A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!)

~ The perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This fun, delicious, simple, and healthy version of the Shamrock Shake is just bursting with nutrition! With no artificial colors, too! You’ll be shocked at how healthy this copycat Shamrock Shake is … yet it tastes just like its namesake original! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Vegetarian    Gluten Free  

A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!) {from Two Healthy Kitchens}

lá sona ú Pádraig


It means “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

I have to admit … I’m kinda super excited about this particular St. Paddy’s day, since I’ve recently discovered a tiny (teeeeeny) bit of Irish ancestry.

You see, last year my oldest kiddo had to do a family tree project, and even after the project was finished, I was fascinated by the whole process and kept digging to uncover more info. And … I found out that I actually have some Irish ancestors!

(Ummmmmm … confession: I may or may not sometimes talk in an Irish accent and dance little jigs around the house. My husband just shakes his head and asks if I’m trying to reconnect with my people. Yes, yes, in fact I am. I can feel the Irish just pulsing through my veins! I may start to call myself O’Gretchen. No? Too far?)

A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!) {from Two Healthy Kitchens}

Irish heritage or not, how do you celebrate St. Paddy’s?

Maybe a parade? Does your city put green dye in the rivers? How about green eggs for breakfast? Maybe you live near Savannah, Georgia or Boston, Massachusetts where March 17th is considered a legal holiday. A legal holiday. Like, recognized.

But what if you don’t live near a city that celebrates with a parade or a green river?

Well, you could wear green (yeah, yeah … that’s a given).

Or you could swing by McDonald’s to get the long-anticipated Shamrock Shake. That’s ok … no, wait … well …

I get it. Shelley and I both remember back when we were kids, waiting and waiting for March to come around because it meant that we’d get that creamy mint shake. It.was.awesome.

A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!) {from Two Healthy Kitchens}

But now we’re moms, and we want to feed our kids the best and most nutritious foods. Those Shamrock Shakes were just begging to be THK-ified!

Still, we knew that we’d have to use our very best thinking caps to figure out this transformation!

It all started way back (ok, a few months ago) when we were planning our editorial calendar for 2014, and we saw that St. Patrick’s Day was fast approaching. I proclaimed, “Ohhhh … a Shamrock Shake!” at the same moment Shelley announced, “Yummm … green smoothies!”

Hmmm … how could those two ideas become one? It’s quite simple, actually!

When we initially started testing for this recipe, we knew that food coloring wasn’t going to be an option. So here’s where that promised superfood comes in …

A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!) {from Two Healthy Kitchens}

It’s … SPINACH!!! Gorgeous, naturally green-colored and loaded with mega nutrition!

Before you wrinkle up your nose in that “something-smells-bad” face, just hear me out.

You TOTALLY can’t taste the spinach! Promise. Cross my heart. Pinky swear, too.

That’s one of the reasons that spinach works so well in smoothies – raw baby spinach just doesn’t have all that much flavor!

Between our two families, none of our kids (not one of them!) could detect even a hint of spinach in these shakes. And when they found out, they all just kinda shook their heads (they’ve been down this sort of THK road before) … and then continued happily slurping away!

Seriously – not joking! These milkshakes are fully kid-tested and kid-approved!

A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!) {from Two Healthy Kitchens}

This is what three cups of spinach and 1/2 cup of milk reduce to! Can’t taste it … but it sure does give a lovely green coloring!

Now you might be thinking, “But why is THK recommending frozen yogurt or even ice cream??”

First, remember, these are for a treat. And also remember, we are real people! We certainly don’t recommend that you eat the entire carton of ice cream at once … but a life lived with moderation is a happy life! And there are lots of pretty terrific light ice creams and frozen yogurts on the market that have decent ingredient lists, taste fabulous, and are relatively low-fat. AND don’t forget there are three cups of spinach in there! THREE CUPS!!!

To tell the truth, though, we really, really wanted this to work with Greek yogurt – even frozen Greek yogurt (because, you know – that would have been nutritious beyond belief).

We tried. We truly did.

But after several batches of Greek yogurt concoctions (that weren’t so delicious), we decided to ditch the Greek yogurt altogether and embrace the milkshake side of this idea.

A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!) {from Two Healthy Kitchens}

And it was good. It was very, very good.

As in: the kids have been begging for these THK-ified Shamrock Shakes consistently for the last two months since this recipe was born. (Apologies to those in our town who may have noticed our stores coming perilously close to running out of spinach!)

And so there you have it … the nutrition of a spinach-loaded green smoothie, with the creamy goodness of a milkshake (a Shamrock Shake, to be exact)!

These frosty cups are the perfect addition to your festivities, whether you’re dying an entire river green or just donning a shamrock-green sweater!

So put on your dancin’ shoes – we’re doing the jig!

And … lá sona ú Pádraig!

THK by Gretchen

We’d Love to Hear From You!

Where do you hail from? Not like, family-tree-hail-from … but where is home to you? I’m originally from Pittsburgh, but now home is Ohio. Shelley is a lifelong Ohioan!

Stay connected! For more healthy, delicious recipe ideas, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest. And, get our newest recipes delivered right to your inbox by entering your e-mail in the box at the top right corner of our page!

A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!)

Preparation 5 min. 2017-08-17T00:05:00+00:00 Cook Time 0 min. 2017-08-17T00:00:00+00:00
Serves About 2¾ cups     adjust servings


  • 3 cups loosely but firmly packed baby spinach (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat milk
  • 3/16 teaspoon mint extract (not peppermint – see note)
  • 2 cups of your favorite reduced-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (not frozen Greek yogurt)


  1. In a blender, combine spinach, milk and extract until spinach is completely incorporated, with no tiny green pieces visible, scraping down the sides two or three times as needed. The mixture will be whipped and frothy.
  2. Add ice cream and blend just briefly until smooth and completely mixed, scraping down sides if needed. Do not over-blend or the milkshakes won't be as thick.
  3. Serve immediately.


Recipe Notes

Mint Extract: Be sure to purchase extract labeled as "mint" and not "peppermint." Mint extract contains oils from both spearmint and peppermint, and pure peppermint extract absolutely won't taste right in this milkshake. Also, we realize that 3/16 teaspoon is an unusual measurement, but through our testing, we consistently found that ⅛ teaspoon wasn't quite enough, but ¼ teaspoon was too much. Unless you own a 1/16 teaspoon measure, just fill your ⅛ teaspoon once, then estimate as you fill it about half full again. Alternately, you could use a scant ¼ teaspoon. That should be close enough, and you can adjust the amount of extract to taste.

Separation: Similar to many smoothies, this milkshake will begin to separate upon standing. If that happens, just give it a swirl with a spoon, or briefly reblend any milkshake still in the blender container.

We'd love to see your photos of this recipe! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and tag @TwoHealthyKitchens!


Our copycat, healthier Shamrock Shake recipe has been mentioned or featured in:

30 St. Patrick’s Day Dessert Recipes at The Frugal Navy Wife 
25 Lucky St. Patrick’s Day Sweets at Moscato Mom 
St. Patrick’s Day Drinks at Real Moms of Vegas
Green Drink Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day at Feather Pixels


A Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake (Surprise Superfood Ingredient!) — 59 Comments

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    • Oh, Jane! Great idea! This would be so slurp-ably fun for movie night! My kids love this so much, that we’re drinking it waaaaay before and waaaaaay after St. Patrick’s Day – it’s really just so yummy any time! And it’d be absolutely perfect for a family night “at the movies”! 😀 ~Shelley

    • That’s hilarious, Ashley! Seriously, your kids will LOVE this! Even though our own kiddos knew this Shamrock Shake copycat is actually loaded with spinach (which made them skeptical at first! 😀 ), after one taste they were chugging it, and begging for more! You’ll be shocked how delicious it is and how it tastes just like a regular ol’ Shamrock Shake … and you’ll be thrilled that it’s so, so much healthier! Super fun (with or without the leprechauns! :D)! ~Shelley

    • Oh, Kristen – I’m so excited for you to try this recipe! You and your hubby will both love it – because it tastes just like a real Shamrock Shake (that’s the part he’ll love, lol!) and because it’s so much more nutritious (that’s the part you’ll love best!). I’m not kidding – my kids have been asking me to make this for weeks now, so at my house, the St. Patrick’s Day party and these delicious shakes start long, long before St. Patrick’s Day actually rolls around! More time for luck ‘o the Irish, I guess! Enjoy! 😀 ~Shelley

  6. I come from a Caribbean Island and to be completely honest, I didn’t learn about this holiday until I moved to the US. But I truly love to embrace all kind of celebrations that can teach about different cultures. That is why my kids go to school dressed in all green on March 17th. I love Spinach in smoothies. It’s one of the ways I trick my kids into having their veggies. This new smoothie will be on the list for a nice treat on Saint Patrick’s Day. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Vanessa! I just love that your kiddos dress all in green for St. Patrick’s Day, and that you’re always looking for new fun cultural celebrations – I’m right there with ya! Not only are those types of things great opportunities for learning, but also just such a great way to inject a little bit of fun into what would otherwise be a regular-old-day! The more reasons to celebrate, the better! And this healthier Shamrock Shake recipe will definitely add to the festivities, without adding add lots of the unhealthy ingredients that other Shamrock Shake recipes so often have! You and your kids will all love it! Have a really fun St. Patrick’s Day – I’m so glad you popped by to tell us about your fun family celebrations! 😀 ~Shelley

  7. This is one of those treats that is all about balance! You get some good stuff and some bad stuff, LOL! I am so excited to try these I love that there is no artificial color. No what else can I make green with spinach for St Patrick’s Day…

  8. Just wondering if you’ve ever tried this with fresh mint instead of mint flavoring. I’m gonna give it a go with fresh mint.

    • Hi, Jessica! Great question! I actually haven’t tried that. Living in Ohio, I love growing fresh herbs, including mint, throughout the summer, but I usually don’t have any on hand in the winter and early spring (around St. Patrick’s Day). So, I find it’s much easier to keep a little bottle of extract on hand instead of continually purchasing expensive packs of fresh mint (since my kids request this Shamrock Shake recipe frequently! 😀 ). I’d love to hear how this works for you and what proportion of fresh mint you found makes the yummiest Shamrock Shake! ~Shelley

  9. One review says it all (from the picky 17 year old)….She liked it 🙂 And drank it all…even after she knew what was in it!!! Can’t believe how delicious and healthy this shake is! Thanks for all of the great healthy recipes ladies.

    • Oh, Adrey! Thank you so, so much for taking the time to pop by and let us know! We’re so glad you (and your “picky” daughter! :D) loved it! Our kiddos were the same way – even after they knew it was loaded with spinach, they just didn’t care, because it was too good to stop drinking it! 😀 ~G&S

  10. I love the idea of this milkshake and I don’t care in the least that it has ice-cream in it, if my kids ate 3 cups of spinach I would be a very happy mum. I can’t wait to put this to the test!
    Oh and thank you for all the testing.

    • Hi, Julie! I can’t wait to hear how your test goes! I think you and your kids will both love the results! We always hope that all of the taste tests and revisions and retesting we do will bring you and all our other readers the very best recipe in the end, and we really think our testing paid off this time, in a big way! Hope you agree! 😀 ~Shelley

    • I was able to keep myself under control yesterday … I didn’t go overboard with decorations 🙂 I loved seeing everyone in all shades of green though – so bright and cheerful!
      I really hope you enjoy this shake – tons of spinach and very little guilt! There’s some serious nutrition in those little leaves! ~Gretchen

  11. So glad I finally connected with your blog, especially now that I’m looking at all the commenters and so many of my blogging friends are yours as well… Helen, Cindy, Consuelo, Taylor. What a small food blogging world we live in 🙂

    Using spinach as a natural and healthy “food dye” is pure genius. Who cares about a little ice cream… you got your kids to eat spinach HAPPILY!

    • Hi, Chris! We are so, so thrilled that you found us … so we could find you! Can’t wait to go check out your blog! It really is kind of a small bloggy world, and always so wonderful to find new friends who love food (especially healthy yet still uber-delicious food!) as much as the two of us do! So welcome, welcome! We hope you’ll be back again soon! 😀

      And thanks so much for the high-five on this recipe! (Pssst … you are so right about the kids and spinach thing … spinach pretty much disappears by the bagful in our homes, especially since the kiddos started begging us to make these shakes for dessert!) ~G&S

    • Ooooooh … pancakes! Great idea! Yeah – the spinach flavor just doesn’t come through at all, does it? We knew for sure this would work the very first time Shelley blended up a little milk with a little spinach. The gorgeous green froth tasted like … well, pretty much like nothing at all! So in went more spinach … still tasted like nothing much at all! More spinach … and more spinach … Even at a whopping 3 cups, there’s just really no flavor there! Add in the mint and the vanilla ice cream and … why, it tastes just like a Shamrock Shake! Score!!!! 😀 ~G&S

    • Hi, Kristi! These shakes really are so creamy and yum-ilicious! Spinach is such an agreeable superfood – just hanging out in the background and not caring a bit that nobody will even notice it! All you’ll notice is the sham-rockin’ happy mint flavor! Hope you’re having an awesome St. Paddy’s! 😀 ~G&S

  12. We don’t celebrate St. Patricks day in Spain, which sucks, because I love green food and all things Irish :”(
    This milkshake looks incredible, and the ice-cream addition must be amaaaaaazing! And it is so pretty too – ahh I love it!
    Enjoy your weekend girls!

    • Happy St. Paddy’s Day, Consuelo! We’ll try to celebrate a little extra for you! For breakfast, I just served my kiddos green eggs, green milk and whole-grain waffles with green yogurt sauce (oh – and red strawberries … they needed some fruit in there!). So, anyway, considering some of the ways we goofball Americans choose to celebrate this day (green milk!?!?!), maybe you shouldn’t feel so sad not to be celebrating in Spain today – lol! 😀 ~Shelley

    • Abbe … DO trust us! Would we let you down?!?! You won’t taste that spinach … really! You’ll just taste a deliciously creamy, fun, minty-good Shamrock Shake! We know we’ve gotten it right when we give our kiddos a test recipe (like this one) … and after inquiring about what’s actually in it (they’re always suspicious and on the lookout for our healthification tricks!), they just shrug and roll their eyes and then devour it and plead for more! Kids don’t lie about stuff like that! So even if you don’t trust us, you can for sure trust them!!! 😀 ~G&S

  13. Looks delicious and I love that your green is natural and not some yucky food coloring 😀 I’ve never had a shamrock shake before, but this looks like I need to try it. Happy St. Patricks day! Have a great weekend ladies 😀

    • Egads! You’ve NEVER had a Shamrock Shake!?!? Ok! This we must fix! Try it, and you’ll be hooked (and maybe we’ll even call you O’Cindy in celebration :D)! You’ve gotta have this in your St. Patrick’s Day repertoire for maximum Irishness! And besides, your kids will thank you! Happy St. Paddy’s Day, my friend! ~Shelley (or should I say … O’Shelley)

  14. Thanks for the Gaelic lesson … that’s wonderful! I can’t imagine what a spinach shake would be like, but I can imagine that it goes well with mint … and all that Popeye energy it would give you! Great way to get your kids to get something super healthy down them. Love it!

    • Hi, Helen! Ummmmm … glad you liked the Gaelic lesson … but don’t be too impressed! (Gretchen had to google that – lol!) Anyway, you seriously need to just not imagine this as a spinach shake at all. We know – a “spinach shake” sounds kinda weird, right?!? But you won’t notice the spinach is in there at all! It simply provides great color (and mega-nutrition!) … so just think of it as natural food coloring :D! And, can we make a little confession? It’s not just our kids that are gulping these down … yuuuuummmmm!!! ~G&S

  15. Crazy…I just had a week of making these almost exact same shakes at work as samples for people to try. I put some avocado in as well to give it another extra boost of nutrients. The frozen Greek yogurt is actually what I used and worked for me, but the good ol’ fashioned ice cream would be amazing.
    And I could not stop nodding my head while I read your post…yes to moderation! yes to desserts once in awhile! It’s totally what my blog is all about! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi, Kara! We’ll have to try the avocado idea (we loooove those) – thanks for the suggestion! And we’re really curious about the Greek frozen yogurt. We tested this with a couple of different Greek frozen yogurt brands and it was honestly pretty terrible. The super-tangy flavor of the frozen Greek yogurt just didn’t play nicely at all with the mint – it’s was just a weird clash. Please tell us what brand you used! We really had hoped to make this shake work with frozen Greek yogurt! We did have slightly more success using (unfrozen) vanilla Greek yogurt – the flavor wasn’t too bad, but everyone agreed that it just didn’t taste like a Shamrock Shake. It tasted like some sort of reasonably good smoothie, but the flavor and texture of a Shamrock Shake just weren’t there. *SIGH* That’s when we gave up on Greek yogurt (since we didn’t want to create a green smoothie, but truly wanted to recreate the flavor and texture of a Shamrock Shake) and went to low-fat ice cream or even (NOT GREEK) vanilla frozen yogurt. So seriously – we’re totally curious what you used, if you wouldn’t mind sharing that!

      And three cheers for moderation … and dessert! Loving your blog, BTW! 😀 ~G&S

      • So I used 2 different kinds of frozen Greek yogurt throughout the week: Yoplait Vanilla Greek Yogurt and Oikos Vanilla Greek Yogurt. Were these any that you tried? I didn’t even attempt to try the original because I knew it would be too tangy. I can see what you mean, though, about the tangy/off flavor when you tried the Greek yogurt in the shake. It did seem to have a little bit of an after taste of sorts..? Almost everybody seemed to really like the shake, though, so I just kept it. If it was for myself…I’d probably go with ice cream. 🙂

        • I have searched the dregs in my freezer and my work-in-progress pics from this recipe, and I’m just not sure anymore which brands I tested, although they were definitely vanilla. But, yeah … you are so right about the “tangy/off flavor” and the “after taste” – that was exactly the problem! The tang just didn’t work with the mint at all! However, I have high hopes that another flavor combination (when I’m not trying to concoct something that tastes exactly like a real Shamrock Shake!) will work beautifully with the frozen Greek yogurt! Next time … 😀 Hey – Gretchen and I totally appreciate your really insightful comments and feedback! Have an awesome weekend, Kara! ~Shelley

    • Honestly … I’m not sure how those shakes taste – I haven’t had one in years! And now with this awesome shake, I’ll never need one again! We can all happily make these at home and feel great! 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, O’Debi! Lol!! ~Gretchen

  16. Smoothies!! Oh I just love smoothies, even the ones with spinach! I have to admit I never had a smoothie with ice cream though.. It just feels so wrong adding ice cream to healthy ingredients! I can imagine kids loving this though, and you totally nailed the St. Patricks Day colour!

    • Oh my gosh, I know, right!?!? How sneakily awesome is it to health-ify ice cream?!?! Well, and technically, we hope you’re using all-natural or organic, reduced fat ice creams or frozen (NOT GREEK) yogurts, so they should actually be at least a little healthier to begin with … BUT health-ifying ice cream is still pretty great, huh?!?! I mean, nothing against smoothies (loooove them, too!), but we’re talking dessert here … yay, ice cream! And truly, it isn’t just the kiddos who love this! My husband and I slurp right along with ’em! 😀 ~Shelley

    • The arrival of the Shamrock Shakes is one of those first signs of spring, right? Like seeing the first robin in your yard or enjoying the first sunny, 50-degree day! Honestly, though, these shakes are so good, we’ve been making them for the last couple of months because the kids keep asking for them! At least in one (small!) way, spring actually did come early in Ohio this year! Ahhhhh … the magic of a good Shamrock Shake! Lol! Thanks for stopping by, Kelli! 😀 ~G&S

  17. YUMM!! Love this!! I love adding spinach to my morning smoothies (haha, I’m drinking one right now as a matter of fact!) the spinach is sooo nutritious but does not alter the flavour at all! Can’t wait to try this shake – Pinned!! You are spot on and share my philosophy on living in moderation in terms of healthy living and balance – seriously, what is life without a bit of ice cream now and again? 😉 And to answer your question, I can call so many places “home”, I’ll always be a Toronto girl at heart and feel at home there, but I also feel at “home” currently in Belgium with my love and studies! 😀

    • Hi, Ceara! Isn’t it totally surprising how the spinach is just so flavorless and melds right into the other flavors?!?! It sounds so odd – spinach with ice cream – but you 100% can’t taste it at all! And since life without a bit of ice cream would no doubt be dreary, how cool is it to pump up that ice cream with a mega dose of nutrition, right!?!? And hey – didn’t realize you were in Belgium now! That’s really awesome! What a fabulous adventure! Have a terrific weekend! 😀 ~G&S

  18. Sláinte mhaith , ladies! Cheers to your health! 🙂 I remember these shakes as a kid too, so it’s wonderful you have provided families with a chemical-free, real food version. Ice cream included!

    • And sláinte mhaith to you! Hope you try these, Sharon! A great all-natural or organic ice cream, and this is one treat you can actually feel pretty darn good about! And it’s so creamy and delicious … super easy, too! Yay! 😀 ~G&S

    • Hi, Christine! It seriously is so delicious! Our kids were totally surprised – but it was so yummy that they didn’t even care it was loaded with spinach! They just begged us to make more! Have a fun St. Paddy’s Day! 😀 ~G&S

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