Drinks

How to Make a Smoothie (Complete Guide)

Ice smoothies are a refreshing summertime drink that can be made with whatever fruit you like. They're easy to make, and they can be frozen in any shape or size. Here's how to make ice smoothies:
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These are the essential tips on how to make the perfect smoothie. It’s important to understand the right ratio of ingredients to ensure a thick, but sippable nutrient-packed drink.

How to Make a Smoothie

It’s time to become a smoothie pro with your kitchen blender! Grab a bunch of whole fruits, vegetables, and frozen foods to break down into a healthy snack. It may be tempting to just chop and dump, but there’s a science to the process.

This complete smoothie guide will provide the preferred starting ratio of frozen, fresh, and liquid ingredients for success. Whether you’re a fruit smoothie fan or need a green smoothie reset, there are tips for customizing your own concoction.

How to make a smoothie

To create a creamy texture that’s easy to drink, it’s important to add the right ratio of each type of ingredient. At least half of the smoothie recipe should be frozen, ⅔ is ideal. Start with choosing an item from each category below to make the base.

The base ratio

  • Liquid: ¾ to 1 cup (add more as needed to process the smoothie)
  • Yogurt: ¼ to ½ cup (optional)
  • Fresh Fruits/Vegetables: 1 to 3 cups
  • Leafy Greens: 1 to 2 cups
  • Frozen Fruit: 2 to 2 ½ cups
  • Ice Cubes: 1 cup
  • Sweetener: 1 to 3 teaspoons (optional)

You can mix and match various foods to create a colorful and nutritious drink. For every 1 cup of liquid, non-frozen fruit or vegetable, or yogurt, add at least 1 cup of frozen ingredients (fruit and/or ice).

Liquids (milk, juice, water)

Various milks and juice liquids to make a smoothie

Milk-based ingredients help to mellow out bitter flavors while adding a more luscious mouthfeel. Try milk, coconut milk, nut milk (cashew, almond milk, macadamia nut), sesame milk, hemp milk, banana milk, soy milk, or oat milk.

Fruit juice like apple juice, cranberry, pomegranate, orange juice, pineapple adds natural sweetness and acidity, making fruity flavors pop. Coconut water is a great addition to deliver hydration, electrolytes, and sweetness.

Yogurt

Types of yogurt containers

Yogurt is a great way to add extra protein, probiotics for digestive health, and creaminess to smoothies. Try Greek yogurt, cashew, coconut, soy, dairy, oat, almond milk yogurt. Flavored options like vanilla yogurt add some depth but watch up for a lot of extra added sugar. I typically select plain and unsweetened, or naturally sweetened with fruit.

Fresh fruit

Colorful variety of fresh cut fruit

Using whole fruit gets the benefits of insoluble and soluble fibers, phytonutrients, and micronutrients. Try apples, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, oranges, melon, watermelon, pineapple, banana, peaches, pomegranate arils, peaches, mango, papaya, pear, kiwi, lemons, limes. Cut larger pieces of fruits into 1-inch cubes, ½-inch thick slices.

Frozen fruit

Frozen fruits separated out in small jars

Frozen fruit is always available in the freezer section of grocery stores, so you can enjoy them even when not in season to make a tasty smoothie. Try peaches, strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, or mango. Frozen fruit can be substituted for ice cubes to create a thicker consistency that won’t dilute the flavor.

Vegetables and greens

Chopped and sliced pieces of vegetables

Robust vegetables like carrots, beets, cucumbers, celery, and broccoli have fiber, energizing nutrients, and add body to smoothies. Leafy greens like spinach, baby kale, or various types of lettuce like romaine, bibb or Boston lettuce are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Cut tough vegetables down into slices or smaller 1-inch pieces to make it easier to process. Thoroughly wash the greens before blending to remove any dirt and reduce the transfer of harmful bacteria.

Sweeteners

Several types of sweeteners to make a smoothie

To balance any bitter notes or acidity from the fruit and vegetables, add a sweetener. Taste the smoothie first then adjust, often times the fruit has enough natural sweetness. Try dates, date syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or coconut palm sugar. Start with 1 teaspoon sweetener, blend, then increase to taste.

Spices and flavor enhancers

Spices you can use to make a smoothie

Spices and flavoring agents like cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, ginger (fresh or dried), cardamom, cocoa powder, matcha green tea powder, pure vanilla extract or almond extract add zip to each sip! Start with a small amount, about ¼ to ½ teaspoon, taste and increase amount to your liking.

Nutritional boosts

Nutritional boosts to add to a smoothie

Protein, superfoods, antioxidant-rich ingredients, and nutritional boosts are a great way to pack in extra benefits into each serving. Try protein powder, nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew), yogurt, chia seeds, matcha green tea powder, flax seeds, cacao powder, acai (frozen puree or powder), banana, and raw oats like old fashioned or instant.

Ways to thicken a smoothie

Ingredients used to thicken a smoothie

Frozen fruit or ice is the first way to thicken smoothies. However yogurt, bananas, coconut milk (or any opaque liquid), avocado, tofu, and nut butter can assist in creating a creamy consistency. If using tofu, start off with ¼ to ½ cup cubes of silken tofu. For avocado, use ½ of the fruit first so the taste doesn’t become too rich.

Layering ingredients in the proper sequence

Adding ingredients into the blender in the right order is key for breaking down those tough, fibrous, leafy, or icy ingredients into a smooth consistency. According to Vitamix, this is the recommended way to layer in each ingredient, depending on the size of your kitchen blender:

  • Large containers (more than 20 ounces): First add any wet ingredients (liquids, yogurt, sweeteners), followed by dry goods, leafy greens, fresh fruits/vegetables, then frozen ingredients last.
  • Small containers (20 ounces or less): First add frozen ingredients, fresh fruits/vegetables, leafy greens, dry goods, and wet ingredients last.

Adjusting the blender speed

It’s best to gradually ramp up the speed on the blender. Start with medium speed for about 30 seconds. This gives the blades the chance to gradually break things up without burning out the motor. Use a plastic tamper to help push down all of the ingredients into the fast-moving blades at the bottom of the cup.

Turn the speed to high for 15 to 30 seconds for final processing. This is when I add any extra liquid or ice needed to help with blending. If the smoothie doesn’t easily whirl and move, it needs a little more liquid, add small amounts at a time to keep thick but sippable consistency.

Do you have to add ice?

No, ice cubes are not necessary to make a smoothie, as long as you’re using frozen fruits. Replace 1:1 ice cubes to frozen fruit is recommended. The ice will create a smooth, thick, chilly texture, or frothy if only a small amount is used. I like to add both ice cubes and frozen fruit together to create the perfect consistency.

When using only fresh fruit

If frozen fruit is not available, that’s okay! Fresh fruit still adds body to the smoothie as the ingredients become pureed. However, you won’t get that cool chill. Add in ice cubes, start with ½ cup to 1 cup of ice (depending on the size of the drink), add more until the desired consistency is reached.

Just be aware that the more ice used, the more the flavor will dilute as the ice melts.

Fresh homemade fruit smoothie in a glass cup

More smoothie recipes

  • Orange Julius Smoothie
  • Strawberry Banana Smoothie
  • Cranberry Orange Smoothie

View all Smoothie recipes

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