How To Make an Orange Julius

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Orange Julius recipes have been floating around for years, but I was always skeptical about them. I thought they could never be as good as the “real thing,” and even though I haven’t had the real thing in at least 25 years, that drink was still on a pedestal in my memory.

But I recently tried making an Orange Julius at home. Turns out, it’s not only as good as the “real thing” — it’s better.

Ninja Professional Countertop Blender
Ninja Professional Countertop Blender
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

The History of Orange Julius

This cool, creamy drink was born from an orange juice stand, opened in the mid-1920s in Los Angeles by Julius Freed. After a few years of stagnant sales, a new, creamier, more frothy drink was created to make the acidic orange juice less bothersome. It was a hit. People began lining up at the store and shouting, “Give me an Orange, Julius!” And so the name of the drink was born.

What Exactly Is an Orange Julius?

If you’ve never tried this frothy drink, you’re in for a sweet treat! An Orange Julius is a blend of frozen orange juice concentrate, milk, vanilla, sugar, and ice. It’s not quite a smoothie; it’s too sweet — more like a dessert — to be considered a smoothie. And it’s not as milky or thick as a milkshake, either. It’s sweet and frothy, lightly frozen, and tastes just like a Creamsicle.

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How To Make an Orange Julius

Makes2 drinks


  • 1 cup

    milk (whole, 2%, or skim)

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1

    6-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate

  • 1/2 cup

    sugar (or sugar substitutes, check package for equivalence)

  • 1 1/2 cups



  • Blender

  • Glasses


  1. Blend the milk and vanilla: Pour the milk and vanilla in a blender and pulse until combined.

  2. Add the frozen concentrate: Add the frozen orange juice concentrate. Blend until fully combined with the milk.

  3. Add the sugar and ice cubes: Blend until cubes are crushed and mixture has thickened. If things end up a little thick, just add a tablespoon of water and mix once again.

  4. Pour and enjoy: Pour the drink into glasses. Serve with a straw and sip your way to blissful happiness.

Recipe Notes

I used 2% milk, though you can also use whole or skim milk with equally delicious results.

If you don't have orange juice concentrate (or aren't into buying it), I'd suggest freezing fresh orange juice into cubes (or in an 8x8-inch pan, then break it into chunks). Without that added iciness, the overall texture of the drink will change dramatically, and adding more ice in the end just doesn't work. (You end up with a more-soupy, less-flavored version of the original.)

This post has been updated — first published August 2010.

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