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8 Ingredients That Help Thicken Smoothies

Thick chocolate smoothie made with Navitas Organics Cacao Powder and Cacao Nibs

By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef & Luminberry Founder

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 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 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.”

So the next time you blend a disappointingly watery concoction, here are eight of the best ingredients you can add to boost a smoothie’s thickness, and make your own blend the one to covet:

1. Bananas

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. Simply adding a banana will instantly make your smoothie thicker, but you can also use frozen bananas for a smoothie that’s even more ice cream-esque and frostier.

2. Mangos

Similar to bananas, mangos are another “creamy” fruit that creates a thick, almost “fluffy” texture. If you’re blending a fruity blend, mangos (fresh or frozen) are the perfect go-to. Start by blending in about a half cup of chopped fruit and ad more, if needed.

3. Avocados

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!

4. Yogurt

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 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 these options 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 other creamy elements like nut butters to balance and smooth out the blend.

7. Frozen Fruit & Vegetables

The act of freezing produce rather dramatically changes the way the fruit or vegetable performs when blended. To quickly thicken the consistency of your next smoothie, 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 beetsyou’ll be surprised at how well they transform into a dessert-like texture.

8. Ice

Lastly, never underestimate the power of ice. 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.

Salivating for a superfood smoothie now? We totally get it. Here are some delicious and nutrient-rich smoothie recipes to satisfy your craviing!

Author Bio: Julie Morris  is a Los Angeles-based superfood chef and New York Times best-selling author. Julie is also the founder of Luminberry, the world’s first online superfood cooking school, where she leads courses on how to use cutting-edge ingredients in recipes. Julie works as a recipe developer and consultant for various health companies, restaurants and media outlets, and has published five cookbooks that have sold around the globe.