Toasted Oatmeal and Brown Sugar Shake

This image courtesy of Andre Baranowski

This shake is the brainchild of my friend Dawn, who was inspired by the wide range of oatmeal-based drinks throughout Latin America and much of the Caribbean. In different countries the drinks may have different names—chicha de avena in Ecuador, horchata de avena in Guatemala, or jugo de avena (when it is mixed with juice) in the Dominican Republic—but the word avena, which is oatmeal in Spanish, is always present. In fact, the drinks are sometimes called just avena. High-quality oats are essential here—keep the quick-cooking and instant “just-add-boiling-water” varieties in the cupboard. Bob’s Red Mill, an Oregon company whose products are widely available, produces very good thick-cut rolled oats. They’re also available online, at


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursebeverage

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian


Taste and Texturecreamy, frothy, rich, savory, spiced, sweet

Type of Dishbeverage, shake


  • 1 tablespoon (about 1/2 ounce/15 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce/28 grams) high-quality rolled oats, preferably thick cut
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup (about 9 ounces/275 milliliters total) cold whole or lowfat milk
  • 2/3 cup (about 5 ounces/150 milliliters) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons (about 1 1/2 ounces/36 grams) light brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 8 medium scoops (about 1 quart/24 ounces/680 grams) French vanilla ice cream, softened until just melty at the edges


  1. For the oats:

  2. Melt the butter in a small nonstick saucepan over medium heat until it stops foaming. Add the oats and cook, stirring constantly, until medium golden brown and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Standing back because the mixture will spit and sputter, add 2?3 cup milk, the water, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oats are very soft and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 18 minutes. Off the heat, cool the mixture to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

  3. For the shake:

  4. Place 2/3 cups (5 ounces/142 grams) of the cooked oats, the remaining 1/2 cups (4 ounces/125 milliliters) milk, the brown sugar, and cloves in a blender and blend until the oats are completely broken down and incorporated into the milk, about 1 minutes. Add the ice cream and pulse several times to begin breaking it up. With the blender motor off, use a flexible spatula to mash the mixture down onto the blender blades. Continue pulsing, stopping, and mashing until the mixture is well blended, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, roughly 30 to 90 seconds. Pour into a chilled glass or glasses, and serve at once.

  5. To make this shake with Scotch and honey, substitute 2 tablespoons (about 1 ounce/30 milliliters) Scotch whiskey for 2 tablespoons of the 1/2 cup milk in the shake, reduce the brown sugar to 2 tablespoons (about 1 ounce/36 grams), and add 2 tablespoons of honey (about 1 1/2 ounces/43 grams) to the blender along with the ice cream.


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