The ultimate guide for how to make a smoothie (using any ingredient you have on hand in your kitchen!)
My ideal day starts with a smoothie. Well, coffee. Then smoothie.
But where I’ll happily follow a recipe for dinners and lunches, I don’t like to be sifting through recipes when I first wake up.
So if you’re anything like me, you’ll love this smoothie guide. We’re walking through the basics of how to make a healthy smoothie from scratch so you can understand how to blitz up a tasty breakfast with whatever you have on hand in your kitchen! Let’s blend.
Basic smoothie ingredients
The basic ingredients for making any smoothie involve just three things: a fruit, something creamy, and a liquid.
Fruit: While fresh fruit works well, I love using frozen fruit in smoothies to give them that frosty texture. Virtually any berry, stone fruit, tropical fruit, or citrus will work well.
Creamy Base: Adding something creamy to the smoothie improves the texture and mouthfeel. While flavored or plain Greek yogurt work well, you can also use a banana for a vegan option. Feeling adventurous? Cottage cheese, kefir, and avocado also add a creamy element to smoothies.
Liquid: The options are endless when if comes to their liquid for a smoothie. Milk (cow or plant-based) is great, but to make a smoothie without milk you can use juice (orange, cranberry, pomegranate), or coconut water.
Smoothies are flexible and adaptable to whatever you want to throw in! Once you have your base smoothie, you can add a whole number of delicious, nutritious extras.
Vegetables: Leafy greens – like spinach, kale, chard, and romaine – blend well into smoothies. But you can add a whole variety of vegetables, such as cooked sweet potato, cooked or raw beet, carrot, avocado, zucchini, cauliflower, pureed pumpkin, cooked butternut squash, and cucumber.
Oats: To pack a punch of filling fiber, add a spoonful of oats! They help to thicken the smoothie while making it more satiating.
Protein Powder: Another easy addition to boost the nutrition profile of your smoothie. Most flavors work well in smoothies (just be sure to pick a flavor that goes with the ingredients that you’re using).
Seeds: Chia, flax, hemp, and sunflower seeds (just to name a few) make great additions to smoothies. They don’t bring much flavor, so they can be blended into most smoothies to add a dose of healthy fats and protein.
Nut Butter: Similarly to seeds, adding a spoonful of nut butter brings a healthy fats and protein to your smoothie. Peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter (or even Nutella for a little indulgence!)
Sweeteners: Depending on the sweetness of the fruit you use, you may like to add sweeteners to your smoothie. A touch of honey, agave, sugar, or a pitted medjool date are all great!
Spices and Flavorings: Kick it up a flavorful notch by adding ingredients like fresh or ground ginger and turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg. You could also add extracts, like a touch of vanilla, almond, or orange.
How to blend the perfect smoothie
Depending on the strength of your blender (I love my Vitamix!), the order you put your ingredients in the blender could influence the overall texture. Here’s how we like to layer ingredients into the blender:
- Liquids go first to make blending easier on the blades.
- Greens go in next, which will help them to pulverize smoothly.
- Soft ingredients, like fresh fruit and soft veggies, go next to help the blades start blending.
- Hard ingredients, like frozen fruit and firm veggies, go last.
Start the blender off slowly, then gradually increase the speed. Blend for 30 to 60 seconds until the smoothie is as smooth as possible.
Here are a few of our favorite easy smoothie recipes (find even more smoothie inspiration here).
- Oranges + Banana + Yogurt + Coconut Water + Vanilla
(Recipe: Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie)
- Banana + Milk + Coffee + Oats
(Recipe: Wake Me Up Coffee Smoothie)
- Key Lime Juice + Banana + Yogurt + Honey + Vanilla
(Recipe: Key Lime Pie Smoothie)
- Banana + Milk + Spinach + Nutella
(Recipe: Spinach Nutella Smoothie)
- Strawberries + Banana + Milk
(Recipe: Strawberry Banana Smoothie)
- Pineapple + Banana + Orange Juice + Kale(Recipe: Tropikale Green Smoothie)
- Strawberries + Banana + Yogurt + Beet + Honey
(Recipe: Pink Power Beet Smoothie)
- Strawberries + Banana + Milk + Cauliflower
(Recipe: Hidden Cauliflower Smoothie)
- Banana + Avocado + Milk + Cocoa Powder + Brown Sugar
(Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Smoothie)
Should you use ice?
I prefer using frozen fruit to give smoothies a frosty texture while keeping them full of flavor. Ice, on the other hand, tends to water smoothies down. But if you don’t have frozen fruit on hand, by all means, use ice to thicken and chill your smoothie!
Are smoothies healthy?
As with all things, smoothies should be enjoyed in moderation! They are a great way to load your diet up with leafy greens and fresh fruit, (especially if you don’t typically eat spinach for breakfast 😛). With that said, studies have found that when you drink your calories you may be more likely to consume more calories throughout the day (i.e. chewing is better than drinking when it comes to feeling full).
Fruit (pick 1)*
- 1 piece fruit apple, pear, mango, etc.
- 1 cup fruit chopped pineapple, berries, diced mango, etc.
Creamy Base (pick 1)*
- ½ cup yogurt, kefir, or cottage cheese
- 1 banana
- 1 avocado
- ½ to 1 cup milk, juice, or coconut water
Extras (choose your adventure)
- 1 to 2 cups leafy greens spinach, kale, chard, romaine
- ¼ cup oats rolled or instant
- 1 to 2 Tbsp protein powder
- 1 to 2 Tbsp seeds chia, flax, hemp, sunflower
- 1 to 2 Tbsp nut butter peanut, almond, sunflower
- 1 to 2 tsp sweetener honey, agave, maple syrup, medjool date
- ¼ to ½ tsp spices and flavorings fresh or ground ginger and turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla extract, almond extract, or orange extract.
- Assemble: Add desired liquid the the blender, followed by leafy greens, then soft ingredients (like fresh fruit), then firm ingredients (like frozen fruit).
- Blend: Turn the blender on low speed, the gradually increase speed to high. Continue blending for 30 to 60 seconds, or until completely smooth. Serve immediately.
Tips & Tricks
- *For a frosty cold smoothie, make sure at least one ingredient is frozen before hand (either the fruit or the banana).
- To make smoothies in advance, place all ingredients except the liquid into a freezer-safe baggie or container. Store in the freezer. When ready to make your smoothie, empty the contents into a blender, add the liquid, and blend until smooth.