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Smoothie vs. Milkshake: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
A smoothie is a blended drink often containing fruits, vegetables, and yogurt, while a milkshake is a creamy beverage made primarily from milk, ice cream, and flavorings.

Key Differences

A smoothie is a beverage that is primarily composed of fruits, vegetables, and often additives such as yogurt, protein powders, or nut butters. The main intention behind a smoothie is to provide a nutritious drink that can sometimes replace a meal or be a supplement. On the other hand, a milkshake is typically a dessert drink made with milk, ice cream, and flavorings such as chocolate or fruit syrups. It's creamier in texture due to the ice cream content.
The origin of the smoothie dates back to the early 20th century and became popular as health food options rose to prominence. Their versatility allows them to cater to a variety of diets, from vegan to high-protein. Milkshakes, however, have been a beloved treat for much longer, popularized in American diners and soda fountains in the 1920s. They are indulgent and often enjoyed as a treat rather than a health food.
For many, smoothies are a way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet. They can be tailored to individual nutritional needs and often include superfoods or supplements. Milkshakes, in contrast, focus more on taste rather than health. With their ice cream base, they are often high in sugar and fat.
Both smoothies and milkshakes are served cold and blended to a smooth texture. However, while smoothies often have a thicker, more pulpy texture due to whole fruits and vegetables, milkshakes have a velvety consistency from the churned ice cream.

Comparison Chart

Main Ingredients

Fruits, vegetables, yogurt or milk
Milk, ice cream, flavorings


Nutritional drink, meal supplement or replacement
Dessert or treat


Thicker due to pulpy fruits and vegetables
Creamy due to ice cream

Health Focus

Often considered healthier, adaptable to diets
Typically high in sugar and fat


Gained popularity in the 20th century as health food
Popularized in 1920s American diners

Smoothie and Milkshake Definitions


A thick drink often containing a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and additives like protein powders.
After his workout, he had a protein smoothie to aid muscle recovery.


A cold, sweet drink traditionally associated with American diners.
The diner's signature milkshake is a blend of vanilla, malt, and cherry.


A liquid meal replacement or supplement, often consumed for health benefits.
Her green smoothie contains spinach, kale, and chia seeds.


A velvety, indulgent drink often high in sugar and fat.
There's nothing like a milkshake to satisfy a sweet tooth.


A blended beverage made from fruits and often combined with yogurt or milk.
She made a strawberry-banana smoothie for breakfast.


A dessert beverage often topped with whipped cream, syrups, or other treats.
Her milkshake was garnished with a cookie and a drizzle of caramel.


A cold drink made by blending fruits with ice, yogurt, or juice.
On a hot day, a cold smoothie is incredibly refreshing.


A creamy beverage made by blending milk with ice cream and flavorings.
He ordered a chocolate milkshake with whipped cream on top.


A customizable drink that can cater to various dietary needs and preferences.
He ordered a vegan smoothie with almond milk and no honey.


A thick drink made by churning ice cream, milk, and optional add-ins.
The Oreo milkshake is their bestseller at the ice cream parlor.


(Informal) A person regarded as being assured and artfully ingratiating in manner.


A beverage that is made of milk, ice cream, and often flavoring and is blended or whipped until foamy. Also called shake; also called regionally cabinet, frappe, velvet.


Can smoothies be considered a meal?

Yes, smoothies can be tailored to be meal replacements, especially when enriched with proteins and fibers.

Are milkshakes considered a dessert?

Yes, milkshakes are often viewed as a dessert beverage due to their sweet and indulgent nature.

What makes a milkshake creamy?

The ice cream content in a milkshake gives it its creamy texture.

What's a green smoothie?

A green smoothie is a blend that primarily uses leafy greens like spinach or kale.

What's the primary base for a smoothie?

A smoothie typically uses fruits, vegetables, and often yogurt or milk as its base.

What's a malted milkshake?

A malted milkshake contains malt powder, giving it a distinct flavor and texture.

Can you make a milkshake without a blender?

While a blender gives the best consistency, one can manually mix ice cream and milk for a simpler milkshake.

Do smoothies always have dairy?

No, smoothies can use alternatives like almond, soy, or oat milk for a dairy-free option.

Can a smoothie be vegan?

Yes, a smoothie can be made vegan by avoiding dairy and using plant-based alternatives.

Are smoothies gluten-free?

Smoothies can be gluten-free, but one should check additives and protein powders for gluten content.

Can milkshakes be made without sugar?

Yes, milkshakes can be made with sugar substitutes or natural sweeteners like honey.

Why are milkshakes called "shakes"?

The name "shake" refers to the traditional method of preparation where the ingredients were shaken together.

Do all milkshakes have ice cream?

While traditional milkshakes use ice cream, some variants might use yogurt or other bases.

How is a milkshake different from a float?

A milkshake is blended, while a float has soda poured over ice cream, creating a fizzy drink.

Can smoothies contain grains?

Yes, grains like oats can be added to smoothies for extra fiber and texture.

Are milkshakes cold or hot?

Milkshakes are typically served cold.

Can a smoothie contain nuts?

Yes, nuts or nut butters can be added to smoothies for flavor and nutrition.

Which is typically healthier, a smoothie or a milkshake?

Smoothies are generally considered healthier due to their fruit and vegetable content, but it depends on the ingredients.

What gives smoothies their thick consistency?

The pulpy nature of whole fruits and vegetables contributes to a smoothie's thick texture.

Do milkshakes always have whipped cream?

No, whipped cream is an optional topping for milkshakes.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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