Learn how to make a smoothie thicker with this easy guide, including troubleshooting tips and recipes! Never make a runny smoothie again.
Why is my Smoothie Thin?
A smoothie is too thin when the ratio of frozen ingredients to liquid is too low. If you add too much liquid to a smoothie and not enough frozen fruit or ice, the smoothie will be thin.
The opposite is also true. If you add lots of frozen ingredients and not much liquid the smoothie will be thick.
This seems very simple, and it is. But sometimes it’s a little trickier than you think. For example, fresh fruit adds a lot of liquid!
Most fruits are made up of at least 80 percent water (up to 92 percent!). So, if you add fresh watermelon to your smoothie, it’s going to add a lot of liquid!
How to Make a Smoothie Thicker:
This post is dedicated to making smoothies thicker. If you want to make a smoothie bowl thicker, check out the tutorial here! Most of the tips below apply to smoothie bowls as well.
1. Use frozen fruit
Your smoothie won’t be thick unless you use frozen ingredients (typically fruit) or ice. However, I use frozen fruit 99 percent of the time.
If you use too much ice, the smoothie will get icy in texture, then watered down as it melts.
Frozen fruit creates a lusciously smooth texture, even when you use lots of it with very little liquid.
2. Add less liquid
This tip is crucial for a thick smoothie! No matter what you do, if you add too much liquid base, your smoothie will be too thin.
I always add less liquid to start, then I add more as needed. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out. Start with just enough liquid to get the ingredients moving in the blender.
For 2 cups of frozen fruit and a fresh banana, use 2/3 cup of liquid. For a smoothie bowl, reduce the liquid to 1/2 cup.
3. Use fresh fruit sparingly
Fresh fruit contains a lot of water. In fact, most fruits double as a liquid base! Here are four fresh fruits I love to use and their water content:
- Watermelon – 92% water
- Cucumber – 96% water
- Strawberries – 92% water
- Grapes – 82% water
- Banana – 75% water
Whenever I add fresh fruit (with the exception of bananas), I always reduce my liquid! When I use watermelon, grapes, or cucumber, I typically start out with no extra liquid.
Always arrange the fresh fruit closest to the blades. Doing so helps the ingredients get moving once you start the blender.
Once you turn on the blender, most fresh fruits turn straight into juice. Always reduce the amount of liquid in your smoothie when using fresh fruit.
4. Add a thickener
While a thickener won’t fix a runny smoothie, it does help thicken a smoothie. You still need frozen ingredients, but a thickener makes it extra creamy! Here are a few thickeners I like to use:
- Protein powder – Absorbs some of the liquid in the smoothie and adds sweetness. You can find protein powder in any flavor. For fruit based smoothies, use vanilla or unflavored.
- Yogurt – Greek yogurt adds a boost of protein and extra creaminess! For the best results, use a high quality yogurt that’s extra thick, like Fage brand. I buy mine at Costco. If you can’t afford Fage, off-brand yogurt works fine too.
- Chia seeds – Chia seeds absorb liquid quickly which helps thicken a smoothie. They also add healthy fats and plant-based protein. Add one tablespoon to your next smoothie.
- Flax meal – Flax seeds act similar to chia seeds, but taste better ground into meal first. Add two tablespoons of flax meal to your next smoothie.
- Instant oats – I typically prefer rolled oats in my smoothies, but quick-cooking oats absorb liquid much faster! Add 1/4 cup of instant oats to help thicken it.
- Avocado – Avocadoes are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, which give them a super creamy texture. Perfect for an ultra-thick smoothie!
5. Use a High-Powered Blender
While a high-speed blender isn’t required to make a smoothie, it’s much better at making them thick!
A high-speed blender is just a blender with a strong motor and hefty base. Blenders range from 300 to 1400 watts. The higher the wattage, the stronger and faster the blades!
A 1400-watt Vitamix is considered a high-speed blender, a 550-watt Black and Decker is considered a regular blender.
While both blenders can make a good smoothie, a high-speed blender is more effective at making an ultra-thick one that uses less liquid. Regular blenders require more liquid to get the ingredients moving!
High-speed blenders are more effective at blending greens too!
Thick Smoothie Ingredients:
While I touched on smoothie thickeners above, here’s a running list of frozen ingredients to thicken your smoothies:
- Frozen fruit – My favorite! Frozen fruit creates a lusciously thick smoothie. Try frozen pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, mango, or bananas!
- Ice – Not my favorite thickener, but works in a pinch! A high-speed blender will give you a smoother texture with ice, but it still tastes icier than frozen fruit.
- Frozen veggies – You can use frozen veggies too! Cauliflower, butternut squash, avocado (technically a fruit but whatever 😄), zucchini, and carrots are all good options! It’s best to pair frozen veggies with fruit for sweetness.
- Frozen bananas – This fruit gets its own bullet point because it’s great for smoothies that don’t call for frozen fruit, like chocolate smoothies. The banana doesn’t overpower the flavor of the chocolate, but effectively thickens and sweetens it!
How to Fix a Runny Smoothie:
Help, my smoothie is watery! Now what? Here’s a few troubleshooting tips to fix a watered-down smoothie:
- Add more frozen fruit! Stop the blender and add more frozen fruit. Turn it back on and let it blend to incorporate. Your smoothie should be instantly thicker! I find frozen banana chunks, frozen mango, frozen strawberries, and frozen pineapple to work the best.
- Add a few ice cubes. Again, I prefer method one, but ice works too! The texture won’t be as smooth, but some people prefer the icy texture.
- Add 1/3 cup of instant oats. This won’t work for a super-thin, watered down smoothie. You will need more than just oats in that case. But if your smoothie just needs to be a little bit thicker, instant oats will do the job.
Blenders for Thick Smoothies:
Not all blenders are created equal! The best blenders for thick smoothies are high-speed blenders. Even budget-friendly brands carry high-speed models.
Here are two great options, starting from most expensive to least:
- Vitamix – You can’t go wrong with a Vitamix! You can go with the less expensive Explorian or the 7500 with its bells and whistles, but they all work great! You get a super smooth blend, even with greens and fruit skins.
- Ninja – If you can’t afford a Vitamix, a Ninja is a great option. I got mine for 75 bucks and it’s lasted 10+ years. It works great at making thick smoothies with less liquid, but it doesn’t handle greens and fruit skins as well.
Tips for a Thick Smoothie:
- Start with less liquid, then gradually add more. More liquid = a thinner smoothie. Start with less than you think you need. Add a little bit at a time until you achieve the consistency you want.
- Stop and scrape the blender as necessary. In a regular blender, you may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides of the pitcher with a spatula. Turn the blender back on and repeat as necessary. This will help the frozen ingredients to get moving.
- Arrange the fresh fruit closest to the blades. Fresh fruit is mostly water, so place it closest to the blade. It will get everything in the blender moving quickly. If you put it on top, the ingredients may not blend immediately causing you to add more liquid.
Add frozen ingredients! The best option is frozen fruit, because it thickens and adds fruity flavor. Throw in some frozen banana chunks, strawberries, pineapple, or mango, and blend until smooth.
Yes, ice will thicken a smoothie! But it doesn’t add flavor like frozen fruit does and it creates an icier texture.
Thick Smoothie Recipes:
- Mango Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- High Fiber Smoothie
- Strawberry Blueberry Banana Smoothie
- Mango Smoothie