What can I use as a base for my smoothie?

Smoothies are a delicious and nutritious on-the-go breakfast or snack. The base of your smoothie provides the liquid that binds all the ingredients together. There are many healthy options to use as a base depending on your goals and dietary needs.

Quick Answers

Some quick answers to common questions about smoothie bases:

  • Water – Use plain or flavored water for a lower calorie base.
  • Milk – Dairy or non-dairy milk adds protein, calcium, and creaminess.
  • Yogurt – Greek or regular yogurt provides protein and probiotics.
  • Juice – Fruit or vegetable juice gives natural sweetness.
  • Plant-based milk – Almond, oat, soy, coconut, and other plant milks offer dairy-free options.

Popular Smoothie Base Options

Let’s explore some of the most popular and nutritious ingredients to use as smoothie bases:


Water is a neutral, low-calorie base for smoothies. Plain water allows the flavors of the fruits and veggies to really shine through. Some options include:

  • Plain water – Use still or sparkling water.
  • Flavored water – Try coconut water or water infused with fruits.
  • Ice – Adds chilliness and thickness.
  • Herbal tea – Chilled green or black tea can provide an antioxidant boost.

The benefits of water include:

  • Zero calories
  • Hydrating
  • Allows natural flavors to shine

The drawbacks of water include:

  • Can lead to a thin, watery texture
  • Doesn’t add protein, fiber, or nutrients

Dairy Milk

Cow’s milk and lactose-free dairy milk provide protein, calcium, vitamins, creaminess, and sweetness to smoothies. Options include:

  • Cow’s milk – Whole, 2%, 1%, or skim based on fat preferences
  • Lactose-free milk
  • Buttermilk – Tangy flavor
  • Evaporated milk – Extra creaminess

The benefits of dairy milk include:

  • Protein for muscle recovery
  • Calcium for bone health
  • Vitamin D
  • Creamy, smooth texture

The drawbacks of dairy milk include:

  • Allergies or sensitivities to lactose
  • Added calories and sugar compared to water

Non-Dairy Milk

Non-dairy milks provide great options for vegans or those with dairy allergies. They give a creamy consistency with various nutritional benefits depending on the type. Options include:

  • Almond milk – Nutty flavor
  • Soy milk – Protein
  • Coconut milk – Healthy fats
  • Oat milk – Fiber
  • Rice milk – Mild taste
  • Hemp milk – Omega-3s

The benefits of non-dairy milk include:

  • Dairy-free
  • Lower in calories than dairy milk
  • Specific nutrients like protein, fiber or omegas
  • Provides thickness and creaminess

The drawbacks of non-dairy milk include:

  • Can be more expensive than dairy milk
  • May still trigger allergies for those with nut sensitivities

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is naturally thick and creamy. It adds protein and a dose of probiotics to smoothies. Options include:

  • Full-fat – More calories but very creamy
  • Low-fat – Lower calories but still thick
  • Non-fat – Most protein but thinner texture
  • Strained yogurt – Extremely thick consistency

The benefits of Greek yogurt include:

  • High in protein to promote muscle growth and recovery
  • Probiotics for gut and immune health
  • Thick, creamy texture
  • Neutral flavor

The drawbacks of Greek yogurt include:

  • Higher in calories than milk or plant-based milks
  • Not suitable for vegans or those with dairy allergies

Regular Yogurt

Regular yogurt isn’t as thick as Greek yogurt but still adds protein, probiotics, and creaminess. Options include:

  • Whole milk – More fat, richer flavor
  • Low-fat – Lower in calories
  • Non-fat – Maximum protein
  • Flavored – Choose vanilla or fruit flavors
  • Dairy-free yogurt – Coconut or almond yogurt

The benefits of regular yogurt include:

  • Protein and probiotics
  • Smoother, thinner texture than Greek yogurt
  • Flavored options available

The drawbacks of regular yogurt include:

  • Less protein than Greek yogurt
  • Not as thick or creamy

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice provides natural sweetness and nutrients in smoothies. Use 100% fruit juice, not sugary juice cocktails. Options include:

  • Orange juice – Citrus kick
  • Pineapple juice – Tropical fruit
  • Apple juice – Sweetness
  • Pomegranate juice – Antioxidants
  • Cranberry juice – Tartness
  • Grape juice – Bold flavor

The benefits of fruit juice include:

  • Natural sweetness
  • Vitamins and antioxidants
  • Fruity flavors
  • Some are less acidic than citrus juices

The drawbacks of fruit juice include:

  • Contains sugar and calories
  • Less fiber than blended whole fruits
  • Can cause blood sugar spikes

Vegetable Juice

For green smoothies, vegetable juices like carrot and greens are nutrient powerhouses. Options include:

  • Carrot – Sweetness
  • Celery – Low calories
  • Spinach or kale – Leafy greens
  • Beet – Earthiness
  • Tomato – Savory
  • Mixed vegetable juice blends

The benefits of vegetable juice include:

  • Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants
  • Phytonutrients
  • Count towards vegetable intake
  • Fresh, savory flavors

The drawbacks of vegetable juice include:

  • Can be lower in fiber than whole vegetables
  • May cause spikes in blood sugar
  • Some have strong flavors like beets or celery

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Base

Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on a smoothie base:

  • Your nutritional needs – Pick ingredients with nutrients you want to get more of, like protein, fiber or vitamins.
  • Calories – Lower calorie bases include water, unsweetened tea, vegetable juice and non-dairy milks.
  • Flavor – Bases like fruit juice or yogurt provide more flavor than neutral options like water.
  • Texture – For thicker smoothies, use frozen fruit or creamy bases like avocado, banana, or Greek yogurt.
  • Dietary restrictions – Opt for dairy-free milks or yogurts if vegan or lactose intolerant.
  • Hydration needs – More watery bases like coconut water or herbal tea can provide extra hydration.
  • Beneficial nutrients – Look for bases providing antioxidants, healthy fats, probiotics or protein.
  • Blood sugar – For diabetics or low glycemic diets, avoid sugary juices and stick to water or unsweetened dairy/non-dairy milks.

Sample Smoothie Base Combinations

You can mix and match different smoothie bases for flavor and nutrition. Here are some tasty combinations:

Base 1 Base 2 Benefits
Almond milk Banana Creamy, nutritious
Greek yogurt Frozen cauliflower Protein + veggies
Coconut water Mango Hydrating, tropical
Chocolate milk Peanut butter Rich and filling
Pomegranate juice Baby spinach Antioxidants + greens
Black tea Strawberries Caffeine + vitamin C
Carrot juice Ginger Beta carotene + anti-inflammatory

Putting it All Together

Smoothies provide an easy way to maximize your nutrient and vitamin intake. The base you choose as the smoothie’s liquid foundation impacts the nutrition, flavor, and consistency.

Water provides a low calorie option allowing fruit and veggie flavors to shine through. Milk gives you protein and calcium for bone health. Yogurt provides filling protein plus probiotics. And juices made from fresh fruits or veggies offer nutrients along with natural sweetness.

Consider your nutritional needs, calories, texture preference, and any dietary restrictions when selecting a base. Combining two complementary bases can result in a powerhouse smoothie.

So experiment with different smoothie bases for a delicious way to enjoy a balanced breakfast or snack on-the-go!


The base is a foundational smoothie ingredient that impacts its nutritional value, taste, and thickness. Popular nutritious bases include water, dairy milk, non-dairy milks, yogurt, and fruit or vegetable juices. Consider your nutritional goals, calories, flavors, and dietary needs when selecting one. You can also combine two bases for a nutrient-packed smoothie bursting with flavor. With so many options like almond milk, Greek yogurt, carrot juice, and more, you can create smoothies perfectly tailored to your own preferences.

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