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Boring flavor? Not on Vanilla Milkshake Day!

by Linnea Covington /  / Updated 
Celebrare the vanilla milkshake on June 20!
Celebrare the vanilla milkshake on June 20!Getty Images

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June 20 is National Vanilla Milkshake Day! But with all the wild flavor combos out there, is vanilla synonymous with boring? Milkshake expert (talk about a dream job – unless you’re lactose intolerant) Adam Reid urges us not to take vanilla for granted.

“It’s a good backdrop for other flavors,” Reid told “In sweet cooking I sort of think vanilla plays some of the same roles as salt plays in savory food—it balances and lets other flavors pop.”

Over the course of about six months he consumed around 300 milkshakes in order to write a book of recipes.

“I swear by the end of that time if you poked my fingers I wouldn’t have bleed blood but cream,” said the author of “Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes,” which just came out in a snazzy paperback version. 

“Milkshakes are more of a nostalgic thing,” Reid said. “But since the food scene has changed and we have so much more access and flavor profiles, I thought why not apply that to milkshakes.”

That means there’s nothing vanilla about his chapter on vanilla milkshakes. Ried offers numerous ways to spruce it up from cashew butter and rum to sesame. He even recreates the classic Italian affogato dessert into a liquid dream and tops it with an espresso granita. But his favorite vanilla pairings are honey and lavender, which, he said, play with the natural floral notes that the three ingredients share.

In addition to the recipe for Vanilla, Rum, and Salted Cashew Shake below, Ried also shared some tips to make the thickest, creamiest, most delectable milkshake you could ever want.

For starters, he advised, sit the ice cream or sorbet out to defrost for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the sides of the tub look melted. If you are using liquid or ingredients like milk, honey, or molasses, put them in the blender first. Next, be patient and don’t try to rush the blending. You will have to use a spatula to clean off the sides of the blender so all the ingredients can meld beautifully into a smooth, hearty dessert.

Finally, Ried reminds us not to gulp down the shake in event that, “You will freeze your brain out.” Truth. 

The inspiration for this shake comes from Ried’s innate snacking tendencies, especially when a bowl of salted cashews are presented. Naturally, he took this beloved treat and turned it into another one he loves so dearly.

Vanilla, Rum and Salted Cashew Shake

Reprinted from “Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes” by Adam Ried. Copyright © 2009 by Adam Ried

Makes about 3 ½ cups


  • ¼ cup cold whole or low fat milk
  • ¼ cup dark or amber rum
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbs cashew butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 medium scoops French vanilla ice cream (about 1 quart)


Place milk, rum, vanilla extract, cashew butter, and salt in a blender and blend about 30 seconds, or until thoroughly mixed.

Add ice cream and pulse several times to begin breaking it up.

With blender motor off, use a flexible spatula to mash the mixture down onto the blender blades.

Continue pulsing, stopping, and mashing until mixture us well blended, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar.

Pour into a chilled glass or glasses and serve at once.

Linnea Covington is a freelance writer and eater who will try any drink, dish, or sweet at least once, especially if it involves chili or bourbon.

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