Learn how to make sweet and refreshing smoothies in this ultimate guide, including tips, tricks, and optional ingredients. Smoothies 101!
Smoothies are a delicious and refreshing way to pack in nutrients! Once you learn how to make a smoothie, the process is super quick and simple. And you don’t even need a smoothie recipe!
It takes me about 5 minutes to whip up a smoothie, with virtually no mess or cleanup. I just pop my blender in the dishwasher and go on my merry way!
If you’re not a smoothie buff, the sheer list of optional ingredients can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, smoothies are easy to master and this ultimate guide will help you do just that!
How to Build a Smoothie:
Smoothies are simple to make and easy to customize! But you do need a few basic ingredients to build a perfect smoothie. Here’s a good jumping-off point to get started:
- Liquid base – Every smoothie needs a liquid base for a smooth blend and drinkable texture. Milk, almond milk, oat milk, orange juice, coconut water, or soy milk are all great options! It’s your smoothie so you can use whatever liquid you like.
- Creamy element – I always add a creamy element to my smoothies. Think banana, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. This creates a thick, ultra-creamy texture!
- Fruit – Frozen fruit is optimal for thickening and naturally sweetening a smoothie. The options are endless! Frozen berries, mango, pineapple, peaches, and cherries taste great in smoothies.
- Add-ins – Add-ins are optional but delicious! Nut butters, cocoa powder, dates, and protein powder are all considered add-ins.
Ingredients for Smoothies:
Once you’re ready to get your hands dirty and experiment with smoothie flavors, let this ingredient list inspire and guide you.
Fruits & Veggies:
- Berries – Berries are packed with antioxidants! They’re surprisingly versatile too. They go with all fruits, greens, and even nut butter!
- Bananas – I’m a HUGE fan of bananas! They’re naturally sweet, and creamy, and make the best smoothies.
- Apples – Add sweetness and a slight apple flavor! Peel the apples first if you don’t like any texture to your smoothie.
- Tropical fruits – Pineapple, mango, orange, and kiwi provide a tropical flair. My kids love this orange tropical smoothie!
- Stone fruits – Try frozen peaches and cherries!
- Greens – My green of choice is baby spinach. Spinach has a mild flavor and tender leaves so it doesn’t overpower the smoothie.
- Yogurt – I prefer unsweetened Greek yogurt for a healthy protein boost, but any yogurt works great. They have plenty of vegan and dairy-free options now too!
- Cottage cheese – Cottage cheese acts like Greek yogurt, but without tang. I don’t like cottage cheese plain, but I love it in smoothies!
- Avocado – Be sure to use a ripe avocado for the creamiest texture! Avocadoes provide healthy fats, a creamy texture, and filling calories.
- Milk – Whole milk has more fat in it than plant-based milk, which gives you a rich and creamy texture.
- Plant-based milk – Oat, coconut, almond, soy, and hemp milk are great options! Almond milk is my personal favorite since it’s lightly sweet, creamy, and low-calorie.
- Coconut water – A good source of electrolytes, like potassium, sodium, and manganese! It’s an acquired taste so make sure you like it before you enjoy it in smoothies.
- Tea – Green and matcha tea provides a boost of caffeine and antioxidants! Matcha tastes especially good with strawberries.
- Water – Cold water is a nutritious option if you’re looking to cut calories and sugar. Try it with berries, bananas, and yogurt.
- Juice – For the healthiest option, stick with juice that’s NOT from concentrate like orange juice.
- Canned coconut milk – A great way to add calories for weight gain smoothies!
- Unsweetened toasted coconut flakes – Adds a nutty crunch with no added sugar! Perfect for tropical smoothies or bowls.
- Granola – I love granola on all kinds of smoothies! Check the nutrition label and ingredient list for added sugars, or make your own!
- Seeds – Adds texture, a mild nuttiness, and plenty of plant-based nutrients! Flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and pepitas are all good options. They’re small, but pack a BIG nutritional punch!
- Fresh fruit – Feel free to get creative! Try sliced bananas, strawberries, kiwi, mango, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.
- Cacao nibs – Bitter cacao nibs are one of my favorite toppings! The bitterness pairs well with the natural sweetness of a smoothie.
- Herbs & spices – Try cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, spirulina, maca powder, or cilantro.
- Matcha powder – Matcha is full of antioxidants and boosts your metabolism! A nutritious addition for fruit or green smoothies.
- Nut butter – Adds a rich, nutty flavor! Peanut, almond, cashew, and sunflower seed butter all work great. Don’t be afraid to add it to berry smoothies!
- Sweetener – Try maple syrup, honey, or my favorite, dates! A date is a stone fruit that’s been dried to concentrate it’s sweetness.
- Protein powder – A scoop of protein powder can add up to 25 grams of protein!
- Cocoa powder – For a super rich and intensely chocolatey smoothie, use Dutch-processed cocoa.
How to make a smoothie:
Smoothies are very forgiving! If you don’t like the results, keep working at it until you do. It may only take a slight change to make it perfectly sweet, creamy, or indulgent.
- Choose your ingredients. Remember to choose a liquid base, a creamy element, fruit, and any add-ins you like!
- Combine ingredients in the base of your high-speed blender.
- Blend until thick, smooth, and pourable.
- Adjust ingredients as necessary. If the smoothie’s too thick, add a splash of more liquid. If it’s too thin, add more frozen ingredients. If it’s not sweet enough, add a teaspoon of maple syrup.
It’s no secret you need a blender (or a food processor at the very least) to make a smoothie!
It’s best to purchase a high-speed blender with a powerful motor for the best results. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Vitamix – The crème de la crème of blenders. A Vitamix is definitely an investment, at prices soaring over 300 dollars! It’s a powerful blender that gives you a silky smooth texture every single time.
- Ninja – If a Vitamix isn’t in your budget, a Ninja is a great idea! They have budget-friendly options for $120 and under. I got mine for 75 bucks and it’s worked great for years.
- Nutribullet – A single-serve blender where the base is also the serving cup! It’s easy to clean and produces a consistently smooth texture.
Smoothie Making Tips:
- Be intentional with ingredients! It’s easy to turn a healthy smoothie into a sugar bomb. Watch for added sugars in concentrated fruit juice, sweetened yogurt, canned fruit, or added sweeteners like honey.
- Adjust the ingredient ratios as necessary. If the smoothie isn’t sweet enough, add more fruit. If it’s too thick, add a splash of liquid etc. It’s easy to fix a smoothie that doesn’t taste quite right.
- You don’t need ice! Ice isn’t necessary if you add frozen fruit to your smoothie. Frozen fruit provides a smoother texture than ice does.
Smoothies are easy to make! First pick your liquid, frozen fruits, and a creamy element like a banana or yogurt. Combine all the ingredients in the base of a blender and blend until thick, creamy, and smooth.
While milk gives you a full, rich flavor, water works great too! Just be sure to add a creamy element if you choose to use water. For example, add yogurt, cottage cheese, or a banana.
More Smoothie Recipes:
Easy Everyday Smoothie
- ½ cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 banana
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ cup coconut water
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 60 seconds, and serve!
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