15 Healthy Ways to Sweeten a Smoothie
It’s easy to sweeten a smoothie without refined sugar! Here’s 15 nutritious ways to sweeten up your morning smoothie. Skip concentrated fruit juice and opt for one of these healthier options instead.
How to sweeten smoothies without sugar:
Don’t grab the 5 pound bag of sugar just yet! Sweetening a smoothie without sugar is very simple. Just add naturally sweet ingredients! Think fruits and veggies that are very sweet on their own. A few good examples are:
- Bananas – One banana has around 14 grams of naturally occurring sugars.
- Berries – Blueberries contain about 15 grams of natural sugar per cup with plenty of antioxidants and health benefits!
- Sweet potatoes – One medium sweet potato contains about 5 grams of natural sugar and tastes delicious in a sweet potato pie smoothie! No pie necessary. 😉
- Dates – One date contains almost 5 grams of sugar!
All of the sweeteners above have one thing in common – they’re refined-sugar-free! None of them are considered added sugars, and they all contain healthy nutrients and antioxidants. SCORE!
It’s best to avoid ingredients that pack in lots of refined sugar. They quickly decrease the nutritional value of your smoothie and transform it into a sugar-laden bomb. Here’s a few examples:
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
- Concentrated fruit juice
- Simple syrup
- Canned fruit in syrup
Healthy ways to make a smoothie sweet:
Here are 15 nutritious ways to sweeten a smoothie and what you need to know about each.
Bananas take top spot because they are a great way to sweeten ANY kind of smoothie. I can’t think of a smoothie they clash with. Green, fruit, oatmeal, tropical, they taste GREAT in all of them and make them creamy too! They’re also packed with:
- Fiber – They’re high in soluble fiber, which improves digestion!
- Antioxidants – Antioxidants prevent oxidative damage to your healthy cells. They’re linked to numerous health benefits, including lowering your risk for certain cancers.
- Potassium – Most people don’t consume enough of this mineral. And one banana contains 10 percent of your daily value!
Bananas have a naturally creamy texture, which prevents a smoothie from tasting gritty or icy. A frozen banana is a great way to thicken a smoothie without ice!
Berries pack a nutritional punch and their sweet-tart flavor is crave worthy. While relatively low in sugar, they pair well with bananas or yogurt to make a creamy and sweet smoothie! Berries are a nutrient-dense superfood! Here’s why:
- Antioxidants – Berries are loaded with ’em! Antioxidants protect your healthy cells from free radicals and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
- High in nutrients – Berries are low in calories but packed with nutrients, including immune-boosting vitamin C!
- Fight inflammation – The antioxidants in berries help lower inflammation in the body!
Pineapple is a tropical fruit with a bright yellow flesh and sweet, refreshing taste! It’s my go-to pick for green smoothies, since it pairs well with spinach and kale.
It overpowers their earthy flavor with a sweet and tropical flavor. It also keeps the color a vibrant green hue instead of a muddy dark green.
Try one of these delicious combos:
- Pineapple Spinach – Frozen pineapple + banana + spinach + almond milk
- Spinach Cucumber – Frozen pineapple + banana + cucumber + spinach + citrus
- Pineapple Mango – Frozen pineapple + frozen mango + spinach + banana + plant milk
Be sure to avoid canned pineapple in sugar sweetened syrup. The ingredients list will tell you if sugar or corn syrup has been added.
I always use fresh or frozen pineapple because it tastes the best and packs in the most vitamin C!
4. Orange Juice
Orange juice is a bright and sunny way to sweeten a smoothie! I find a little goes a long way. I don’t have to use much to reach my desired sweetness, a splash does the trick. Plus it makes the other ingredients pop!
Be sure to use fresh orange juice that’s NOT from concentrate. O/J is packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and micronutrients like potassium, folate, and copper.
It goes with all kinds of fruit smoothies, but I wouldn’t recommend it for chocolate or peanut butter smoothies!
Dates are a type of stone fruit that’s been dried. The sugar in a dried date is highly concentrated which makes it super sweet! They have a caramel-like flavor with a sticky, slightly chewy texture.
They’re refined-sugar-free and naturally:
- Whole30 friendly
Make sure to check if your dates are pitted before you add them to your smoothie. If you forget to pit them, the smoothie will taste grainy. For a smoother texture, let the dates sit in warm water for at least 5 minutes before you blend them.
Honey is a sweet and syrupy liquid derived from flower nectar collected by honeybees. While honey is primarily sugar, it’s also a good source of healthy plant compounds known as polyphenols.
It’s best to buy high-quality honey that’s minimally processed for the most antioxidants and health benefits.
Honey is a last resort for me. I try to sweeten my smoothies with fresh and frozen first before I consider adding honey. While it’s not considered refined sugar, it still is added sugar!
It’s slightly better than white sugar but still high in calories. If you do decide to add honey, measure it so you know how much goes into your smoothie.
7. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a natural sugar made from the sap of maple trees. The sap is heated to evaporate the water and leave behind a concentrated syrup.
I will start with saying how much I LOVE maple syrup! We have it in our fridge at all times. However, it is another last resort for me when it comes to sweetening smoothies. It does contain a substantial amount of manganese and antioxidants, but quickly packs in added sugar!
I prefer to leave it for times when I’m indulging (ahem, pancakes!), rather than when I’m trying to create a healthy smoothie.
I love to add apples to smoothies! They’re low in calories, nutrient-dense, and high in fiber. They’re also 86 percent water so they help thin a smoothie too. It’s important to compensate and add less liquid than you normally would.
You can add an apple, peel and all, or peel it first. The peel adds a bit of texture but also provides nutrients and fiber. I don’t mind the peel, but it’s best to peel it if you like a very smooth blend.
I prefer sweet-tart apples like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, but you can use whichever ones you like! Granny smith taste great in green smoothies.
If you’re on a keto diet or have diabetes, some of the natural options above may not work for you. Stevia is a good option to sweeten a smoothie with no sugar.
Stevia is a natural sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia plant. My sister has a stevia plant in her garden and uses it to sweeten tea! It has a distinct licorice-like flavor to it so it’s best to try it first to see if you like it.
If you’re looking to cut the overall sugar in your smoothie, swap high-sugar ingredients like a banana for an avocado, then add stevia to sweeten. Avocados add the same creaminess with zero sugar!
10. Monk Fruit
Monk fruit is a green gourd from Southeast Asia. Monk fruit sweetener is made by crushing the fruit, extracting the juice, and drying it into a powder.
Since monk fruit extract is 150 times sweeter than sugar, it’s often mixed with a sugar alcohol like erythritol to reduce its sweetness. Erythritol is slightly less sweet than sugar.
It’s a safe option for those with diabetes and it’s keto-friendly. If you don’t like the flavor of Stevia, monk fruit’s a good one to try.
11. Protein Powder
I say this with caution, because protein powders can be healthy, but sometimes aren’t. It’s important to check the label and opt for one with minimal added sugar and clean ingredients.
If you’re vegan or dairy-free, you can choose a plant-based protein powder instead. Plant-based protein powders are derived from pea, rice, soy, or hemp instead of whey.
Just be sure to purchase a protein powder you like the taste of! They all taste different and if you don’t like it, it’s NOT going to taste good in a smoothie either.
Oh how I LOVE jam! I love it in salad dressing, on toast, in oatmeal. It tastes grand in everything but my morning cheerios.
Jam can pack in a lot of sugar and calories if you’re not careful. That’s why I often pick up an all-fruit jam for when I want a healthier option. A small scoop of jam works double duty in a smoothie. It sweetens and bolsters the flavor!
Try a scoop of strawberry jam in a strawberry smoothie for a sweet jammy surprise.
13. Peanut Butter
I cheated a bit with this one, because it’s not actually sweet BUT it’s rich and delicious. Peanut butter makes a smoothie indulgent without the need for lots of sweetness.
For me, peanut butter makes any smoothie instantly better! Okay not EVERY smoothie, but a lot of them. Even berry smoothies taste great with peanut butter!
For a delicious but healthy combo try this:
Peanut butter chocolate smoothie: Peanut butter + frozen banana + unsweetened almond milk + dark cocoa powder
14. Sweet Potato
Perfect for a pie flavor with warm spices! Sweet potatoes add natural sweetness, sweet potato flavor, and a boost of nutrients. They’re rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and crucial minerals like manganese.
Try a smoothie with sweet potato, frozen banana, unsweetened almond milk, fall spices, and almond butter. It’s filling, delicious, and healthy too!
You can cook a sweet potato or buy frozen sweet potato cubes from the freezer aisle at the grocery store. If you don’t use frozen sweet potato, be sure to use another frozen ingredient like frozen banana to thicken it up.
Fresh juicy watermelon is one of my favorite summer smoothie ingredients! It’s so refreshing and it works double duty. Since watermelon is 92 percent water, you don’t need to add much liquid, if any. The watermelon imparts its crisp, classic sweetness and acts as the liquid base!
Be sure to use peak-season watermelon that’s juicy and sweet. It’s low in calories and high in antioxidants, including carotenoids, cucurbitacin E, and lycopene.
Smoothie Sweetener FAQs:
You don’t need any added sugar to make a smoothie taste sweet. There are plenty of fruits and veggies that can do that for you. Try banana, watermelon, frozen pineapple, dates, apples, berries, or watermelon. If your smoothie still isn’t sweet enough, add a splash of fresh squeezed orange juice!
If a smoothie is unpleasantly bitter, it’s best to add something sweet. It could be as simple as a splash of orange juice, or it could mean it needs fruit to sweeten it up. Choose a fruit that is naturally sweet like bananas, watermelon, dates, or pineapple.
There are a couple ways to make a smoothie less sweet. One way is to use unsweetened plant milk instead of sweetened milk or fruit juice. This allows the fruit to sweeten the smoothie, instead of added sugars. Another way is to add greens like spinach or kale. Spinach has a mild, earthy flavor that tastes delicious in fruit smoothies and counteracts some of the sweetness.