Build Your Dream Milkshake at Cook Out, a Southern-Favorite Chain

With over 40 milkshake flavors and 250+ locations, Cook Out has become a beloved Southern institution.

Cook Out milkshakes
Photo: courtesy of @cookout on Instagram

I recently stumbled upon a Twitter account named “Bring Cook Out To Louisville.” The account’s bio reads, “Louisville, KY has a population of 602,111 people who are all craving Cook Out.” A 2-year-old petition with the same mission—“Bring Cookout to Louisville”—has 331 signatures; under the reasons for signing, one supporter comments, “Because my love for Cookout transcends this material world.” Needless to say, Southerners feel very strongly about Cook Out.

Cook Out—an iconic chain with over 250 locations across the South—has just about everything you’d expect to find at a fast food joint. The food menu features North Carolina barbecue and fried favorites (the hushpuppies are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser). The tray is undoubtedly one of the best fast food deals you’ll find; the combo pairs your choice of a main (from a Cajun Chicken Sandwich to 2 Quesadillas) with two sides (in the dream world that is Cook Out, chicken nuggets count as a side), and a beverage (go for a fan-favorite Cheerwine Float or substitute a regular shake). You can get all of this for just $4.99. It’s almost too good to be true.

But cars really line up in the drive-thru lane for the signature milkshakes. Cook Out’s cast of “Fancy Milkshakes” includes 40+ flavors, ranging from Banana to Butterfinger. Not satisfied with the bounty of milkshake options? Mix up your own creation.

At Cook Out, you can combine any number of milkshake flavors to create your dream shake. Some all-star combinations include Chocolate-Oreo and Peanut Butter-Banana Fudge, but you can get as creative as you’d like. Want something extra nutty? Blend Banana Nut and Walnut. Want a fruity, refreshing shake that you can *almost* pass off as a smoothie? Try Red Cherry-Peach. Craving a Mocha-Pineapple mix-up? Sounds weird, but go for it. At Cook Out, the world of milkshakes brims with possibility. Countless concoctions are available at your fingertips—1,081 combinations, to be exact (if you mix any 2 flavors, including the seasonal specials).

Of course, you can’t go wrong with the basics: The chain boasts 7 different chocolate milkshake options, including Chocolate Chip Cherry, Chocolate Malt, and Chocolate Nut. Instantly ramp up a standard flavor with one of Cook Out’s substantial mix-ins—Cheesecake milkshakes come with whole chunks of the creamy, decadent dessert mixed in; Fresh Watermelon (only available July-August) is studded with gems of juicy watermelon.

While the chain has expanded exponentially since its 1989 opening in Greensboro, North Carolina, it’s still stayed true to its Southern roots. Some of the menu’s milkshakes (like Banana Pudding and Peach Cobbler) pay homage classic Southern desserts. You’ll need a spoon to fully enjoy the Banana Pudding shake; the thick vanilla base melds beautifully with fresh slices of banana and crunchy Nilla Wafers.

Although there’s really no wrong way to turn on Cook Out’s milkshake menu, a few flavors have gained our Editors’ seal of approval. Banana, Oreo, and “anything with brownie bits” are among our top picks, but we’re not here to declare any winners. Mama loves all her children (read: all her Cook Out shakes) equally.

WATCH: Pumpkin Spice Milkshake

Which milkshake flavor deserves a spot in the Cook Out hall of fame? Let us know, y’all.

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