Skip to Content

What is the best liquid to use in a smoothie?

Smoothies have become an increasingly popular way to get a nutritious breakfast or snack on the go. By blending together fruits, vegetables, and liquids, you can create a delicious and portable meal or drink. But what is the best liquid to use as the base of your smoothie? The liquid provides the creamy texture and integrates all the ingredients together. Water is often used for its neutral flavor and low calorie count, while dairy milks add protein and creamy richness. Juices and plant-based milks also make great smoothie bases with different nutritional profiles. Here is a detailed comparison of the most common smoothie liquid options to help you decide which is best for your preferences and dietary needs.


Water is one of the most common smoothie liquids because it is readily available, calorie-free, and allows the flavors of the fruits and veggies to shine. Using water in smoothies provides important hydration first thing in the morning. Filtered or bottled water is best to avoid any off tastes from tap water sources. One downside is that water does not add any protein, fiber, or beneficial fats to your smoothie. The texture is also thinner than other liquids like milk. But for those looking for a lighter, more refreshing smoothie, water makes a healthy base.

Dairy Milk

Dairy milk like cow’s milk gives smoothies a familiar creamy texture and adds beneficial protein and nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Different types of dairy milk can be used:

Milk Type Benefits
Whole milk Higher fat content creates creamier, richer smoothies
2% milk Lower fat than whole milk but still creamy
Skim or nonfat milk Very low fat but high protein

The higher fat varieties like whole milk will result in thicker, more indulgent smoothies. Lower fat milk still provides enough creamy texture with less saturated fat. Those limiting dairy or calories may prefer alternative milks discussed more below.

Nut Milks

Nondairy nut milks are excellent smoothie bases for those who cannot or prefer not to consume dairy. Some of the most popular types include:

Nut Milk Taste and Texture Nutrition Highlights
Almond milk Mildly nutty, neutral flavor. Relatively thin. Low calorie, nutritious fats
Cashew milk Creamy, subtle nutty flavor Boosts protein, magnesium, and zinc
Coconut milk Naturally sweet, thick and creamy High in healthy fats like MCTs
Oat milk Mild oat flavor, moderate texture High in fiber, vitamin B12

Nut milks add wonderful flavor and nutrients like healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Coconut milk especially creates decadently creamy smoothies. Just be aware the fat content results in higher calories. For lower calories, almond or oat milk are great options.

Dairy-Free Milks

In addition to nut-based milks, there are other plant-derived dairy-free milk options to use in smoothies including:

Dairy-Free Milk Benefits
Soy milk Protein-rich, also contains fiber, vitamins and minerals
Rice milk Low allergen, low calorie, mildly sweet
Hemp milk Good plant-based protein and omega fatty acids

These all provide lactose-free, vegan smoothie bases. Soy milk has the highest protein content, similar to dairy milk. Rice milk is great for those with many allergies as it is hypoallergenic. Hemp milk gives a boost of vitamins and healthy fats.

Fruit Juice

Using 100% fruit juice is a quick way to add lots of flavor and nutrition to smoothies. Common juices used include orange, apple, grape, pineapple, and other favorites. The natural sugars make the smoothie taste sweeter. Juice adds beneficial vitamins, antioxidants, and plant compounds from the fruits used. Fruit juice gives smoothies a lighter consistency compared to milks.

One thing to note is that juice is high in simple sugars with little fiber, so it can cause spikes in blood sugar. Those with diabetes or weight concerns may want to limit juice portions to half a cup or less per smoothie. Overall fruit juice can add great flavor and nutrition if used in moderation.

Green Juices

For those wanting an extra health boost, using greens in juices and smoothies has become very popular. Nutrient-dense leafy greens like spinach, kale, parsley, celery, cucumber, etc can be juiced or blended into smoothies. Green juices on their own can taste quite strong, so they are best paired with sweeter fruits and milks in smoothies.

Benefits of adding greens:

Benefit Reason
Increases nutrients Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients
Enhances detoxification Supports liver function and elimination of toxins
Boosts energy Natural chlorophyll improves oxygenation

Start with mild greens like spinach and cucumber if the flavors are new to you. Adding just a handful of greens amps up the vitamin and mineral content. They blend smoothly when combined with fruits and milks.


Greek or regular yogurt is great for adding protein and a creamy texture to smoothies. Benefits of yogurt include:

Benefit Reason
Protein boost 6-10 grams protein per serving
Probiotics Supports healthy gut bacteria
Creaminess Naturally thick texture

Non-fat Greek yogurt results in especially thick, high protein smoothies. Those sensitive to dairy can likely tolerate yogurt blended into smoothies more easily than straight milk. The tangy flavor combines nicely with fruits and juices.


For an antioxidant boost, you can use brewed teas in smoothies too. Green tea, white tea, black tea, herbal teas and more can be chilled and added to the blender. Benefits of teas:

Tea Type Benefits
Green tea Antioxidants like EGCG to fight free radicals and inflammation
Black tea May reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes
Herbal teas Flavor and added health effects depending on the herbs

Start with about 1/2 cup brewed tea in your smoothies. More delicate white and green teas get lost in overpowering flavors, so pair them with mild fruits like melon, pear, or berries. Heartier black or herbal teas stand up well to any ingredients.

Coconut Water

Coconut water has surged in popularity as a health drink, so it makes a nice smoothie addition too. The tropical flavor lends itself well to fruity smoothies. Here are some of the benefits of coconut water:

Benefit Reason
Natural hydration Electrolytes like potassium help hydrate
Low calories Only about 45 calories per cup
Bioactive enzymes Contains compounds that may have antioxidant effects

About a half cup to one cup of coconut water can add moisture and replenish electrolytes lost during exercise. It combines especially well with tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and banana.

Vegetable Broth

Savory smoothie lovers might want to try adding low-sodium vegetable broth for a hit of umami flavor. The broth helps blend up leafy greens creating a more soup-like smoothie texture. Benefits include:

Benefit Reason
Adds salty flavor Enhances overall taste appeal
Increases antioxidants Vegetable broth contains carotenoids
Blends greens well Allows leafy greens to process smoothly

About 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth is all you need for flavor enhancement. Pair with greens like kale or spinach and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and celery for a healthy savory smoothie.


For a morning pick-me-up, add some coffee to your smoothie. Brewed coffee adds a bit of caffeine to energize your day. Benefits include:

Benefit Reason
Caffeine boost Enhances alertness and concentration
Enhances flavor Accentuates chocolate or coffee-flavored smoothies
Adds antioxidants Polyphenols in coffee can reduce cell damage

Limit to 1/4 to 1/2 cup coffee so the flavor does not overpower the rest of your smoothie ingredients. Coffee combines especially well with chocolate or vanilla flavors.

Protein Powder

Adding protein powder to smoothies helps turn them into a complete meal replacement. Whey and plant proteins like pea, soy, or hemp protein can be seamlessly blended into the mix. Benefits of adding protein powder:

Benefit Reason
Increases protein 20-30 grams protein per serving
Improves satiety Protein is filling and promotes appetite control
Muscle building and recovery Amino acids help promote muscle growth and repair

Aim for 1-2 scoops protein powder per smoothie. Whey protein has a neutral flavor that blends in easily. Plant proteins work well but may alter the flavor more noticeably.


With so many options, what is the best liquid for smoothies? Ultimately it comes down to your specific nutrition goals, dietary needs, and flavor preferences. Here are some final tips:

  • For lower calories – Water, unsweetened nut milks, coconut water
  • For creamier texture – Whole milk, yogurt, bananas, avocado
  • For weight loss – Water, green tea, vegetable broth
  • For high protein – Whey protein, Greek yogurt, milk, soy milk
  • For nutrition – Fruit and vegetable juices, greens, teas
  • For healthy fats – Nut milks, yogurt, coconut milk
  • For probiotics – Yogurt, kefir
  • For hydration – Water, coconut water, fruit juices

You really cannot go wrong with any of the liquid bases discussed here. Mix and match different options to create your perfect smoothie with the right balance of macros, nutrition, and satisfaction to power you through any busy morning.