How do you thicken milk for a milkshake without ice cream?

Milkshakes are a delicious treat that are typically made by blending milk, ice cream, and flavorings together. The ice cream provides the signature thick, creamy texture. But what if you want to make a milkshake without ice cream? Is there a way to thicken up regular milk to get a similar consistency?

Thankfully, the answer is yes! With a few simple ingredients and techniques, you can make milkshakes just as thick and creamy as ones made with ice cream. In this article, we’ll explore different methods for thickening and emulsifying milk to create the perfect milkshake texture.

Using Cornstarch

One of the most straightforward ways to thicken milk for milkshakes is by using cornstarch. Here’s how it works:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold milk until smooth. This makes a slurry.
  2. In a saucepan, heat up 2 cups of milk over medium heat until just simmering.
  3. Gradually pour the cornstarch slurry into the hot milk, whisking constantly.
  4. Allow the mixture to come back up to a simmer and cook for another 1-2 minutes, continuing to whisk, until thickened. Remove from heat.
  5. Let the thickened milk cool slightly before using in your milkshake.

The cornstarch slurry will help prevent lumps from forming when you add it to the hot milk. As the milk heats up, the cornstarch granules absorb moisture and swell, thickening the liquid. Just 2 tablespoons of cornstarch can thicken 2-3 cups of milk significantly.

Be careful not to boil the mixture for too long after adding the slurry, as this can break down the cornstarch thickening power. The finished milkshake will have a pudding-like thickness.

Using Flavored Gelatin

Gelatin powder, either plain or in pre-flavored forms like Jell-O, can also help thicken milk for milkshakes.

To use gelatin, follow these steps:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder into 1⁄4 cup of cold milk. Allow to sit for 1 minute.
  2. In a saucepan, heat up 2 cups of milk over medium heat until just simmering.
  3. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot milk and whisk until fully dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat and allow gelatin to cool and thicken slightly before using in milkshakes.

The hydrated gelatin molecules will dissolve into the hot milk, then set up as a gel again as the mixture cools. This results in a thicker, creamier texture. Flavored gelatin can add nice flavor and sweetness as well.

Using Milk Powder

Dry milk powder is an easy way to thicken milk for milkshakes. You can use any type – nonfat dry milk, powdered whole milk, buttermilk powder, etc. Here’s how:

  1. Whisk 1/3 cup milk powder into 2 cups cold milk until fully dissolved.
  2. Pour mixture into a blender along with other milkshake ingredients.
  3. Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth.

The milk proteins in the powder will emulsify with the liquid milk, increasing the viscosity. Milk powder also adds a nice dairy richness.

Using Cottage Cheese

Believe it or not, cottage cheese is an excellent way to thicken and add protein to milkshakes!

Follow these simple steps:

  1. In a blender, puree 1⁄2 cup cottage cheese until completely smooth. Scrape down sides.
  2. Add 2 cups milk and other milkshake ingredients (fruit, chocolate, etc).
  3. Blend until thick and creamy.

The fat and proteins in cottage cheese will stabilize the milk into a thick emulsion. Just a small amount can make a big difference in texture and nutrition. Serve chilled for best results.

Using Cream Cheese

For an ultra-rich and thick milkshake, use cream cheese as your emulsifier.

  1. In a blender, blend 4 ounces of softened cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add 2 cups milk and any other milkshake flavors.
  3. Blend until completely smooth and creamy.

The high fat content of cream cheese makes it perfect for stabilizing milk into a velvety texture. Feel free to flavor it however you like – fruits, chocolate, caramel, etc. The milkshake will be quite thick!

Using Eggs

Eggs are a classic emulsifier used to thicken and enrich milkshakes. Here’s how to do it:

  1. In a blender, blend together 2 large egg yolks until smooth.
  2. Add 2 cups chilled milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, and a pinch of salt. Blend again.
  3. Pour mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in flavors.

The egg yolks contain lecithin which helps bind the ingredients together into a thick, creamy custard. Just be sure to cook the eggs thoroughly to avoid any food safety issues. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Using Heavy Cream

For the ultimate thick and indulgent milkshake, use heavy whipping cream.

  1. In a large bowl, whip 1 cup cold heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk and flavorings like chocolate syrup or fruit puree.
  3. Gently fold the whipped cream into the milk mixture.
  4. Pour into glasses and top withmore whipped cream if desired.

The high fat content of heavy cream enables it to whip up into a thick, fluffy emulsion that will stabilize the milk into a shake-like texture. Fold gently to retain volume.

Tips for Thick Milkshakes

Here are some additional tips for getting the perfect thickness and consistency when making milkshakes without ice cream:

  • Use whole milk or a dairy milk alternative like coconut or almond milk for more richness.
  • Chill all ingredients thoroughly before blending.
  • Use a high powered blender for smooth, creamy results.
  • Add thickeners gradually and blend well after each addition.
  • Blending longer produces a thicker shake.
  • Top with whipped cream for extra indulgence.
  • Store any leftovers in the fridge but shake again before serving to re-emulsify.

Thick Milkshake Recipes

Here are some delicious milkshake recipes using the thickening methods above:

Easy Chocolate Milkshake

  • 2 cups chocolate milk
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
  • Whipped cream for topping

Blend chocolate milk, milk powder, and chocolate syrup until smooth and creamy. Top with whipped cream.

Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry syrup
  • Whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs for topping

Blend cottage cheese and milk until smooth. Add strawberries and syrup. Blend until thickened. Top with whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs.

Cookies and Cream Milkshake

  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
  • 1/4 cup crushed Oreo cookies

Blend cream cheese until smooth. Add milk and chocolate syrup. Blend until thick. Stir in crushed Oreos. Top with more cookie pieces.


With a few simple tricks, you can easily thicken up milk to make delicious milkshakes without ice cream. Ingredients like cornstarch, gelatin, milk powder, cottage cheese, cream cheese, eggs, and heavy cream help stabilize and emulsify milk into a thick, creamy shake consistency. Blend up your favorite flavors, top with whipped cream, and enjoy!

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