Does applesauce thicken smoothies?

Smoothies are a delicious and nutritious blended drink made from fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and other ingredients. They have a naturally thick, smooth texture from the fiber and nutrients in the ingredients. Some smoothie drinkers enjoy this thickness, while others prefer a thinner, more juice-like consistency. This brings up the question – can you use applesauce to thicken up a smoothie?

What is Applesauce?

Applesauce is made by cooking down apples into a soft, smooth puree. The cooking process breaks down the apple cell walls, releasing pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that acts as a gelling agent and thickener. When making applesauce, leaving the skins on the apples increases the pectin content. The finished applesauce contains both soluble and insoluble fiber from the whole apples.

Commercially-made applesauce may contain added thickeners like carrageenan or guar gum to give it a thicker, smoother texture. It may also have extra sugar or spices added for flavor. Plain unsweetened applesauce generally contains just apples and water.

Does Applesauce Thicken Smoothies?

Yes, adding applesauce to smoothies will thicken up the texture. The pectin and fiber from the cooked down apples binds with the liquid from the other smoothie ingredients, increasing the viscosity. This gives a fuller, richer mouthfeel.

The thickening power does depend on the ingredients in the rest of the smoothie. Blends with mostly watery fruits and veggies like citrus, cucumber, and spinach won’t become quite as thick. Smoothies based on bananas, mango, avocado, and nut butters will get an extra thickness boost from the applesauce.

How Does Applesauce Thicken Smoothies?

There are a few reasons why applesauce has a thickening effect:

Pectin Content

Pectin is the primary thickening agent in applesauce. It’s a type of soluble fiber found in apple skins and flesh. Cooking apples breaks down the plant cell walls, releasing the pectin so it can dissolve into the liquid. Pectin molecules bind with water molecules, increasing viscosity. More pectin = more thickness.

Gel Formation

At cooler temperatures, pectin molecules cross-link together, forming a gel matrix. This matrix traps the liquid, turning it into a cohesive gel. The gel-like consistency is what gives thickness to jellies, jams, and applesauce. In a smoothie, the gel pieces blend into the liquid base for a viscous texture.

Additional Fiber

Applesauce provides both soluble and insoluble types of fiber. Insoluble fiber absorbs liquid and swells up to create bulk. Soluble fibers like pectin and hemicellulose bind water. Both types increase the viscosity of the smoothie.

Interactions with Smoothie Ingredients

The soluble fibers in applesauce interact with compounds like proteins and starches in the other smoothie ingredients. These interactions enhance the thickness from the gelling effect of the pectin. Bananas and nut butters have starches, while dairy and protein powders contain proteins.

How Much Applesauce to Use

A few tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce can make a noticeable difference in smoothie thickness. Exact amounts depend on:

– Desired consistency – More applesauce for a thicker blend
– Other ingredients – More needed if using watery fruits/veg
– Smoothie serving size – Adjust applesauce to smoothie proportions

As a general guideline:

– For one serving, start with 1-2 tablespoons applesauce
– For two servings, use 3-4 tablespoons
– For 4 servings, use 1/4 to 1/3 cup

Go up or down from there to reach your preferred thickness. Keep in mind more applesauce = more fiber and nutrients. Too much can start to negatively impact the flavor.

Smoothie Recipes with Applesauce

Here are some tasty smoothie recipes highlighting the thickening power of applesauce:

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

– 1 medium banana, frozen
– 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
– 1/2 cup milk of choice
– 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 1-2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– pinch of cinnamon
– handful of ice

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. The peanut butter, banana, and applesauce create a decadently thick texture.

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie

– 1 cup pineapple chunks, frozen
– 1/2 cup light coconut milk
– 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 1-2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
– 1 tsp lime juice
– 2-3 ice cubes

Process all ingredients in a blender until fully combined and thickened. The applesauce helps offset the watery pineapple.

Green Protein Smoothie

– 1 cup baby spinach
– 1 medium banana, frozen
– 1/2 cup milk of choice
– 2 tbsp natural almond butter
– 1-2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
– 1/2 cup ice

Blend all ingredients on high until uniformly mixed and thickened. The protein powder and almond butter also aid thickness.

Benefits of Adding Applesauce to Smoothies

Besides making smoothies richer and creamier, adding unsweetened applesauce has other nutritional perks:

Increases Fiber Content

Applesauce provides a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. This helps boost the fiber content for improved digestion and cholesterol levels.

Adds Vitamins & Minerals

Apples contain vitamin C, potassium, and smaller amounts of B vitamins. These nutrients are blended right into the smoothie.

Natural Sweetness

Plain unsweetened applesauce contains only the natural sugars from the apples. This lightly sweetens without adding refined sugar.

Low in Calories

With around 100 calories per cup, applesauce contributes thickness without a big calorie load. It’s lower calorie than adding nut butters or avocado.

Gluten-Free & Vegan

Applesauce offers a plant-based thickener compatible with gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan diets when using the appropriate smoothie ingredients.

Adds Appley Flavor

In the right smoothie recipes, applesauce imparts a nice appley taste and aroma. It pairs especially well with fall spice flavors.

Potential Drawbacks of Applesauce in Smoothies

While applesauce has many benefits for thickening and flavoring smoothies, there are a few potential drawbacks:

Excessive Fiber

Adding several tablespoons of applesauce significantly increases the fiber content. Too much fiber can cause bloating, gas, and digestive issues if your body isn’t used to it. Introduce applesauce slowly.

Extra Sugar

Sweetened varieties contain added sugar for flavor. This undercuts the health benefits by boosting the glycemic index. Always choose unsweetened applesauce.

Maintains Thickness When Frozen

The smoothie will maintain the thicker consistency after blending, which makes it harder to drink frozen. Let it thaw 5-10 minutes before drinking if you prefer a more frozen smoothie.

May Alter Taste

In some recipes, applesauce gives a subtle appley flavor that overpowers other ingredients. Take care to balance and complement flavors.

Not Always Appropriate

Very heavy or dense smoothies don’t necessarily need applesauce for thickness. It may create an overly thick, gluey consistency.


Here are answers to some common questions about using applesauce in smoothies:

Is applesauce better than banana for thickness?

Bananas are often used to thicken smoothies. Applesauce works differently than bananas. Bananas add creaminess from starch. Applesauce provides viscosity from pectin fiber. Using both creates an even thicker texture.

Can you use sweetened applesauce?

Avoid using sweetened varieties with added sugar. The extra sugar isn’t necessary and takes away from the nutritional benefits. Plain unsweetened applesauce provides thickness without unwanted additives.

Is chunky applesauce okay in smoothies?

You can use chunky homemade applesauce with small pieces in smoothies. The chunks will get blended into the liquid for smooth thickness. For a perfectly uniform texture, blended applesauce works best.

Does applesauce make smoothie bowls thicker?

Yes, applesauce is an excellent addition to smoothie bowls and parfaits. It helps maintain the mousse-like texture when topped with granola, nuts, fruit, etc. Start with 2-3 tablespoons mixed into the smoothie base.

Can you freeze smoothies made with applesauce?

Smoothies thickened with applesauce can be frozen in popsicle molds or containers. They maintain the thicker consistency once frozen. Let sit 5-10 minutes before eating to slightly soften for easier consumption.

The Bottom Line

Applesauce is an easy way to add thickness and creaminess to smoothies without altering the flavors. The pectin fiber gel gives a rich, smooth texture. Start with 1-2 tablespoons per serving and adjust to your preferred consistency. Applesauce pairs especially well with banana, peanut butter, and protein powder smoothies.

Besides thickness, it also boosts nutrition by adding fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Just be mindful of avoiding varieties with added sugar. Making your own unsweetened applesauce allows maximum control over the ingredients.

Adding applesauce to smoothies provides a simple method for achieving a thicker, more indulgent blended treat any time of day. Harnessing its gelling power allows for endless creamy smoothie possibilities.

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