My earliest memories of milkshakes involve the McDonald’s drive through. Romantic, I know. My dad would order one chocolate milkshake and one strawberry milkshake, and we’d pass the cups around the car to share, until all of the thick, sweet goop had been sucked through the straw. If no one was paying attention, I’d furtively dip a French fry or two into one of the milkshakes, savoring the bizarrely delicious sweet-salty combo as it instantly dissolved in my mouth.
Fast forward many years later when I came to the belated realization that dairy is really bad for your body, animals, and the planet. Did this mean the era of milkshakes (and French fries) was over??
Not in the least! Because it is SO easy to make dairy-free milkshakes. You can make them super decadent by using vegan ice cream as I did in this other fall-friendly Pumpkin Pie Milkshake, or you can keep them on the healthy side as in this recipe.
To get the thick and luscious texture typical of milkshake, I rely on two plant-based stars: sweet potatoes and bananas. Sweet potatoes are an unusual ingredient in a milkshake, but I promise you they work beautifully here, yielding that creamy texture that defines a milkshake. Plus you’re getting lots of fiber, Vitamin A, and antioxidants!
You can use any kind of sweet potatoes, but I used white-fleshed Japanese sweet potatoes because that’s what I had on hand. If you do use more the commonly available orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, the color of the milkshake might be a bit different, but that doesn’t really matters (unless you’re a food photographer like me!).
And if you’ve ever made nice cream, you know that bananas are the perfect ingredient in a healthy milkshake, as they mimic, well, ice cream. The key is to using really ripe bananas. Once your bananas are speckled with brown spots all over, peel them, slice into rounds, and place them in the freezer. When bananas are really ripe, they make for extra creamy nice cream, or in this case, extra creamy milkshakes. While overripe bananas are not great for snacking (to be honest, they make me vomit), they are incredibly sweet and when in frozen form, they are not only edible but in fact delicious. The sweetness of the ripe bananas means you may not even need to add any sweetener, though there is an option to add maple syrup to taste because, after all, this is dessert.
For the milk, feel free to use any plant-based milk , but I recommend something creamier than your standard store-bought almond milk. Again this is a milkshake and you’re looking for that thick and creamy texture. I used macadamia nut milk, but cashew milk, oat milk, or soy milk would also work nicely.
Since I kept the actual milkshake nutritious, I added a little decadence with the toppings. A homemade coconut whipped cream would be ideal, but I use this frozen coconut whipped topping when I’m in a pinch. I also added my favorite vegan chocolate chips (in whole form and melted), and some biscuit-style cookies because it reminded me of a s’mores and who doesn’t love s’mores??
The best part about this milkshake (besides how delicious AND healthy it is) is how easy it is to make. Of course, you can bake your sweet potatoes in the oven, but it’s also really easy to zap them in the microwave in just 5 minutes. With that method, you’ll be treated to chocolate heaven in under 10 minutes!
I hope you enjoy this easy, fall-inspired milkshake!
Vegan Chocolate Sweet Potato Milkshake
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Paleo
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes (about 14 ounces total)
3 cups macadamia nut milk or other plant milk
3 very ripe frozen bananas
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional, sweeten to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
To bake the sweet potatoes in the oven, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and bake on a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet for 45-50 minutes or until tender.
To cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave , prick the potatoes and wrap each of them in a damp paper towel. Heat the potatoes in the microwave on high for 4-6 minutes until tender. For both methods, allow the potatoes to cool slightly until you can handle them, and then slide the skins off.
In a high-powered blender, add the sweet potato flesh and the remaining milkshake ingredients. Blend until the bananas and sweet potatoes are completely pureéd and you have a thick, smooth, and creamy texture.
Pour the milkshake into glasses and garnish as desired.