How to Make a Smoothie
Follow these steps to make a perfect, creamy smoothie at home.
By Krissy Downey for Food Network Kitchen
Krissy is a Digital Culinary Production Fellow at Food Network.
If you’ve ever purchased a smoothie, you know that they can cost a pretty penny. Yet sometimes it might seem like store-bought smoothies are better than the ones you make at home. That’s because making a smoothie is more than just throwing a bunch of ingredients into a blender. There’s an art to it, in fact. Done right, they pack a flavorful punch and a creamy mouthfeel. And the great thing about making them yourself is that you can completely customize them. Read on for our tips and tricks for making perfect smoothies and smoothie bowls. We’ll answer questions like: what are the things needed for a smoothie? What do you put first in a smoothie? How to make a smoothie with frozen fruit? And how to make a smoothie with fresh fruit?
How to Make a Smoothie
Perhaps you’ve never made a smoothie in your life, and you’re looking for somewhere to begin (what ingredients do you even add?). Or maybe you make smoothies all the time, but you normally wing it – sometimes they come out great, other times, not so much. Turns out, there is a real strategy for optimal smoothie results. And it all starts with the way you layer your ingredients in the blender. You’ll want to add them in a specific order to achieve the perfect consistency – and be sure not to over-fill the blender. Follow the directions below for a smooth, well-blended and refreshing smoothie every time.
- Start with a liquid base. Water, coconut water, milk (including dairy-free alternatives like almond milk), kefir or juice are great places to start. Adding the liquid first is important for a couple of reasons. The liquid acts as a solvent, dissolving any powders (hello protein powder) you might want to add. And when you turn the blender on, the liquid will whiz through the blades quickly and easily, drawing down other ingredients to be chopped up. If you’re using a smoothie-specific blender, add enough liquid to go halfway to the fill line.
- Add sweeteners or powders. Dump sticky ingredients like honey or maple syrup into the liquid, otherwise they might stick to the sides of the blender. Also add powdery ingredients like sugar, cocoa powder, fiber or protein powder, chia seeds, bee pollen or spices (think: cinnamon or turmeric) so they dissolve in the liquid. Nobody wants a chunk of protein powder in their smoothie! Give the mixture a quick stir.
- Add fresh, leafy greens. Ruffage like kale, spinach or even fresh herbs (think: parsley or mint) make for a green smoothie loaded with nutrients. But greens can be tricky to incorporate thoroughly, so placing them down near the blade makes sure they get thoroughly pureed. If they’re extra leafy, give the smoothie a quick preliminary blend to incorporate them with the liquid before adding additional ingredients.
- Add other ingredients, ending with frozen ingredients. Now add all the other ingredients to the blender bowl, ending with any frozen ingredients (frozen veggies, frozen fruits or ice cubes). The frozen ingredients will weigh down the mixture and help it churn from top to bottom. Here are some add-ins to try.
- Fresh or frozen fruits, cut into 1-inch pieces. There's no right or wrong answer here - but it helps to think about picking three fruits that taste good together. Berries, peaches or cherries are nice, or try tropical fruits like pineapple, mango or coconut. Some fruits like ripe bananas, grapes or dates can double as a sweetener.
- Frozen veggies like spinach or kale are great, or try frozen cauliflower, cucumber or even carrots.
- Goodies like nuts, chia seeds, cacao nibs or ground flax seeds
- Creamy ingredients like yogurt, nut butters or avocado
After you’ve added all the ingredients, blend away on high speed, stopping to use the plunger to keep things moving. Whatever you do, don’t shake the blender as it works; doing so can shorten its lifespan.
How to Make a Smoothie Ahead of Time
Although smoothies don’t take a long time make, sometimes 10 minutes is too long when you’re running out the door. Although you can’t blend a smoothie ahead of time and stash it in the refrigerator because it’ll separate and discolor, you can freeze it in drinkable portions (either in resealable plastic bags or freezer-safe cups or bowls with lids). Then thaw it overnight in the fridge to enjoy it the next morning or throw a frozen portion in your bag on your way to work. Chances are, it’ll thaw during your commute.
How to Make a Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
The classic combo we all know and love: a strawberry-banana smoothie. The strawberries make it sweet, the bananas make it creamy and the beverage comes together with just a few ingredients. Start with 1 cup of water or orange juice in the blender. We like fresh orange juice, but the stuff in the carton will work just fine too. Add any nutritional powders like protein or fiber, or, if you’re looking to make it a little sweeter, a teaspoon or two of sugar. Then add 1 cup each of non-fat plain yogurt and strawberries and top off the blender bowl with 1 banana cut into 1-inch chunks. Puree away. Check out the recipes below for classic takes and spin-offs of our favorite smoothie.
You can’t go wrong with the classic! This recipe is so easy, and you probably already have all the ingredients sitting in your kitchen right now.
Give a strawberry-banana smoothie the breakfast treatment with the addition of orange juice. Start your day off right and share with the family!
Coconut water ice cubes plus all your favorite fruits make this one crazy refreshing and easy to make.
How to Make an Acai Bowl (and How to Make Other Types of Smoothie Bowls)
Smoothie bowls make a delicious and nutritious breakfast, lunch or snack. They’re essentially a thicker-consistency smoothie, served in a bowl and topped with vibrantly colored ingredients such as nuts, grains, and fruits. To turn your go-to smoothie into a bowl, sub out all fresh fruits and veggies for frozen ones.
Acai bowls, one of the most popular versions of a smoothie bowl, can sometimes seem inaccessible at home, but the truth is that they start simply with frozen acai purée, which you can find in most supermarkets. Break up two 4-ounce packets of unsweetened frozen acai purée with a meat mallet or by slapping the packets on the counter. Then add the purée to the blender along with 1/4 cup blueberries, half a banana and 1 tablespoon honey. Blend it up, and you’re ready to serve! Add the mixture to a cereal bowl and top with slices of the other half of the banana and more blueberries. Finish it off with your favorite textured toppings, like granola, pomegranate seeds and unsweetened coconut flakes. Get our Acai Bowl recipe and more smoothie bowl ideas below.
The perfect breakfast treat, right at home! Give the original recipe a try, and then get creative with your favorite nuts and toppings.
Use this frozen fruit smoothie base for your next smoothie bowl. The same smoothie recipe with different toppings will give you endless breakfast options you’ll never grow tired of.
This two-for-one recipe will show you how to make a creamy smoothie or a thick smoothie bowl, all with the same ingredients.