Vanilla Milkshake

Vanilla Milkshake Recipe

When we were young and foolish, we scorned anything vanilla, being drawn instead to the sexier, more alluring chocolate. Happily, we have come to appreciate that there is nothing “plain” about this aromatic spice—particularly when it is the primary flavor in a thick, smooth frappé.–Andy Husbands, Chris Hart, and Andrea Pyenson

LC A Milkshake, Er, Frappé Just Like Mom Used To Make Note

A word on the original title of this recipe, which was actually “frappé” and not “milkshake.” We changed it because, quite frankly, frappé can create a little confusion, seeing as depending on whom one asks, the term means any of varying things, from the Greek iced coffee drink that was a precursor to the Frappucino to a partly frozen fruit slushy of sorts. That said, the sorta frappé we’re pretty certain the authors intended is, simply enough, how New Englanders refer to a milkshake.

Now that we’ve established that, it’s story time. When one of us LCers was really quite little—uh, save for her bulging belly—her mom would, on rare occasion, make her a vanilla milkshake. This was no ordinary milkshake. It wasn’t as cloyingly sweet or as chemically tasting as the ones our little LCer ordered from fast-food joints and refused to finish. Nor was it as straw-stoppingly thick as the milkshakes she slurped at diner counters. It was, quite simply, cold and creamy and slushy and vanilla-y and satiating in the most intensely aromatic way. Her mom never measured the ingredients, yet the precise proportions were always perfect—except when our LCer, later in life, tried to create it on her own. Decades passed. Sigh. And then she tried this recipe. Call it a frappé, call it a milkshake, call it what you will. She calls it perfect.

Vanilla Milkshake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Makes 1 ginormous or 2 modest milkshakes


  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) milk, preferably whole, very cold
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 generous scoops (about 1 1/2 cups) vanilla ice cream, very cold


  • 1. Pour the milk into a blender. Using just the tip of a sharp paring knife, slice the vanilla bean open lengthwise. Scrape the seeds into the milk by running the back, or dull side, of the knife along the length of the vanilla bean. Add the vanilla extract, followed by the ice cream. Press the blender’s purée setting and blend for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until the mixture is thick and smooth. (If using a mixer, start on the slowest speed and accelerate after a few seconds.)

Make it a Wicked Milkshake

  • Add 1 ounce—or, ahem, an even more generous shot—your preferred single-malt Scotch along with the vanilla extract. [Editor’s Note: We think bourbon may also do the trick quite nicely.]
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