Drinks

How to Make a Smoothie Thicker

A thick, smoothie is a great way to start the day. Follow these easy steps to make your own:
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Have you ever admired the beautiful thick smoothie bowls in your Instagram feed and wondered, “How do you make thick smoothie bowls like that?” Learn how to make a smoothie thicker with the best tips and tricks for luscious smoothies and smoothie bowls.

A collage of super thick smoothies and smoothie bowls with text at top that reads, "super thick smoothie tips & tricks"

I’ve been sharing smoothie and beautifully thick smoothie bowl recipes here since around 2008 and one of the most common questions I get is, “How do I make a smoothie thicker?” If you’ve seen those ice cream-like smoothie bowls on Instagram and want to make them yourself, I’ll show you all the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years. Don’t miss our How to Make a Smoothie + 50 Healthy Smoothie Recipes post.

My kids love simple blended frozen fruit smoothie bowls (just like sorbet!), while I usually go for a green protein smoothie. Either way, these tips, and tricks work to make delicious and healthy, thick and creamy smoothies and smoothie bowls.

A collage of three Vitamix blenders filled with thick smoothies for smoothie bowls.

The Best Tips to Make a Smoothie Thicker

1. Little to No Liquid

Either use the littlest amount of juice or milk as possible or use juicy fruit like orange or dragon fruit at the bottom. For fruit smoothies, I use 1/2 of a peeled orange, and for non-fruit smoothies such as peanut butter or coffee, I start with 1/4 cup of almond milk. You can always add more later, but you can’t remove it once it’s blended.

2. Frozen Fruit

Frozen, rather than fresh fruit makes a big difference when making a smoothie. Bananas and avocados work best to make a smoothie super thick and creamy with any flavor and work well in non-fruit smoothies, like this Chocolate Avocado Smoothie or Peanut Butter Smoothie.

For fruit smoothies, using frozen strawberries, mango, or pineapple works well. Top the liquid or juicy fruit with the frozen fruit. The liquid will help turn the blade. You can even use watermelon, like in our Watermelon Frozen Rose!

3. Protein Powder

Protein powder can help thicken smoothies as it absorbs some of the liquid. Make sure you add frozen ingredients like banana and ice to avoid gumminess. See our 5 best Protein Shakes here.

4. Oats, Nuts, and Seeds

The fiber in oats, nuts, and seeds helps to bulk up and thicken smoothies. Oats especially are very absorbent. Try adding a couple of tablespoons to your creamy smoothies. Chia and flax seeds also gel and expand when wet and can add thickness, not to mention healthy Omega-3s and plant-based protein. Add 1 tablespoon of chia, hemp, or flax.

Nut butter adds great flavor to strawberry, blueberry, nut-butter flavored smoothies. They also add fiber and thickness.

5. Ice Cubes

Regular ice cubes or frozen milk or even frozen coffee ice cubes all work wonderfully to thicken up a smoothie. I always add at least 1/2 to 1 cup of ice cubes to my smoothies because I like them very cold and thick. Again, frozen ingredients make the biggest difference in making thick smoothie bowls. Chill your bowl or glass in the freezer for 15 minutes to prevent the smoothie from melting quickly.

6. Be Patient & Use a Tamper

Making a super thick smoothie might take you longer than you’d expect, and certainly longer than if making a thin smoothie. Plan on blending a super thick smoothie for 3 minutes at least. Use your tamper (the stick that came with your blender) to help move ingredients around.

Stop, turn off the blender, and use a spatula to stir the smoothie when it won’t turn. Add more liquid if you need it but in very small increments.

7. Upgrade Your Blender

A high-powered blender such as Vitamix or BlendTec is able to blend with less liquid than other blenders. If you don’t have a blender, a food processor works very well for thick smoothie bowls. It’s what I use to make Nice Cream out of frozen bananas, and what I used in our first Acai Bowl recipe.

An overhead photo of a pink thick smoothie bowl topped with blood orange slices and edible Bachelor Button flowers.

Best Blenders

I’m always asked for recommendations on blenders for smoothies. I have used the Vitamix Professional 750 model for the past 8 years and love it, but there are many other great blenders available. Here are three of the best. Just so you know, these are Amazon Affiliate links, which means I make a small commission when you shop through them.

I hope this answered the question of how to make a thick smoothie bowl and smoothies at home! Let us know if you have any tips to add!

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