Is ice cream good for smoothies?

Ice cream is a beloved frozen dessert enjoyed around the world. With its creamy texture and sweet flavor, ice cream can be a tasty addition to many desserts and treats. One popular use of ice cream is in smoothies. Adding a scoop or two of ice cream to a blended fruit smoothie creates a thicker, creamier consistency and contributes extra flavor and sweetness. But is this an advisable combination from a health and nutrition standpoint? There are pros and cons to using ice cream in smoothies.

Pros of Adding Ice Cream to Smoothies

There are several potential benefits to adding ice cream to smoothies:

Increases Creaminess

One of the main appeals of using ice cream in smoothies is that it makes them richer, thicker, and creamier. Blending ice cream into a fruit smoothie gives it a milkshake-like consistency that many people find enjoyable. The fat content in ice cream adds body to an otherwise thin, watery fruit and liquid blend.

Enhances Flavor

Ice cream can infuse more sweetness and flavor into what would otherwise be a tart, sometimes bitter fruit smoothie. Vanilla ice cream is a popular choice as it has a versatile, sweet flavor that complements many fruits. But other ice cream flavors like chocolate, strawberry, or cookie dough can take a smoothie to the next level of tastiness. The flavor combinations are endless.

Makes Smoothies Cold

Using frozen ice cream ensures a chilled beverage, which is refreshing and satisfying, especially in warm weather. It saves you from having to add ice cubes to keep the smoothie cold. The icy temperature also blends smoothly with the frozen fruits commonly used in smoothies, like bananas and berries.

Adds Calories and Nutrients

Ice cream boosts the calorie and nutrient content of a smoothie. Just half a cup of vanilla ice cream contributes about 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein to your drink. The exact amounts vary by ice cream type. So if you are looking to make a more filling, energizing meal replacement smoothie, adding ice cream can help increase nutrients.


Blending ice cream into smoothies is a great way to get kids to drink something nutritious. The addition of sweet, creamy ice cream can make a veggie or green smoothie more appealing. Adults may enjoy the nostalgia of an ice cream float in smoothie form too.

Cons of Adding Ice Cream to Smoothies

However, there are also a few drawbacks of using ice cream in smoothies:

High in Sugar

While ice cream tastes great, most varieties are high in added sugars. Just a 1/2 cup serving can contain 12-24 grams of sugar depending on the brand. Adding sugary ice cream to an already sweet fruit smoothie may result in a sugar overload. Too much added sugar is linked to obesity, heart disease, and other health issues. So those looking to cut back on sugar should use ice cream sparingly.

May Cause Bloating

Some people report feeling gassy or bloated after consuming ice cream and dairy products. This is because they contain lactose, a sugar found in milk products. Individuals with lactose intolerance lack enough of the enzyme lactase to properly digest lactose. The undigested lactose in their intestine can lead to gas, cramps, and diarrhea. So those with dairy sensitivities may want to avoid ice cream in smoothies.

Less Nutritious

While ice cream does contain calcium, vitamin A, and some protein, it lacks the fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and overall nutrition of whole fruits and vegetables. Adding creamy, fatty ice cream to smoothies dilutes the nutrient density that make them a healthy choice to begin with. For example, a chocolate ice cream smoothie will have fewer benefits than one made with just spinach, bananas, and cocoa powder.

High in Fat and Calories

The saturated fat and calorie content of ice cream can quickly add up when blended into smoothies. Just a cup of ice cream ranges from about 250-350 calories and 14-22 grams of fat. Compare that to around 100 calories in a cup of mixed berries. For those limiting calories or fat intake, smoothies with ice cream may sabotage weight loss efforts. Stick to a small scoop or swap in frozen yogurt or low-fat ice cream.

Risk of Contaminants

There is a minor risk when consuming raw eggs in unpasteurized ice cream. Salmonella and E. coli outbreaks occasionally occur from contaminated cream or eggs. Pasteurization eliminates this risk. But if you use homemade or gourmet ice cream with raw egg in smoothies, pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems should take caution.

Better Ice Cream Alternatives for Smoothies

Fortunately, there are some healthier options for adding creaminess and flavor if you want to skip regular ice cream:

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is an excellent ice cream substitute in smoothies. Just a few tablespoons provides protein, calcium, probiotics and a rich, creamy texture. Choose unsweetened varieties to avoid extra sugar.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a fresh, soft cheese with a mild flavor that blends smoothly into drinks. The small curds mostly disappear leaving just creaminess. A quarter cup or less is all you need.


Avocados are the perfect fruit for making thick smoothies. Simply blend in a quarter or half of an avocado for a dairy-free creaminess. Avocados also offer antioxidants and healthy fats.

Silken Tofu

Silken tofu is made from soy and has an ultra-smooth, pudding-like consistency when blended. Even just a few spoonfuls makes smoothies rich and frosty. Choose soft or firm silken tofu.


Frozen banana chunks offer natural sweetness and blend easily into cold smoothies for a creamy, milkshake-like treat. Let spotty ripe bananas freeze overnight or longer before using.

Best Fruits and Veggies for Ice Cream Smoothies

If you do opt to use ice cream in smoothies, some ingredients that complement it best include:


Bananas pair perfectly with ice cream in smoothies. They add natural sweetness to balance out tart fruits and their creamy texture works well with dairy. Simply freeze peeled bananas overnight to use.


Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries make great smoothie bases. Their sweet-tart flavor and colorful appearance looks beautiful swirled with white or pale ice cream.


Mango is a sweet tropical fruit that blends smoothly. Combining mango with a compatible ice cream like vanilla or coconut yields a bright orange creamsicle-inspired smoothie.


Pineapple gives a tropical flair to ice cream smoothies. Blend it with coconut or pineapple sherbet for a piña colada vibe. Pineapple also aids digestion, balancing out the lactose from dairy.


Peaches pair deliciously with vanilla ice cream in smoothies. Substitute frozen peaches for ice to save calories and detract from the guilt of including ice cream.


Both sweet and tart cherries complement dairy’s richness. Their vibrant red color looks beautiful alongside white or cream-colored ice cream. Cherries contain antioxidants and natural melatonin for better sleep.


Adding leafy greens like spinach to ice cream smoothies boosts the nutritional value considerably. Spinach blends smoothly when frozen and its mild flavor combines well with sweet fruits and ice cream.

Fruit/Vegetable Benefits
Bananas Creamy texture, natural sweetness
Berries Sweet-tart flavor, antioxidants
Mango Tropical flavor, smooth texture
Pineapple Tropical flavor, aids digestion
Peaches Complement vanilla ice cream
Cherries Vibrant color, antioxidants
Spinach Nutritious, mild flavor

Tips for Making the Best Ice Cream Smoothies

Follow these tips for making smooth, creamy ice cream smoothies at home:

Use Frozen Fruit and Bananas

Frozen ingredients help achieve a thicker blend. Let bananas and other fruits like berries and mango freeze overnight first.

Add Liquid to Blend

For a smoother consistency, use an ice cream with a higher fat content and add small amounts of liquid like milk or juice to help it blend evenly.

Don’t Overblend

Blending too long incorporates air and melts ice cream. Pulse gently just until ingredients are combined and smooth.

Serve Immediately

Ice cream smoothies melt quickly, so pour into glasses right after making for ideal texture and taste. Add fun toppings like sprinkles, chocolate sauce, or whipped cream if desired.

Store Leftovers Properly

For any remaining smoothie, transfer to an airtight container and freeze. Allow to thaw 15-30 minutes before serving again. Shake or stir gently to recombine.

5 Delicious Ice Cream Smoothie Recipes

Here are 5 tasty, creamy ice cream smoothies to try at home:

Very Berry Ice Cream Smoothie

Blend 1 cup mixed frozen berries, 1 small frozen banana (optional), 1⁄4 cup vanilla ice cream, 1⁄4 cup milk or yogurt, and 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar.

Piña Colada Smoothie

Mix 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks, 1⁄2 cup coconut ice cream or yogurt, 1⁄4 cup coconut milk, and 2 tbsp shredded coconut.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Process 2 frozen bananas, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1⁄4 cup chocolate ice cream, and 1 cup milk.

Green Cream Smoothie

Whirl 1 cup spinach, 1⁄2 frozen banana, 1⁄4 avocado, 1⁄4 cup plain ice cream, 1 cup pineapple juice, and optional honey to taste.

Cookies and Cream Smoothie

Stir together 1⁄2 cup chocolate ice cream, 1⁄4 cup crushed Oreo cookies, 1⁄2 frozen banana, and 3⁄4 cup milk.


Ice cream can be a tasty addition to fruit and vegetable smoothies, lending a richer, creamier texture and more flavor options. But the higher calories, fat, sugar, and inferior nutrition compared to whole fruits means ice cream should be consumed in moderation. Limit to a small scoop per smoothie and balance out the ingredients with plenty of fresh or frozen produce. Or explore healthier substitutions like yogurt, cottage cheese, and avocado for a similar creaminess. With mindful recipes, ice cream smoothies can be an occasional treat. But fruits and veggies still reign best for daily smoothie nutrition and wellness.

Leave a Comment