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The difference between shake and malt is a little bit confusing since they both share most of the ingredients. Shake and malt are the top choices to quench if you like refreshing, creamy, and sweet drinks.
What really starts to set in the confusion is that the terminology sometimes seems to be generational. It always seems like it’s the “old-timey” diners (think poodle skirts or roller skates) that might offer a malt on their menu, whereas modern-day restaurants and fast food joints offer “shakes” on their menus.
So IS there really a difference between shake and malt? Turns out, yes.
What actually is a Shake?
The definition of shake, short for a milkshake, is a cold dessert drink made with milk, ice cream, frozen yogurt and sweeteners/flavorings.
Did you know that “milkshake” was first used in 1885 to refer to a “healthy” eggnog type drink? Apparently, this “healthy” drink had eggs and whiskey in it, among other things, and was considered a sort of tonic. It only took about 15 years before people started to think of milkshakes in today’s classic flavors of strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, etc. (Small surprise there!)
It really “went viral” in 1922 through Walgreens, if you can believe it when an old-fashioned malted milk got ice cream added to it. That’s really all it took to turn into the popular milkshake we know today!
Common sweeteners used in shakes include caramel sauce, chocolate syrup, fruit syrup, butterscotch, etc. These flavorings are mixed with the main ingredients to produce a creamy texture.
The creamy texture is often topped with whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream for a more delicious taste and appealing look.
These ingredients are very sweet and once you get hooked to them, it’s hard to pass the creameries or restaurant without ordering one.
What the heck is a Malt?
Also known as malted milkshake is a dessert drink that’s made of milk, sugary sweeteners/flavorings, ice cream, and malted milk powder. All malts are a type of shake.
These combinations of ingredients provide a sweet, nutty, and sour taste. Malt drinks can most often be found in diners and soda fountains.
So wait, if it’s a type of shake, then what sets it apart?
What is malted milk powder?
This is the real difference between the two. So what exactly IS malted milk powder?
Malt is produced from germinated cereal grain by the process called “malting.” Malting simply means the grain is soaked in water to force germination, and then the germination process is stopped by drying the grains with hot air.
This turns some of the starches in the grains into sugars, which lends the new sweetness that this ingredient provides in a malt shake. This basically means that malted milk powder is a mix of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk, which adds a semi-nutty and sweet flavor to your shake.
Malted barley is often used to make beer, so it’s not an unusual or old-fashioned technique by any means!
To make your own malt perfectly, add the malted milk powder after you’ve mixed your shake to add a delicious toasty, buttery flavor to your already perfect shake!
- Old-fashioned malted milk powder. In 1.5 pound Jar - compare...
- Packaged in Reclosable Clear Plastic Jar, factory Sealed for...
- Gives that distinctive malt taste to your baked goods.
Shake vs. Malt: The Similarities
Most of the ingredients are the same and the taste and both have a similar amount of saturated fat, about 5 to 6 grams.
Both shakes and malts supply a huge amount of calcium and small amounts of Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12.
Shake vs Malt: The Differences
As seen in the ingredients, the main difference between shake and malt is the malted milk powder used in malt beverages.
The malted milk powder is made from malted barley and wheat flour therefore, it defines the taste of malt beverages.
For the shake and malt to taste that good, the amount of sugar and flavoring is a bit high.
The average milkshake contains 55 to 60 grams of sugar while malts contain about 18 to 25 grams of sugar.
Shake and malt have different calorie levels due to the process and ingredient difference.
For instance, a milkshake has about 350 calories while malt drinks contain less about 230.
The malt drinks contain malted milk powder which makes the drink slightly beneficial than shakes. The malted grain contains proteins, folate, phosphorous, riboflavin among other essential vitamins.
As you read above, all it really takes to make a classic “shake” vs. a malt is the addition of malted milk powder at the end of the process.
What this does for the flavor, in a nutshell, is to add a richness and a buttery sort of change to the taste. It also makes the drink a bit sweeter because, as you may recall from earlier, the malting process turns the starches in the grains into sugars.
The hot air drying part of the process essentially makes these turn into toasted sugars, which is where the savory and rich sweetness in the flavor comes from.
There are many different types of recipes to make either milkshakes or malts. For malt drinks, the inclusion of malted milk powder already brings the difference.
People improvise the recipes to include what they prefer as sweeteners and flavorings. The milkshake can be made without ice cream and instead use low-fat dairy products to reduce the number of calories.
Here is a Malted Chocolate Shake recipe you can try at home with your blender:
- 1 cup Whole Milk
- ¼ cup Malted Milk
- 1 pint Chocolate Ice Cream
- ¼ cup Chocolate Milk Powder
- Sweetened Whipped Cream, as desired
- Mix all ingredients except the malted milk and whipped cream in your blender for 30-60 seconds, until it’s not very lumpy but still very thick.
- Add the malted milk and blend it in, but don’t over-blend.
- Pour it into your glass, top with whipped cream, and enjoy!
After learning all this about malted milk powder, while it’s definitely not a “health food” it might be a great way to add a little variety to your morning protein shake or make it easier to get down!
The difference between a shake and malt drinks is not that big with most of the ingredients being the same. Whichever drink you order at the restaurant during summer, it will still be cold and delicious.
If you are concerned with your weight and health benefits, you can make a shake or malt at home with fewer calories. There are plenty of recipes to make different milkshakes and malted beverages on the internet.
Whether it’s worth the extra effort to purchase just the right ingredients to make one versus the other is the real deciding factor for today’s busy families, but having an “old fashioned” night with a true malt milkshake could make for a really fun experience!
Whichever dessert you choose, enjoy!
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.