Smoothies are super popular at the moment. Especially with those in the health and fitness community. But they can be a bit of a process to make.
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Smoothie blenders are readily available. But they are a slightly excessive appliance to buy for just one kind of food.
So, if you have a food processor, can you just make a smoothie in that? Luckily, the answer is yes! In fact, making smoothies in a food processor can even be easier than making them in a smoothie blender.
Here’s our guide to making the best smoothies in a food processor.
Differences Between a Blender and a Food Processor
So, before we get into the actual process of making smoothies in a food processor, let’s go over exactly what a food processor is. And how is it any different from a blender?
The first difference you will notice is the price. Some blenders, especially those designed solely for making smoothies, are very cheap. This isn’t because they are of poor quality. Simply because smoothies don’t require a great deal of work.
Food processors have a lot more features. And these features are usually a lot more sophisticated than those on a blender. These features drive up the price of a food processor.
This brings us onto the next difference. Blenders and food processors are designed for different purposes. More specifically, food processors are designed to do more.
Blenders do exactly what they say in the name. They blend things. But food processors can do so much more. This includes chopping and dicing food in different ways. It can also include whisking, kneading dough, and many other functions.
Generally speaking, a blender is designed for liquids. Whereas food processors are designed for solids. But this isn’t necessarily always the case. That said, a lot of food processors can be used to make soups. This setting can easily be repurposed for making smoothies.
One question that often comes up about making smoothies is ice. Not everyone enjoys having ice in their smoothies. But it is still a common ingredient.
Not every blender has the strength or capacity to properly blend ice. Especially smaller blenders that are specifically designed for smoothies.
Not every food processor will be able to break down ice either. But they are much more likely to have the strength and capacity to do so. Food processors, generally speaking, are stronger.
They are also more likely to have varied settings and speeds. This will be helpful for breaking down both cubed and crushed ice.
Food processors aren’t specifically designed for blending frozen smoothies. But they usually have the ability to. Again, the best option is to specifically look for a food processor that can blend ice.
There are a lot of large capacity blenders that have the ability to blend and break down ice. But these blenders won’t have nearly as many varied settings and abilities as a food processor. Blenders will combine ingredients. But to a very smooth and almost liquid consistency.
This isn’t always what you want with a smoothie. Especially if you like to have crunchy ice in yours. The choice ultimately depends on how you like you’re smoothies. If you like them as a thin juice-like consistency, then a blender is a better option.
But, if you’re looking for something that can also do other processes such as combining cake batter or chopping vegetables, don’t expect this from a blender.
How to Make Smoothies in a Food Processor
Making smoothies in a food processor is easy. If your food processor has a blending option, then you simply need to use this setting. All other steps will be the same as when using a blender.
But, make sure to check the instruction manual if you’re going to add ice or frozen food. As mentioned above, not all food processors have the ability to break down ice. This can make it a little difficult to make frozen smoothies.
The way a food processor will break down certain foods will also be different to a blender. This is because, as mentioned above, food processors aren’t designed to liquify food in the same way as a blender.
But these problems can all be overcome by following these simple steps:
- If you like to make green veggie smoothies, it’s best to blend these first. You can choose any kind of leafy greens you like. But spinach and kale are the best. (Just remember to wash the spinach and cook the kale first.)
It’s best to blend these greens first in a blender or a food processor. Due to their size and high fiber content, they can be difficult to break down. In a blender, these foods will often become stuck in the blades. This is less likely in a food processor as they are designed for breaking down larger pieces of food.
If the greens do get stuck, add in a little water. No more than a splash is necessary. Especially if you like thick smoothies.
- Once the greens have broken down, add in the fruit. This can be fresh or frozen. Most food processors should be able to break down frozen fruit. But it’s worth double-checking the user manual just in case.
Your food processor will very likely have a chute through the lid into the bowl. Add the fruit in through this. It will be much easier. And a lot less messy. Slowly add the fruit through the chute. Especially if it is frozen.
Frozen fruit will be much more difficult to break down. So adding in too much at one time will cause the fruit to clump together and stick to the blades.
- Now is the time to add in any additional extras that you like. This can be protein powder, chia seeds, or cacao. The great thing about smoothies is that you can basically add in anything that you like.
Just make sure that it isn’t too thick or dry. Adding in anything powdered can risk the smoothie becoming very thick. This can be balanced out by adding in a liquid next. But you should still be careful. Especially if you have used frozen fruit, this can cause the smoothie to clump together even more.
- Once you have the other ingredients combined as best you can, it’s time to add in a liquid. Not everyone likes adding liquid to their smoothies. But liquids can help the foods to break down further. And make it easier to drink. If you’re making a smoothie bowl, add in less liquid than you would for a drinkable smoothie. Smoothie bowls are designed to be eaten with a spoon. And are much nicer when they are thick.
If you don’t want to alter the taste but still want to thin out the smoothie, simply add in some water.
If you want it to be creamy, milk is the best option. But dairy milk isn’t always great in a smoothie. Plus there are a lot of other healthier and more nutritious options. (And dairy milk isn’t great for the environment.)
The best kinds of milk for a smoothie are almond milk and coconut milk. These work best with the kinds of flavors usually included in smoothies. (If you’re unsure of which flavors will go together best, make sure to read on to our selection of recipes below.)
Oat milk is another option. But this is generally much thicker and creamier than almond and coconut milk. So this depends on your personal preferences. If you really like a creamy smoothie, you can add in some yogurt. Fruit juice is a good option at a pinch. But even fresh juice can have high levels of sugar. Especially if it is made from concentrate.
Another popular option is coconut water. This has the consistency of water but with the added flavor and nutrients of coconuts.
An option that is rarely suggested but is fantastic is tea. Make some green tea, turmeric tea, or any other kind of healthy tea. Then let it cool down. (It’s best to do this before you start blending anything, so it has time to cool).
Then remove the teabag and add it to the other ingredients. This is an easy way of adding additional liquids, nutrients, and flavor.
- This step is optional. You can now add in some sweetness if there isn’t enough from the fruit. The healthiest options are honey and agave syrup. These are still sugars. But they are unrefined and so much healthier. (Remember, not all sugar is bad for you!)
- Now it’s time to serve the smoothie. Due to the shape of food processors, it’s best to spoon out the smoothie. Few food processors have spouts in the same way that blenders do. So it will be difficult to pour the smoothie directly into a bowl or glass. This will be very messy.
It’s also best to spoon it out due to the blades. In a lot of blenders, the blades are very fixed. But in a lot of food processors, they can be removed. (This is because they can often be swapped out for other types of blades.)
Depending on how much smoothie you have made, it’s a good idea to remove the blades. But, if you have made a lot and can’t see the blades through the smoothie, spoon it out until you do. Just remember that these blades will be incredibly sharp and slippery!
Easy Smoothie Recipes
The process for making a smoothie is super simple. But knowing which fruits and vegetables to include is another story. Plus, you can add in different liquids to change the consistency.
Knowing which foods to combine is difficult. Especially if you do not have a natural sense of what works together. Or if you don’t have any cooking experience.
But don’t worry, here are some of the easiest, tastiest, and healthiest smoothie recipes.
Berries and Bananas
This is a super classic recipe. Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries all work really well together. They are full of nutrients. And are simply delicious. Add in some banana to balance out the sweetness and thicken the smoothie up a little.
But don’t add more than one banana. Otherwise, the banana flavor will overwhelm the milder taste of the berries.
This is a great smoothie to add some yogurt to. If you find the berries to be too tart, add in some honey or agave. No more than a teaspoon or two will be necessary. This will bring out the sweetness of the berries.
Green smoothies are super divisive. Some people find them to be delicious and drink them every day. Whereas others find them to be disgusting and avoid them at all costs. But don’t worry, we’re going to give you a great recipe to make delicious and nutritious green smoothies.
The best green smoothies include spinach and kale. The spinach can be raw or cooked. When cooked, the spinach will be much softer and even creamy. This will be slightly stringy but easier to break down than raw spinach. Raw spinach will often chop up into small pieces, even when combined with liquid.
A lot of recipes suggest using raw kale. But this isn’t actually the best idea. Raw kale is very tough and difficult to break down. This means that you will have lots of little bits of kale leaves in your smoothie. Kale is also much healthier for you when it is cooked.
Adding fruit to a green smoothie might sound a little strange. But fruits such as honeydew melon and kiwi fruit work really well with kale and spinach.
Instead of adding water to this smoothie, add in some freshly made apple juice. This will add some sweetness to the smoothie. And the apple will work better with the green veggies.
Another good idea is adding in some cold green tea. If you have already added in some liquid, matcha powder would be a great nutritious addition.
This is definitely one of the most delicious smoothie recipes. This recipe will taste almost identical to a fruity cocktail or a piña colada (just without the rum…)
Mix together some (fresh or frozen) mango and pineapple. Add in some banana if you like the taste and want to thicken up the smoothie. But remember that banana is a very overwhelming flavor. And, in comparison, mango and pineapple are relatively mild.
Tropical smoothies are great either creamy or fruity. Add in some coconut milk or coconut water for a fresh and summery flavor.
Summer Fruit Smoothies
There are lots of summer flavors you can use for smoothies. But one of the freshest is made with peaches, apricots, mango, and banana. It’s best to chop up the peaches and apricots as small as you can. Even when ripe, they have quite a tough flesh. So it will be a little tricky to break down.
Adding yogurt to this would be a great way to mimic the taste of summery desserts. You can even add in some seeds and nuts to this smoothie. Or some almond milk.
So, now you know everything there is to know about how to make a smoothie in a food processor. As well as the best ingredients to use.
To help you make the best smoothies possible, here are some top tips.
Don’t add the ingredients all at once
This is a really important one. When you’re just blending lots of ingredients together, it can be tempting to throw them all in at once. But this will only make things more difficult for you.
Especially if you will be adding in powders or other dry ingredients. This will cause them to clump together and not combine properly.
Don’t add too much liquid
You can always make a smoothie thinner. But it is very difficult to thicken it up again. Add liquid in gradually and blend after each addition.
This will give you more control over the consistency.
Play around with flavors
Once you have developed a sense of which ingredients go well together, play around with them. You can add anything you like to smoothies.
So you can simply make your own using whichever ingredients you like best.
Add in seeds and nuts
Of course, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts will be a little difficult to drink through a straw. But chia seeds and hemp seeds are great for your overall health. Hemp seeds are small and soft.
But they will still add a little texture to the smoothie. This will be fine if you’re someone who doesn’t mind pulp in their orange juice.
Chia seeds are quite different. When added to water or another kind of liquid, they will absorb it. This causes them to develop a thick gel-like coating. This is usually referred to as “chia pudding”. The seeds will still be solid in the center.
But the gel coating makes them easier to drink. They are similar in consistency and texture to tomato seeds.
Just make sure not to add too many. Otherwise, you will accidentally make chia pudding instead of a smoothie. Add in a few just to get some extra nutrients.
Crush the ingredients before blending
This might sound like a bit of wasted effort. But if you’re adding something that is difficult to break down, such as a peach, then it will be helpful to crush it a little before you blend it.
The same goes for adding in kale and spinach. Tearing up the leaves will make them much easier to blend. When whole, the leaves can often become caught and wrap around the blades. This is a nuisance. But it can also be dangerous as you will have to detangle them from the sharp and slippery blades.
When blending large pieces of fruit, make sure to peel them and chop them up as small as possible beforehand. Even if you’re not going to crush them. This will make blending a lot easier and quicker.
Overall, the answer is yes, you can absolutely make smoothies in a food processor. This isn’t always what they are designed for. But most kinds of food processors will mix up a smoothie easily.
If you’re wondering about this because you want to make a smoothie and only have a food processor, then you can go ahead and make a smoothie. But, if you’re wondering this because you’re considering buying a food processor, then you have more options.
They will be slightly more expensive, but you can easily find food processors with blenders attached. This can be as a separate blending jug. Or you can find a food processor with a blending feature.
As mentioned before, smoothies are incredibly popular. So you will likely struggle to find a food processor that doesn’t offer the option to blend smoothies.