A milkshake is simply ice cream and milk, but it's more than the sum of its parts. It's a thick and frosty treat that turns any day into a special occasion: A milkshake is a magical thrill that's part drink, part dessert and 100 percent delicious.
Some of the best milkshakes in NYC are straightforward—go to the best ice cream shops in NYC, soda fountains NYC kids love or the best candy stores in NYC and you'll find creamy concoctions made the best ingredients. But some are wildly imaginative creations, with mind-blowing flavors that will surprise and delight you.
Here's the play: Set off on a milkshake safari. Pack your appetite, and plot a course that will take you across the city. An urban adventure is always more fun if there's a milkshake at the end of the journey.
Best milkshakes in NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Morgenstern's Finest
1. Black and White Milkshake at Morgenstern's Finest
You can get a milkshake made with any of the exceptional 88 flavors at Morgenstern's Finest (various locations): This is where you go to get a Black Licorice Shake, or a Durian Banana Shake or one of the six kinds of vanilla. If that's too much choice, start with a classic Black and White Milkshake, made with chocolate/raw milk. Then go back, and try a new flavor.
Photogrpah: Melissa Hom
2. Horchata Milkshake at la Newyorkina
The Horchata Milkshake atla Newyorkina (West Village) is a contemporary classic. The creamy horchata milkshake is ribboned with cajeta, a kind of dulce de leche made with goat's milk. The biggest problem? Remembering to save room so you can add on an order of churros con chocolate.
Photograph: Ample Hills Creamery
3. Munchies Milkshake at Ample Hills Creamery
Imagine all your favorite bodega snacks in a single creamy treat! The Munchies Milkshake from Ample Hills Creamery (various locations) is salty, sweet and delicious: A pretzel milk base is mixed with Ritz crackers, pretzels, potato chips and mini M&M’s.
Photograph: Courtesy Black Tap
4. Churro Choco Taco Milkshake at Black Tap
Are you sitting down? The Churro Choco Taco Milkshake at Black Tap (various locations), is a Cinnamon Toast Crunch shake with a vanilla frosted rim and cinnamon toast crunch topping garnished with a choco taco, two churros, whipped cream and dulce de leche. Yes, it will feed your entire family.
Photograph: Audrey Melton
5. Strawberry Milkshake at Five Guys
They keep it simple at Five Guys (various locations), and they do it right. The Strawberry Milkshake is made with real strawberries, not strawberry flavoring, which gives it the taste of summer. Other milkshakes are just as straightforward and just as delicious: Try the Salted Caramel, the Peanut Butter or the Oreo Crème—which is made with fluffy, blindingly-white Oreo filling.
Photograph: Courtesy Ice & Vice
6. Love N' Smores Milkshake at Ice & Vice
The Love N' Smores Milkshake at Ice & Vice (various locations), the insanely creative ice cream parlor where every scoop takes you down a rabbit hole of weird and wonderful flavors, is a mixture of Love & Hate ice cream (root beer, ginger molasses soil) and Basic B ice cream (Mexican vanilla, black lava sea salt) topped with roasted marshmallow fluff and graham toffee bark.
Photogrpah: Courtesy Shake Shack
7. Cookie Butter Milkshake at Shake Shack
Yes, Virginia, Shake Shack (various locations) makes limited-edition shakes. The Cookie Butter Milkshake, made with vanilla frozen custard and cookie butter topped with whipped cream and speculoos cookie crumbles, is on the menu until March 16. Hurry.
8. Rainbow Connection at Brooklyn Farmacy
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it: Say hello to the Rainbow Connection at Brooklyn Farmacy(Carroll Gardens), a vanilla cream milkshake spun with sprinkles and topped with sprinkles—the lovers and dreamers can ask nicely for an extra side of sprinkles.
Photograph: Courtesy Chinatown Ice Cream Facotry
9. Taro and Strawberry Milkshake at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (various locations) is a New York institution, a place where you'll find a delicious mashup of Chinese and American flavors. Take the Taro and Strawberry Milkshake: It's Asian, it's American and it's totally NYC.
Amanda Cohen has been cooking some of the city’s most experimental vegan food—long before it was trendy—at Dirt Candy. Her fast-casual, plant-based burger spot Lekka Burger (TriBeCa) also dishes out incredible milkshakes. Choose from chocolate, strawberry, caramel, matcha or the uniquely delicious halvah—it's a flavor you don't realize is missing from your life until you try it!
You can have your pie and drink it too at Davey's Ice Cream (various locations). The Pie Milkshake is a vanilla base blended with an entire slice of pie. The pie selection includes Peanut Butter Pie, Banana Cream Pie and seasonal pies that change throughout the year.
What's the difference between a Milkshake and a Frosted Milkshake at Eddie's Sweet Shop? While a Milkshake is made with one scoop of ice cream, the Frosted is made with two! (As for the Thick Milkshake, made with three scoops, well that's just nuts.) This Forest Hills institution was already a classic when current owner Vito Citrano took it over in 1968, and he keeps the old traditions alive: All the ice cream is made inhouse. Even the hot fudge and caramel sauce are made by hand! Every New Yorker should go to Eddie’s at least once.
This sweet-as-candy empire that is Milk Bar (various locations) was built on Cereal Milk, Christina Tosi's ode to how we wish our childhood breakfasts tasted. The Crunchy Cereal Shake is a blend of that signature Cereal Milk Soft Serve, crunchy caramelized cornflake cereal and whole milk, and topped with caramelized cornflake cereal for good measure.
Photogrpah: Dina Joanna Coloma
14. Cookie Dō Milkshake at DŌ
The Cookie Dō Milkshake atDŌ (West Village, 550 La Guardia Place; Brookly, Time Out Market, 55 Water St) is a choose your own adventure: You pick a vanilla or chocolate base, then decide which cookie dough to mix from the 20 flavors on the menu. The milkshake is then topped with whipped cream and sprinkles, naturally.
15. Bananarama at Harlem Shake
There's more than just shakes at Harlem Shake (Harlem)–there's a full menu of satisfying diner fare–but you would do well to order a seasonal shake like the Banarama, made with an organic dark chocolate base and Habrio bananas.
Photograph: Liz Clayman
16. Thick Milkshake at il Laboratorio del Gelato
The milkshakes are thick at il Laboratorio del Gelato (various locations). Not just kinda thick, but thick-thick, eat it with a spoon thick. You have your pick of amazing artisanal flavors—but the Espresso Milkshake, made with a double shot of espresso, is best saved for grownups.
Photograph: Soft Swerve
17. Midtown Milkshake at Soft Swerve
The Midtown Milkshake atSoft Swerve (Lower East Side) is black sesame soft serve ice cream blended with milk chocolate drizzle and Oreos. The nutty flavor is familiar but unexpected—it tastes like a peanut butter cup spent a school year abroad.
Photograph: Courtesy Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
18. Strawberry Milkshake at Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
The Strawberry Milkshake at Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (various locations) is a timeless classic, the taste of June ever since somebody was smart enough to churn ice cream with strawberries still warm from the summer sun. At Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream this iconic milkshake comes with rainbow sprinkles, which is a VBD for any kid.
Photograph: Noah Fecks
19. Vegan Chocolate Shake at October
It looks and tastes like a chocolate shake, but the vegan shake base at newcomer October (Soho) is made with coconut milk and avocados, sneaking a little nutrition into this warm-weather treat: It's like drinking a salad that tastes like dessert. The shake is also available in strawberry and vanilla.
The milkshakes are no-frills classics at this wonderfully preserved retro diner, its long counter lined with chatty locals on their lunch hours, digging into their peanut butter–and–bacon sandwiches. The Malted Chocolate Milkshake is a time capsule, a flavor of things past.