feature: how to make smoothies (with 5 classic smoothie recipes)

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Smoothies are a delicious, easy, and versatile meal in a glass. There are thousands (thousands!) of smoothie recipes out there but most of them don’t really cover how to make a smoothie.

We’re going to go real deep into smoothie making today. I’m talking deep like ingredients, what order things should go in the blender, substitutions, additions, how to design your own custom smoothies, and more!

Let’s get to it.

Choosing a Blender

A better blender will make a better smoothie. BUT that doesn’t mean you need an expensive blender. If you already have a blender, then make use of it until you can afford a better blender (or until it breaks).

If you’re in the market for a new blender, but the best blender you can afford.

The gold standard of blenders are the Vitamix and Blendtec.

Ninja offers highly-rated and much more affordable countertop blenders. Personally, I use a Nutribullet. It’s lasted way longer than I would have expected so I refuse to buy anything new until necessary (and then I plan on going with a Vitamix).

Smoothie Ingredients & Blender Order

This is going to be LONG because there are so many different ingredients that can go in a smoothie.

1. Liquids

Any liquids that are going into your smoothie should be the very first thing in the blender.

Why? The liquids will create a fast-moving vortex that will pull the other ingredients down and around. You’ll get a smoothie that is blended together best this way.

How much liquid should you use? More liquid will make your smoothie thinner and less liquid will make your smoothie thicker.

Tip: Choose unsweetened liquids. You can add more sweetener (and choose the type and flavor of sweetener) to taste, but you can never take it away.

Examples of liquids include dairy milk, non-dairy milk (like cashew, almond, soy, rice, etc), water, tea, coffee, coconut water, juices, and more.

2. Powders & Sweeteners

Once your liquid is in the blender, it’s time to add any powders (protein, maca, cacao, etc) and sweeteners (honey, dates, etc).

Why? Powders will dissolve best in liquid and it’s super important that your powders dissolve fully. It’s also important that your powders and sweeteners are distributed into ALL of your smoothie. Being closest to the liquid vortex is the best way to make that happen.

Keep in mind that some powders will thicken a smoothie.

Sweet is a matter of personal taste and getting the right sweetness for you can require some trial and error.

In my opinion, it’s better to under-sweeten and then (if you must) add some extra sweetener at the end. I know that goes against the order but you can’t remove sweeteners.

Also, it’s important to note that bananas are a smoothie staple. The sweetness of a banana isn’t constant – some are a lot sweeter than others.

Examples of powders and sweeteners include protein powder, bee powder, matcha, cacao powder, agave, dates, maple syrup, honey, and more.

3. Leafy Greens

After your powders and sweeteners, you should add your leafy greens.


Why? Leafy greens can take extra time to break down. If you add them now, you can pre-blend your smoothie and give them that extra time without over-blending the rest of your ingredients.

Examples of leafy greens include spinach, kale, arugula, swish chard, bok choy, and more.

4. Soft Ingredients

Once your leafy greens are blended in, you should start adding your ingredients based on their hardness.

Why? Softer ingredients are less likely to sink all the way to the bottom, so you want them on the bottom. The harder ingredients that you’ll put on top will help push the soft ingredients down.

Remember you want the liquid bottom to create the vortex that will give you the best-blended smoothie possible!

So, it’s time to add your softest ingredients.

Examples of soft ingredients include yogurt (sweetened or plain), nut butters (like peanut, almond, cashew, etc), tofu, and more.

5. Nuts, Seeds, & Soft Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Once your softest ingredients have been added, you can add nuts, seeds, and soft fresh fruits on top.

Cut soft fruits into chunks to help them blend better.

Examples of nuts, seeds, and soft fresh produce include walnuts, almonds, watermelon, pumpkin seeds, cherries, pears, berries, bananas, avocado, grapes, and more.

6. Frozen & Hard Ingredients

These are the final ingredients you should be putting in your blender. Add your frozen and hard ingredients, then:


Examples of frozen & hard ingredients include ice, frozen fruit (berries, mangos, etc), carrots, apples, beets, and more.

Smoothie Substitutions

There are no real rules for smoothies. You can substitute anything for anything – however, some substitutions will change the texture and consistency of a smoothie.

When making a substitution in your smoothie, you should consider what the original item is doing to the smoothie.

  • You’ll be best substituting from the same category (ie a liquid for a liquid).
  • Is the item adding sweetness? If yes, make sure to add an equally sweet substitute OR add additional sweetener.
  • Is the item adding a creamy texture? If yes, you’ll want to add a substitute that does the same (for example, some powders, bananas, avocados)
  • Is the item making the smoothie thicker/bulkier? If yes, make sure to add a similar volume of substitute

The biggest (and hardest) substitution in a smoothie to make is the banana.

Banana Substitutions

Bananas add a lot to a smoothie: sweetness, thickness, and creaminess.

When you’re looking for a substitution, you want to replace all those things. It’s not easy.

The best banana substitution in a smoothie is half an avocado plus a touch of extra sweetener.

Other things you can use are plain (or sweetened) Greek yogurt, canned pineapple or pears, or extra liquid with some ice.

Classic Smoothie Recipes

Classic Smoothie #1: Green Smoothie Recipe

Green Smoothie Recipe

1 cup Milk (dairy or non-dairy, unsweetened)
Honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
1 cup Leafy Greens (mix of your choice)
1 Banana (frozen)

Classic Smoothie #2: Strawberry Banana Smoothie Recipe

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Recipe

1 cup Milk (dairy or non-dairy, unsweetened)
Honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (plain, unsweetened)
1 Banana (frozen)
1/2 cup Strawberries (frozen)

Classic Smoothie #3: Mixed Berry Smoothie Recipe

Mixed Berry Smoothie Recipe

1 cup Milk (dairy or non-dairy, unsweetened)
Honey (or other sweetener, to taste)Quick
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (plain, unsweetened)
1 Banana (frozen)
1 cup Mixed Berries (frozen)

Classic Smoothie #4: Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie Recipe

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie Recipe

1 cup Milk (dairy or non-dairy, unsweetened)
Honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
2 tbsp Peanut Butter (natural is be best)
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (plain, unsweetened)
2 Bananas (frozen)

Classic Smoothie #5: Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe

1 cup Milk (dairy or non-dairy, unsweetened)
2 tsp Cocoa Powder (unsweetened, could add a bit more or less to taste)
Honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
1 tbsp Peanut Butter (natural is be best)
1 Banana (frozen)

Build Your Own Smoothie Guide

Creating your own smoothie recipe doesn’t have to be difficult.

One of the easiest things to do is take a recipe you like and make some substitutions. For example, a mixed berry smoothie (recipe above) can easily become a tropical smoothie. Replace the 1 cup for frozen mixed berries with 1 cup of frozen mango and pineapple.

Or, you can make your own smoothie from scratch. Check out the examples above and follow these guidelines to create your own smoothie recipes:

  • 1-2 cups of liquid (your choice)
  • 2 cups (or pieces) of fruits & vegetables
  • up to 1 cup of thickener (for example 1 banana, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp peanut butter)
  • Sweeten & Spice (to taste)
  • 1 serving of a booster (protein powder, bee pollen, maca, etc)

Remember to follow the blender order guidelines from above!

Delicious Smoothies Are Easy!

CLICK FOR: ultimate guide to smoothies (including 5 classic recipes)

Follow this guide and you’ll be enjoying delicious smoothies ALL THE TIME!

Share your favorite smoothie recipes in the comments below!

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