Homemade smoothies are a tasty way to add extra servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet. Whether you are looking for a delicious way to start your day or just need a healthier afternoon snack, knowing how to make a smoothie is a great way to expand your culinary knowledge and build your kitchen confidence.
How do you make a smoothie from scratch?
In short, making a smoothie is as simple as tossing ingredients into the blender and letting it do the work. The harder part is deciding what, and how much, goes into the pitcher.
A homemade smoothie can be as simple or complex as you choose to make it.
You can make an easy 2-ingredient strawberry smoothie by blending together frozen strawberries and a bit of milk. Or you could get really complicated and make a 12 ingredient mega smoothie with enough calories to last the day.
At a minimum, here is what should go into your homemade smoothies:
- fruits and/or vegetables
- optional smoothie add-ins
Fruits and Vegetables
The fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of the smoothie, adding fiber, nutrients, and flavor. Fresh or frozen options both work, and are often picked based upon personal preference.
Best Fruits for Smoothies: Fruits that are a bit soft make for the best creamy smoothies. Things like berries, bananas, cherries, peaches and other stone fruits, avocados, citrus fruits, ripe pears, kiwi, mango.
Best Vegetables for Smoothies: When choosing vegetables for smoothies select those that don’t have a strong smell and aren’t too hard or dense, unless they are cooked. Things like tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, kale and other leafy greens, cooked beets, cooked sweet potatoes, and cooked carrots are good. Things like brussels sprouts, broccoli, and raw root vegetables are not as good.
Choosing Fresh or Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to what goes in your smoothie, only you can decide. There are no wrong answers here!
Pros of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables: It’s a great way to use up fruit that is no longer visually appealing, but still tastes good. Think browning bananas, soft strawberries, blackberries so ripe they are falling apart. All still have good flavor, but aren’t what you’d pick first out of the fruit basket on the counter.
Cons of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables: You have to make your smoothies on your fruit’s schedule, not your own. If those fresh fruits no longer taste good, they won’t make your smoothie taste good. If the fruit is underripe, it will be harder to blend and may not make for the smoothest smoothie.
Pros of Frozen Fruit & Vegetables: Frozen (or partially frozen) fruit makes a thicker texture that stays colder longer without watering down the flavor. Most frozen fruit is picked at peak ripeness. You can have summer blackberries in January or tree ripe peaches in March. Also, unless you are shopping an in-season market stand, frozen fruit is usually cheaper than fresh.
Cons of Frozen Fruit & Vegetables: If you aren’t using a high power blender, frozen solid fruit may be more than it can handle. While my Vitamix does just fine with it, my stick blender would leave frozen fruit in chunks. Let the frozen fruit thaw on the counter for 10 minutes or so before making your smoothie.
The liquids help to thin out the pureed fruits and vegetables, making it easier on your blender to process and giving you just the right consistency. You can go super simple (and calorie free!) with plain water but the sky’s the limit.
Coconut water adds a subtle flavor, electrolytes, and a nutrient boost that makes it a good post workout option. Milk, both dairy and non-dairy versions, add in an extra boost of vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D, some of them also give an extra protein boost. Juices, like apple, orange, or cranberry can add a kick of flavor and a bit of sweetness to your smoothie, but they can also add unnecessary sugar.
Not everyone puts protein on their list of required ingredients, but in my smoothies it is an absolute must. Without the protein, your smoothie is really just dessert.
Protein helps to slow down digestion, giving your smoothie the staying power to keep you satisfied longer. A breakfast smoothie without protein leaves me hungry again in an hour, which does not make for a fulfilling breakfast.
Smoothie friendly whole food protein sources include options like yogurt, nut butters, or milk. Another way to add more protein is through protein powders made with whey, soy, or collagen.
Optional Smoothie Add-ins
These add-ins are optional because they are not required to in order to make a delicious, nutritious smoothie. They do, however, give you space to play with both the nutritional aspects and the flavor of your homemade smoothie.
- Sweeteners – Honey, maple syrup, simple syrup, or stevia can all add a boost of sweetness to a smoothie that may be more tart than you wanted. While liquid sweeteners dissolve better in cold liquids, the thick texture of a smoothie will keep powdered sugars from settling.
- Flavor Boosters – Ginger root, a splash of citrus like lemon or lime, fresh herbs like basil, and ground spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or turmeric. These boosters add a dash of flavor and shake up the monotony of eating a warehouse-sized bag of frozen fruit.
- Whole Seeds – Flax seed, chia, or hemp are tasty options that add in a nutritional boost and a little bit of crunch.
- Seed or Nut butters – Almond butter, peanut butter, cashew nut butter, or sunflower seed butter can add in a boost of flavor and nutrition while helping to give your smoothie a thicker, creamier texture.
- Nutritional Supplements – Vitamins, meal replacement powders, and other nutritional boosts can help make your smoothie a more well rounded choice for your own unique, overall diet.
How to measure smoothie ingredients
I too am guilty of looking at a smoothie recipe and then throwing a bit of everything into the pitcher. I could end up with a 12 ounce breakfast or a 24 ounce drink-me-all-day. Sometimes though, it’s nice to know exactly how much smoothie I’m going to end up making.
Maybe you are counting calories. Perhaps you don’t want to end up with leftovers. Maybe you never make enough for your kids to share. No matter your reason, sometimes it’s necessary.
How do I do this without dirtying a pile of measuring cups and spoons? A kitchen scale!
Simply place the pitcher on your scale and hit the “tare” button to zero it out. Add the ingredients, pressing tare between each one, to measure exactly how much goes into the pitcher. Best of all you do it without dirtying a single measuring cup.
What are the steps for making homemade smoothies?
Homemade smoothies are one of the easiest things to make in the kitchen. In fact, there are only 5 simple steps.
- Select and gather your ingredients.
- Wash the fruits and vegetables. Peeling, removing pits, seeds, and bad spots as needed.
- Place all ingredients into the pitcher of your blender, measuring or weighing as necessary.
- Blend until smooth.
- Taste, adjusting as needed until it’s perfect.
Out of all of those steps, the last one is the most important. When using fresh fruits and vegetables their flavor may not always be uniform. Today’s strawberry smoothie may be sweeter than yesterdays. The best time to fix it is before it’s in your glass and you’ve cleaned up the mess.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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- 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) fresh or frozen fruits or vegetable
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk, water, or juice
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) yogurt
- optional: seeds, nut butters, collagen powders, sweeteners
- Add all ingredients to the pitcher of the blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 7gSugar: 35gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.
Homemade Smoothies FAQs
For the smoothest, creamiest smoothie you need a high powered blender for best results. However, the best tool is the one you have in your kitchen. I’ve used a blender, food processor, stick blender, and mini chopper all with varying results that I would recommend until you can afford to upgrade.
Whether or not a smoothie is “good” for you depends on your overall diet, what you add to your smoothie, and how often you are drinking them. Smoothies that are filled with fruits and vegetables, within your recommended calorie limit, and without a lot of added sugar, can very much be a healthy part of your diet.
To make a smoothie dairy-free simply swap your favorite dairy-free milk or yogurt for the recommended dairy-based option recommended in the recipe.
Do they need it? No. Can they benefit from it? Yes. If you are using fresh, room temperature fruit, adding ice to your smoothie can help to thicken the texture and lower the temperature.
If your smoothie is too thin, try adding in a bit more yogurt, some extra frozen fruit, or a few ice cubes. If your smoothie is too thick add more liquid, or if you’ve used frozen fruit let it sit for a few minutes to thaw.
Use frozen fruit and only add enough liquid to get the blender going. After you’ve blended the rest of the ingredients together add more liquid as needed to thin out the smoothie to your desired thickness.
Add a pinch of salt. Seriously. You only need a few granules to amp up the flavor and make a just okay smoothie into something delicious.