The Shamrock Shake: Festive Snack or Meal in a Glass?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/9/2013 6:00 AM   :  104 comments   :  86,320 Views

St. Patrick's Day is upon us, and restaurants everywhere have officially "gone green" (and I don't mean in the environmental sense). Late last month, dining establishments across the nation began transforming foods and drinks into festive shades of emerald in honor of the March 17th Irish holiday. Every year, McDonald's jumps on this bandwagon (or perhaps leads the bandwagon), with their infamous Shamrock Shake, a minty green treat that's only available through March. The drink looks innocent enough in a small size, but how many calories are packed into that 12-ounce cup: 220, 530, 640, or 810

Answer: 530 calories!
You read that right—one small 12-ounce Shamrock Shake has a whopping 530 calories, 15 grams of fat and 73 grams of sugar. That's more calories than a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese (which weighs in at 520 calories), more fat than a cheeseburger (12 grams), and more sugar than a large sweet tea (69 grams).

Can't live without a little green goodness this St. Patrick's Day? Skip the McDonald's Shake and try one of these healthier versions at home:

Mean Green Juice
Skinny(er) Shamrock Shake
Homemade Shamrock Shake
Shamrock Protein Shake

Have you ever tried the Shamrock Shake? Do you avoid this seasonal treat, or do you occasionally indulge? 

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  • BSWEET101
    I have had Shamrock Shakes before, but don't care for the fake mint flavor, so this is not one of my seasonal indulgences ... corned beef with buttery potatoes, on the other hand. - 4/13/2015   4:56:18 PM
  • 102
    I never heard of this before this year. No, I am never going for the mega calories in this shake! Whoa, can anyone say "heart attack" with me? I really love the recipe you shared, the link rather, for the protein shamrock shack. Thank you! - 3/21/2015   1:42:47 PM
  • 101
    NEVER HAD ONE NOW I GUESS I NEVER WILL. - 3/18/2015   10:59:55 AM
  • 100
    Is it really a surprise to anyone that 12 ounces of milk, ice cream, and syrup equals 530 calories?

    And I agree with others who have posted that if you like it, and it's a treat rather than an everyday occurrence, enjoy it! - 3/17/2015   12:32:39 PM
  • 99
    I didn't realize that when I shared this article on facebook that everyone who clicked on the link could see my Spark page. I deleted it immediately. My spark page is for my own motivation and spark friends. I don't even use my real name here on spark. - 3/17/2015   9:58:01 AM
  • 98
    Haven't had one in years. My own homemade (healthier!) milkshakes are way better! No thanks, McDonald's! - 3/17/2015   7:06:18 AM
  • MEWMEW34
    I don't think anybody buys a Shamrock Shake thinking it's going to be that healthy for them. They're around for a month, maybe two. Unless you're having one every single day, they aren't going to hurt you and are a nice treat. - 3/17/2015   3:23:28 AM
    I haven't been to a McDonald's in 30 years. Don't miss it a bit. - 3/17/2015   3:15:03 AM
  • GINAC0
    I liked these things when I was a kid. I had one last year and it tasted like toothpaste to me. - 4/10/2013   10:42:18 PM
  • 94
    Lucky for me, I can't stand the Shamrock Shake :x - 3/17/2013   1:53:15 AM
    hello to everyone I am new to sparks I wanted to ask is there a profile page if there is I cannnot find it the shamrock looks good but to many calories bye bye - 3/16/2013   5:03:53 PM
  • 92
    My husband and I stopped for one of these shakes the other day. Even though the number of calories is shocking, we hardly ever treat ourselves like this and I must say the shake was delicious and I really enjoyed it. - 3/15/2013   8:32:12 AM
  • 91
    Every year when Mc Donalds has the Shamrock shakes I normally would go get a small one, Id enjoy it, but this years different Im choosing to walk away from the shake! - 3/13/2013   7:30:53 AM
  • 90
    I found a recipe using frozen yogurt, skim milk, and mint extract that I use. I don't even use the food coloring. My boyfriend swore off McD's 6 or 7 years ago, but he LOVES the homemade shakes! It feels better knowing exactly what's going into your body. :-) - 3/13/2013   12:19:17 AM
  • 89
    I used to love the shamrock shakes. I'm glad I haven't had any this year now that I know how many calories they really are. Herbalife has Mint Chocolate flavor shake mix - so much healthier, plus I can make it as thick or thin as I want! - 3/12/2013   5:59:19 PM
    Never had one...But highly doubt a quarter pounder with cheese has only 12 grams of fat!! That would mean that "lean" burger has only 3 gm fat/ounce and that doesn't count the cheese!! It's probably more like 26 gm of fat!! - 3/12/2013   2:56:21 PM
  • 87
    I never had an Mickey D's (McDonald's)shamrock shake! I glad I haven't! - 3/12/2013   12:45:27 PM
  • 86
    I love St. Patrick's Day! I'm definitely going to try 1 or 2 of these shakes! - 3/12/2013   12:42:47 PM
  • 85
    Oh well, I guess if you don't want one you will take personal responsibility and choose to not drink one. I'm not a milkshake fan. It's all about personal responsibility. - 3/12/2013   12:28:54 PM
    I remember a few years ago the shakes at McDonalds were soooo good. And I would look forward all year to the Shamrock Shake as a big time favorite. But ever since they changed the recipe they are gross. Nothing but a frothey mix of nastey not even real milk foam. - 3/12/2013   11:36:57 AM
  • 83
    Sad, I love those things...though I can't drink a whole one anymore because it's so sweet. - 3/12/2013   10:55:55 AM
    Not fond of mint, but I wanted to sample it. I asked for a child size shake at my local McD's...they didn't offer it nor did they have samples, so I passed. I am glad I did. Thanks for the info. - 3/12/2013   8:24:27 AM
  • 81
    Celebrating doesn't have to involve food. Running a shamrock race, wearing green, dancing, or coloring leprechauns with kids can be just as fun without the junk. If you really want Irish food, cabbage, potatoes, and a little corned beef will be a better choice than green desserts. - 3/12/2013   7:03:30 AM
  • 80
    I may put up green lites or buy green roses but I am not irish nor do I really feel the need to celebrate this one. I do it for my Irish Scottish hubby lol Last time I had one of these shakes was 10 years ago... - 3/12/2013   12:36:00 AM
  • 79
    Nope. The 17 th of March holds NO special place for me. - 3/11/2013   9:28:45 PM
  • 78
    I have already read this article but every time I see it I just think "Oh my god. That's just CRAZY!" - 3/11/2013   9:22:46 PM
  • 77
    Oops! I had one of those small Shamrock Shakes a couple of weeks ago. I like the alternative recipes - will give it a try. Jan - 3/11/2013   7:43:30 PM
  • TERI081010
    I quit eating at McDonald's years ago, their food and service are awful! I make fruit smoothies at home. The Shamrock homemade recipes sound good! - 3/11/2013   7:18:55 PM
  • 75
    Whoa. Nasty. - 3/11/2013   5:31:10 PM
    Thanks for including my recipe!!! (sham)Rock on! - 3/11/2013   3:45:47 PM
    I had a feeling these were a bad idea. Also, I don't know if people who don't have heart issues know this or not but mint of any kind has a tendency to speed up your heart rate and sometimes that is NOT a good thing :) - 3/11/2013   2:39:52 PM
  • 72
    This is a once a year treat. I had my small one last week and that will last me until next year. I did track the calories, but since it's not something I do all the time (I don't usually eat a Mickie D's, but this is my one flashback to childhood) I feel that it's ok to splurge ocassionally. I skipped my evening snack a few days last week and still came in on target for my weekly calories, so I figure it's a wash. I know that if I constantly deny myself the things that I like, I wont stick with the diet, so as long as I am keeping with my overall plan, I allow myself a splurge every few weeks. Last weeks weight loss put my half way to my goal. - 3/11/2013   1:26:44 PM
    It is an ice cream based drink so of course it will caloric. If you are going to make a once a year treat, make a better one with chocolate chip mint ice cream and some milk and throw it in the blender. YUMMMMM - 3/11/2013   1:14:46 PM
  • 70
    Havn't had McIcky's in 7 years. Really NOT missing it. - 3/11/2013   12:35:00 PM
  • 69
    I love the taste of these things but it's simply not worth it. I'll have to try a healthier version with the kids this year.... - 3/11/2013   12:26:14 PM
  • 68
    I've never had the shamrock shake but I am a sucker for the mocha frappes. - 3/11/2013   11:18:57 AM
    Thankfully this isn't one of my temptations!! - 3/11/2013   8:30:46 AM
  • 66
    I have never been tempted to drink a milk product that is green.............ewwww! - 3/11/2013   7:53:21 AM
    I have always enjoyed the shamrock shake. I had one this year...small without whipped cream. I wonder how many calories but do consider it a once-a-year treat. I'm a McDonald's fan...great salads and coffee...and a small hamburger now and then!! - 3/11/2013   7:42:04 AM
  • 64
    WOW!! thanks for this info... Now I am no longer tempted by this! I will certainly by-pass it now. I had no idea it would be THAT bad. - 3/11/2013   7:39:42 AM
  • 63
    so sad, I love the shamrock shake:( - 3/11/2013   5:22:27 AM
  • 62
    Never even heard of it. Guess I'm doing pretty good. Yay me! Most of the time, I am not going thru fast food drive thrus anymore. - 3/11/2013   1:46:04 AM
  • 61
    I will split one with my dear husband and then I am done for the year! It is just a seasonal treat! - 3/10/2013   10:59:19 PM
  • 60
    Do we know how many calories can we deduct if we order the McDonald's one without the whipped cream on top?

    I agree that with those that said if we have one a year and plan for it no harm is done. It's about choices, right? I will print and try the healthier recipes above. - 3/10/2013   10:46:37 PM
    I've never had one of these, but hubby and I are going to make our own healthy versions at home. none of the other versions provided sounded tasty to me, I'm going to have fun making my own and share it on spark recipes. - 3/10/2013   9:22:10 PM
    It's not the shake that tempts me. It's the yummy looking cheeseburger! But I'll skip them both. - 3/10/2013   8:49:31 PM
  • 57
    I made the Skinnier Shamrock Shake today. While it was very good, it was nothing like the real thing. Did not, will not satisfy that driving hunger for the taste of that oh so tasty Shamrock Shake. Already had the 1 I am allowing myself this year but reading this article has my taste buds salivating for the flavor of the real deal. I will be strong and make it through without one. I will! - 3/10/2013   7:44:47 PM
  • 56
    I wanted to try one until I checked the calories. Arby's has one too but it is over 700 calories! - 3/10/2013   6:33:13 PM
  • 55
    Luck of the Irish. - 3/10/2013   6:02:31 PM

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