What makes a smoothie bowl thick?

Smoothie bowls have become an increasingly popular breakfast or snack food over the last few years. Unlike regular smoothies that are drank from a glass, smoothie bowls are thick enough to eat with a spoon straight from the bowl. The thickness of a smoothie bowl allows you to pile on tasty toppings like granola, fruit, and nuts to create a filling, nutritious meal.

But what gives smoothie bowls their signature thick, scoopable consistency? There are a few key ingredients and techniques that contribute to the thickness of smoothie bowls.

Frozen Fruit and Veggies

Using frozen fruit and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to give your smoothie bowl a thicker texture. Fruit like bananas, mangos, pineapple, berries and avocado can all be frozen and used in smoothies. Frozen fruit has a creamy, ice cream-like consistency when blended up. The frozen pieces add body and thickness to the smoothie while also cooling it down.

You can buy bags of pre-frozen fruit and veggies at most grocery stores or freeze chopped up fresh produce yourself. Using at least 2-3 cups of frozen ingredients in your smoothie bowl is ideal for achieving a thick blend.

Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream or Sherbet

Adding a frozen dairy product like Greek yogurt, ice cream or sherbet is another great way to thicken up a smoothie bowl. Try using around 1/2 to 1 cup of one of these frozen treats. The fat and air content in ice cream or sherbet will lend creaminess and body to the smoothie. Greek yogurt adds protein plus a tangy thickness. Some healthy frozen yogurt options include:

  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Vanilla ice cream or gelato
  • Fruit sherbets like raspberry, lemon or mango
  • Non-dairy frozen desserts like coconut milk or cashew ice cream

Oats or Granola

Blend some uncooked oats or granola into your smoothie bowl to instantly make it heartier. Oats contain soluble fiber that dissolves into the smoothie, increasing the viscosity. Start with 1/4 cup of quick oats or granola and adjust as needed. Steel-cut oats can also work if blended long enough to break down.

Nut Butter

Nut butters are a great way to add plant-based protein, healthy fats and thickness to smoothie bowls. Try adding 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter or any other nut butter you enjoy. The oils in the nut butter will create a richer, creamier blend.

Chia Seeds

Tiny chia seeds become gelatinous when soaked in liquid, making them an ideal smoothie bowl thickener. Just 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds can thicken up your blend thanks to this gelling effect. If you allow your smoothie bowl to sit and chill in the fridge for 10-20 minutes after adding chia seeds, it will thicken up even more as the seeds fully expand.

Protein Powder

Adding a scoop or two of protein powder is a nutritionist-approved method to make smoothie bowls more filling. Whey protein powder works best. The protein molecules can act as emulsifiers, binding with the fruit, juices and ice to create a thicker consistency. Avoid plant-based proteins like pea protein as they can sometimes thin out smoothies.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is an unlikely but effective smoothie bowl thickener. The chunks of creamy cheese add body while still blending smoothly into fruit smoothies. Try using 1/2 cup cottage cheese in your next blend. It pairs especially well with tropical fruit flavors.


Lastly, avocado is a healthy way to add creaminess and thickness to any smoothie bowl. Simply blend in 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado along with the fruit, yogurt and ice. The smooth, thick texture of avocado will lend a rich consistency without adding too much flavor.

Other Tips for Thick Smoothie Bowls

Aside from ingredients, there are some other tricks to help achieve the perfect smoothie bowl consistency:

  • Use a powerful blender like a Vitamix that can fully break down frozen ingredients
  • Blending longer yields a smoother, thicker blend
  • Add liquid ingredients slowly to avoid making the smoothie too thin
  • Use thick bases like bananas, Greek yogurt or avocado
  • Allow smoothie bowls to chill for 10+ minutes which helps thicken them up

Sample Thick Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Here are a few healthy smoothie bowl recipes that utilize some of the tips and ingredients mentioned above:

Mango Banana Bowl


  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut water


  1. Add all ingredients to a blender
  2. Blend until smooth and thickened to desire consistency
  3. Pour into a bowl and top with granola, fruit, coconut, etc.

Green Matcha Bowl


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk


  1. Add all ingredients to blender
  2. Blend until creamy and thick
  3. Top with sliced kiwi, chia seeds, almonds, etc.

Blueberry Peanut Butter Bowl


  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk


  1. Blend all ingredients together in blender
  2. Pour into bowl and top with granola, strawberries, coconut, etc.

The Perfect Texture for Smoothie Bowls

When aiming for the ideal smoothie bowl consistency, think thick, creamy and scoopable. You want it to be able to hold toppings in place but still be smooth enough to eat with a spoon. Adjust the ingredients and quantities to find your perfect texture. The frozen fruit, nut butters, protein powders and other ingredients listed above can all help take your smoothie bowls to the right thickness.

Let the smoothie chill for a bit after blending to let the ingredients fully thicken up. Then grab a spoon and dig into a refreshing, filling and fun smoothie bowl full of healthy ingredients!

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