20 Worst Restaurant Milkshakes—Ranked!
Milkshakes appear to be an innocuous treat—one that’s reserved for special occasions and celebrations. But when you think about what a milkshake is, you might realize just how absurdly indulgent they are: You take a pint or so of ice cream, add some milk to it—maybe some candy—and blend it all together so you can sip it through a straw. Not so innocent now, huh?
And it seems like restaurant milkshakes have taken a turn for the worst. Now dubbed “freakshakes,” these frosty treats can easily pack over an entire day’s worth of calories, fat, and sugar. In fact, when a Queen Mary University of London campaign group, Action on Sugar, conducted a survey of 140 drinks at UK fast-food chains, they found that some drinks contained more than six times the recommended daily amount of sugar for children aged 7 to 10.
Because some monster shakes out there feature scary amounts of the sweet stuff, Eat This, Not That! is here to help you make a smarter choice when treating yourself. That’s why we ranked the 20 most popular restaurant shakes from worst to the worst of the worst. Avoid these at all costs if you’re watching your sugar intake, or reserve them for a time when you hit the drive-thru with a friend.
From the Least Worst… to the Absolute Worst
Friendly’s Large Fribble
At Friendly’s their large Fribble, as their shakes are called, ranges in calorie content from 720 to 1,280, but has zero saturated fat, and 10 grams of sugar. Fribbles are a combination of ice milk and ice cream.
Chick-Fil-A Chocolate Shake
The cow keeps telling us to eat more ‘chikin’ and that’s a better idea than throwing back one of Chick-fil-A‘s shakes. Even though Chick-fil-A has one of the lighter shakes compared to some of the other big boys we’re rating today, it’s still 560 calories with 22 grams of saturated fat. Just one shake is almost the same amount of calories in a grilled chicken sandwich for less muscle-building protein.
Wendy’s Large Chocolate Frosty
“When it comes to dessert, portion size can make all the difference,” explains Megan Usher, RD, CDN. “For one-third of the calories, fat, and sugar, the junior size frosty would make for a more appropriate treat. “Wendy’s skews on the lower end of the shake spectrum, especially when it comes to saturated fat. However, 81 grams of sugar in their Frosty, as they call it, is still quite an unhealthy helping of the sweetener.
Burger King’s Oreo Chocolate Shake
The king should be kicked off his throne for serving a Chocolate Oreo shake with 610 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 81 grams of sugar. That’s just as much saturated fat as what’s in a Whopper!
Buffalo Wild Wings’ Crunch Berry Blender
It’s time for a good game, some great friends and some wings, but if you want it off with one of B-dubs shakes, or blenders as they are called, think again. At only 16 ounces, the Crunch Berry Blender is 700 calories with 21 grams of saturated fat. It’s best to just stick with their motto—Beer. Wings. Sports and leave shakes out of it.
McDonald’s Large Chocolate Shake
When McDonald’s says that ‘you deserve a break today,’ they are right. Give your body a break from this fat-ladened chocolate beverage that has 840 calories and 14 grams of saturated fat. You can ask for your shake without whipped cream, which will reduce the total number of calories by 60 to 780 and bring down saturated fats to 18 grams and sugars to 118 grams. Hey, it’s a start. The worse news, however, is that McDonald’s uses one gram of trans-fat in their shakes, which raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels, increases your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Arby’s Large Ultimate Chocolate Shake
They chant ‘We have the meats!” in the commercial, but the truth is they have the calories too! Their ultimate large chocolate ‘snack’ comes in more like a beefy meal at 820 calories, 15 grams of saturated fat and half a gram of trans fat, and 129 grams of sugar. To compare, Arby’s Bourbon BBQ Triple Stack Sandwich is 910 calories with only 13 grams of saturated fat.
Steak ‘n Shake’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Milkshake
Steak and Shake are two favorite indulgences, but they aren’t favorites when it comes to healthy eating. At 980 calories, the chocolate fudge brownie is decadent but bloats 20 grams of saturated fat into your diet.
Hardee’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shake
Hardee’s prides itself on the fact that each of their shakes is hand-scooped and made with real ice cream. It’s blended with milk and a choice of chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, or peach syrup.
Applebee’s Oreo Cookie Shake
Their slogan is “Eatin’ Good Made Easy.” However, when it comes to their desserts, it’s definitely easy to order but not so easy to stay healthy when you’re enjoying it. That’s because their Oreo Cookie Shake has an incredible 790 calories with a whopping 38 grams of fat and 70 grams of sugar. Not to be outdone, the Applebee’s strawberry shake beats out the Oreo Cookie with 98 grams of sugar.
Dairy Queen’s Peanut Butter Shake
The home of the Blizzard seems to boast one of the more caloric shakes on the planet, but keep in mind that their shakes are also almost eight ounces bigger than the ones we’ve ranked. Their large peanut butter shake tops the calorie charts with a massive 1,250 calories and a whopping 89 grams of sugar. Not to mention, “this shake contains almost 40% of the recommended daily total sodium intake,” Usher tells us. “When paired with other processed foods throughout the day, sodium can add up quickly. Consuming more than 2,300 mg per day increases the risk of high blood pressure, and subsequently, heart disease.”
If you find yourself at Dairy Queen on a hot day, you may want to choose a mini-Blizzard instead, which will satisfy your craving for a refreshing shake with only a portion of the calories and fat content.
Burger Fi’s Coffee Mocha Shake
It’s obvious that Burger Fi is a place to get a good patty, but you should probably leave it at that and push yourself away from the table without dessert. Why? The coffee mocha shake comes with 24 grams of saturated fat and 99 grams of sugar. Don’t be fooled by choosing a different option either. You might be saving a few calories with their vanilla shake, but it leads the snack pack with a whopping 109 grams of sugar.
Burger Fi Peanut Butter Shake
1,060 calories, 73 g fat (30 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 87 g carbs (4 g fiber, 65 g sugar), 24 g protein
Denny’s Cake Batter Shake
At more than a thousand calories and 37 grams of fat, rest assured that eating this monstrosity isn’t worth your health. Let them battle out the right name, while you make the right menu choices for you.
Baskin Robbins Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Milkshake
However, at 1,520 calories, 154 grams of sugar, and 2.5 grams of trans fat you would do yourself a service to forget about the ice cream chain’s 1,700 flavors. In particular, “trans fats are linked with an increased risk of heart disease because of their negative effects on cholesterol levels,” says Usher. “With 2.5 grams of trans fats per shake, it’s better to opt for something trans fat-free,” she recommends.
Shake Shack Chocolate Cookies & Cream Shake
The Shake Shack burger joint is known more for their rich and creamy shakes than their patties, but you might want to have a filling, less fattening meal instead of a dessert here. Beware though if you do indulge in their one-size only shakes! They have a variety of flavors to choose from, including peanut butter, caramelized peach, salted caramel and vitamin creamsicle.
However, it’s their decadent chocolate cookies and cream shake that leads their calorie and fat pack at 990 calories and 31 g of saturated fat. If you’re comparing the shake’s sugar content, the list changes a little, bumping down the cookies and cream shake to second place. Maybe they should change their name to Sugar Shack because their caramelized peach shake leads with 88 grams of sugar.
Johnny Rockets’ Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake
Johnny Rockets’ Chocolate Banana Shake 960 calories, 44 g fat (27 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 290 mg sodium, 127 g carbs (4 g fiber, 111 g sugar), 18 g protein
Ah the good ol’ days when you shared a shake with your honey at the soda fountain. Nobody cared about calories, they just wanted to enjoy their shake. Johnny Rockets skyrockets you to the top of the calorie and saturated fat mountain with their chocolate peanut butter shake. At a mind-boggling 1230 calories and 75 grams of fat, Johnny Rockets doesn’t leave you with much room to dance at the hop when you’re filled up with the heaviness of their signature desserts. Find something else on the menu that you and your honey can split and say no to the shakes.
Jack in the Box Oreo Cookie Shake
Their motto is ‘we don’t make it till you order it,’ so leave off the shake when you place your order at this restaurant. The 16-ounce Oreo Cookie Shake with whipped topping and cherry is 1150 calories, a hefty 40 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat and 107 grams of sugar.
Five Guys Milkshakes
Five Guys is known for their scrumptious burgers and their extremely tasty shakes. If you’re feeling creative, you can even mix and match a variety of flavor combinations, but you have to start with a shake base. The nutritional content of this base already starts you at 398 calories with 32 grams of fat and 82 grams of sugar.
Here’s the kicker though. Five Guys allows you to add flavors, but those flavors will bump your total number even higher. For example, choose an Oreo Crème add-in and your total jumps up by 360 calories more, while your sugar content can rise anywhere from 8 to 28 grams. The additional fat content can jump from 7 to 28 grams or more depending on the flavorings you choose.
TGIF’s Extreme Oreo S’mores Shake
There’s an obvious reason why TGIF calls these shakes ‘extreme,’ and that’s because they pack a lot of artery-clogging ice cream into their small 12-14-ounce shakes (in comparison to the other restaurants ranked here, their shakes are on the smaller size). Let’s start with their Toasted S’mores Shake that has an unbelievable 1550 calories and 33 grams of saturated fat, one gram of trans-fat and 190 grams of sugar, or 15 tablespoons! In comparison, an entire serving of taco topped queso and chips is less in calories at 1150.
Sonic Drive-in’s Large Oreo Peanut Butter Shake
If your motto is ‘go big or go home,’ this shake is definitely one that fits the mold. “For the average person, this shake contains half of your daily sodium allowance, and enough calories for the whole day, fat for two days, and saturated fat for three days,” Usher explains. This is Sonic’s most indulgent shake on the menu. Granted, it’s twice as big as most of the other shakes, but let’s face it it’s hard to stop at half a shake. Resist the temptation and, instead, just don’t order it. If you want to discover more treats that are sneaking away a few days worth of added sugars, grab a copy of The 14-Day No Sugar Diet. With a diet plan, recipes, and shopping guide, you’ll learn how to sick sugars from your diet and lose weight!