A Layering Guide to a Better Smoothie

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kath Nash)

Making a really good smoothie is more than just piling ingredients into your blender. The way the ingredients are layered has a big impact on the way the drink is processed and on the final texture. To whip up a creamy smoothie, you have to know when to add ingredients to the blender.

The first order of business is dividing the ingredients into different categories based on their texture and consistency; this determines when they’ll be added to the mix. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way to the top of the blender, layer by layer.

1. Liquids

No matter what type of liquid you’re using — dairy or non-dairy milk, juice, coconut water, tea, or coffee — let this be the very first ingredient you add to the blender. Keeping the liquids on the bottom allows the blender to create a “vortex,” easily pulling down the greens, fruit, and veggies that are layered above.

Remember, the amount of liquid used will determine the consistency of your smoothie. Less liquid will make for a thicker smoothie, while more liquid will give you a thinner drink.

2. Powders and Sweeteners

If you’re using any type of protein powder, boosters like maca or cacao powder, or a sweetener like dates, agave, or honey, add it immediately after the liquid base. It’s important that these ingredients are well-blended, and in the cases of any powders, totally dissolved in the smoothie.

Protein powder can make smoothies especially thick and creamy. But when added to the blender last, they might not get completely dissolved, leaving an unpleasant powdery or chalky texture.

3. Greens

Next up, bring on the leafy greens. Keeping kale, spinach, chard, and other leafy veggies at the bottom of the pitcher is a smart way to make sure they get blended well. Remember to remove any ribs or woody stems!

Bonus Tip: Pause for a Pre-Blend!

Before adding the next round of ingredients, give the smoothie a quick pre-blend after adding any greens. This is one ingredient that can take a while to break down, so it’s helpful to give leafy greens some extra blending time.

4. Soft Ingredients

From here on up, ingredients will be added to the blender based on firmness, starting with soft ingredients. This layer will include things like yogurt, silken tofu, and nut butters.

5. Fresh Fruit, Nuts, and Seeds

Drop in soft fresh fruits, like berries, melon, citrus, and avocados, as well as nuts and seeds. To help fruits blend better, consider cutting them into chunks. This is especially helpful if your blender isn’t very powerful.

6. Frozen and Hard Ingredients

Finally, top off the blender with hard ingredients, like frozen fruit and ice. The weight of these heavier items helps to push the other ingredients down toward the base. Time to blend away and serve!