Milkshake vs. Smoothie: 8 Ways to Identify Them In the Wild

July 08, 2016


Three smoothies

Some days just feel like milkshake days. Or smoothie days. You know the feeling: when a cone or a cup just doesn’t seem quite right, and you’d rather sip your cares away than manage all the melting and dripping that comes with eating a waffle cone.

But what’s the difference between a milkshake and a smoothie, anyway?

The Most Refreshing Math You’ll Ever Do

The answer is in the ingredients:

Smoothie = Sorbet or Greek frozen yogurt + fruit juice + fruit

Milkshake = ice cream (or Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy) + milk (or almond milk) + whipped cream

So when fruity and fresh is the name of the game, a smoothie will hit the spot. But when creamy and indulgent is where you’re at, a milkshake will make the grade.

Two milkshakes

How To Identify Them In the Wild

You’re sitting at a table at your local Scoop Shop, enjoying your favorite tasty delight, and at the next table you spot someone with what looks to be an utterly delicious drinkable treat. But is it a smoothie or a milkshake? Sure, you could go ask. Or you could rely on your expert knowledge and identify it from afar. Draw on these 8 tricks for identifying smoothies and milkshakes in the wild:

1. Colors Don’t Lie.

Is it bright yellow? Or orange? Or pink? You may have noticed that none of our ice cream flavors are those colors, so you’re probably looking at a smoothie.

2. . . . And Neither Do Textures.

Look closely. Does it look creamy like ice cream, or bright and fruity like sorbet? A creamy texture most likely betrays a milkshake. But remember that some smoothies are made with Greek frozen yogurt, which also gives a creamy vibe.

3. Whip It.

One surefire way to know a milkshake from a smoothie is by the whipped cream topping. Milkshakes have it, smoothies don’t. That said, a whipped-cream-less drink could still be a milkshake if, say, it’s made with Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy or the drinker just wasn’t feeling whippy.

Milkshake & Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

4. Who’s Holding It?

Do they happen to be wearing a T-shirt that says “Fruit Lover 4 Life”? It’s likely a smoothie. Or does it say “Chocoholic”? Chances are you’ve got a milkshake on your hands. 

5. What Time Is It?

In the morning and afternoon, we find that more people are in a smoothie mood. With all that fruit and juice in there, it’s the perfect refreshing pick-me-up. But after dinner, the milkshake crowd comes out, ready to top off the day with a sippable treat. That said, we’re happy to have ice cream for breakfast, so maybe don’t trust us on this one.

6. Points For Creativity.

How creative does the person holding the cup look? If they look like the kind of person who would want to customize their drink to fit their exacting standards, you might be looking at a milkshake. After all, you can always choose any two ice cream flavors to make your own unique shake.

orange smoothie

7. Follow the #hashtag.

Smoothies and milkshakes are so irresistibly photogenic that we’d be surprised if this particular drinker hadn’t taken a photo and posted it to all their social media accounts. Do some digging and see if you can find it. Is it accompanied by a #milkshakemadness or #smoothielove moniker? There’s your answer.

8. Just Ask.

When you’re at Ben & Jerry’s, you’re surrounded by peace, love, and ice cream. So go ahead, just ask. Maybe you’ll make a friend. At the very least, you’ll know what to order next time you’re craving something frosty and sippable.