Drink your colors

Smoothie Recipe Ideas

Best Smoothie Liquids

It’s 2024. Gone are the days we need to add water or ice to smoothies to blend fruit and vegetables into liquid.

Liquids for smoothies are also referred to as smoothie “bases”, because they go into smoothies first to help the blades of your blender do their job.

Person holding chia seed smoothie drink in mason jar with turquoise metal straw

Here are five of the best bases to use in your smoothies.

1. Yogurt

Greek or regular yogurt — it doesn’t matter. Flavored yogurts might not land you the smoothie flavor you want, though vanilla yogurt helps enhance flavor.

Greek yogurt with honey works as a base while sweetening your smoothie as well. That said, Greek yogurt emphasizes tartness in smoothies. If you don’t like Greek yogurt but want to use it, choose more decadent smoothie recipes, like dessert smoothies.

2. Milk

Dairy and plant milks offer different flavors and textures in smoothies. Regular dairy milk might taste more “dairy” and not work as well with certain flavors that don’t pair with dairy milk well. Mixing citrus with dairy milk, for instance, doesn’t always bode well.

Plant milks offer more variety in regard to flavor:

  • Coconut milk thickens smoothies and tastes like coconut. Don’t use coconut milk if you don’t want your smoothies to taste like coconut. That said, coconut yogurt is an interesting smoothie base. It tastes like coconut, but in a nuttier, more savory way.
  • Cowpea milk is made from black-eyed peas and is…interesting. White beans can be added to smoothies, so I imagine it might be like that — a nutrition boost with little flavor effect. I’ve never tried cowpea milk, and I don’t know that I ever will.
  • Hemp milk will mimic a nutty flavor, without the nuts. Smoothies made with hemp milk will be thicker.
  • Nut milks will create a nuttier taste. Almond milk mimics the texture of dairy milk in smoothies.
  • Oat milk tastes oat-y and works best in oat smoothies, or smoothies where you want that flavor. I like using oat milk for breakfast or bedtime smoothies. Oat milk creates a thicker smoothie texture.
  • Pea milk varies in texture when used in smoothies and has more of a veggie taste, to an extent. It’s hard to explain. Split pea butter spread as an alternative to nut butter spreads has a hint of a caramel flavor. Pea milk is similar that way, but more subtle.
  • Rice milk is thin, so the texture of your smoothies will be thin and you’ll need to thicken them if you don’t want a watery texture. Unflavored rice milk won’t affect the taste of your smoothies.
  • Soy milk resembles dairy milk in texture. Unflavored soy milk doesn’t have much of a taste to it, so you might not even realize it’s in the smoothie.

3. Nutrition shakes/drinks

You know those expensive 6-packs of nutrition shakes in the grocery store? Those can be added to smoothies!

Adding nutrition shakes to smoothies can turn a smoothie into a more fulfilling snack, because you’re adding nutrition that you might not have otherwise added to your smoothie.

4. Electrolyte drinks

Pedialyte, Powerade and Gatorade can all be added to smoothies — in small amounts. Fruits and veggies already have electrolytes, so electrolyte drinks should only be added if you NEED the extra electrolytes.

5. Antioxidant and/or vitamin drinks

Bai drinks and Vitamin Water add to smoothies flavors you wouldn’t otherwise obtain on your own. As with the electrolyte drinks, be careful to not add too much.

You will also need to thicken the smoothies with a nut or seed butter, or avocado, because this is basically water.

6. Juice

No-sugar-added juice makes for great smoothie liquids!

  • Orange juice with pulp will add slight texture to the smoothie.
  • Pomegranate arils in pomegranate juice can be used as a base, but you’ll need to blend the arils first (and might need additional pomegranate juice).

7. Fresh, juicy fruit!

Fresh, not frozen fruit that has a lot of juice — like oranges, mango and pineapples — can blend into liquid because they have high water content.

Canned pineapples in juice work well because of this, too, but I find freshly cut pineapple turns to liquid best because there’s so much juice.