How to Make a Smoothie
How to make a smoothie: 3 steps to a delicious and nutritious drink.
Smoothies are great! They add fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet, and are easy to take with you. Whether you scoop a cup of low calorie protein powder in a healthy morning shake, or are cutting calories and adding fiber, you and your blender can unlock delicious nutrition in a healthy drink! Kids love them and adults approve.
The physics of blending are the same for all smoothies, while the flavor and texture of your drink is up to you. Follow these steps to make a perfect smoothie every time.
Add liquid ingredients first. It's important to start with water, milk, yogurt, or fruit juice, because of the way blending physics work.
Add a frozen ingredient. This can be ice, juice, or frozen fruit.
Add fresh ingredients. This can be fresh or canned fruit or vegetables.
Add any optional extras. This can include spices, peanut butter, protein powder, powdered vitamins, and more.
Start blending at low speed. Gradually increase speed and blend to your desired consistency. Starting low helps blend big pieces of fruit and ice without throwing them against the sides of the container. You'll get better results this way.
How Smoothie Recipes Work
Add the Liquids First
Most smoothies use at least one liquid ingredient. The rule of thumb in our recipes is 1/4 to 1/3 cup of liquid per cup of solid ingredients. This can be water, juice, milk cream, or a non-dairy alternative, such as soy or nut milk. Almond milk is especially tasty. Add the liquid first. Spinning blades force larger ingredients to the top of the mix (as they don't fit in the small spaces). If you're not careful, you'll get an air bubble forming as larger chunks are pushed up and to the sides of the container. With liquid at the bottom, the currents of liquid will fit in the smaller spaces and help everything reach the blades to mix together.
Yogurt is a staple in our recipes. In our opinion, the best yogurt for smoothies is Greek yogurt, thanks to its texture—but sometimes a few cubes of ice or a couple of tablespoons of other liquid work well. We tend to prefer vanilla yogurt, but honey or unflavored are also popular. Fruit yogurt can be a little too sweet and often has more sugar than we like, but in a pinch it will work.
Start your smoothie with a high quality blender. We proudly use Vitamix blenders, so our smoothies always come out great! Any decent blender will work. Even a good food processor may handle ice better than a really cheap blender.
Start blending at a low speed. Work up momentum to move the larger chunks of fruit to the blades to chop them finely. Gradually increase speed to high. This is especially true when using frozen fruits or nuts; the slower you go, the more blending power you have at the start.
If you start too fast or turn up the speed too quickly, you risk making that dreaded air bubble. That makes for a chunky smoothie you'll have to dig out with a spatula—not bad if you like something like a thick strawberry banana smoothie, but less ideal if you want to blend in other ingredients.
Clean Up Immediately
Immediately after pouring your drink, clean your container with warm water. The smooth blended deliciousness can dry in your container and make it hard to clean. Our Vitamix is super easy to clean (especially with the automatic cleaning cycle), but if you're diligent about rinsing with warm water immediately, you'll be fine. We've heard good things about Blendtec.
Should You Rest Your Smoothies?
Letting a smoothie sit tends to make it less frothy, but some smoothies will 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. Start only when you're ready to eat!
Good Smoothie Ingredients
What ingredients should you use in a smoothie? Our standard approach starts with a banana and an apple. You can use almost anything, though. 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.
Perfect Frozen Fruit Smoothies
Perfect fruit smoothies use at least one frozen ingredient. Instead of watering down your drink with ice, get creative with whole frozen fruits. Grapes are great—see our amazing Spinach Pear Grape Smoothie! Frozen juice such as cranberry or orange works well too.
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 you can adjust that with 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.
How to Make Smoothies Perfectly
Now that you know how to make smoothies, you can rely on your own taste and style. Experiment. What's the worst that can happen? You get to eat your results! You'll discover which fruits and vegetables go well together. Look for flavors and textures which complement each other. There's a wealth of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to enhance the basic yogurt-ice-banana combination.