There’s nothing quite like that first spoonful of a Wendy’s Frosty. The cold, sweet drink is as old as the red-headed girl on the logo; the Frosty premiered as one of founder Dave Thomas' original creations on the day the first Wendy’s opened in 1969, says Denny Lynch, senior VP of communications at Wendy’s. "[Thomas] wanted a really thick shake at first, but was concerned that restaurants couldn’t produce it consistently," he says. So Thomas went to a dairy supplier and told them to take half vanilla and half chocolate dairy products and mix them together — and to make it thick.
The result was a creamy treat so thick that you can’t even sip it through a straw. Of course, the official Wendy’s Frosty recipe is on lockdown. But Lynch shared with us that the original recipe has remained almost exactly the same in the 40-plus years Wendy’s has been whipping them up. "The only difference is that ice cream has a large amount of butter fat, so we’ve lowered the [percentage] of butter fat in our Frostys to meet customer demand,” Lynch says.
Of course, a Frosty isn’t as simple as a batch of ice cream: According to the Wendy’s website and its nutritional guides, a true Frosty contains not just milk, sugar, and cream, but also corn syrup and artificial flavorings. But the secret to the thickness of the Wendy’s Frosty just might be the guar gum, a natural food thickener similar to cornstarch or tapioca flour. Guar gum also prevents unwanted ice crystals from forming in ice creams by binding with water molecules, creating a creamy texture minus the watery mess.
Still, it’s not hard to try to replicate a Wendy’s Frosty at home: Brandie Skibinski of the blog The Country Cook has an at-home recipe for a Wendy’s Frosty — Wendy’s fries not included. (The custom of dipping fries in Wendy’s Frostys was never actually promoted by Wendy’s, Lynch says, but was a consumer trick that caught on.) So what's Lynch’s advice for getting the Wendy’s Frosty taste at home? Stockpile them in your freezer. "We have a lot of people doing that," he says. "We had one college — presumably a dorm — submit a photo to us of an entire freezer just filled with Frostys. It’s a pretty common practice." But in case you don't have the space (or the cash) to stock up on a freezer full of Frostys, we're here to show you how to make your very own Frosty at home.
Chocolate, Chocolate, and More Chocolate
Skibinski, who blogs at The Country Cook, uses very simple ingredients for her at-home Frosty’s recipe: chocolate milk and condensed milk. Yes, that’s really it. But use a very rich chocolate milk, Skibinski says. "Yoo-hoo or a thick, rich chocolate milk is going to provide the best, most authentic flavor for this," she says.
The Ice Cream Maker
The most important equipment you’ll need, though, is an ice cream maker. Only an ice cream maker will give you the right consistency, Skibinski says. "I've had a couple of folks try to mix it together and put it in the freezer and it just doesn't set up right," she says. "You need that ice cream maker to really whip some air into it." (You can also use a blender for the Frosty recipe: check out the last section for a how-to using a blender.)
The Secret to the At-Home Frosty
Another key factor in making the perfect Wendy’s Frosty at home is to freeze the ice cream maker bowl for 24 to 48 hours. If it’s not frozen, it might take up to two days for the room-temperature ingredients to freeze, Skibinski says. You should also put plastic wrap on the bowl to prevent those dreaded ice crystals from forming. "Ice crystals can compromise the integrity of the Frosty by adding additional water to the cream mixture — which you don’t want," Skibinski says.
The Final Step
Blend your concoction for about 25 minutes, Skibinski says, depending on your model of ice cream maker. Once it’s that thick consistency of a Frosty drink, it’s ready to be served — and enjoyed.
The Country Cook’s At-Home Frosty Recipe
1 quart chocolate milk
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
(Cook’s Note: Skibinski has a 1 ½-quart ice cream maker and this recipe works perfectly for this size. If your ice cream maker is larger, you may want to double the recipe.)
Directions for the Country Cook’s At-Home Frosty Recipe
With an ice cream maker
In a medium bowl, whisk together chocolate milk and sweetened condensed milk until combined.
Pour into canister of ice cream maker and freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions.
Turn your ice cream maker on before pouring. This helps to prevent the liquid from sticking to the sides right away.
Pull off the plastic wrap from your ice cream maker bowl, and pour the mixture into the bowl as it is turning. Blend for about 25 minutes for a thick consistency. Serve in cups (with spoons).
With a blender
In a large mixing bowl, combine chocolate milk and sweetened condensed milk. Mix the ingredients using a large blender. Once thoroughly combined, put the mixture into a freezer safe container and freeze for 2 or more hours, making sure you stir thoroughly every half hour until desired thickness is reached.