, Blue 1— ARE YOU STILL WITH US? —More Cream, More Nonfat Milk, More Corn Syrup, More Sugar, More High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less Than 1%: Mono-And Diglycerides, More Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80, Beta Carotene (Color), Natural (Dairy and Plant Sources) and Artificial Flavor, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) to Protect Flavor, Whipping Propellant (Nitrous Oxide), Cherries, More Water, More Corn Syrup, More High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Natural (Plant Source) and Artificial Flavors, More Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Red 40, Sulfur Dioxide as Preservative (Contains Sulfites).


115 grams of sugar!

115 grams of sugar!

I repeat:

115 grams of sugar!

That’s nearly five times the daily threshold recommend by the World Health Organization (25g) in just one drink serving. How can the human body tolerate that kind of inflammation – not to mention the GMO-laced cow’s milk?

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The Natural Blaze shake, roughly the same serving size as a McD’s large, only has 19 grams of mainly natural occurring sugar – if you use the full amount of Maple syrup. Plus, it’s easy to digest and comes with easily-assimilated protein, fiber and healthy fat to counter balance the sugars. It’s a truly wholesome treat-slash-supplement.

A superfood version of the “Shamrock” shake

There are some healthy versions of the Shamrock out there but they are very, very green – meaning, they taste kale-y green versus minty green. This is a simple protein shake that has the same mint quality of McD’s but will fill you up, energize you and won’t drop you. I was going for consistency and taste, but not sugar or inflammation. Not to mention, this drink can easily convert to meet all dietary standards and restrictions.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups Cashew Milk (Silk Brand does not list carrageenan – hurray! This milk is especially creamy and sweet making it the perfect choice)
  • 1 TBS Minty Chlorophyll (I use Nature’s Sunshine – this will color the drink and provide some mint)
  • 1/4 tsp, plus a few drops Peppermint Extract
  • 2 drops Vanilla Extract
  • 1 serving of vanilla protein powder of choice (I use Standard Process which contains liver-helping whey – you may like pea protein which would make the entire drink VEGAN)
  • 1-2 tsps of Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of coconut oil
  • 7-10 ice cubes
  • Pinch of Chia seeds
  • Blender
  • Bonus ingredient: a sprig of fresh peppermint leaves


  1. Mix all ingredients (except for the ice) in a blender.
  2. Add ice, and use frappe setting on blender until blended.
  3. Enjoy the minty goodness!

You may like to freeze the cashew milk into cubes to protect the flavor.

There are all kinds of optional add-ins, but each one is going to alter the flavor. You might like to add freeze-dried greens for even more nutrition and color – I didn’t have any. I added turmeric at one point and loved it! I just wasn’t sure if it altered the appearance much. If you don’t care about the color, definitely add the turmeric. Frozen bananas (instead of Maple syrup) will make it creamier but will also add banana flavor and load it up with fructose. So will dates – it’s incredible how much sugar health foods have, but Maple lent itself to this shake very well.

Have you experimented with this? Sound off below and share your tips!

This article (54 Ingredients in McDonald’s Shamrock Shake – Make Your Own Superfood Version) can be republished under a Creative Commons license, with attribution to Heather Callaghan and Natural Blaze.com.

Heather Callaghan is an independent researcher, natural health blogger and food freedom activist. She is the editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze.com. Like at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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