If you’re like me you probably aren’t too sure of the difference between a malt and a milkshake. You’ve probably seen both at diners and ice cream shops but haven’t gotten an answer about what makes these two delicious desserts different from each other.


A milkshake is a blended dessert drink typically made with ice cream, milk, and various other add-ins like crushed up candy bars, cookies, syrups, or fruits.


A malt or malted milkshake is – given the name – a type of milkshake. However in order for a milkshake to be a malt it must include malted milk powder. This gives the malt it’s signature toasted, nutty flavor that you won’t find in regular milkshakes.

What is malted milk powder?

Malt refers to a grain – usually barley – that has sprouted and been dried, it has many uses. For example, it is used as a base for various fermented liquids like beer, whiskey, and malt vinegar. Malt is also used in various candies such as brittles, and malted milk balls.

Malt was originally invented in 1873 as a supplemental food for infants, over the years it gained popularity and became a soda shop staple.

How these desserts came to be

Malted milk was a standard sold at soda shops before the milkshake was invented. In fact the first milkshake to be invented was a chocolate malted milkshake in 1922 at a Walgreens soda counter. The malted milkshake was a much more popular drink than plain malted milk. Eventually milkshakes started being made without malted milk powder which led to these dessert drinks gaining two different names — the malt and the milkshake.

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