Common Smoothie Problems

Smoothies should be so simple: No cooking, just blending. What could go wrong? But sometimes they are watery, flavorless, or vegetal. If you love your smoothies, and have smoothie problems, here is how to solve them.

How To Fix Your Smoothie If It is

Too Watery: Add more fruit (preferably frozen); something to boost the creamy factor (like nut butter or tahini or pulverized oats or thick yogurt); and a small amount of flavor-saturated liquid, like fruit juice. A small pinch of salt and a generous pinch of a spice like cinnamon or cardamom can also help with resuscitation. Going forward, use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes. Frozen bananas, in particular, are best.  If they are creamy enough to blend into ice cream, you know they will add richness to smoothies. Frozen pineapple and mango also work well—and they avoid the graininess and unpleasant hard bits that can sometimes come from berries.
If you do not have frozen fruit on hand and are going the ice route, trying adding pre-crushed ice to your smoothie at the final blend.

Too Healthy-Tasting: Next time, you will be less ambitious with the leafy greens, broccoli florets, and carrot juice that made an accidental liquid salad. For now, add more milk (dairy or non-dairy), half of a frozen banana or crushed or frozen pineapple, and some liquid sweetener, like maple syrup or agave.

Too Blah: When your smoothie has all of the looks but none of the flavor, you need to make it less one-note: Add a splash of apple juice or, if you need acid, orange or lemon juice. If you’re looking for something bright and sharp, go with grated ginger or a splash of apple cider vinegar; for tang, try Greek yogurt; for sweetness, pitted dates and applesauce. And don’t forget about spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice; extracts (vanilla or almond or mint); and fresh herbs (like mint, basil, or tarragon).

Not Creamy Enough: This one is easy: Add silken tofu, nut butter or tahini, cooked oatmeal, Greek yogurt, half an avocado, coconut oil, or puréed pumpkin, sweet potato, or butternut squash. If your smoothie gets too thick, loosen it up with some not-watery milk.

Not Blended Enough: If your straw is getting clogged with chunks, it may be because you are not adding the ingredients to the blender in the correct order. First, you must add the liquid first, towards the bottom (to get the blade whirring smoothly and quickly). To the liquids, add leafy greens, then heavier items like chunks of frozen fruit. Start the blender on low speed, gradually increasing to higher speed, to make sure a vortex forms.
If your greens are still too coarsely chopped for your liking, you can pulverize them with the liquid before adding the other ingredients.

Too Thick: Add liquid—but not just any liquid. Remember that water will dilute the smoothie, whereas milk, kefir, coconut milk, or any other creamy liquid might change or dull the flavors. Pour in whatever liquid you like best in small amounts, keeping additional ingredients on hand in case the flavors shift.

Too Gritty: Sometimes, seeds and protein powders and fibrous stalks can give your smoothie an unpleasant texture. To make it silky-smooth, pour your drink through a fine-mesh sieve or a cheese cloth.

Too Foamy: Sometimes, scummy foam develops at the top of smoothies, making them pretty unpleasant to drink. This foam consists of the insoluble fibers found in the skin of vegetables or fruits. Good news is, there is a way to fix it.

If you have already blitzed up your smoothie and you see foam forming, try blending the smoothie at a very low speed for 10 to 20 seconds longer. (You can also stir the foam back into your smoothie with a long spoon, if it ends up in your cup.) And if foam still forms or persists, try straining the smoothie through a fine-mesh sieve, or pour your smoothie into the cup slowly, using a spatula to hold back the foam in the blender.

To prevent foam to begin with, use fruits and vegetables with soluble fibers, like bananas, peaches, pears, and mangoes. You can also use frozen fruits and vegetables that have soluble fibers, instead of fresh; their icy consistency helps them from causing foam build-up in your smoothie. Last, try adding in a healthy fat that will bond with the insoluble fibers and combine more readily into the smoothie, prior to blending. This can be coconut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado, or a nut butter.