Is McDonald’s Shamrock Shake Vegan?

Is McDonald's Shamrock Shake Vegan?

There are two tried and true ways to know St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. First, giant green hats, sunglasses that look like clovers and other obnoxious “Irish themed” items greet you when you walk in the door at Target. Second, Shamrock Shakes begin to appear at McDonald’s.

If it seems like McDonald’s has been serving Shamrock Shakes for St Patrick’s Day for quite a while, it’s because they have. The minty green shake has been served at McDonald’s for over 50 years now. 50 years! It even has it’s own entry in Wikipedia.

Your first instinct may be to think no way is the Shamrock Shake vegan. After all, it’s a milkshake, right? However, with fast food concoctions, you never can be sure. It’s possible it could be some combination of high fructose corn syrup and who knows what. So…

Is the Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s Vegan?

The Shamrock Shake is not vegan. It’s made with vanilla reduced fat ice cream and whipped cream which contains nonfat milk.

Shamrock Shake
The Shamrock Shake is minty and green, but is it vegan? By Todd Van Hoosear – Shamrock Shake, CC BY-SA 2.0 

Here is the complete ingredient breakdown of the Shamrock Shake via McDonald’s:

Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream

Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Cream, Corn Syrup, Natural Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Contains: Milk.
Shamrock Shake Syrup

Ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Yellow 5, Blue 1. May contain small amounts of other shake flavors served at the restaurant, including egg ingredients when Egg Nog Shakes are available.

Whipped Light Cream

Ingredients: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Liquid Sugar, Contains 2% or Less: Mono and Diglycerides, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan. Whipping Propellant (Nitrous Oxide).

Contains: Milk.

What Is Vegan at McDonald’s?

If the Shamrock Shake is out of the equation as a vegan option, what can you get vegan at McDonald’s? Turns out, not much. At least not if you’re living in the US. Even the fries, normally a relatively safe space when it comes to fast food places (minus the cross contamination concerns) are cooked in beef fat.

McDonald’s recently announced a new McPlant platform that will be bringing more plant based options to McDonald’s locations in 2021. However, it hasn’t produced any US vegan options, at least not yet.

Until that happens, we would recommend trying to find other popular fast food locations that have much more vegan friendly choices. For example, Burger King that offers the Impossible Burger or Carl’s Jr which carries the Beyond Burger.

If you’re out with friends or family and you’ve found yourself standing in a McDonald’s, check out our McDonald’s Vegan Options Guide. It will show you what’s vegan, what’s not and how to order modifications where possible.


VeggL is the passion project of Jen & Ryan. Both vegan (Jen since 2012, Ryan since 2018), they wanted to help other vegans & plant based folks through an incredibly frustrating process--trying to figure out what you can eat & where in the US. Pictured w/ our pups, Mia & Chompers.

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