Smoothies are supposed to be thicker than juice but thinner than nut butters in terms of texture. Indeed, it can be tricky to achieve the right smoothies texture – either too thick or too thin – because of the different ingredients and different blending times involved. In some cases, trial and error is necessary particularly in choosing the right ingredients and their ratios.
Fortunately, there are several steps that can be done in making smoothies thicker in texture without being near-solid in texture.
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Use as Little Liquid as Possible
Keep in mind that you’re making smoothies instead of juice so the amount of liquid will be different – lesser for smoothies, in particular. You should avoid placing too much water, milk or cream for starters since you can end up with too watery, too thin smoothies.
If the recipe calls for, say, ¼ cup of water or milk, you can start with just half of it (1/8 cup or so). You can add the remaining liquid if the first blend looks too thick. But add the remaining liquid in small pours only – it’s easier to add just a little bit more liquid than to add more solid ingredients.
What if the smoothies still feel too thick but adding more water isn’t desirable? Water will affect only the thickness of the smoothie but its taste as well. In this case, you can add kefir and two tablespoons of fruit juice; kefir isn’t as thick as yogurt but it has the same tangy taste.
Better yet, don’t use water, whether it’s cold or straight from the tap! You should use ice cubes since these will not only make the smoothie cold but it will also make it thicker in texture. You can substitute about the same amount of ice cubes as the recommended amount of water – use a measuring cup, if necessary.
Use Frozen Fruit
But don’t go too generous on the use of ice cubes since these are still water in solid form. You can instead substitute a few of the ice cubes with more chunks of frozen fruits since these have less water and more flavor.
Keep in mind that we’re talking about frozen fruits, not just chilled fruits. You should place the fruits called for in the recipe inside the freezer overnight and remove them from the freezer just before using them. Your next step is to cut them into smaller pieces to make it easier on the blender’s blades to pulverize them.
Many fruits can be frozen overnight without affecting their natural flavors, too, and these will add more creaminess and smoothness to the smoothies. These fruits include strawberries, pineapples, mangos, blueberries, and bananas, even grapes. You can also experiment with freezing your favorite fruits and seeing how these can be mixed the fruits called for on the recipe.
Frozen fruits are also great for adding more thickness to smoothies in case the first fruits blended were fresh (i.e., not frozen). Their frozen quality won’t add more liquid to the smoothie but these will add more flavor.
Add Other Non-recipe Ingredients
But if you don’t have frozen fruits in the freezer for one reason or another, you can add an entire fresh avocado or half of an avocado to the thin smoothie. Avocados are great for smoothies because these add creaminess without affecting the overall flavor – the avocados’ natural flavor is easily masked by other fruits. Plus, these can be easily mixed with most fruits and vegetables, from apples to kales, as well as with milk and chocolates.
Nut butters, such as peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter, are great for thickening smoothies, too. These aren’t just thick in texture but these also add another flavor dimension to the smoothie – a nuttier flavor with a creamier texture is always a great combination.
Yet another ingredient you can add for a thicker smoothie is a handful of oats or a scoop of chia seeds. These will not only add more fiber or more fats, respectively, to the smoothie without affecting its overall flavor. Both the oats and chia seeds will expand and, thus, absorb water resulting in a thicker smoothie.
If you have protein powder, you may want to consider adding it to your smoothie. Protein powder will boost your smoothie’s protein content while thickening it, which adding milk will not.
The bottom line: You don’t have to stick to the smoothie recipe! You can add or deduct ingredients, whether the ice cubes or the protein powder, until you get the right texture and consistency.