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What is the difference between a shake and a malt?

I don't want to sound dumb but what is the difference between them. I know a malt uses "malted milk" whatever that is. But what does it do for the taste or consistency?

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  1. Not much for consistency but taste - from Wikipedia - Malted milk is malted barley, wheat flour and whole milk evaporated into a powder. The taste difference is hard to describe - I personally like it particularly Malted Vanilla Milkshakes -

    If you have ever had the candy Whoppers - they malted milk covered in chocolate -

    1 Reply
    1. re: weinstein5

      Grapenuts are also flavored with malt.

      Malt is a sugar made from sprouted grain, usually barley. Malt seems to have fallen out of favor as a flavoring in the USA, but, judging from offerings in 'ethnic' markets and aisles, still popular elsewhere (Asia, India, Latin America).


    2. A shake generally has milk in it. A malt does not.

      20 Replies
      1. re: bookwormchef

        As I understand it a malt - is a milkshake with malted milk powder added -

        1. re: weinstein5

          I think that you are correct. Also, a shake, although technically called a milk shake does not necessarily have milk in it, just ice cream.

          I love malt and use to buy carnation malt in a glass jar and add a couple of spoonfuls to my ice cold milk. Now I can't find it to buy. :(

          1. re: justagthing

            When I was a kid, and soda fountains were still common (early fifties), both had milk in them - one was simply a "Milk Shake" and the other, the one that was basically a milk shake with malt powder added, was a "Malted Milk Shake" ("malt" for short).

            1. re: Striver

              oic...so it was ice cream, milk, whatever flavor and malt or no malt...where those better?

              1. re: justagthing

                That was my experience (ie milk, ice cream - that was the flavor source mostly - and either malt or no malt). The one time I ordered a malted milk locally, they did it right and dumby me was incensed and unhappy. I rigidly stuck to milk shake after that.

                1. re: justagthing

                  Not a case of better, just different. BTW if no milk was used it wasn't a shake - it was a "soda" or a "float" where i was raised. Again, not better, just different. This thread has stirred dormant cravings - all different, all good.

                  1. re: DockPotato

                    Shouldn't a soda be made with soda water?

              2. re: justagthing

                I bought some Carnation Malt just last week from a regular grocery store...and had a glass for breakfast this morning. Granted the jar is plastic now, but it's malt for sure.

                1. re: ballulah

                  what part of the country is that and can you say which market? thanks

                  1. re: justagthing

                    I'm in NYC and it was just my local supermarket, actually it's the market in my area with the poorest selection of goods unless you're looking for Mexican ingredients. Bravo Supermarket (you don't find these in "better" neighborhoods! haha) on 181st and Broadway. I don't think it was a Latin import.

                    1. re: justagthing

                      If you are talking about Carnation Malted Milk mix, Von's would sell it. I'm guessing you are in the LA area from your profile posts. Here's a link to Safeway (aka Von's). It can be ordered online too if this is what you are looking for.

                      1. re: rworange

                        thanks, i'll go and check my local von's

                  2. re: justagthing

                    I'd been looking for malt for a long time, and finally gave up. But just last week I was shopping in Shop Rite in Wilmington, DE and found it on the shelf, right next to the chocolate syrup and Ovaltine.

                    1. re: justagthing

                      justaqthing- How was it made if it had no milk? What liquid was used to blend it?

                      I worked at a Baskin Robbins for awhile as a teen. In my area (NYC) a milk shake is milk and ice cream run through a mixer. Consistency is as thick as possible but still able to drink through a straw. A malt / malted is a milk shake with malt powder or syrup added. An ice cream soda is a scoop of ice cream in a tall glass that was then filled with soda, preferably root beer. And an egg cream is a little milk, some chocolate or vanilla syrup and then filled with seltzer.

                      1. re: JMF

                        funny, when i use to make them at home i just used ice cream that was a bit melted and then added my strawberries or whatever. but what i really like is root beer and vanilla to make a shake, not a float, so therefore, no milk...suppose I was making it wrong, but it sure tasted right :)

                        1. re: JMF

                          Ice cream in a glass with flavored soda pop is not a soda, but a float, the root beer ones also being called "Black Cows." An ice cream soda is ice cream in a glass, fruit or chocolate syrup added, carbonated soda water poured in, then finished off with the soda faucet pushed or pulled into the "squirt" position, where a very thin, high-speed jet creates a lot of creamy foam as a topping.

                          The possibilities of inventing fountain drinks are so many and varied that they won't necessarily all fit some existing name. My home favorite is to break a banana into a tall glass, add about a cup of milk and a heaping soup-spoon of Chocolate Malt Ovaltine and dump it into the blender. I'll add a scoop of ice cream if I'm feeling deeply self-indulgent...

                        2. re: justagthing

                          they sell it at kmart and giant eagle

                        3. re: weinstein5

                          My parents had a small restaurant (ie. greasy spoon) up until the mid 60's in Toronto...they always had 'malt powder' that you added to a regular milk shake(chocolate ice cream, milk and chocolate syrup (or vanilla syrup, vanilla ice cream & milk) The malt powder tasted sweet and if you held it on your tongue long enough it turned into a sweet and rich blob which you could then eat as a candy. The Malt Powder came in a rather large tin which was always kept on the shelf above the ice cream freezer along with the syrups and the tin (?) containers to make and serve the Shakes !

                          1. re: pearlD

                            ok, I would take a spoonful or two and put it in my milk and then take a spoonful to play with, dipping it in the milk, licking it off and then doing exactly what you said, taking a spoonful in my mouth. yummy!

                        4. re: bookwormchef

                          Bookwormchef, I spent several decades ordering malts at soda fountains where I sat at the counter watching the malt being made, and I guarantee you that through the 1930's, 1940's, 1940's, and 1960's when malts abounded, milk was used in the preparation along with ice cream, malted milk powder, and flavoring (like chocolate syrup). Also I have made them with milk at home for longer than that. Ice cream alone would make the mixture too thick to be processed in a malted milk mixer and it wouldn't go through a straw.

                        5. A malted is a milk shake that has malt powder or syrup added. They are sooo much better. there isn't much that beats a peach malted.

                          1. Horlicks works if you can get it in the USA

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: smartie

                              I just saw some Horlicks today at the local chinese supermarket. I hear its very popular in Hong Kong.

                              is ovaltine a malt based drink?

                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                if it is, it sure doesn't taste as good as good ol' malt

                                1. re: bitsubeats

                                  Yes, Ovaltine is chocolate malt. And if you buy the Asian branded Ovaltines in Asian markets, you will find a product that is much less sweet and "chocolatey," and way more malty than the American product.

                                  Horlicks, otoh, is even less sweet. I like it, but it's much more malty than Americans normally like

                              2. I think you'll find that milkshake terminology varies greatly from region to region. In New England, a milkshake or shake is ice cream and milk. In other parts of the country, a shake, or milkshake, has no ice cream. Even more specifically, if you ask for a frappe in the Boston area, you'll get milk and ice cream. In Rhode Island, the same is called a cabinet. Then, there's the Fribble or the Awful Awful.... =)

                                You can add "malted" to any of them.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: dukegirl

                                  In NYC, a "frappe" used to be another word for an ice cream sundae. We never asked for a milk shake at the corner candy store in Brooklyn -- we always asked for a malted.

                                  1. re: dukegirl

                                    My first job was at a dairy bar in Middleboro, Massachusetts (near Cape Cod). If you asked for a "milkshake" you got milk and flavored syrup, whipped up with the blender. You ordered a "frappe" if you wanted ice cream, milk, and flavored syrup. And we didn't serve malts at all.

                                    1. re: manraysky

                                      Yeah, I never remembered the malt option at all when I was a kid in Massachusetts, but I'm starting to see it a bit more often now.

                                    2. re: dukegirl

                                      I grew up a little north Boston and used to love getting vanilla frappes at Friendly's on a hot summer day. I used to suck up the milk with the straw and then pour as much of the ice cream and milk mixture into my mouth that I could stand without getting "head freeze". Even in Boston today when I order a frappe the young servers look at me like I'm a dinosaur. I thing Brighams had frappes also, not to be confused with the Friendly's fribble...

                                      1. re: BostonBarGuy

                                        Ah, was it Brighams who had the Awful Awful?

                                    3. At least here in the upper midwest and in Texas (the area I grew up in anyway) a milkshake is blended ice cream and milk.

                                      A malt is ice cream, milk and malt (malted milk).

                                      For my parents whom grew up on the east coast, a malted is just milk and malt.

                                      As for the flavor, a malt, tastes, well, malted. There really isn't anything I can imagine comparing the flavor to. Plus since I think everyone has eaten a malted milk ball, you'll know what I mean.

                                      Me, I'm a black cow malt fan myself.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Foureyes137

                                        I am from St Paul, MN and grew up with the term 'malt' meaning ice cream (any flavor) mixed with a little milk and carnation malt powder. I recently moved southwest of the cities and not one person I have asked knows what a malt is! I just think it's so funny that they've only had shakes!! My fiance now loves malts and it's all we ever make. Carnation malt powder is the best:)

                                      2. I am a huge malt fan -- and for me, it is a malted espresso shake; coffee ice cream, a shot of espresso, more malt than seems right, and a splash of milk (or half-and-half, when feeling especially decadent).

                                        1. We called them malteds growing up in non-Chicago northern Illinois, and we loved them. I always went for the chocolate malted and my big brother taught me to ask for loads extra malt. I haven't had one for years and years but I'm gonna have to seek one out now.

                                          1. I used to get Malted Milkshakes at the drug store soda fountain on the Boardwalk at Haddon Hall (now Resorts Casino) in Atlantic City in the '60s - it was the best, and it was Ice Cream, Milk and a lot of (probably Carnations) Malt.

                                            1. Does anybody else remember Frosted Malted? It came out of a machine the consistency of Soft-Serve but was chocolately and malty. I used to get it in Rochester NY 1942-1945 and have never found it or heard of it anywhere else. Wish I had some now.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                Used to get frosted malteds after a matinee in Lakewood, Ohio, late 1930's. Good tasting. However my most memorable concoctions were the thick ones I made for my father when I was a teenage soda jerk. You could hold the can upside down and it wouldn't pour out. The druggist charged extra, but I'm sure he lost money on each one. Malted milks ( midwestern style) were same as milkshakes: ice cream, syrup and (horlick's?) malt powder.

                                                1. re: DonShirer

                                                  Rochester NY in the 1940's had frosted malted--it was like soft-serve in consistency, icy cold, chocolate but not intensely so, and with a strong malt flavor. Have not seen it since but I think I will get out my ice cream machine and see if I can make it.

                                                  Don---see if your town has an Indian grocery store. They carry Horlick's Malted Milk (powder). Only place I can find it. For Chicagans, go to the grocery stores on Devon Avenue---Patel's is biggest but others carry it too.

                                                2. re: Querencia

                                                  I found your reference to "Frosted Malted" as I was searching for info on The Frosty Palace in Cedartown, Georgia.

                                                  As a child in WWII, one of my rare good memories was having a Frosted Malt as I knew it. It was served in a cone shaped glass with a long spoon. I loved that "bite" of the malt, and being a nut about anything mechanical, marveled at the big shiny machine that dispensed both vanilla and chocolate malt.

                                                  The Frosty Palace went out of business by 1950, and I've never found anything that matches that flavor.

                                                  I hope I can duplicate it one day, just for personal satisfaction. I intend check around some of the alternative food stores here in the North Atlanta burbs to see if they might have a good malt powder. I understand King Arthur Mills has a malt that might give that "bite" that Carnation or Ovaltine lacks.

                                                  BTW, after all these years, I still remember getting off the train from Brunswick, GA and driving my mom crazy until she took me to the Frosty Palace. The memory is so vivid, I can just see the high stamped metal ceiling and the red trim on the banquettes.

                                                3. When I was young, there was a pharmacy in Elgin, IL called Burns. They made the worlds best shakes & malts. After they closed, a delightful man by the name of Al purchased their super-secret recipe, & opened Al's Creamery. He passed away a number of years ago, but his place still lives on. If I recall correctly they always used Horlick's malt. The malt imparts a very different flavor compared to a regular milkshake. As a child my uncle always added raw egg to the mix. Not sure I would risk that today.
                                                  I will say, I just saw on the second link that apparently malt is used as a sleep aid.
                                                  Who Knew?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: louweezy

                                                    louweezy... when I was young I used to go to Burns for chocolate malts all the time. Hands down, they had the best malts! I've always tried to figure out what made them so special. I'll have to see if I can't find the Horlicks locally. Now I'm on a mission...

                                                    1. re: Little Lulu 1

                                                      Wow - childhood memories. Burns' in Elgin, Petersens in Oak Park, Webbs Pharmacy in Glen Ellyn. All three of them served excellent malts which in my childhood were ice cream, milk, chocolate syrup & a scoop of malt.

                                                  2. I still look for the malted ice cream cups at the ball game - the kind you eat with a flat wooden "spoon".

                                                    3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Zander

                                                        I remember having those at Candlestick Park, but thats my only memory of them.

                                                        1. re: jwbarth

                                                          Yeah, they were a fixture at both the 'Stick and the Coliseum growing up...

                                                      2. But as far as consistency, there sno difference? right

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: steakrules85

                                                          Well... if the malt isn't well blended, there can be little slightly gritty lumps in the malted (and shame on the soda jerk!). I've also found that malteds have a slightly richer texture, and have a sugary warmth that complements the smooth creaminess of icecream. Of course, that may just be auto suggestion from the sweeter flavor.

                                                          1. re: Booklegger451

                                                            My favorite was a strawberry malt. My older brother once worked in an ice cream shop and I liked thick and lumpy malts. It was a skilled malt maker who could get the malt blended in (without lumps or dry spots and still make a thick, lumpy malt. More work because thicker is hard to hang onto under the mixer and you have to make it in stages. It took just the right amount of milk, too so if they got it wrong they usually added more ice cream, which sometimes meant I got more for my money!

                                                          2. re: steakrules85

                                                            The only difference is the inclusion of malt or malted milk in a malted. It affects the taste but not texture.

                                                          3. I can’t speak for other regions, but growing up in the MIdwest a malt was the same as a shake, (ice cream, a little milk, and the flavoring syrup), with the addition of malt powder.

                                                            But what this thread got me thinking of is that when I was a kid, (I’m 49 now..), there seemed to be a general impression that putting in the malt powder made the whole thing “healthier” somehow. It was good for you, helped build bones or something... Kind of an old wives tale I guess, or maybe even a marketing ploy.

                                                            I still LOVE the taste and would always have a malt rather then a shake given a choice.

                                                            Uncle Ira

                                                            1. This all seemed so simple to me as a 60's kid/70's teenager:

                                                              Milk, ice cream, syrup - milkshake
                                                              Milk, ice cream, syrup, malt - malted milkshake
                                                              Ice cream, syrup, soda water - ice cream soda
                                                              Ice cream, soda pop (Coke, Root Beer, Dr. Pepper usually) - Float
                                                              (Note: floats could occasionally have syrup added, as in a "Cherry Coke float" - I don't think Coke started producing their flavoured cokes until the 80's)

                                                              But milk with syrup only? We called that "chocolate milk", or "strawberry milk", and as often as not, made it at home with Nestle Quik.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: KevinB

                                                                In RI, milk plus syrup (I'll take coffee) plus a blender = a milkshake.

                                                              2. When I was in the Navy I used to drink a lot of hot chocolate. I would stir in a spoon or two of malted milk powder. Very good on a cool evening aboard a submarine.

                                                                1. Interesting thread - what no one has addressed is this: Since malt is a sugar would it be correct to say that ounce for ounce a Vanilla Shake has less calories than a Vanilla Malt?

                                                                  1. The taste? Well, the malt elevates a mere mash of ice cream and syrup to something special. I used to order them at Ruby's, but I got tired of gritty malts. Blend it with a bit of milk first, to dissolve!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: RosePearl

                                                                      Funny, I always liked to run into crunchy malt bits - that's why I always looked to make sure the shop used malt powder instead of the malt syrup.

                                                                    2. a shake is a milk shake, milk and any syrup flavoring (New England style ie, no ice cream. Add ic and you have a frappe.) As for the malted milk, it, too, is a NE shake with the malt powder added. Usuaully, one orders a chocolate malt. If you want to know what it tastes like, try finding malted milk balls, a crunchy, chocolate coated candy. It's a NE and Northeast treat.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: alatsata

                                                                        Malted milk balls are pretty widespread.

                                                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                                                          If you really want to taste the difference between a malt, milkshake or a fountain drink there is this restaurant in Port Townsend, WA called the Nifty Fiftys Soda Fountain (817 Water St
                                                                          Port Townsend, WA 98368). They have a working jukebox with a sorter at each table. My husband and I embarrassed our son by putting quarter after quarter in the machine to play oldies.

                                                                        2. re: alatsata

                                                                          alatsata, that's a regional thing peculiar to New England. In most of the country a milkshake has ice cream in it, and nobody knows from "frappe".

                                                                        3. Not to be a downer on an old thread, but malt, whether in beer, malted milk balls, or as malted milk tastes great, but is the worst thing for those with gout. Nothing is higher in purines except some organ meats. This certainly does not affect taste, but may scare the hell out of some users.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                            Jeez, thanks for the warning! I was starting to think seriously about running out for one …

                                                                          2. a milk shake is milk plus any flavoring like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or coffee. A malted milk is any of these plus malt powder. there is no consistency change though the flavor is different. Buy a box of malted milk balls for the taste. malted milk is popular in NYC.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: alatsata

                                                                              maybe a milk shake is that where you are, but not the country at large. What you describe is chocolate(or fill in the blank) milk, nothing more.

                                                                              1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                Right. My "shakes" made with milk, Ovaltine and a banana are good, but unless I dropped a scoop or two of ice cream in there I couldn't get away with selling them as "milkshakes" here in CA, in the Midwest or the Southeast for sure. Smoothies, maybe …

                                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                  wow! I didn't realize Ovaltine still existed. Can Bosco be far behind? :)

                                                                                  1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                    Not only does Ovaltine exist, if you have a good Asian market in your neighborhood you'll probably be able to get the ORIGINAL formula, more malty and less sweet than the current North American recipe, since the Asians and Europeans like it that way. And so do I.

                                                                                2. re: bbqboy

                                                                                  In the Boston area, there is different local terminology. Milkshake vs frappe (the latter being a single-syllable word, please).

                                                                              2. Malt. A malt is a milk shake with added malt powder.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                  It's really just that simple!! ~~ Milk shake = Ice Cream, a flavoring, a dash of milk for a thick shake, a little more for a thinner shake. Add malt for a "Malt" ~~ Around here Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry rule!! ~~ A chocolate malt and a hamburger from the Soda Fountain in the old drug store Rocks!!!

                                                                                2. a milkshake is ice cream + milk + any flavoring you want
                                                                                  a malt is exactly the same thing but malt added
                                                                                  either can be thick or thin just add more milk for a thinner drink. malt is used to make beer. you can buy it on line. just takes about 2 teaspoons to make a milkshake a malt

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: captjameslee

                                                                                    If you had posted this in answer to the OP's question seven years ago, this thread may have been shorter. It's nice to reminisce about where to find good shakes and malts, but the answer to the question really is as simple as you have written.

                                                                                  2. Not a dumb question, just somewhat generational as malts used to be more common a generation ago. Malted milk powder is added to a shake and that makes it a malt. Personally I think Horlick's MM powder has more the old-fashioned flavor than Carnation and the only place I have been able to find it (in Chicago at least) is in Indian grocery stores, in case anyone is looking for it. You want ice cream + milk + flavoring (like Hershey's syrup) + Horlick's Malted Milk Powder.

                                                                                    1. I have actual used a bullet and put malted milk ball in it and then made them into a malt shake