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10 Fast-Food Restaurants That Serve the Best Milkshakes

Here's where to find the richest, creamiest shakes!

If you want to make your burger order instantly better, add a milkshake to it. Although milkshakes are a menu mainstay—especially at fast-food restaurants—the first American milkshakes weren't made with the typical ice cream and syrup we're used to today. In fact, according to the Dairy Alliance, early renditions dating back to the late 1800s were prepared with cream, eggs, and whiskey, with whiskey eventually being swapped out for flavored syrups and malted milk. It wasn't until the 1920s that ice cream-based milkshakes rose to popularity. As the story goes, a Walgreens employee added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the mix, and, unsurprisingly, this drink-meets-dessert was an instant hit.

Many fast-food chains have this popular beverage on their menus, each offering its unique touch: While some restaurants focus on only classic flavors—chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry—others go all out and add unexpected ingredients, such as cheesecake chunks, butter cake bits, chopped brownies, peanut butter cups, fresh fruit, and more.

But whose milkshake stands out in terms of taste and quality? Here are 10 chains that are doing it right!

Shake Shack

Shake shack
Photo: Shake Shack
Nutrition: (Per 1 Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 680
Fat: 38 g (Saturated Fat: 22 g)
Sodium: 430 mg
Carbs: 72 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 71 g)
Protein: 0 g

Shake Shack has the word "shake" in its name, so you know it will have milkshake options that are out of this world. Founded in New York City as a hot dog cart over 20 years ago, Shake Shack has grown into an internationally known brand with hundreds of locations worldwide in roughly two decades. If you have a restaurant near you, try the black and white shake, which is prepared with vanilla frozen custard hand-spun with chocolate fudge sauce. Limited edition flavors—like coffee and donuts, maple snickerdoodle, and frozen hot cocoa—are also available on the menu.

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Wayback Burgers

a row of milk shakes on a curb.
Photo: Wayback Burgers / Facebook
Nutrition: (Per 1 Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 660
Fat: 29 g (Saturated Fat: 19 g)
Sodium: 250 mg
Carbs: 81 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 61 g)
Protein: 13 g

Founded in Delaware in 1991, Wayback Burgers is the Connecticut-headquartered burger chain that makes top-tier burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, crispy fries, and hand-dipped milkshakes, all served with a dash of nostalgia. The chain's milkshake options range from the traditional—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry—to the innovative—maple bacon made with bacon and maple syrup, brownie drizzled with chocolate sauce, and red velvet, served with a red velvet cupcake on top.

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chick-fil-a milkshake
Photo: Chick-fil-A / Facebook
Nutrition: (Per 1 Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 580
Fat: 23 g (Saturated Fat: 15 g)
Sodium: 390 mg
Carbs: 82 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 80 g)
Protein: 13 g

Although Chick-fil-A is most famous for its chicken sandwiches, its milkshakes are pretty impressive, too. The popular chain has a handful of milkshake options on the menu, including traditional chocolate, strawberry, cookies and cream, and vanilla. Each option is topped with whipped cream and finished with a maraschino cherry. We happen to think the cookies and cream milkshake is the best one on the menu.

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Steak 'n Shake

steak n shake milkshakes
Photo: Steak 'n Shake / Facebook
Nutrition: (Per 1 Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 620
Fat: 17 g (Saturated Fat: 12g)
Sodium: 240 mg
Carbs: 105 g g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 93 g)
Protein: 37 g

Visit Steak 'n Shake, a fast-food restaurant started in Normal, Ill., for a long list of milkshake options. Founded in 1934, the chain makes top-notch burgers, delicious sides, and hand-dipped milkshakes. Some traditional flavor choices include classic ones like chocolate, vanilla, banana, and strawberry, while more innovative offerings include Oreo cookie mint, Butterfinger, cotton candy, birthday cake, and Nutella. Go all out and try a few.

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Cook Out

cook out milkshakes
Photo: Cook Out / Facebook
Nutrition: (Per 1 Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 555
Fat: 18 g (Saturated Fat: 11 g)
Sodium: 469 mg
Carbs: 86 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 83 g)
Protein: 16 g

Cook Out, the North Carolina-based fast-food chain that once only had locations in the Tar Heel State, has grown into a must-visit Southern spot with over 300 restaurants in states including Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia. While its menu is packed with plenty of feel-good dishes—Char-grilled hamburgers! Barbecue-style chicken breast! Chili dogs!—the milkshakes at Cook Out are not to be missed. You'll find everything from fresh banana milkshakes to blueberry cheesecake milkshakes and a few dozen flavors in between.

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sonic tray of milkshakes
Photo: Sonic Drive-In / Facebook
Nutrition: (Per 1 Small Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 570
Fat: 22 g (Saturated Fat: 17 g)
Sodium: 490 mg
Carbs: 85 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 74 g)
Protein: 12 g

No road trip is complete without a visit to Sonic. The drive-in fast-food chain is owned by Inspire Brands, the parent company behind other heavy hitters like Dunkin', Arby's, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Sonic has more than 3,500 locations throughout the United States. Its milkshake menu is divided into three sections: Sonic Blasts, which include tasty combinations like chocolate chip cookie dough and vanilla; Classic Shakes, which feature flavors like banana, hot fudge, strawberry, caramel, and chocolate; and Master Shakes, which are topped with whipped cream and a cherry. You really can't go wrong with any of them.

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culvers milkshakes
Photo: Culver's / Facebook
Nutrition: (Per 1 Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 570
Fat: 34 g (Saturated Fat: 20 g)
Sodium: 170 mg
Carbs: 57 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 51 g)
Protein: 11 g

With over 900 locations throughout the country, Culver's slings its cheese curds, seared burgers, and frozen custard in every corner of the nation. Another super popular item at the chain? Milkshakes! Every flavor is whipped up using the brand's rich and creamy fresh frozen custard which is made from scratch in-house in small batches using only real farm-fresh dairy. Choose from flavors like vanilla, peaches, espresso, chocolate syrup, butter cake, brownies, and more.

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Johnny Rockets

people doing cheers with johnny rockets milkshakes
Photo: Johnny Rockets / X
Nutrition: (Per 1 Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 860
Fat: 40 g (Saturated Fat: 30 g)
Sodium: 400 mg
Carbs: 100 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 100 g)
Protein: 10 g

Take a trip back in time by visiting Johnny Rockets, the nostalgia-tinged burger chain founded on LA's glamorous Melrose Avenue in the 1980s. Johnny Rockets—which is especially famous for its 1950s-themed interiors, perfectly prepared burgers, and crispy fries—is a must for milkshakes. Each hand-spun shake boasts high-quality ingredients, like real ice cream, fresh fruit, Hershey's chocolate syrup, and creamy peanut butter. Vegan shakes, made with non-dairy add-ins like coconut milk whipped cream and cashew-based ice cream, are also available.

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whataburger shakes on white background.
Photo: DoorDash
Nutrition: (Per 1 Small Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 410
Fat: 12 g (Saturated Fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 390 mg
Carbs: 69 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 69 g)
Protein: 10 g

Since 1950, Whataburger has been serving oversized burgers made from 100% pure, never-frozen beef on a massive toasted five-inch bun. Beyond burgers, though, the Texas-founded chain is famous for its milkshakes and malts. Traditional options, like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, are clear winners. But it's the chain's limited-edition Dr. Pepper shake that's amassed a cult following. It's prepared with a vanilla shake base and Dr. Pepper syrup—now that's delicious!

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mcdonalds milkshakes
Photo: McDonald's / Facebook
Nutrition: (Per 1 Small Vanilla Milkshake):
Calories: 480
Fat: 13 g (Saturated Fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 210 mg
Carbs: 80 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 51 g)
Protein: 10 g

Although McDonald's shakes may not have all the bells and whistles of some other shakes on this list, they're still a classic for a reason. Available in small, medium, and large sizes and in chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry flavors, these milkshakes are prepared using delicious soft-serve ice cream, add-ins like chocolate or strawberry syrup, and whipped light cream for a finishing touch.

Brittany Natale
Brittany Natale is a food and lifestyle writer. Read more about Brittany