When I first stated making a lot of smoothies at home, I was only familiar with using water or almond milk as a base for frozen fruit, protein powder, and other ingredients.
But it didn’t take long for me to discover that there are tons of awesome alternatives to play around with. You can easily swap out a different liquid to add new flavors, sweetness, creaminess, or just add even more nutrition.
The 10 best liquids for smoothies
Whether you want a thick and creamy smoothie that tastes like a milkshake, or you want to add some fruity sweetness to a slightly bitter green smoothie, I’ve got a great liquid option for you.
There are certainly more options than the ones I list below, but these ten are some of the most popular and the very best liquids for adding extra flavor and nutrients to your smoothies.
Making smoothies to lose weight? Check out my customizable protein smoothie recipe template.
Freshly pressed juices
Fresh juices are naturally sweet, colorful, and rich in phytonutrients. Some great choices are fresh orange, pineapple, grapefruit, apple, carrot, or beet juice. You can add a little or a lot, depending on how much flavor you want.
I will usually add about a half cup of fresh fruit or veggie juice to my smoothies. I can then add at least another half cup of water or another liquid. This helps to keep carbs and sugar under control, if that’s a concern for you.
Always choose a fresh juice when possible. If you can make the juice yourself, even better! You can also purchase some amazing cold pressed juices from brands like Suja that are great in all kinds of smoothies or on their own.
Some of my favorite juices to add to smoothies when I want to add sweetness are pineapple and apple. These are especially great for green smoothies, which really benefit from the contrast of a sweet fruit. I love orange juice as well, but I find it very easy to just toss in half an orange (peeled) instead so that I get the additional fiber, too.
Read More: How much juice is in one orange?
Coconut water is not only naturally slightly sweet, it’s also rich in sodium, potassium, and fiber, giving your smoothie a nutritional boost. It’s flavor is mild enough that it won’t detract from your smoothie, no matter the other ingredients.
Coconut water is a great smoothie liquid when you want to boost hydration. Interestingly, it’s also a good way to improve the mouthfeel of smoothies because it has a very silky, almost creamy texture.
You can buy bottled coconut water or crack open your own coconut. Just keep the coconut over a bowl so you don’t spill any of the precious liquid when it pops open! If you buy your coconut water, I highly recommend you check out the gorgeous pink coconut water from Harmless Harvest. Its naturally pink hue is kind of mind blowing, but the flavor is even better. Hands down the best-tasting coconut water I’ve tried.
Coconut milk is extracted from the white meat of the coconut. You’ve probably seen it in a can, and possibly in a carton. These two products are bit different, but both are great for smoothies. Coconut milk in a carton has been watered down quite a bit to make it a uniform consistency, just like cow’s milk or almond milk.
Coconut milk in a can contains the coconut cream, which rises to the top. This creamy goodness is full of healthy fats, so it can be a great add-in for your smoothie. Before opening your can of coconut milk, shake it really well.
Otherwise, you’ll have the solid coconut cream and oil on top, with coconut water beneath. Shaking helps these two layers to mix and form a creamy (but still liquid-y) coconut milk.
Coconut milk adds a delicious and rich coconut flavor to smoothies – much more so than coconut water. It works well in just about any recipe, but I love it combined with other tropical flavors as well as berries.
This is one of my favorite liquid bases for my smoothies, it’s naturally sweet and so delicious! To make your own watermelon water, you can press the fruit to extract the juices (like with an elbow-style citrus squeezer), you can juice it with a juicer, or you can blend watermelon chunks in a blender and then strain out the pulp.
Watermelon water will work with just about any smoothie recipe. You can use it in place of water, other juices or milk.
Some of the benefits of watermelon water are that it’s naturally full of electrolytes, antioxidants, and vitamin C.
Minerals such as calcium and magnesium found in watermelon water are good for hair, nails, joints, and bone development.
Read More: How long does watermelon last?
Not only is almond milk sweet, but it is a dose of nutrients that will enrich your smoothie with both flavor and nutritional value.
Almond milk is rich in Vitamins A and E, suitable for a strong immune system and normal cell growth. Vitamin D will help with strong bone development.
When used as a smoothie liquid, almond milk will make your beverage creamy and thicker compared to plain water.
Rice milk is nutritionally packed with carbohydrates if you are looking to add some carbs to your diet.
When used as a smoothie liquid, it enriches your beverage with its creaminess and unique taste. It can balance with almost all fruit and vegetable smoothies.
This might be a good smoothie liquid option for vegans looking for a way out of dairy milk. It goes well with all smoothies.
Soy milk is packed with nutrients such as protein, iron, and calcium, giving you an added nutritional advantage when used as a smoothie base.
Read More: How to make a smoothie without milk
Dairy milk is thick hence adding creaminess and thick consistency to your smoothie when used as a base.
Dairy milk is rich in animal proteins that will help repair and maintain body tissues when taken in moderation. Calcium will help with the development of strong bones.
Additionally, use dairy milk as your liquid base when preparing vegetable smoothies to filter out the leafy taste.
Plain old water
The most common smoothie base of all time is plain water. Water is good for your smoothies. However, it is very neutral and adds no flavor or nutritional value to your smoothie.
Use water when you have no alternative. It will blend with every smoothie. However, you will need a lot of additives for flavor and consistency.
The only thing to celebrate about using water as your smoothie liquid is adding zero calories to your body if you watch your weight.