After a couple years of trial and error, I'm sharing my best-ever thick berry smoothie bowl. If you've ever wondered how juice shops make extra thick smoothies, I've got your back. From blender speed to ingredients, you'll never pay $10 for a smoothie bowl again.
Let's talk ingredients.
Frozen berries: We can't make a thick berry smoothie bowl without berries! Note that raspberries and blackberries have little seeds that don't fully blend, and blueberry skins may get stuck on your teeth - be warned! A mix of strawberries and blueberries works best for me, but use what you can find. It is very important to buy frozen berries - to maximize flavor and thickness, we don't add any ice to our smoothie.
Mango: this creamy fruit is perfect for making an extra thick smoothie bowl. In a pinch, substitute with a peach, or leave it out.
Avocado: This is our secret ingredient. You'll need half of a perfectly ripe avocado. You won't be able to taste it, but you can feel the difference in the finished smoothie bowl. Hello healthy fats!
Peanut butter: I like peanut butter in my smoothie bowl for thickness, protein and flavor. My nickname for this bowl is the "PB&J." You can also add a scoop of peanut butter on top if you like, or sub with a nut or seed butter of choice.
Unsweetened non-dairy milk: Coconut milk and oat milk are my favorites, but almond milk works too. Try to keep it as plain as possible so the berries and peanut butter can shine unobstructed from added sugar and artificial vanilla flavor. In a pinch you can use water, or even orange juice if you like your smoothie extra sweet.
Healthy toppings: fresh berries or fresh fruit and peanut butter are my go-tos. Banana slices, coconut flakes, nuts, granola, cacao nibs, almond butter, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds are also great. A little bit goes a long way...
Plant-based protein powder of choice: optional! I recommend something plain, vanilla, or berry flavored.
There are two keys to this smoothie.
First, we need to load our blender properly. We want our biggest pieces of frozen fruit closest to the blades. For a traditional blender, our strawberries will go first. If we're working with a Nutribullet or a blender with screw-on blades, we'll load our frozen strawberries last. Got it? Good.
For a thicker smoothie, cover ½ to ¾ of the fruit with plant milk of choice. For a thinner sippable smoothie, nearly cover the fruit with liquid.
Second, let's talk about blender speed. Start the blender on low speed and watch for movement in the blender. Once the big chunks have blended, slowly increase speed. Wait to add more speed until you see good movement in the blender.
If you have a one speed blender, you may need to stop frequently to stir around. If you have a high-speed blender, you may have an "agitator" or stick you can use to stir while blending. This is particularly useful when making an extra thick smoothie.
Scoop into bowl, add your favorite toppings and enjoy this healthy breakfast! It's a great way to start the day.
Substitutions & Variations
This berry smoothie bowl is naturally vegan, dairy free, gluten free and refined-sugar free.
If you have a peanut allergy, sub with your favorite nut butter of choice.
If you don't have a ripe avocado, try mango or another creamy fruit. Bonus points if it's frozen! We love natural sugars around here...
No plant milk? Water will work in a pinch, bonus points if you have coconut yogurt to add for extra thickness.
Looking for some smoothie variations? This strawberry mango smoothie follows the same formula, but with slightly different flavors.
Want more protein? This chocolate peanut butter smoothie has you covered.
There is one piece of equipment needed to make an extra thick smoothie bowl: a blender. Ideally we need a blender that has multiple speeds and a little stick called an "agitator," but can get away with more budget friendly options.
Budget: the Nutribullet was my blender of choice thru college and my first couple years postgrad. These blenders typically have one speed, but it can still make a thick smoothie with some patience. You may need to stop and start a few times to keep the ingredients moving, or add more liquid. It's a fine balance that gets easier with practice.
Mid-range: Honestly, I would skip this step. Work with your budget option and upgrade to a Vitamix when you can. I hate putting good money after bad, and I just haven't found a blender in this category that I'm in love with. You will not regret it, especially if you make lots of smoothies.
Top-of-the-line: In this category, we're typically looking at commercial grade blenders with multiple speeds. An agitator, or that fat little stick smoothie shops use to stir, are usually included. and agitators included.
In my opinion, the Vitamix is the holy grail of blenders. I splurged on my first commercial grade machine a couple years ago and use it nearly every day for smoothies and cooking. I have this one, and my parents have this one. Both are great quality.
Look out for coupons and sales. I purchased mine from Williams Somona when they had one of their "spend more, save more" sales. I also had a gift card in my back pocket. Do what you have to do!
Note: for smoothies, I recommend a blender as described above. A food processor or immersion blender won't cut it for this smoothie recipe.
While this smoothie is best fresh, you can store in an insulated mug in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Do not freeze smoothie, otherwise it'll be too hard to eat. By the time it melts, it won't be as tasty.
Frequently asked questions
Making an extra thick smoothie bowl requires two things: the right ingredients and patience.
Frozen fruit and a ripe avocado make a wonderfully thick smoothie when blended properly. This thick berry smoothie bowl uses, you guessed it, frozen berries!
When blending, start on low speed while the frozen fruit breaks apart. Watch the sides of the blender: while the smoothie is moving, you're in good shape. If you hear the blender's motor change pitch suddenly, then you may need to stop and scrape down the sides, then start over again from low speed, working your way up.
If you're using a one-speed blender, you might need to stop more often, or add a little more liquid to keep things moving.
Use avocado to thicken your smoothie, and frozen berries instead of ice. You could also use another creamy fruit like mango or peach to thicken as well - frozen or fresh!
Nope! As long as it's ripe, it'll completely blend into the flavors of the frozen fruit and peanut butter.
Half of a ripe avocado is our secret weapon. Combined with frozen fruit, it makes an incredibly thick and creamy consistency. Some smoothie bowl recipes call for frozen banana which works, but adds banana flavor and sweetness, which sometimes isn't needed. Nut butters also contribute to a thicker smoothie bowl.
There are two kinds of "stuck:"
If you hear the blender speed up suddenly, then you need to stop, give it a little stir, and start again from the lowest speed while the liquid gets moving again. When you see good movement, you can slowly increase the speed.
If something is physically blocking the blades from continuing to spin, your blender may trip your breaker. If this happens, unplug the blender, turn the breaker back on, and then carefully press the safety buttons on your outlet to reactivate.
Then stir up your smoothie so the obstruction moves, and try again. If the obstruction is large (e.g. more than 1 or 2 frozen strawberries stuck together), you may need to physically break apart the mass so it doesn't damage your blender and outlet.
Start blending on low, and work your way up slowly for an extra thick, decadent smoothie.
If you've ever wondered how juice shops make extra thick smoothies, I've got your back. From blender speed to ingredients, you'll never pay $10 for a smoothie bowl again.
- 1-2 cups frozen berries
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter or nut/seed butter of choice
- ½ ripe avocado
- 1-2 cups unsweetened plain plant milk (such as oat, coconut, or almond)
- Nut butters
- Fresh fruit - berries, banana...
- Coconut flakes
1. Load blender: Place ingredients into blender according to where the blades are - biggest chunks of frozen fruit should be closest to the blades. Add liquid last just before blending so frozen fruit doesn't stick together.
2. Blend: Start blending on low, and increase speed as smoothie is more blended. If blender changes pitch, then you may need to stop and give it a stir before starting on low again, working your way back up. Taste, and top with whatever you like!
Keywords: smoothie, thick smoothie bowl, smoothie bowl, berry smoothie, vegan smoothie bowl
- Never reach into blender, especially when plugged in. Blades are very sharp!
- Always use a lid with a blender
- To clean blender, use a cleaning brush to scrub off any residues, then blend for 1 minute on medium speed with water, 1 Tbsp baking soda and ¼ cup vinegar. Rinse well.