Banana shakes are naturally thick, rich and creamy because the fruit, when blended, helps thicken the drink. While they can be kept simple and basic -- no more than bananas, blended with milk and ice cream -- the shakes can be easily individualized by adding in dried spices or different fruits, such as cinnamon or blueberries. Whipping up a banana shake can take as little as a minute.
The Basic Banana Shake
The basic shake uses only a mix of fruit with a liquid base. Use a 1 to 2 ratio of liquid to fruit for a thinner shake. For a thicker shake, use a 1 to 1 ratio of liquid to fruit. To prevent your shake from diluting unnecessarily, avoid using ice. Instead, to keep your shake cool, freeze sliced bananas for use in the shake. You can also freeze some of your liquid base in an ice cube tray. Blend on a medium-low setting until the bananas have been broken up and dispersed, then switch to a high setting, blending until smooth. Do not blend for more than 1 to 2 minutes as over-blending can cause the ingredients to melt too quickly, leading to a lukewarm rather than cool shake.
Base and Sweetener Options
The classic choice for a banana shake base is milk, perhaps with some ice cream. However, healthier options are available, including using Greek yogurt in place of the ice cream -- to help thicken the shake -- or using a variety of non-dairy milks, like soy milk or cashew milk. Some non-dairy milks come preflavored with vanilla or sugar, so they can affect the taste of your shake.
Banana shakes often do not need to be sweetened if you ripen your bananas enough before using. Some dark spots are okay, especially if you are freezing your bananas prior to use. If you decide to sweeten your shake, use a liquid sweetener, such as honey, maple syrup or agave syrup, rather than sugar crystals, as liquid sweetener mixes into the shake more easily.
Gussy It Up
Banana milk shakes can contain added fruits -- such as berries or even avocado -- for a distinctive shake. You can also make a drinkable variation of a banana dessert instead for a truly decadent treat. Blend together banana, graham cracker crumbs, milk and vanilla extract to make a shake version of banana cream pie. For something lighter-tasting, but still out of the ordinary, add peanut butter and cocoa powder to your basic banana shake.
Serve your banana shake in a clear glass -- the taller the better -- to show off the shake. For fancy shake variations, such as banana cream pie shakes, top with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup prior to serving. Another option is to add some of your shake ingredients to the top as a garnish, such as crumbled cookies for a banana and cookie shake. To keep your shake on the healthier side, dress it with no more than a small sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa powder or cinnamon.