Can you drink a smoothie after it separates?


Smoothies can be a delicious and nutritious on-the-go breakfast or snack. Blended fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk, juice and other ingredients create a thick, cold beverage that provides fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. However, smoothies have a tendency to separate over time as the solid ingredients sink to the bottom and the liquid rises to the top. This can make the smoothie unappetizing, with an unbalanced taste and texture. But is it still safe to drink a separated smoothie? Let’s take a closer look.

What Causes Smoothies to Separate?

Smoothies separate due to differences in density between the liquid and solid ingredients. Here are some of the main reasons smoothies can separate:

  • Fruit and veggies are denser than the liquid, so they sink to the bottom over time due to gravity.
  • Lack of a thickening agent like yogurt, banana or avocado to bind ingredients together.
  • Using juice instead of milk or yogurt as the liquid base.
  • Letting the smoothie sit for too long before drinking.
  • Blending the ingredients insufficiently so there are still chunks.

Adding thickeners like bananas, Greek yogurt and powders like protein powder or ground flaxseed can help bind the ingredients in a smoothie together. But even the thickest smoothies can separate if given enough time.

Is It Safe to Drink a Separated Smoothie?

The good news is that separated smoothies are still safe to consume, although the taste and texture suffer over time. Here are some key points on the safety of drinking separated smoothies:

  • As long as the smoothie was safely stored in the refrigerator, bacteria growth is minimal.
  • The ingredients themselves don’t spoil or become unsafe once separated.
  • Any dairy or leafy greens still maintain proper refrigeration temperature, slowing spoilage.
  • The pH remains low enough, even when ingredients separate, to prevent most microbial growth.

So while a freshly blended smoothie is ideal, the ingredients maintain their safety profile even after separating during storage. Some settling of solids at the bottom happens naturally and does not pose any risks.

How Long Do Smoothies Last Before Separating?

How long a smoothie lasts before separating depends on several factors:

  • Ingredient composition – Smoothies with more liquid ingredients will separate faster than thicker, yogurt- or banana-based ones.
  • Blending effectiveness – Smoothies blended to a uniform consistency resist separating longer than chunkier blends.
  • Storage container – Separation occurs faster in larger containers compared to narrow bottles or jars.
  • Temperature – Refrigeration slows separation compared to room temperature storage.
  • Ingredient particle size – Smoothies with very finely blended ingredients take longer to separate.

Under optimal blending and storage conditions, most smoothies last 2-4 hours before noticeable separation occurs. But some ingredient combinations can start separating in under an hour.

Smoothie Type Separation Time
Fruit + water 1-2 hours
Fruit + milk 2-3 hours
Fruit + yogurt 3-4 hours
Green smoothie with spinach Under 1 hour

Does Shaking or Stirring Help?

Giving your smoothie a quick stir or shake before drinking can temporarily redistribute the ingredients, but it won’t prevent eventual separation. Agitation buys you a little extra time to enjoy a well-mixed smoothie, but the solids will quickly sink again without proper binding and emulsification.

Adding a spoonful of natural peanut butter or chia seeds and shaking vigorously can act as an emergency emulsifier to bind separated smoothies back together. But for best results, try adding thickeners before blending or drink smoothies immediately after making.

Tips to Reduce Separation

Here are some tips to keep your smoothies blended for as long as possible:

  • Use a tightly sealed container like a jar rather than an open blender cup.
  • Start with thick ingredients like bananas, avocados, yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Avoid using too much water or juice as the liquid base.
  • Blend for 1-2 minutes to fully break down ingredients.
  • Add chia seeds, flaxmeal or psyllium husk to act as thickeners.
  • Sweeten with pureed fruits, dates or maple syrup instead of honey, agave or syrups.
  • Store smoothies in the refrigerator immediately after blending.
  • Drink smoothies as soon as possible, within 3-4 hours.
  • Shake or stir before drinking to recombine ingredients.

What to Do With Separated Smoothies

If your smoothie has separated, all hope is not lost! Here are some options:

  • Drink it anyway -Separation doesn’t make it unsafe, just less appetizing.
  • Remix – Pour it back into the blender and pulse to recombine.
  • Add thickeners – Stir in chia seeds, nut butter or quick oats to re-emulsify.
  • Layer it – Drink the liquid first, then spoon out the thickened fruit and veggies.
  • Use it in oatmeal – Mix the solids into overnight oats or hot cereal.
  • Repurpose it – Use separated solids for chia pudding or smoothie popsicles.

With a little creativity, you can salvage smoothies that have lost their uniform texture and enjoy the nutrients they still provide.

The Bottom Line

It’s perfectly safe to consume smoothies that have separated during storage in the refrigerator. While separation can degrade the mouthfeel and appearance, it does not make the smoothie unsafe to drink.

To maximize texture and flavor, avoid separation in the first place by blending thoroughly, adding thickening agents, and drinking smoothies promptly. But even if some settling occurs, give your smoothie a quick stir or shake and enjoy the nutritional benefits. With proper handling and storage, you can safely drink and enjoy smoothies even after they’ve started to separate.


  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Are Smoothies Good for You?” March 2021.
  • Harvard Health Publishing. “Smoothies: Good or Bad?” January 2019.
  • Mayo Clinic. “Smoothies: Good or Bad?”
  • Today. “How long do smoothies last?”

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