When making smoothies at home, choosing the right cup or container is an important decision. The cup you use can impact the blending process, how easy the smoothie is to drink, and the smoothie’s overall consistency and texture. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of various cup and container options for homemade smoothies. Understanding the differences between materials, styles, sizes and more will help you select the best vessel for your needs.
What are the most common cups used for smoothies?
The most common cups used for smoothies are plastic cups, glass cups, travel cups with lids, and mason jars. Plastic cups are affordable and lightweight but can absorb odors and stains. Glass cups don’t absorb odors or stains but are heavier and more prone to breaking. Travel cups with lids are convenient for on-the-go smoothies. Mason jars have a vintage appeal but don’t have a lid.
What cup material is best?
Glass and stainless steel are the best materials for smoothie cups. Glass doesn’t absorb odors or stains, can go in the dishwasher, and has a sleek look. Stainless steel is durable, neutral in taste, and good for travel. Plastic is affordable but can absorb odors and stains over time.
What size cup works best?
16-24 oz cups work well for most smoothie recipes. Smaller cups under 16 oz won’t allow you to make larger batch smoothies. Larger cups over 24 oz can be too big and lead to waste if you don’t finish the whole smoothie.
Should I use a cup with a lid?
Using a cup with a lid is beneficial if you plan to drink your smoothie on the go. Lids prevent spills and allow you to shake up or remix the smoothie. For smoothies you’ll drink at home, a lid is not necessary.
Are wide cups or narrow cups better?
Wide cups are better than narrow cups for smoothies. Wide cups give the blender blade more surface area to thoroughly blend ingredients. Narrow cups can lead to chunkier, less blended smoothies.
Plastic cups are the most common smoothie vessel, widely used for their low cost, flexibility, and lightweight feel. Benefits of plastic smoothie cups include:
- Inexpensive – Plastic cups can cost just a $1 or less.
- Disposable – Single use plastic cups can be discarded after making your smoothie.
- Lightweight – Plastic smoothie cups weigh less than glass.
- Durable – Plastic cups are difficult to break.
- Microwave-safe – Most plastic cups can be heated in the microwave.
- Variety – Plastic smoothie cups come in many shapes, sizes and styles.
However, there are some downsides to using plastic smoothie cups:
- Can absorb odors and stains – Plastic is porous and prone to holding onto smells and stains from foods.
- May leach chemicals – There are concerns that chemicals can migrate from plastic into food and drinks.
- Not as sleek looking – Plastic lacks the upscale, sleek look of materials like glass.
- Typically no lid – Most basic plastic cups don’t have travel lids.
Overall plastic is a very affordable and convenient option for smoothie cups. Just be aware that over time plastic cups may absorb odors and need to be replaced. Opt for higher food-grade plastics to minimize chemical leaching concerns.
Popular styles of plastic smoothie cups include:
- Clear plastic deli cups – Available in sets for just a few dollars, these clear plastic cups have volume markings and can stack for storage.
- Colored plastic cups – Fun solid colors, ombre gradients, and patterns make these cups bright and eye catching.
- Clear plastic mason jars – The vintage mason jar look but with lightweight, shatter-proof plastic construction.
Plastic Cup Considerations
When selecting plastic smoothie cups, keep the following factors in mind:
- Size – Cups from 12-24 oz work well for smoothie portion sizes.
- Shape – Look for wide, cylindrical shapes that allow ingredients to blend thoroughly.
- Food-grade plastic – Choose BPA-free plastics made specifically for food and beverages.
- Reusable or disposable – Pick reusable cups to save money or disposable for convenience.
- Lids – Get cups with lids if you’ll drink smoothies on the go.
With the right considerations in mind, plastic cups can be a budget-friendly vessel for homemade smoothies.
Glass is a top choice for smoothie cups due to its sleek, modern look and inert properties. Benefits of using glass for smoothies include:
- Nonporous – Glass doesn’t absorb stains or odors.
- Chemical-free – No chemicals leach into beverages.
- Dishwasher safe – Glass cups are easy to clean.
- Visually appealing – Glass has an elegant, sophisticated look.
- Reusable – Glass cups last for many years with proper care.
- Microwave safe – Most glass cups can be heated.
Potential downsides to glass smoothie cups include:
- Heavy – Glass weighs more than plastic.
- Prone to breaking – Glass can crack or shatter if dropped.
- Slippery – Glass can feel slippery, especially with wet hands.
- Requires handwashing – Not suitable for high heat dishwasher cycles.
Glass is best for those who won’t travel with their smoothies and want to highlight the vibrant colors of the fruits and veggies inside.
Popular styles of glass smoothie cups include:
- Classic glass drinking cups – Simple, affordable glasses that work for any beverage.
- Canning jars – The ridged sides and vacuum seal lids give these glasses a retro diner feel.
- Handleless glass mugs – Elegant straight-walled mugs without handles crafted from sturdy tempered glass.
Glass Cup Considerations
When shopping for glass smoothie cups, keep these factors in mind:
- Thickness – Pick thicker walled glasses for increased durability.
- Size – 12-24 oz capacities work well for single serving smoothies.
- Sturdy base – A wide, flat bottom keeps the cup stable.
- Shape – Cylindrical glasses blend smoothies most efficiently.
- Lids – Some companies sell silicone lids made to fit canning jars and other glass vessels.
With proper care, glass smoothie cups can last for many years while maintaining a clean, neutral taste. The breakable nature does limit their portability, however.
Smoothies made in travel cups with lids allow you to blend, drink and take your beverage anywhere on the go. Key benefits of smoothie travel cups include:
- Portable – Drink smoothies without worry of spilling during your commute or travels.
- Durable – Stainless steel and plastic travel cups can withstand drops without breaking.
- Insulated – Double walled designs keep smoothies cold for hours.
- Store neatly – Cups with internal blender blades or detachable blades save space.
- Attach to blenders – Many cups are designed to attach directly to popular blender brands.
Potential cons of travel smoothie cups are:
- Small capacity – Typically under 20 oz, limiting larger smoothie recipes.
- May leak – If lids aren’t properly sealed, liquids can leak out.
- Tricks blenders – Blending in a cup vs jar may result in chunkier smoothies.
- Hard to clean – Narrow openings and internal blades make cleaning difficult.
Travel smoothie cups come in several styles tailored to different priorities:
- Plastic smoothie shakers – Affordable plastic cups with tight sealing lids and agitator balls inside.
- Insulated stainless steel tumblers – Keep smoothies chilled for hours within tough, non-absorbent steel.
- Silicone collapsible cups – Flexible cups flatten down small to fit in bags and expand when filled.
- Blender attachment cups – Designed to twist directly onto specific blender makes and models.
Travel Cup Considerations
When selecting a travel smoothie cup, consider these factors:
- Material – Stainless steel, silicone and plastic each have different pros and cons.
- Capacity – Under 20 oz for single servings, 24+ oz for larger smoothies.
- Shape – Look for wide bottoms and few narrow corners.
- Lid tightness – Test lids to ensure a tight seal and prevent leaking.
- Blending performance – Wider cups with more space blend smoothies best.
- Ease of cleaning – Should disassemble fully with removable lid and blades.
With the right travel cup, you can whip up a morning smoothie at home and sip it during your work commute without the need for straws or pouring.
Among the most visually appealing choices, mason jars lend a vintage farmhouse feel to homemade smoothies. Pros of mason jar smoothie cups include:
- Nostalgic look – Iconic canning jar design hearkens back to vintage Americana.
- Variety – Mason jars come in wide mouth and regular mouth options.
- Sizes – Typically between 16-32 oz capacity.
- Reusable – Jars and lids are endlessly reusable.
- Available – Sold affordably at most grocery and hardware stores.
Some limitations of mason jars for smoothies are:
- No lid – Jars don’t have lids meant for shaking or traveling with liquids.
- Heavy – Thick glass weighs more than other materials.
- Risk of breaking – Drops and impacts can cause jars to crack.
- Can tip – Cylindrical jars lack a stable base.
Despite the lack of lid, many smoothie fans are drawn to the vintage charm of sipping their breakfast beverage from a mason jar.
Mason Jar Considerations
Optimize mason jars for smoothie use with these tips:
- Wide mouth – Provides more room for the blender blade to process ingredients.
- 16-24 oz – Sizes in this range work for single serving smoothies.
- Purchase silcone lids – Companies like Ball make reusable lids to seal mason jars.
- Use handle with care – Carry jars by the sides, not the handle, to prevent tipping.
- Consider pint glasses – Shorter, more stout pint glasses have a similar look but more stable base.
While mason jars have an undeniably cute look, their lack of lid and rounded shape makes them imperfect smoothie vessels. But if you’ll only be enjoying your smoothie at home, they add a fun, vintage vibe.
Other Smoothie Cup Ideas
In addition to the most popular options, there are several other unique cup ideas that can enhance the smoothie drinking experience:
Beer Mugs or Steins
Oversized, thick walled beer mugs provide ample smoothie capacity. Styles like dimpled German steins add quirky flair. The heavy stability prevents tipping. Just be aware that wider mouths can increase splashing.
Mason Jars with Handle
Many companies now make mason jar style drinking glasses but with an added sturdy handle. This improves stability while maintaining the cutesy jar look.
Commercial Restaurant Cups
Reuse the same translucent plastic cups served at your favorite smoothie cafes. These are designed to resist cracking yet remain lightweight. The lids provide excellent spill resistance.
Plastic cups with color changing abilities based on temperature add an intriguing element. Watch your smoothie shift hues as you drink it up. Kids especially appreciate the fun factor!
Insulated Coffee Mugs
In a pinch, an insulated plastic or stainless steel coffee mug can work. The insulation will keep thick smoothies nice and chilled. Just be mindful that narrow openings may obstruct straws.
Key Considerations When Selecting Smoothie Cups
With so many smoothie cup options available, focus on these key factors to determine the best choice for your needs:
Consider whether benefits like glass’ nonporous surface or stainless steel’s durability are priorities. Plastic is fine for budget home use while insulated steel excels for travel.
Measure your typical smoothie recipe yields and buy cups sized appropriately. Too small and smoothies won’t fit. Too large can lead to waste. Standard 16-24 oz cups suit most needs.
Look for wider bottom cups that taper gently toward the top rather than narrow throughout. This shape allows for thorough ingredient blending.
Wider cups with more interior space blend smoothies better than narrow vessels. Tall, rounded cups are not ideal. Prioritize short, stout shapes instead.
Are you planning to drink smoothies at home or on the go? Lids are a must for travel but unnecessary if you’ll drink smoothies in one place.
Visuals may be important if you’ll serve smoothies to guests. Glass showcases colors while retro mason jars have rustic charm.
When deciding what cup to use for your smoothies, consider key factors like material composition, size, lid necessity, visual appeal, and blending performance. Glass and stainless steel offer inert, durable surfaces while plastic works well for budget home use. Look for wide bottom cups in the 16-24 oz range for single servings. Lids allow you to take smoothies on the go without spilling. With so many styles and options, you can find the perfect smoothie cup to suit your lifestyle and personal preferences. Focus on your priorities and enjoy your freshly blended smoothies in your container of choice!