This papaya shake tastes like a milkshake but is actually quite healthy! Even if you don't like papaya, you've got to try this papaya smoothie, trust me!
This is an authentic Dominican papaya shake recipe (batida de lechosa) which can be enjoyed for breakfast, dessert, or as a snack.
My husband is from the Dominican Republic, and his grandma always whips up the most delicious shakes for us.
This Dominican Papaya Shake (Batida de Lechosa) is one of our favorites, and it is sooo easy to make with just a couple of ingredients (mainly just papaya and milk of your choice).
We don't even like papaya on its own, but this papaya milkshake is just out of this world delicious. It doesn't even make sense to me how a so-so fruit can taste so so good in a shake.
We have this papaya shake often for breakfast, as a mid-day snack, or even as part of our dinner when I don't feel like cooking anything huge. A small salad and a huge papaya shake for dessert is a perfect meal some days!
Related recipe: Chocolate Avocado Smoothie
Is papaya shake healthy?
Papaya is one of the healthiest fruits out there! For one, it is low in sugar (see this list of other low sugar fruits, if you're curious) and low in calories.
In addition to that, it is very high in Vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and fiber. Papaya is loaded with antioxidants and lycopene, which have anti-cancer properties.
In short, papaya is healthy, and drinking a papaya shake can absolutely be part of a healthy diet.
But papaya is not the tastiest of fruits on its own, so I am pretty excited that this papaya shake tastes so good. It actually tastes nothing like papaya. I don't know what kind of magic happens when you blend papaya with milk and a tiny bit of sugar, but I am glad this papaya smoothie allows us to actually get the health benefits of papaya.
Related recipe: Blueberry Delight
Can you mix papaya with milk?
Yes, papaya can be mixed with milk. It does not curdle when mixed with cow's milk and tastes really delicious with milk. You can also mix papaya with plant-based milk alternatives.
Related recipe: Buttermilk Smoothie
How to make a really good papaya shake
A really good papaya shake has 4 main ingredients: papaya, milk, sugar, and rum. And ice, of course.
Yes. We'll get to that later.
There's also a healthier way to make this papaya shake (more on that below).
Using whole milk for this papaya shake recipe makes it an authentic Dominican batida de papaya. My husband's grandma didn't have fancy skim milk or almond milk in the Dominican Republic. The little bit of fat from whole milk makes this papaya shake truly taste like a milkshake.
Even with whole milk, a HUGE 16 ounce serving of papaya shake has about 200 calories. So it's really not so bad for a filling drink that can easily be a breakfast substitute!
Related recipe: Mulberry Iced Tea
My husband's grandma also adds a tiny bit of rum to this recipe. It's the secret ingredient that really enhances the flavor of this papaya shake. She does this even when she makes the shake for kids!
The amount of rum she adds is very very small - usually 1 or 2 capfuls of rum (so about 1-2 teaspoons). It's not enough to get anyone tipsy and not enough to make your taste the rum. It's just enough to add a little something something to this papaya milkshake that will make you go "OMG what is in here that is so good??"
You can use pretty much any kind of rum here: white rum, spiced rum, flavored rum. Coconut rum is pretty amazing in this papaya shake.
Do yourself a favor and try the papaya shake as-is without any healthy modifications the first time. You owe it to yourself.
After that you can play around with using lighter milk alternatives or skipping the sugar or rum. But if you can drink cow's milk and a tiny bit of rum, make it the authentic way. Just once.
Related recipe: Mulberry Mojitos
How to make a really good vegan papaya shake
If you can't drink milk, you can still make a milkshake-tasting version using plant-based milks. I would recommend using about a 1:1 ratio canned coconut milk combined with a lighter milk, such as coconut milk alternative or almond milk.
The richness of the canned coconut milk really enhances the flavor of the papaya smoothie and makes it taste more like a milkshake, just like whole milk cow's milk would do.
Related recipe: Strawberry Chia Lemonade
How to make a healthy papaya shake
Of course, you can make this papaya shake a little healthier. To do so you can make a sugar free papaya shake by just skipping the sugar.
Or use less sugar, or use honey or agave syrup, or a calorie-free sweetened. Use a light almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk instead of cow's milk. Skip the rum. This recipe is flexible.
It will still be good.
I do this from time to time when I want something light, healthy, and refreshing. But it's definitely not the same as enjoying the authentic batida de lechosa version!
Related recipe: Minty Green Iced Tea
How much does this recipe make? / Storing leftovers
This recipe makes two very large adult-sized servings of papaya shake - just over 16 oz each, as you see in the picture above. Or this can be 4-6 small kid-sized servings (maybe skip the rum for kids 😉 )
You can definitely cut the recipe in half. Or make the whole batch and store any leftovers in a large mason jar mug in the fridge.
Papaya shakes and papaya smoothies get weirdly chunky and gel up after a few hours. They are still fine to drink, but the texture is not amazing. If this happens to your leftover papaya shake, just re-blend it for a few seconds and it will be smooth again. No need to add more ice or anything else. Just a quick pulse in the blender and it will be good as new.
I do this all the time with leftover papaya smoothie!
What you need to make this papaya shake
A few of my favorite things for this recipe:
- A large blender. I highly recommend my blendtec blender. It's a little pricey but sooo worth it because it crushes ice like nobody's business and makes light and frothy smoothies. It often goes on sale on Amazon, so definitely check if you're interested in investing in one!
- Pint-sized mason jar mugs. The little handle is great for enjoying cold drinks without freezing your hand!
- Paper straws. These colorful ones are fun and don't seem to break down and get mushy as quickly as others that I have tried.
Looking for other refreshing fruit and drink recipes?
- Coffee breakfast smoothie - a convenient coffee+breakfast drink!
- Chocolate whipped coffee - such a treat!
- Pumpkin spiced whipped coffee
- Fruit salad with honey lime dressing
- Watermelon martini (this is the official Bonefish Grill recipe!)
- Honey ginger limeade
I hope you get to make this papaya shake! It is such a great way to eat papaya even if you don't like papaya on its own. Give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed!
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
- 1/2 ripe papaya (see notes)
- 1.5 cups ice cubes
- 1.5 cups milk (any kind - whole milk is tastiest, but low fat, skim, or vegan milk alternatives are great too!)
- 1 tablespoon sugar, honey, or agave (optional)
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
- Slice the papaya in half. Scoop out the papaya seeds with a spoon. Peel the papaya and chop it into rough pieces about 2 inches each (You should have about 2 rounded cups of papaya).
- Combine all the ingredients in a large blender in the order listed in the ingredients section. Blend until smooth. Add more sugar and/or milk, if desired. Enjoy immediately. (See notes for enjoying leftovers)
- I use 1/2 of a medium papaya for this recipe (2 lb papaya, or about a 8-9 inch papaya). Half a papaya is about 2 very rounded cups of papaya.
- For a SUPER DELICIOUS papaya shake, use whole milk. For a healthier lighter version (which still tastes great), use low fat or skim milk, or almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
- For a SUPER DELICIOUS VEGAN papaya shake, use a combination of 1:1 coconut milk from a can and lighter coconut milk or other plant-based milk alternative. The richness of canned coconut milk is amazing.
- Sugar is totally optional in this recipe but really makes this papaya shake taste like a milkshake instead of a smoothie. You can use a natural sweetener such as honey or agave syrup instead, of skip the sweetener altogether.
- Rum gives this papaya shake an amazing flavor. 1 tablespoon is less than 1 shot of rum so it's not enough to get anyone tipsy, but it just adds a little something something to this recipe. Try it, if drink alcohol! Any rum will work (white, dark, spiced), but coconut rum is absolutely amazing in this recipe.
- To store leftovers: place the papaya shake in a mason jar or glass in the fridge. Papaya gels a bit over time and gets a chunky texture, so just re-blend it in a blender again before serving to make it smooth again. No need to add more ice!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 101mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 7g
The nutritional information displayed is just an estimate and will vary depending on the actual ingredients and brands used and the exact amounts used. Please consult with a dietitian or nutritionist if you are actually tracking nutritional information for health reasons.