Thanks to Instagram, fitness trends, and our culture’s permanent fascination with Los Angeles, smoothie bowls are absolutely everywhere. Once reserved for only the hippest cafes and crunchiest organic restaurants, these colorful bowls can now be found at most places serving sit-down breakfast—but unfortunately, their ubiquity hasn’t made them any less expensive.
If you want to enjoy all the health benefits (and aesthetic cred) of a smoothie bowl but don’t want to shell out $12 for a light breakfast, we’re here to help. Read on to learn how to make a pitch-perfect smoothie bowl at home—trust me, I used to make them for a living.
What’s in a smoothie bowl, anyway?
There’s really only two essential components to any good smoothie bowl—a fruit smoothie base, and toppings. One of the benefits of making them at home is being able to completely customize your recipe!
When I worked in a juice cafe in 2015, we made three types of smoothie bowl bases: açai, matcha, and chocolate. Açai was the most popular, likely due to its bright purple color and then-mysterious name, and we made them simply by combining a packet of frozen açai puree with two frozen bananas and some water or dairy-free milk, blending them thick with a high-powered Vitamix, and pouring them into bowls for topping.
Deciding what kind of smoothie base to make at home is as simple as deciding what color and flavor profile you want your bowl to have, and then buying the right frozen fruit (or buying fresh fruit and freezing it) to get started. If you want something tropical, try a mango-pineapple or mango-peach base like the one we made in the recipe below.
You can also add nut butter, natural sweetener, protein powder, greens, or any other additional ingredients you might put in a normal smoothie, as long as it doesn’t make the base watery or lumpy (avoid raw fruit and granola, for example). Adding some frozen banana to any version of your smoothie base will help it get creamy and smooth in texture without the addition of actual dairy. The matcha and chocolate bowls we made at my cafe were made simply from frozen bananas blended with matcha or cocoa powder.
Toppings are where you can really get creative with your bowl. If you’re looking for something filling and nutritionally balanced, stick to high-fiber and high-protein toppings like granola, cocoa nibs, crushed nuts, and chia seeds. Sweeter toppings like fresh fruit, peanut butter, and coconut are also delicious options that add a lot of color to your bowl.
Try to balance textures and, if you’re interested in the way your bowl looks, arrange the toppings in discrete lines or patterns to make them pop. Ready to get started with your own bowl?
What you need
- A high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix
- A good cutting board and knife for slicing fruit
- A handful of fresh fruit for toppings (we used kiwi, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas)
- 1-2 frozen bananas
- 1 cup frozen fruit (we used peach and mango)
- Splashes of non-dairy milk (enough to get the blender moving)
- Dry ingredients for toppings (we used coconut flakes, chia seeds, granola, and cacao nibs)
- A wide bowl for serving
- Optional: Peanut butter or natural sweetener, like agave
What to do
1. Prep your fruit toppings
You don’t want to give your smoothie bowl time to melt once you blend it—slice your fruit toppings first so they’re ready to go.
2. Add frozen banana, other frozen fruit, and splashes of non-dairy milk to your blender
Only add enough milk to get the blending process started smoothly. If you add too much, you’ll have a thin, watery base that would be better suited for drinking as a smoothie than eating as a bowl. Now is also when you can add any other base ingredients, such as greens or nut butter.
3. Blend on HIGH or the blender’s preset frozen setting until thick and smooth
It’s okay to stop and stir your mixture, as well as add more liquid, if you find ingredients keep getting stuck.
4. Pour into a bowl and smooth the surface
Viola! Your base is done and ready for toppings.
5. Quickly arrange your fruit and dry toppings
Try to arrange your toppings in a way that varies color and texture. If you prefer to sprinkle everything, that works too!
6. Enjoy your smoothie bowl!
At last, your ideal smoothie bowl is ready. Make sure to eat it before it melts—THEN you can share a picture online.