We’re arriving at that time of year when we’re hit with one of the hardest eating dilemmas fast food fans ever face. Picture it — the sun is shining, the grass is green, life is good… and you may find yourself in another part of the world, and you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile, and you may find yourself in a beautiful drive-thru, with a beautiful domestic partner, and you may ask yourself — “do I get a chocolate shake with my meal?”
Yes, as temperatures heat up nationwide, we’re finally in a season where we can order chocolate milkshakes from our favorite fast food restaurants and not look like total psychos for slow-sipping frozen desserts while bundled up in puffer jackets. The living is easy, as the poet once said. But with so many great fast food milkshakes out there, where is your money (and caloric intake) best spent?
We set to find out by putting our favorite chocolate milkshakes to the blind taste test to see what mix truly delivers the goods. Let’s dive in!
To focus on the best of the best, we choose the top four milkshakes from our Chocolate Milkshake Ranking from last year and one newcomer to the scene. Last year, we named — in descending order — Chick-fil-A, In-N-Out, Shake Shack, and Five Guys as the four best chocolate milkshakes in all of fast food. Now we’re testing those four against America’s fastest-growing chicken chain, Dave’s Hot Chicken, to see if our ranking still holds.
Because we’re dealing with a cold product that will melt, I knew this taste test was going to be a tough one. Luckily, I was able to scoop up all five milkshakes in about 25 minutes, which was enough time for all of them to keep their consistency while tucked in a cooler. I didn’t have time to make it back home, though — so my girlfriend and I parked in a nearby parking lot, I donned my tasting blindfold, and she handed me each shake, then helped me record my impressions into my phone.
Because all of the brands serve their milkshakes in distinctively different cups, I made sure that she held the milkshake as I sipped, so I wouldn’t end up trying to guess where each milkshake was from. Need I remind you that I am a sophisticated professional, just sipping shakes blindfolded beside a K-Mart? Anyway, I took pictures of each milkshake after the tasting, so if they look a little brutal, that’s why.
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Food Rankings From The Last Month
Part 1: The Milkshake Tasting
The dominant flavor here is vanilla soft-serve ice cream. It feels like the chocolate notes take a real backseat here. It’s delicate and slightly floral with a weak milk chocolate flavor on the aftertaste.
The consistency is thick and luxurious, but since the chocolate tastes like an afterthought, I fear this one isn’t going to rank well.
Much better than Taste 1, rich chocolate notes dominate this milkshake. The consistency is a bit looser and more watery than Taste 1, which makes it more drinkable. I think chocolate milkshakes are best experienced when they deliver bursts of flavors that you can savor, and while I think the consistency really hurts the overall experience here, I can’t deny the deep chocolate flavor.
Very balanced, the chocolate flavors are well represented here with hints of cocoa hovering over a thick and creamy ice cream base. I love the thick consistency here, it takes a significant amount of pressure to work the shake up the straw but the richness is worth all the extra effort.
From my notes: “Wow — this one is significantly different than the Tastes 1-3.”
The chocolate flavor is complex, offering a balance of rich cocoa, earthy brown sugar notes, some nutty notes, and a malted milk flavor that makes each sip so rich and pleasant that I actually said “goddamn!” after the first few. This is the sort of milkshake you can really savor, and it has an addicting quality that draws you in.
I ended up with some significant brain freeze after this one because I wouldn’t stop sipping on it.
The chocolate here is interesting, it hits your palate with an initial rich and heavy cocoa and fudge flavor, but the aftertaste is entirely dominated by a creamy vanilla base. That initial taste is good, but it leaves me wanting more chocolate. The consistency is great, it’s thick with the right amount of air in it that makes it easier to drink than the ultra-dense texture of Taste 3, but the vanilla finish feels like a weak close for something that ought to taste mostly like chocolate.
I’m really torn on this one, it’s definitely not a number one for me, but whether I want to put it at two or three is going to take some thinking.
Part 2: The Milkshake Ranking
5. Chick-fil-A — Chocolate Milkshake (Taste 1)
The Chick-fil-A milkshake’s consistency is on point — it’s thick, creamy, super rich, and luxurious while still being easily drinkable. I’m not sure how they do it! Unfortunately, because this milkshake tasted so little like chocolate, I can’t in good conscience rank this any higher than last place.
The whipped cream and cherry are a nice touch and add a creamy and bright and fruity component to the shake, but unfortunately, that’s not what this shake needs. What it needs is more chocolate!
The Bottom Line:
A great milkshake, but not chocolatey enough for chocolate lovers.
Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.
4. Dave’s Hot Chicken (Taste 2)
I like Dave’s Hot Chicken, I think the bare bones menu works in the restaurant’s favor and helps to ensure that everything they do, they do well. On its own, this is a delicious chocolate shake that you’d have to be insanely picky to complain about. But against the competition? It was the watery consistency that made this one rank this low.
It lacks the luxuriousness that every other milkshake we tasted has, if it wasn’t for its deep rich chocolate flavor it would’ve easily taken the last place spot for us.
The Bottom Line:
A great chocolate-forward flavor, but a thin and watery consistency when compared to the rest of our tasting class.
Find your nearest Dave’s Hot Chicken here.
3. Five Guys — Chocolate Milkshake (Taste 5)
Five Guys took the top spot in our ranking of chocolate shakes last year and oh how the mighty have fallen. The chocolate flavor here is good, but unfortunately, this shake’s dominating flavor is the vanilla base the chocolate is mixed in — which made this come across as less chocolatey than our top two.
It’s entirely possible that this came down to the person who mixed my milkshake, but if Five Guys aren’t able to consistently deliver a great chocolate milkshake experience, they probably don’t deserve our number one spot. If you’re a Five Guys fan don’t take this too hard, a chocolate shake at Five Guys feels sort of like a waste when you can add things like bananas, strawberries, or bacon into the mix.
The Bottom Line:
There is no need to go simple at Five Guys. The chocolate milkshake is good, but throwing in more mix-ins (which are free by the way) is the smarter move than going pure chocolate.
Find your nearest Five Guys here.
2. In-N-Out Chocolate Milkshake (Taste 3)
In-N-Out’s Chocolate Milkshake was tough to rank. Because it’s not the most chocolatey, I thought about giving it the third-place spot and throughout this ranking, I’ve been hard on milkshakes that taste more like vanilla than chocolate. But while this milkshake isn’t intensely chocolatey, I wouldn’t say that it tastes like vanilla, per se. Instead, it tastes balanced and that’s a good thing.
The chocolatey notes are faint, but they’re present throughout the entire experience. Unlike what Chick-fil-A and Five Guys offer, the flavors here don’t come in waves, instead, it offers a consistent flavor that tracks undeniably as chocolate. It’s delicious and by far has the best consistency of the five.
The Bottom Line:
This milkshake isn’t the most chocolatey, but it has the thickest consistency and the most consistent flavor. The first sip tastes as good as the last — the chocolate here is mixed perfectly.
Find your nearest In-N-Out here.
1. Shake Shack — Malted Chocolate Milkshake (Taste 4)
Shake Shack’s Malted Chocolate Milkshake is far and above the best, richest, sweetest, and most chocolatey milkshake you can find in fast food. You could argue the fact that this milkshake is malted (made with malted milk powder) makes it an unfair comparison against these unmalted milkshakes because that extra ingredient offered a savory, more flavorful experience, but I would counter that maybe all milkshakes should be malted.
The difference is undeniable, I don’t know that I tracked that this milkshake tasted obviously malted, I wasn’t even aware that my girlfriend ordered it “malted,” which is an option Shake Shack offers, but it was clear that this milkshake had something else going on that the others lacked.
The Bottom Line:
If you want the most decadent, savory milkshake your money can buy, make sure you go to Shake Shack and make sure you order that baby “malted.” It makes all the difference.
Find your nearest Shake Shack here.