How to Make a Smoothie (Complete Guide)

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These are the essential tips on how to make the perfect smoothie. It’s important to understand the proper ratio of ingredients to ensure a thick but sippable nutrient-packed drink.

Learn the basics of how to make a smoothie using these tips.

It’s time to become a smoothie pro with your kitchen blender! Grab a bunch of whole fruits, vegetables, and frozen foods to break down into a healthy snack. It may be tempting to chop and dump, but there’s a science to the process.

This complete smoothie guide will provide the preferred starting ratio of frozen, fresh, and liquid ingredients for success. Whether you’re a fruit smoothie fan or need a green smoothie reset, there are tips for customizing your own concoction.

How to make a smoothie

Adding the correct ratio of each type of ingredient is essential to create a creamy texture that’s easy to drink. At least half of the smoothie recipe should be frozen, ⅔ is ideal. Start with choosing an item from each category below to make the base.

The base ratio

  • Liquid: ¾ to 1 cup (add more as needed to process the smoothie)
  • Yogurt: ¼ to ½ cup (optional)
  • Fresh Fruits/Vegetables: 1 to 3 cups
  • Leafy Greens: 1 to 2 cups
  • Frozen Fruit: 2 to 2 ½ cups
  • Ice Cubes: 1 cup
  • Sweetener: 1 to 3 teaspoons (optional)

Mix and match various foods to create a colorful and nutritious drink. For every 1 cup of liquid, non-frozen fruit or vegetable, or yogurt, add at least 1 cup of frozen ingredients (fruit and/or ice).

Liquids (milk, juice, water)

Various milks and juice liquids to make a smoothie.

Milk-based ingredients help to mellow out bitter flavors while adding a more luscious mouthfeel. Try milk, coconut milk, nut milk (cashew, almond milk, macadamia nut), sesame milk, hemp milk, banana milk, soy milk, or oat milk.

Fruit juice like apple juice, cranberry, pomegranate, orange juice, and pineapple adds natural sweetness and acidity, making fruity flavors pop. Coconut water is a great addition to deliver hydration, electrolytes, and sweetness.

Yogurt

Types of yogurt containers.

Yogurt is a great way to add extra protein, probiotics for digestive health, and creaminess to smoothies. Try Greek yogurt, cashew, coconut, soy, dairy, oat, and almond milk yogurt. Flavored options like vanilla yogurt add some depth but watch up for a lot of extra added sugar. I typically select plain and unsweetened or naturally sweetened with fruit.

Fresh fruit

Colorful variety of fresh cut fruit.

Using whole fruit benefits from insoluble and soluble fibers, phytonutrients, and micronutrients. Try apples, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, oranges, melon, watermelon, pineapple, banana, peaches, pomegranate arils, mango, papaya, pear, kiwi, lemons, and limes. Cut larger pieces of fruits into 1-inch cubes, ½-inch thick slices.

Frozen fruit

Frozen fruits separated out in small jars.

Frozen fruit is always available in the freezer section of grocery stores, so you can enjoy them even when not in season to make a tasty smoothie. Try peaches, strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, or mango. Frozen fruit can be substituted for ice cubes to create a thicker consistency that won’t dilute the flavor.

Vegetables and greens

Chopped and sliced pieces of vegetables.

Robust vegetables like carrots, beets, cucumbers, celery, and broccoli have fiber, energizing nutrients and add body to smoothies. Leafy greens like spinach, baby kale, or various types of lettuce like romaine, bibb, or Boston lettuce are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Cut tough vegetables into slices or smaller 1-inch pieces to make them easier to process. Thoroughly wash the greens before blending to remove any dirt and reduce the transfer of harmful bacteria.

Sweeteners

Several types of sweeteners to make a smoothie.

Add a sweetener to balance any bitter notes or acidity from the fruit and vegetables. Taste the smoothie first, then adjust. Often, the fruit has enough natural sweetness. Try dates, date syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or coconut palm sugar. Start with 1 teaspoon of sweetener, blend, then increase to taste.

Spices and flavor enhancers

Spices you can use to make a smoothie.

Spices and flavoring agents like cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, ginger (fresh or dried), cardamom, cocoa powder, matcha green tea powder, pure vanilla extract, or almond extract add zip to each sip! Start with a small amount, about ¼ to ½ teaspoon, taste and increase the amount to your liking.

Nutritional boosts

Nutritional boosts to add to a smoothie.

Protein, superfoods, antioxidant-rich ingredients, and nutritional boosts are a great way to pack in extra benefits into each serving. Try protein powder, nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew), yogurt, chia seeds, matcha green tea powder, flax seeds, cacao powder, acai (frozen puree or powder), banana, and raw oats like old fashioned or instant.

Ways to thicken a smoothie

Ingredients used to thicken a smoothie.

Frozen fruit or ice is the first way to thicken smoothies. However, yogurt, bananas, coconut milk (or any opaque liquid), avocado, tofu, and nut butter can assist in creating a creamy consistency. If using tofu, start with ¼ to ½ cup cubes of silken tofu. For avocado, use ½ first, so the taste doesn’t become too rich.

Layering ingredients in the proper sequence

Adding ingredients into the blender correctly is critical for breaking down those tough, fibrous, leafy, or icy ingredients into a smooth consistency. According to Vitamix, this is the recommended way to layer in each component, depending on the size of your kitchen blender:

  • Large containers (more than 20 ounces): First, add any wet ingredients (liquids, yogurt, sweeteners), followed by dry goods, leafy greens, fresh fruits/vegetables, then frozen ingredients last.
  • Small containers (20 ounces or less): First, add frozen ingredients, fresh fruits/vegetables, leafy greens, dry goods, and wet ingredients last.

Adjusting the blender speed

It’s best to ramp up the speed of the blender gradually. Start with medium speed for about 30 seconds. This allows the blades to break things up without burning out the motor. Use a plastic tamper to help push down the ingredients into the fast-moving blades at the bottom of the cup.

Turn the speed to high for 15 to 30 seconds for final processing. This is when I add any extra liquid or ice needed to help with blending. If the smoothie doesn’t easily whirl and move, it needs a little more liquid, add small amounts at a time to keep a thick but sippable consistency.

Do you have to add ice?

No, ice cubes are not necessary to make a smoothie as long as you’re using frozen fruits. Replace 1:1 ice cubes with frozen fruit is recommended. The ice will create a smooth, thick, chilly texture or frothy if only a tiny amount is used. I like to add both ice cubes and frozen fruit together to create the perfect consistency.

When using only fresh fruit

If frozen fruit is not available, that’s okay! Fresh fruit still adds body to the smoothie as the ingredients become pureed. However, you won’t get that cool chill. Add in ice cubes. Start with ½ cup to 1 cup of ice (depending on the size of the drink), and add more until the desired consistency is reached.

Just be aware that the more ice is used, the more the flavor will dilute as the ice melts.

More smoothie recipes

Fresh homemade fruit smoothie in a glass cup

How to freeze fresh fruit

Fruit contains a large amount of water in its cell walls. Freezing them creates an ice cube-like texture when blended. Frozen fruit makes thicker, chilly smoothies without diluting the flavor as it melts. Keep berries whole, slice bananas into ½-inch thick pieces, and cut larger fruits into 1-inch cubes. Add into a resealable plastic bag and freeze in a single layer.

How to Make a Smoothie

Essential tips on how to make a smoothie. It’s important to understand the right ratio of ingredients to ensure a thick, but sippable nutrient-packed drink.
4.88 from 24 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Drink
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup liquid, juice, milk, or coconut water, add more as needed
  • ¼ cup yogurt, Greek, regular, dairy-free, plain or unsweetened
  • 1 cup fresh fruit or vegetables
  • 1 cup leafy greens
  • 2 cups frozen fruit
  • 1 cup ice cubes, add more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon sweetener, optional

Instructions 

  • Add liquid, yogurt (if using), fresh fruit/vegetables, leafy greens, frozen fruits, ice cubes, and sweetener (if using) to the blender.
  • Cover and process on medium speed for about 30 seconds, using the tamper as needed.
  • Increase speed to high for 15 to 30 seconds until the smoothie is thick and smooth. Add more ice or liquid as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 106kcal (5%)Carbohydrates 25g (8%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 1g (2%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Cholesterol 2mg (1%)Sodium 78mg (3%)Potassium 380mg (11%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 19g (21%)Vitamin A 308IU (6%)Vitamin C 5mg (6%)Calcium 68mg (7%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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14 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Cynthia says

    Ok, is banana milk a real thing? If it is, I am so jealous!! Not a store anywhere in site carries anything that comes close to that. We just started getting oatmilk deep in the forest where I live, is it a West coast thing?

  2. Roger Thomas Easterling says

    Hi Jessica,
    I am 72. 308lbs. 5’8″ tall.
    My intention is have smoothies with the least amount of sugar and least amount of carbs for breakfast and lunch and then a regular sized standard home cooked meal for dinner. I have perused your web page and you appear to be an expert. I wanyted to ask about protein powder. Like ISOPURE low-no carb.
    Thank you so much for any help and as I loose weight I will keep a track record with you. Thanks, RT

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Sounds like you found a good low card protein. Are you wanting to add some to a smoothie? If so, I would add half a serving because it can taste really grainy.

  3. Angela says

    Hi! Was just wondering about the servings mentioned at the top of the recipe card. How many ounces is considered to be one serving?

  4. Tammy says

    I just made a smoothie, with a frozen fruit mix, water, banana and some peanut butter, it is delicious. 😉