Can you guess how many calories are in a Shamrock Shake? Don't let that green color fool you, these shakes are nowhere near green-smoothie status when it comes to nutrition and ingredients. Try our healthier recipe instead.

Charlotte Fisher
February 15, 2019

St. Patricks's Day is right around the corner and in addition to leprechauns, all things green and Irish soda bread, this means Shamrock Shakes are back. McDonald's releases these shakes around the holiday each year but only for a limited time and they've got quite a following. Maybe it's because they're not available all year, or maybe there's something about the minty "Shamrock Shake syrup" that drives people wild. But don't let that green color fool you: these shakes are nowhere near green-smoothie status when it comes to nutrition. They are high in calories and contain artificial ingredients.

If you're looking to get your Shamrock Shake fix but want to avoid the drive-thru, our Shamrock Shake Smoothie recipe has your back. Not to mention, it's quite a bit healthier than the original. While it's not quite a milkshake, our healthier copycat recipe is deliciously minty and festively green (the color comes from kiwi and spinach instead of food dyes).

Try the recipe for Shamrock Shake Smoothie and check out how it stacks up to the competition when it comes to nutrition and calories.

McDonald's Shamrock Shake

(1 medium shake, 16 ounces)

560 calories; 16 g fat (10 g sat, 1 g trans); 0 g fiber; 91 g carbohydrates; 12 g protein; 65 mg cholesterol; 78 g sugar; 1,160 IU vitamin A; 0 mg vitamin C; 420 mg calcium; 0 mg iron


Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream: Milk, Sugar, Cream, Corn Syrup, Natural Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Shamrock Shake Syrup: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Yellow 5, Blue 1.

Whipped Light Cream: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Liquid Sugar. Contains 2% or Less: Mono and Diglycerides, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan, Whipping Propellant (Nitrous Oxide).

EatingWell Shamrock Shake Smoothie

(20 ounces)

287 calories; 3 g fat (2 g sat, 0 g trans); 6 g fiber; 54 g carbohydrates; 14 g protein; 75 mcg folate; 12 mg cholesterol; 37 g sugars; 8 g added sugars; 5,254 IU vitamin A; 31 mg vitamin C; 484 mg calcium; 6 mg iron; 191 mg sodium; 1,012 mg potassium


Banana, spinach, vanilla yogurt, low-fat milk, mint leaves, ice, kiwi (for garnish).

The Nutrition Breakdown:

You'll save: 273 calories, 37 grams of carbohydrate, 41 grams of sugar and 8 grams of saturated fat.

You'll gain: 6 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 64 mg calcium, 6 mg iron and 31 mg vitamin C.

It should come as no surprise that the smoothie is a clear winner here. McDonald's Shamrock Shake has a whopping 78 grams of sugar in a medium shake, most of which comes from added sugar. The recommendations for added sugar are no more than 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men daily, so sipping the McDonald's shake can put you at three times your added sugar limit. The Shamrock Shake Smoothie has only 8 grams of added sugar, in addition to some natural sugar coming from fruit. The smoothie also ups your fiber intake and delivers hefty doses of vitamins A and C, potassium and folate. And when it comes to ingredients, the smoothie contains fruits and vegetables, while the only fruit in the shake is if you ask for the (artificially colored) maraschino cherry on top. Yogurt for creaminesss in the smoothie, instead of ice cream in the shake, adds protein and gut-friendly probiotics. Plus, the ingredient list for the smoothie is short and sweet. The shake contains many different forms of sugar, food dyes, and gums and thickeners, like carrageenan.

This St. Patrick's Day, turn your shamrock shake-loving friends green with envy when you whip up this smoothie instead (of course, you can always share).