How to Make Rich and Satisfying Vegan Smoothies
Going vegan but afraid you'll miss your rich and creamy dairy-based smoothies? I've got good news for you: While smoothies used to rely on yogurt and milk as essential ingredients, there are so many non-dairy options available these days that whipping up creamy vegan smoothies is crazy easy.
I'll show you how to create vegan smoothies with rich texture and just-sweet-enough flavor, and clue you in on what vegan proteins you can add to your smoothie to make it an on-the-go meal or filling snack. I'll also share ideas for swapping out ingredients in any smoothie recipe to vegan-ize it. And of course I've gathered some vegan-ready recipes for you to try.
Check out our collection of Smoothie Recipes.
Easy Swaps and Ingredient Ideas for Vegan Smoothies
The key to healthy, delicious, and filling smoothies is having all the ingredients in balance: a source of protein + something to make it thick and smoothie-y + just enough sweetness to make it a treat. (Sneaking in extras to boost fiber and nutrition is always a bonus.) Use the suggestions below as ingredient swaps for non-vegan recipes as well as components that can be blended together to create your own custom smoothies.
Add a serving to each smoothie:
- Seeds: Hemp, chia, flax, and pumpkin are all great sources of protein—available whole or ground. Note that flax seeds should be ground to make more of their nutrition available. Tip: Ground flax seeds (or flax meal) can also make your smoothie very thick as the flax meal meets the moisture. Adjust liquids as needed.
- Nuts or nut butters: Cashews have the most neutral taste, but almonds and walnuts are also delicious. Ooh, and coconut!
- Vegan protein powder: You can find a variety of products with and without sweetener added, and in many different flavors.
*According to the US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, women age 19-30 on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet should eat 46 grams of protein a day, while men in that age range should eat 56 grams of protein. If you have any concerns or questions about your protein intake, you should consult a dietary professional.
Vegan proteins that also add umph: These sources of protein also double as a thickener, so you'll be killing two birds with one stone. About four to six ounces of each is great for one smoothie.
- Tofu: It comes in firm, extra firm, etc., but really any type will do just fine.
- Alternative yogurts: There are a lot of really great plant-based yogurts available in grocery stores these days: sweetened and unsweetened, and in lots of flavors.
Ingredients for Creaminess and Thickness
Use about one-half to two-thirds of a cup of any combination of the below for one smoothie.
- Bananas: Keep in mind, the riper they are, the more natural sweetness you'll also be adding to the smoothie. (That's a good thing!)
- Avocados: A smoothie with avocado is going to be smoothest smoothie you'll ever have. It adds downright dreaminess to the recipe. Avocado is also a very neutral flavor—you won't get a lot of avocado flavor, which is good for a smoothie. (Give us all the avocado flavor in our guac, though, right?)
- Fruit: This is 100% up to your personal tastes. There's no bad fruit idea for a smoothie, though you'll want to take into account the juiciness of the fruit when deciding how much liquid to add to get things blending. If you're adding an orange, that's probably all the liquid you'll need, while a banana will need a splash of liquid to loosen things up.
- Greens: Spinach and kale add fiber to your smoothie and a whole lot of extra nutrition. You can easily put a small handful of spinach into a smoothie without affecting the taste, but the flavor in kale is a bit stronger and distinct, so one or two small leaves is plenty.
A Touch of Sweetness
Any fruit you add will bring the sweet, but you might still need a bit more if you go heavier on the greens. A little of each of these goes a long way, so start with a small amount, then go from there.
- Agave syrup
- Maple syrup
- Medjool dates (pitted)
- Prunes (pitted)
All plant-based "milks" have neutral flavors, but you'll need to taste-test them a bit for yourself to discover what you prefer. The consistency varies a bit as well, but not so much that it makes a big difference in the smoothie. The one factor you'll likely want to pay the most attention to is the price—for example, hemp milk tends to be more expensive than rice or almond milk. Below are the types you'll see on grocery store shelves the most often:
They all work great! Start with one-quarter of a cup and add more as needed.
Ice Might Be Nice
To add ice or not to add ice—that is the question. The action of blending generates a bit of heat, so you'll want to introduce something icy into the smoothie. If none of your fruit is frozen, a few cubes of ice will do the trick. If some—or all—of your fruit is frozen, you should be good to go without adding any extra ice.
10 Vegan Smoothie Recipes to Try
Try a different smoothie every day for nearly two weeks to find your favorites with these recipe ideas.
"Matcha green tea powder and kale make this superfood smoothie extra green," says recipe submitter, Alli Schircliff. "And white beans add a little extra protein, too!" This recipe calls for frozen mango chunks, so no ice needed!
A filling breakfast that will last you until lunch, this vegan smoothie gets some extra umph from rolled oats blended with banana and strawberries. Watch the video to see how to make it.
Banana, flax seeds, and maple syrup smooth out the taste of nutrient-rich kale for a smoothie that'll make both your body and your taste buds happy.
This Paleo-friendly vegan smoothie gets a sweet burst from blueberries and banana, and gets its protein from some almond butter.
This recipe is perfect for when you're looking for a healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Chocolate soy milk, a banana, and peanut butter get blended with ice for a deliciously vegan alternative to a typical milkshake.
Frozen pineapple chunks make a surprise appearance in this Paleo and vegan smoothie, along with cashew butter for a good dose of protein.
Recipe submitter, Vikas Khandelwal, calls this the "Wake Up Without Coffee Smoothie." Blueberries, dates, and a banana provide some sweetness, and flax seeds and cashew butter bring the protein.
This recipe calls for whey protein mix to add an extra long-lasting energy boost—perfect for a busy day. Just be sure to use vegan chocolate in this recipe
Strawberries and tofu come together in a delicious way in this vegan smoothie recipe. And at eight servings, this one feeds a (small) crowd!
Blueberries, kale, and bananas are blended with ground flax seeds, dates, and almond milk in this delicious on-the-go breakfast that's sure to provide the needed fuel for a big day.