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Everything There is to Know About Malt Milkshakes

Learn all about this classic sweet treat.

Who doesn’t love to sip on a tasty shake? There are so many different flavor combinations around that it’s easy to find something for everyone. However, you may have heard several different terms thrown around to talk about this tasty dairy treat.

Malt, milkshake, malt shake, malt milkshake… All of these terms seem to be talking about the same type of treat, but is there actually a difference between them all? What is a malt milkshake, anyway?

chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry malts

There is a very marked difference between a simple milkshake and a malt milkshake, and it all comes down to the addition of a single ingredient. A malt milkshake is just like an ordinary milkshake, only it has the addition of malted milk powder. 

This is where it gets the name malt milkshake from. This malted milk powder gives the malt milkshake its signature rich, toasty taste. You will find that a malted milkshake is much thicker in terms of consistency than a standard milkshake is.

Malted milk powder is a type of evaporated powder that is made using wheat flour, whole milk, and malt barley. It features a sweet flavor with a slightly savory hit that makes it the perfect addition to milkshakes.

You may have to go to an old-style diner to find a malted shake on the menu. This is a classic that became a staple for many Americans over the years and should be tried by everyone at least once.


What is the Difference Between a Malt and a Milkshake?

As we’ve discussed above, the main difference between a malt and a milkshake is simply the addition of malted milk powder. Other than this key ingredient, you will find that milkshakes and malts are very similar. The addition of malted milk powder helps to create a thicker shake that has a notably toasted flavor.

a teaspoon of malted milk powder

You can even try and make your own malted milkshake at home if you have malted milk powder to hand. Simply make your milkshake as you would do normally, then add the malted milk powder once you’ve mixed the shake. You will find that the addition of malted milk powder helps to enrich the flavors of your milkshake. You won’t even have to use too much of it – a single rounded teaspoon will be more than enough to create your very own malt milkshake.

Generally, the more malted milk powder you add to your milkshake, the thicker it will be. So you won’t want to add too much malted milk powder to your shake, as you will want it to still be drinkable through a straw.


Is a Malt Better Than a Shake?

Both milkshakes and malts are tasty treats enjoyed by many. However, when it comes to deciding which is the better drink between the two, this will entirely come down to personal preference. Some people will prefer the thicker consistency and toasted flavor of a malt. Others will prefer the lighter-tasting, creamy milkshake.

Both malts and milkshakes will have a lot of saturated fats and sugar in them, however, malts are actually slightly healthier for you to drink. This is mostly down to the addition of the malted milk powder. Malted milk powder is very rich in potassium, selenium, and vitamins B2, B6, and D. This is an ingredient that is also very gentle on your digestive system making it easy for your body to digest. 

a chocolate malt milkshake with whipped cream

So if you need a little boost in terms of nutrients and vitamins, you may wish to opt for a malt instead of a standard milkshake.

What Does Malted Mean in a Shake?

The term malted of course refers to the addition of malted milk powder to your shake. This is an ingredient that is created using only three ingredients: barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. It was originally created by two British brothers in an attempt to treat young children with digestive problems. 

Malted milk powder was used for a sweeter drink known simply as malted milk, which went out of favor in the early 1900s when it was replaced in popularity with the malted milkshake. The malted milkshake was first created by Ivar “Pop” Coulson, who was a soda jerk working at Walgreens in Chicago. He was the genius who first thought to combine malted milk powder with ice cream, and it’s a combination that has stood the test of time.

What Does Adding Malt to a Milkshake do?

Adding malted milk powder to your milkshake will help to give you a thicker shake. The more malted milk powder you add, the thicker the shake will be. It will also alter the flavor of your milkshake, giving you a toasty, rich flavor that will enhance your milkshake. 

vanilla malted milkshake

Adding malt to your milkshake will also give you a range of added health benefits. As we’ve discussed in more detail above, malted milk powder has a range of additional vitamins and nutrients that will make it a healthy addition to your milkshake.

What are the Benefits of Malt?

There is actually a whole range of health benefits to malted milk powder. It comes with a range of healthy vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, essential amino acids, and has a lower glycemic index than standard sugar. In fact, malted milk powder contains a whopping 5 times more antioxidants than fresh broccoli, and as much as 50% more antioxidants than the super fruit, the blueberry.

Malted milk powder also works to support your digestive health. Just as it was first invented to help aid digestive issues in young children, these are benefits that can be felt by everyone who consumes malted milk powder in their drink. This is an addition to your milkshake that will be highly beneficial for your gut in general. 

malted milk powder in a drink

It contains a rich source of easy-to-digest fiber, which will in turn help improve your digestion. It has also been scientifically proven that malt can help to foster the growth of probiotic cultures as well as the good bacteria that will be highly beneficial for your gut. These can help to improve your nutrient absorption.

Another great health benefit of malted milk powder is that it works to boost your heart health. It can help to lower your cholesterol, which along with the healthy mix of vitamins and minerals will help to lower your risk of heart disease.


Is Malted Milk Good in Milkshakes?

The short answer is that yes, malted milk is good in shakes! There’s a reason that malted milk powder became such a popular addition to milkshakes. This can be a great way to not only boost the health benefits of your shake but also to enhance the overall flavor. 

assortment of malted milkshakes

If you enjoy a thicker drink, you should also try adding some malted milk powder to your shake. This will give you a luxurious shake that can help take your favorite snack to the next level. It will also be the perfect treat for a hot summer’s day.

The best way to find out whether you enjoy malt in your milkshake is to try it at least once. This should help you to decide once and for all whether a malt shake or a standard milkshake is the better drink.


Final Thoughts

So there you have it! A malted milkshake is simply a standard milkshake that has had malted milk powder added to it. This will help to enhance the flavor of your milkshake, give it a thicker consistency, and give it a warm, toasty flavor. Adding malted milk powder to your milkshake can also give it a health boost, making it healthier for you than a standard milkshake.

While malt milkshakes have decreased in popularity since the mid-1900s, they are still a popular drink in retro diners. You can also easily create your own malt milkshake in the comfort of your own home. Why not mix and match your malt milkshake with a range of flavors to find your new favorite shake?

What’s your favorite flavor malt? Let us know in a comment down below!

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Written by Rocco Smith

Rocco is from Sanibel Island, Florida, and a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Editing, Writing, and Media. With seven years’ experience in the restaurant industry as a cook, server, bartender, and more, he is deeply passionate about intertwining his fondness for food with his love of language.