After spending enough time tasting and making smoothies you will inevitably develop your own recipes and taste preferences. To learn how to make a smoothie you can either try one of our amazing smoothie recipes, or you can simply build one yourself using the 4 basic building blocks of a smoothie:
Part I: Liquid
You should start off with between 1-2 cups of liquid. This goes into the blender first as it needs to be surrounding the blade in order for the blending process to start properly. There are many different types of liquids you can you use depending on your dietary and taste preferences:
- Dairy Milk is a common choice. All types of milk work well as they have a neutral and smooth taste allowing the remaining ingredients to set the tone.
- Soy Milk is a great source of protein, calcium, isoflavones, has no lactose or cholesterol, and lasts much longer than cow's milk.
- Almond and Coconut Milk are a great alternative to the others if you don't want either soy or dairy products.
- Fruit Juices can be used to increase the nutrient content of the smoothie, but beware of added sugar, as this will increase the caloric density of the smoothie and can overpower the natural sugars from real fruits.
- Tea adds caffeine and antioxidants; we recommend something without added sugar or fruity flavorings such as green or black tea.
- Coffee can also be used to add caffeine a la an iced Frappucino.
- Yogurt is another option which provides probiotic live cultures and calcium.
- Water is our top choice, as it is inexpensive, easy, and allows you to get your calories from highly nutritious fruits, vegetables, and other select ingredients.
Part II: Fruits & Vegetables
When adding fruits and vegetables just remember these two dichotomies are at play:
1. The more frozen fruits/vegetables you use, the less ice you will need.
2. Likewise, the more juices the fruits/vegetables have, the less liquid you will need to add.
Bananas are a popular choice as they help to thicken the smoothie and provide a neutral taste that goes well with most everything. Feel free to experiment with your own favorite fruits and vegetables combined with those of our Nutrition Matrix. You will soon realize which ones contribute to the taste and texture of the smoothie in ways that you like.
Part III: Special Extras
The extra ingredients you add will both help to flavor and thicken the smoothie. It is a great way to help balance out the macro/micro-nutrient content and give your smoothie that extra jazz. Here are the most common choices:
- Protein Powder (half to whole scoop) will nutritionally balance the smoothie similar to that of a meal. We recommend one without aspartame. There are many popular brands that come in different flavors and vanilla blends right in with the taste of most fruits.
- Wheat & Barley Grass Powders are powerful sources of chlorophyll (which is known for balancing blood pH levels) and are known as a "complete food source", containing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants. These grasses are claimed to provide countless health and therapeutic benefits.
- Chlorella & Spirulina are amazing sources of almost every vitamin and are 70% protein by weight; they will also turn your smoothie green!
- Vitamin Powders can be used to supplement the nutritional value of the smoothie. Many stores offer things such as fiber and specific supplements in powder form.
- Flavorings common in cooking such as cinnamon, honey, brown sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla extract will all add sweet complexities to the flavor.
- Ice Cream and even dairy creamer can be added to create a more dessert style shake-like smoothie.
- Peanut Butter as well as almond butter add protein and a thicker texture.
- Chia & Flax Seeds are both good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are nutrient rich.
- Oats help lower cholesterol and provide long lasting energy.
Part IV: Ice
If you have more fresh fruit than frozen fruit you may want to add a few extra ice cubes to give the smoothie a cooler temperature and thicker texture. Mixing in extra ice can also tone down the sweetness while making the smoothie more cool and refreshing...
How to Blend
You will want to blend the ingredients until the liquid is FULLY CIRCULATING within the blender for at least 5 to 10 seconds. By this we mean that the contents have already been liquefied and are now freely circulating. The liquid at the top should be swirling and diffusing back down to the bottom. It can take up to 45 seconds for this to happen depending on the power of your motor and how full the jar is.
Make sure you don't have too much in your jar or your blender will never achieve proper circulation, even with the most powerful motor! You'll need to put in just enough so your blender can achieve proper liquid circulation in about 30 to 45 seconds. If your blender can't handle large uncut or frozen fruit we recommend trying one of these high end smoothie blenders. These will save you significantly in both preparation and blending time. You will get the hang of this with experience and practice.
Go For It!
If you are ready to dive in and start making smoothies we encourage you to use this as a guide for experimenting or check out our very own extensive list of smoothie recipes. We promise you'll love them!
After you've mastered the basics of how to make a smoothie you will appreciate our below list of bonus tips. These have been devised from years of experimentation and will quickly enable you to become a smoothie making pro. Additionally sign up for our free smoothie expert series, which includes 5 free lessons by email and goes into incredible detail on how to become a smoothie making expert!
Tip 1: Buy in Bulk
Once you settle on your own favorite ingredients remember to buy them in bulk at a major retailer such as Costco or Sam's Club and you'll save significantly. Some vitamin stores such as Hi-Health offer a "buy one, get the second half off" policy on items like protein powder and flax seeds.
Tip 2: Use Frozen Ingredients
In our early smoothie making days we spent more than 30 dollars per week on fruit and vegetables spread out over two trips; now we spend under 18 dollars per week and go to the store only twice a month. The cheapest and most nutritious way to make a smoothie BY FAR is to use frozen ingredients whenever possible. For the skinny on why frozen fruit is both cheaper and better see our Fresh vs Frozen shakedown.
Tip 3: Choose Plenty of "Super Foods"
Don't put ingredients in your smoothie that aren't one of the popularized "Super Foods". Why? Unless you have a fixation for some particular food, such as a banana, you are wasting precious space in your blender and body with what could be a high powered nutritious superstar with more than ten times the antioxidant power than most other foods. To see which super foods we recommend see our Nutrition Matrix chart.
Tip 4: Use a High End Blender
A cheap blender may save you money up front. In the long run, though, it will cost you more in both time and money in ways you may not realize. For an explanation of why a high end blender will literally pay for itself in less than a year read our best smoothie blenders article. If you are considering the purchase of a Vitamix blender you can use our Vitamix promotion code for free shipping.
Tip 5: Drink to Your Health
Learning how to make smoothies should be a fun and ongoing process of experimentation. Add it to part of your morning and daily routine. Try new fruits, flavors, and combinations to find your own holy grail recipe that brings health, nutrition, hydration, and pleasure to you every day. Here's to a long a prosperous smoothie making life...