Perhaps you’ve seen them: photos of those impossibly thick and luscious-looking smoothies on Instagram and the like, oozing over the sides of their cup with a kind of unabashed creamy glory. Perhaps you’ve had them: the thick smoothie you get at a store or restaurant that’s so ice cream-like in texture, so dense in viscosity, it’s barely able to scoot its way up the straw. And if all this talk leaves you with a bit of smoothie envy, you’re not alone. Most people will admit that their daily homemade smoothie or smoothie bowl recipe can be a little lackluster at times, especially in the department of textural allure. Luckily, smoothies are one of the easiest recipes around to “fix.” If you find yourself constantly wondering "How can I make my smoothies thicker?," we have your superfood solutions right here.
The next time you blend a disappointingly watery smoothie, remember these eight ingredients you can add to create thicker smoothies, and make your own blend the one to covet:
There’s a reason why bananas are included in so many smoothie recipes – aside from helping to sweeten smoothies, when blended, they create a perfectly creamy base, which is beneficial for smoothie bowls as well. Simply adding a banana will instantly make your smoothie thicker, but you can also use a frozen banana for a smoothie recipe that’s even more ice cream-esque and frostier.
Similar to bananas, mangos are another “creamy” fruit that creates a thick, almost “fluffy” texture. If you’re making a fruity blend, mangos (fresh or frozen) are the perfect go-to ingredient. Start by blending in about a half cup of chopped fruit and add more, if needed.
Superb for low-sugar and green smoothies, avocados easily enhance the viscosity of a smoothie and leave it with an almost velvety quality. A little goes a long way with avocado, so adding even just a spoonful or two is an ideal way to take your runny smoothie to a thick, swoon-worthy blend!
While not quite as effective as the fruits above, a little bit of yogurt (about one quarter to one half cup) can help improve the textural balance of a smoothie. Take care to use yogurt that does not have added sugar and seek non-dairy brands to avoid inflammatory ingredients.
5. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are master thickeners, often used in all kinds of recipes for their ability to gel up when soaked in water. Adding a spoonful or two of organic chia seeds to a smoothie will thicken it substantially within 10-15 minutes, but if you’re looking for immediate results, simply add in chia gel or pre-soaked chia seeds. You can even make the chia gel in a large batch ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator to have on hand for smoothies all week.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Cooked sweet potatoes, yams and winter squashes like pumpkin can instantly enhance the makeup of a smoothie while keeping the sugar and calorie content low. Be aware that options such as a sweet potato are a little more grainy than the other ingredients on this list, so keep their quantities fairly low (less than a half cup of puree), and add another creamy element like peanut butter to balance and smooth out the blend. But you're not limited to just peanut butter (especially if you're allergic or just don't love the flavor), as any nut butter will suffice in adding a creamy element to your smoothie. You can find almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter and many other nut butters at your local grocery store. You can't go wrong with any of them! Alternatively, you can opt for a homemade version using some of your favorite superfood ingredients to enhance its flavor and nutritional value. Check out our Cacao Almond Butter Smoothie recipe if you're looking for some inspiration for your next smoothie.
7. Frozen Fruit & Vegetables
The act of freezing produce rather dramatically changes the way the fruit or vegetable performs when blended. To quickly make your smoothies thicker, try adding in a half to a full cup of frozen berries or frozen tropical fruit. For blends that have stronger flavors such as chocolate or vanilla, consider adding frozen vegetables like cauliflower or beets—you’ll be surprised at how well they transform your smoothies or smoothie bowls into a dessert-like texture.
Lastly, never underestimate the power of ice. Frozen ingredients are key in creating frostier, thicker smoothies and ice is no different. Adding a half cup or more of ice to your blender full of simple smoothie ingredients can turn a watery creation into a frosty blend in no time! Just be sure to add a little bit of extra sweetness to your smoothie since the ice is likely to water down flavor.
Bonus Tip: Be mindful of your liquids!
One thing you should always keep in mind is the amount of liquid you use when blending your smoothies. The key to thick smoothies is finding the right liquid-to-solid ingredient ratio. Everyone has their individual preference for thickness, so keep on experimenting to find your perfect balance.
If you typically use fruit juice in your smoothie recipes, you can even try freezing some in an ice cube tray overnight and adding the cubes into your blender for an extra thick smoothie. This method isn't recommended if you're using plant-based milk options like oat milk, almond milk or coconut milk, as they can separate during the freezing process.
Salivating for a superfood smoothie now? We totally get it. Click HERE for some delicious and nutrient-rich smoothie recipes to satisfy your craving!