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Of all the fast-food chains ... who makes the best ice cream shakes?

My gold star goes to Carl's Jr.

I crave their Vanilla Shake even when it's a chilly 45 degrees outside, but lately I've warmed up to their mint chip.

Be warned, however, the strawberry is sort, um, how do I put this, ahem, um ... the strawberry is disgusting.

Do you have a favorite?

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    1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

      Coco's, Bob's Big Boy...While chain (sit down...order...wait for food...dine in) restaurants, I don't think these are considered as 'fast food chains'.

        1. Dairy Queen brazier or Steak and Shake.

              1. re: theflytyr

                Chalk up another Steak and Shake. My son was a "shake guy" for them and they definitely use real ice cream.

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                Cheeburger for sure - and they make malteds, which nobody else seems to do, and which I prefer.

                1. re: sivyaleah

                  You can get malts at steak & shake. I do every time.

                  1. re: revsharkie

                    I live in the Northeast, there are none of them in this area, or NJ or NY anyway. I've never even heard of it.

                    1. re: sivyaleah

                      try Friendly's Fribble with whipped cream.

                      1. re: othervoice

                        I miss friendly's! they are the best.

                    2. re: revsharkie

                      Steak & Shake is a Midwestern thing -- none at all on the East Coast.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        that's unfortunate. (The nearest one to us here is about five hours away. We only get there a couple or three times a year.)

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            I live in Miami and we have Steak & Shake. They also have them in Tampa.
                            Love their white chocolate shake (seasonal).

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Actually - I was in Florida in March & they're there; however, I didn't feature it....

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                Not exactly true...we live on the East Coast of Central Florida & have one here.

                                Agree that they make the best chain shake. My favorite is the Dark Chocolate.

                          2. re: Janet from Richmond

                            Technically, Chick-Fil-A shakes aren't ice cream shakes. From their web site (and yes, it's iceDream, not ice cream):

                            Icedream (whole milk, sugar, nonfat dry milk, cream, corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors [artificial compounds, vanilla flavoring], dried whole eggs, cornstarch, mono and diglycerides [from soybean oil], disodium phosphate, cellulose gum, carrageenan, sodium phosphate, guar gum, sodium citrate, annatto and caramel colors, artificial color [Yellow 5 & 6]), milkshake base (whole milk, sugar, cream, whey powder (milk), nonfat dry milk, artificial flavor, disodium phosphate, mono and diglycerides [from soybean oil], tetrasodium pyrophosphate, guar gum, cellulose gum, carrageenan),

                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                              I will second Cheeburger Cheeburger simply because you can request any kind of shake under the sun. I've had a chocolate cherry cheesecake shake that was amazing.

                            2. Those Carl's Jr. "Hand-Scooped" things? They scoop them and put them in cups, then leave the cups, uncovered, in the freezer. It can be a couple of days before they'll get used. Just so you know.

                              1. I used to absolutely love the chocolate shakes from Rax Roast Beef but they long ago closed in this area. Do they still exist at all?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Velma

                                  I used to like Rax too there closed here in Washington too.

                                  1. re: billjriv

                                    Missouri too. Haven't thought about them in a while. Now I'll be sad all day. :P

                                  2. re: Velma

                                    I loved the Rax jamoca shake. They are gone from Florida I believe. Arby's has a good jamocha as well. But Steak and Shake is my favorite.

                                  3. The Jamocha shake at Arbys is delicious.

                                    1. From my childhood, McD's special Shamrock shake (mint) that they would only have during the month of March. I don't think they do it anymore, but boy did I love those things growing up.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Jacey

                                        Yum! Shamrock Shakes were my favorite! I wonder if they did retire them...

                                        1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                          Not as of last year. I think they brought them back out of demand.

                                          The shamrock shake is the only shake I like at McDonald's. Their shakes otherwise seem too gluey to me.

                                          Out of the big boys, I like Jack in the Box best with Burger King next.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Thanks, orange - good to know. They don't really have anything posted that advertises the Shamrock Shake - I'll remember to ask for it in March now that I know they didn't put it in the "flavor graveyard!"

                                        2. re: Jacey

                                          Ask them to mix half shamrock w/half chocolate. It's like drinking a Grasshopper cookie. Mm.

                                          1. re: nicoleberry83

                                            Now THAT sounds like a shake!! Thanks, nicoleberry - I gotta try it!

                                        3. Vanilla shake at Whataburger. Thick and creamy

                                          1. Is In'n Out an Ice Cream shake?

                                            Love their chocolate....

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jbyoga

                                              Had one yesterday, I'd have to agree.

                                            2. The now defunct gelateria i worked at in grad school. but I guess that doesn't count.

                                              Braum's. I don't know how popular they are outside of texas, but they make great ice cream, then mix whatever flavor you want into a shake. Malted available. Plus they have the best available dairy in a mini-store. No one ever believes their skim is actually skim.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: amkirkland

                                                Braum's home base is in Oklahoma, maybe Tulsa. They're awful good. Haven't made it to Iowa yet. My folks buy all their milk & eggs there.

                                                1. re: revsharkie

                                                  I miss them from my years in Texas and they have made it to Southern Missouri so they just need to come two hundred miles north!

                                                  1. re: revsharkie

                                                    They are actually based in Oklahoma City, and, yes, they do make the best shakes. They make the best a lot of things. Too bad there aren't more of them around. Braum's is one of those places I visit any time I go back home to Oklahoma.

                                                2. I'd second Bob's Big Boy, but I've never seen one outside of SoCal (there were a couple in the SF bay area, but they closed). In-n-Out has pretty good shakes, but sadly remains tethered to CA. It's not *quite* fast food, but here in FL I'd recommend Steak & Shake.

                                                  1. Chick-Fil-A recently started doing shakes...I LOVE the oreo:)

                                                    1. I like steak and shake.

                                                      1. Steak and Shake, and Sonic. Sonic's Cream Pie shakes were a pregnancy staple for me. :-P

                                                        1. I'm witht he burgerville they have a pumkin shake that will nock your socks off even in the winter.

                                                          1. Hands down (and I'm shocked no one has mentioned this yet): Jack in the Box Oreo Cookie shake. OMG...AMAZING!!! I'm not even a huge shake fan and this just blows me away. Thick, creamy and just the right ratio of ice cream to cookie.

                                                            As a side note, I was really excited to try Carl Jr.'s "hand scooped shakes." What a disappointment. So watery and icey tasting.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Newkie

                                                              This is in the Jack in the Box shake mix:
                                                              Ice Cream Milk, Cream, Sucrose, Skim Milk, Corn Syrup, Whey, Stabilizer (Sodium Caseinate, Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Disodium Phosphate, Soy Protein Concentrate, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Sodium Citrate, Polysorbate 65, Dextrose), Natural and Artificial Vanilla, Annatto Extract (color). Contains Milk, Soy

                                                              1. re: Loren3

                                                                Chick-fil-A all the way. Loren, you should change your handle to Debbie Downer.

                                                                1. re: Loren3

                                                                  I don't care what is in them - Jack In The Box has the best shakes. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but when my DH gets one from there I practically wrestle him for it.

                                                              2. Mel's, partly because it's hard to find a blackberry shake anywhere, and they make a good one.

                                                                1. burgerville. right now its chocolate hazlenut. most of the shakes are seasonal, made from local ingredients. very very very very good:) IMPO

                                                                  1. Shamrock shake, Every march.

                                                                    1. While this is not a "fast food" chain, it is a chain of ice cream stores ... Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt (www.handelsicecream.com).

                                                                      Handel's was named in the top 10 best ice creams in the world in a book from National Geographic that ranked a wide range of things. I concur.

                                                                      Everything they do with their ice cream, including their shakes, is incredible.

                                                                      - - -

                                                                      Your Basic Food Groupie

                                                                      1. I'm a malt gal mostly (extra malt, please) and when possible, I like butterscotch malts (extra malt, please) but I do drink other kinds of malts from time to time and even shakes.

                                                                        My latest favorite is Culver's. Yum!
                                                                        Based in WI with shops in WI, MI, ND, SD, MN, IL, IA, MO, TX, CO, NE, WY, KY, TN, OH, KS

                                                                        Also like:

                                                                        Steak 'n Shake
                                                                        Based in Indianapolis with shops in IN, OH, PA, MI, KY, TN, NC, SC, AL, GA, FL, MS, AR, OK, TX, KS, MO, IL, IA

                                                                        Sonic (but not all Sonics are equal, not by any means!)
                                                                        I like their malts/shakes less than Culver's and Steak 'n Shake but given my choice, I'd much rather have Sonic's fruit smoothies than their malts or shakes.
                                                                        Based in Oklahoma City with shops pretty much across the USA

                                                                        Arctic Circle
                                                                        I never miss one when traveling to Idaho every year or so. Fabulous seasonal concoctions including amazing egg nog and pumpkin versions.
                                                                        Based in UT with shops in UT, ID, WY, MT, NE, OR, WA, CA

                                                                        Here in Kansas City, I used to love malts and shakes from the mini-chain Winstead's but they've not been good now for probably a dozen years or so. Just rank was "quite ordinary or below" since then.

                                                                        I'd love to find a great source for blackberry shakes/malts in my area or where I travel! Had a few way back when and loved 'em.


                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: KCJ

                                                                          "Arctic Circle
                                                                          I never miss one when traveling to Idaho every year or so. Fabulous seasonal concoctions including amazing egg nog and pumpkin versions.
                                                                          Based in UT with shops in UT, ID, WY, MT, NE, OR, WA, CA"

                                                                          i love their fry sauce they're only in rural areas/small towns. When i visit my bf's family in "smalltown", OR i always stop by the artic circle and pick up a jar of the fry sauce.

                                                                          1. re: amopdx

                                                                            Yes, I like Arctic Circle's Fry Sauce, too, but I find Fry Sauce to be pretty common all over Idaho. Don't know about other states in that region.

                                                                            For those who don't know, Fry Sauce is basically a mayo and ketchup blend for dipping -- what else? -- your french fries! Very tasty and addicting, too. :)

                                                                          2. re: KCJ

                                                                            "Sonic (but not all Sonics are equal, not by any means!)
                                                                            I like their malts/shakes less than Culver's and Steak 'n Shake but given my choice, I'd much rather have Sonic's fruit smoothies than their malts or shakes.
                                                                            Based in Oklahoma City with shops pretty much across the USA"

                                                                            The northeast needs Sonic! They torture us with their commercials, but the closest one to NYC is about 70 miles, and there are none further north than the Jersey shore. *crying*

                                                                          3. Not sure if this qualifies as 'fast food' because you do sit down and food is brought to you, but I love the shakes at Red Robin!

                                                                            1. Interesting OP. The question pre-suppopses that all of you have tried the shakes in a respectable number or sample of fast food chains.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                Perhaps the title is a bit misleading, but I really did not intend the original post to presume (or require) sometime to have tried ALL shakes, or even a representative sample of such things.

                                                                                Just sort of curious of the places that people have tried, which ones they like best ...

                                                                                Although if someone has tried the shakes at ALL fast-food joints, do please speak up! :-)

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  I'm kinda partial to Fuddrucker's right now.

                                                                              2. Jack in the Box!!!
                                                                                their seasonal shakes- pumpkin pie esp are great- thick and creamy!!!

                                                                                isn't anyone else answering from the WEST coast?

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: msmd310

                                                                                  I was just in San Diego for the first time and loved the blackberry shake at Jack in the Box! They were great, I wished I had the time to try the Oreo one. I loved IN N OUT Burger but thought their shakes were too thick!

                                                                                  1. re: callitasicit

                                                                                    the Blackberry shakes at JITB are the best! I'm sure they're going to go away soon an be replaced by the pumpkin and then the egg nog(also delish!) as they were originally advertised as a seasonal flavor when they first came out at the beginning of summer. I don't indulge in these often and can't finish a whole one but darn...are they are a tasty treat!

                                                                                2. That's easy - nothing beats a lickshake at Lick's!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: spades

                                                                                    Licks in my opinion is average at best.

                                                                                  2. Not exactly fast food (more like a '50s diner), but the milkshakes at the Johnny Rocket's chain here in Los Angeles are truly outstanding. Seriously, I don't think I've had a better shake in town.

                                                                                    1. Culver's in the midwest - they use Frozen Custard - it is to die for -

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: weinstein5

                                                                                        I second Culver's. Delicious. Sorry I can't say the same for the rest of their food...

                                                                                      2. there is a chain here in NC called cookout that makes the best shakes. love there caramel cheesecake milkshake. pretty much every single one i tried has always been great.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: vttp926

                                                                                          I was just thinking about a cookout milkshake! The line is always insane, cars backed up everywhere in line for a burger and shake. So good, so many flavors! In the summer, July-August I think it is, they have a watermelon milkshake that is awesome. It doesn't get too watery, which I was worried about, and it has real watermelon pieces in it! Worth trying if you are in North Carolina and a shake lover!

                                                                                          1. re: B_Moody

                                                                                            There is now a Cookout in RIchmond, VA and the shakes are fabulous.

                                                                                          1. I'm with ipsedixit when it comes to the shakes at Carl's.

                                                                                            My fave is the orange creamsicle job, though mint chip is quite fine.

                                                                                            I never have strawberry shakes, and hardly do strawberry anything, so no disgust factor for me.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                                                              Burgerville, within 70 mile radius of Portland:
                                                                                              Seasonal shakes - blackberry, hazelnut, strawberry, pumpkin - all locally sourced, as are many of their other items!

                                                                                            2. Just a mention of two other possiblities, which are decent enough.

                                                                                              Wendy's for their Chocolate Frosty, which may or may not be considered to technically be an ice cream shake, but is subjectively tasty.

                                                                                              El Pollo Loco/Foster's Freeze for their shakes and malts.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                                My favorite chain "shake" (though like you, I'm not sure it counts!) is Wendy's frosty too.

                                                                                                1. re: ForFoodsSake

                                                                                                  Yeah, I like the chocolate frosty too. Don't like the vanilla.

                                                                                                  Wendy's is now doing shakes. The summer berry shake was very good. The fall caramel was ok, but a bit too sweet for me.

                                                                                                  Currently Sonic is making a really, really good pumpkin shake. It is super thick. The whipped cream is thick. A nice addition is a sprinkling of pumpkin crust crumbs on top of the whipped cream.

                                                                                              2. I'm a little surprised by this, but my favorite is McDonald's. I love the chocolate, and DH loves the eggnog one in December. Chick-fil-a and Steak & Shake are bland by comparison, even the mint choc at CFA is bland to me. Second favorite is Arby's mocha shake.

                                                                                                  1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                                    Okay the only LIc's I have ever seen is i Vincennes, IN...where did you find one?

                                                                                                    1. re: pickychicky1979

                                                                                                      There are 3 in Evansville, IN where I grew up.

                                                                                                      1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                                        Oh yea, and at least one in Newburgh, IN.

                                                                                                  2. Hmmm, old thread but I'll add Johnny Rocket's, with the vanilla malt being my favorite.

                                                                                                      1. I really like Wendy's Chocolate Frostys (and now I like their Frosty Floats!)

                                                                                                        But Dairy Queen also makes a great Oreo Blizzard...

                                                                                                        1. Steak and Shake! And if you are not in the mood for a big one ask for a kid's size. Perfect! I love the Mocha!

                                                                                                          1. Johnny Rockets. They seem sort of fast food chainy to me. Great shakes.

                                                                                                            1. It's frozen custard, but Culvers is easily the best of the best,love the butterscotch, and the eggnog ...or was it the pumpkin pie, during the holidays...good stuff!, Steak n Shake makes a good shake,as does Sonic,and Dairy Queen,Braum's is a cut above most,and although it is an ice cream shop, the hot fudge shake at Bruster's is obscenely good....and i wonder how i got fat...LOL!

                                                                                                              1. Jack in the Box- Blackberry!, Oreo!, Pumpkin!, Mint!- thick, thick, and delicious

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: natalie.warner

                                                                                                                  Don't get my thinking about. I live in Canada and it's so hard to find a good milkshake here. No Jack in the Box or Culvers!

                                                                                                                2. I like Checkers Choc. shake...with 2 apple pies to keep me honest....
                                                                                                                  BK's shakes aren't too bad.

                                                                                                                  1. I just had one of Steak and Shakes Fruit and Frozen Yogurt Milkshakes and can honestly say I have been craving them since.

                                                                                                                    1. Another vote for Steak and Shake here. Never had them on the East Coast, but tried them after moving to the Midwest (IA, then IN). I really crave them and have been in the drive-thru line getting one for dinner (they are filling!) while its been snowing bucketsful. I do, however, have a real soft spot in my heart for the Arby's Jamocha shake.

                                                                                                                      1. Hardee's has the best whipped cream on a milkshake - tastes like frosting!

                                                                                                                        1. Next time you're in Canada, try the chocolate shake (it's new) at Harvey's, which is a Canadian burger chain. It's to DIE for. Made with dark chocolate ice cream.... mmmm

                                                                                                                          Definitely missing the Shamrock shakes as well!

                                                                                                                          1. I happen to love Steak and Shake. They have a seasonal flavor...Vanilla w/ toffee crunch is outstanding, imho. I also like Chic-Fil-A. But at Steak and Shake I can order a kids size and it is the right amount. But at Chick-Fil-A they only size they have is huge. even if I try and no drink it all I do and then end up feeling sick.

                                                                                                                            1. Out here on the West Coast (So Cal to be exact) I happen to think that Arby's makes the best shakes. They're usually limited offer ('speciality flavors) deals though.

                                                                                                                              1. fast food

                                                                                                                                In N Out, Carl's Jr and Sonic would be my choices.

                                                                                                                                1. Culvers. Damn it's good to live in Wisconsin.

                                                                                                                                  1. Fatburger's Maui Banana Shake is the only one on my list.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                                                                        Not really fast food, but yeah their shakes are great.

                                                                                                                                      2. Shake Shack makes the best shakes that I have had. Had a Black & White malted the other day and I am still thinking about it.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: CDouglas

                                                                                                                                          I had a caramel one not too long ago and I'm still dreaming about it. Somehow Sonic's pumpkin pie shake isn't scratching the itch!