page updated on December 14, 2014

How to Make a Smoothie

Is there any better food than a smoothie? It's fruity, cool, and delicious, and it's healthy, packed full of vitamins and fiber. It's a great way to get raw fruit and vegetables in your diet. It's popular from Canada to Zimbabwe, and it's easy to take with you on the go. Whether you throw in low calorie protein powder, want a healthy morning shake, or are relying on fruit smoothies for weight loss, your blender can unlock delicious nutrition in moments! Kids love them and adults approve of this healthy treat.

It's super easy to make a smoothie at home as good or better than one you'd buy—if you follow some simple guidelines and prep well.

What Do You Need to Make a Smoothie?

To make a quality smoothie, start with a high quality blender. We prefer Vitamix blenders, but almost anything will work if you're careful.

Add liquid. This can be water, milk, yogurt, or fruit juice.

Add something frozen, whether ice, frozen juice, or frozen fruit.

Add fresh or canned fruit or vegetables to taste.

Add any extras, like spices, peanut butter, protein powder, powdered vitamins, or whatever your heart desires.

Add the Liquids First

Most smoothies use at least one liquid ingredient. This can be water or milk or cream or a non-dairy substitute, such as soy or nut milk (almond works well). Some smoothies even use apple or other fruit juices. Add the liquid first. This will collect around the blades of your blender and help move around the other ingredients so that everything gets blended. Remember that when you mix things, larger ingredients will bubble up to the top (they won't fit in the small spaces beneath). You need a powerful vortex and lots of things moving around quickly to mix them into the center where the blades can chop them.

You can also make yogurt smoothies. It's not quite a liquid, so you may need to experiment to see if you need ice or a little bit of water or juice, but we've found that it blends best if you add yogurt as the first ingredient. (We prefer vanilla Greek yogurt over plain for its texture and touch of flavor, but your taste will vary. Honey flavored yogurt is also good.)

The rule of thumb we use for our best healthy smoothie recipes is 1/4 to 1/3 cup of liquid per each cup of solid ingredients. Feel free to experiment!

Be Patient

When you start to blend, use a low speed. It takes time to swirl everything around. Let your blender work up momentum to move the larger chunks of fruit to the blades to chop them up as finely as you want them. Gradually increase speed to high as this happens.

If you start too fast or turn up the speed too quickly, you risk making a big air bubble around the blades and everything will stick to the sides of the container and not blend. That makes for a chunky smoothie—not bad if you like something like a thick strawberry banana smoothie, but less ideal if you want to blend in other ingredients.

(We proudly use Vitamix blenders, specifically the Vitamix Professional 750 and the Vitamix 5200, so our smoothies always come out great!)

What Do You Put in a Smoothie?

You don't need ice to make a smoothie, but we prefer chilled drinks, so one of our ingredients is always something frozen. This can be ice, but water will dilute your smoothie. Be creative: you can use frozen fruit (frozen grapes are great—see our amazing Spinach Pear Grape Smoothie!) or frozen juice (cranberry or orange juice).

Even though you use ice or frozen fruit, your blender probably won't melt the ice into liquid quickly enough to lubricate the other ingredients. You need big chunks of your ingredients to move around and tumble into each other and the blades to make a smoothie, well, smooth. If you leave big air bubbles between them, they won't blend as well. Even a quarter cup of water or other liquid will help.

The amount of ice affects how smooth or chunky your smoothie is (assuming your blender's motor is powerful enough to handle everything you put in it). The more ice, generally the chunkier the end result, though that depends on blending time. (Too much ice or too much frozen fruit and you'll end up with a sorbet—delicious, but harder to drink through a straw). Adjust to taste.

Can you make smoothies in a food processor? You bet! It's probably better for crushing ice than a cheap blender, but why get two machines dirty?

Clean Up Immediately

After blending your smoothie, clean your container with warm water immediately. The smooth blended goodness which makes a smoothie delicious also makes it sticky and, when it dries, hard to clean. (We love how easy our Vitamix is to clean, but if you're diligent about rinsing with warm water immediately, most other blenders are pretty good too. We've heard good things about Blendtec.)

Drink Immediately

Some smoothies have the tendency to separate. In particular, the Spinach Apple Banana Smoothie will turn into a green juice floating atop a chunky green mixture if it sits for more than a few minutes. It's far better blended together, and the same goes for all green smoothies, in our experience.

Other smoothies—especially those with a lot of air whipped up into them, generally because they have a really light or frothy ingredient—benefit from sitting for a few seconds.

If you're in a rush, prepare the ingredients beforehand—chopping fresh ingredients and measuring the others. Only when you're ready to enjoy your smoothie should you start it.

What Are Good Smoothie Ingredients?

Whatever you want! Our standard base for how to make a fruit smoothie here uses a banana and an apple. You can start with whatever you have on hand, though: generally some combination of fruit (frozen or fresh), dairy (milk, yogurt, or milk substitute), and some veggie. Ice is optional.

We've made delicious treats with peanut butter, with pineapple, with carrots, with spinach and kale, and more. (We've even added celery to the Spinach Pear Grape Smoothie). If you're going for complete nutrition, protein powder smoothies add a lot of power to your day without changing the flavor.

How To Make a Smoothie Perfect

It's all about the taste. Experiment. (What's the worst that can happen? You get to eat your experiments!) You'll discover which fruits and vegetables go well together (hint: look for flavors and textures which complement each other).

We hope these tips have helped you understand how to make a smoothie perfect, every time. Now how about browsing our delicious smoothie recipes for ideas or finding a perfect blender for you? Or see our frequently asked questions about smoothies.

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