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How to Make the Perfect Protein Smoothie: A Process

how to make a smoothie with protein powder

It’s All About The Sequence

Protein smoothies have been an integral part of my athletic recovery ever since I took up running and started training for my first half-marathon in 2008.

Back then, my smoothies were high-protein, low-fat blends, loaded with fruit and a scoop of Vega Sport Performance (back when it was made with hemp protein.)

But now, my smoothie-making priorities have shifted. In 2020, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, which spurred quite a shift in his diet focusing on more protein and more calories. To help, I prepare a protein smoothie for him almost every day.

Because my dad is pickier than me when it comes to taste, I’ve perfected my protein smoothie recipe to make it as delicious and calorie-dense as possible (although you don’t have to make it that way). Here I share my process on how I make the perfect protein smoothie.

In short, it’s all about perfecting the process. The rest is adaptable to what you have on hand. If you’re like me and rarely follow recipes to a T, then I am sure you’ll resonate with this process for life. 

Protein Smoothie Ingredients I Use

avocado and greens in my protein smoothie

The ‘perfect’ protein smoothie uses ingredients that you enjoy. These are merely the ingredients I use, but you can substitute or omit certain foods based on your taste preferences (chocolate vs vanilla) and dietary preferences (low-fat vs high-calorie).

  • Mixed greens: In my freezer is a large container of mixed “power greens” that I use for smoothies. It contains an organic blend of baby kale, spinach, and chard. You can use whatever greens you like or have on hand, though spinach and chard are the smoothest-tasting.
  • Avocado: The key to making your protein smoothie thicker is adding half an avocado to the blend. Although it’s a healthy fat, you can omit this ingredient if you’re trying to keep your smoothie low-fat or low-calorie.
  • Almond Milk: You can use any type of milk, be it plant-based, lactose-free, or dairy-based. Heck, I even use just water when I am in a pinch. But my favorite is Silk Almond Milk because it’s the creamiest option. I like the original, but the unsweetened option is a good zero-sugar alternative.
  • Frozen Fruit: If you’re using ice in your protein smoothies, I strongly suggest using frozen fruit instead. I use a mixed fruit blend with peaches, strawberries, mango, and pineapple. But occasionally I opt for just frozen blueberries. If you’re aiming to minimize sugar, you can skip the fruit.
  • Protein Powder: Your choice of protein powder is a critical element that can shape the taste of your smoothie (unless you prefer unflavored protein powder). I usually stick with a vanilla or chocolate flavor. See my post on the best protein powder for recommendations.
  • Peanut Butter: This smoothie ingredient adds a punch for extra thickness, flavor, protein, and calories, but it’s entirely optional. I also sometimes use sunflower seed butter or almond butter to mix it up.
  • Banana: I understand that bananas are not for everyone, as they add quite a distinct flavor to anything you put them in. But they’re a nutritious way to sweeten up your smoothie and improve the texture. Everyone has their preferences, but I always opt for a ripe banana with signs of browning.

I also try to use organic smoothie ingredients and source from quality brands whenever possible. Most of the ingredients are optional, meaning you can get away with omitting or subbing as needed. 

But when all these ingredients come together, the outcome is a nutrient-dense, delectably rich protein smoothie that essentially serves as a complete meal replacement.

In addition to having the right ingredients, you’ll want to have a decent blender. I’ve been using the 8-cup Oster Pro 1200 Blender for the last two years, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Check my post on the best blenders for suggestions.

Simple 3-Step Process for Making the Perfect Smoothie

Now let’s get into the process of making the perfect smoothie. For this process, keep in mind that I’m not providing exact measurements. It’s merely a guide to help you optimize your own process based on how you like your protein smoothies. 

Step 1: Thoroughly Blend Greens First

how to make a protein smoothie with avocado

A simple rule of thumb when making smoothies is to blend the greens first. This includes the avocado. I picked up this tip from the smoothie guy at my local health food store.

I like to pack the leafy greens all the way to the brim, add half an avocado, and fill the blender jar halfway with plant milk. Blend on high for about 45-60 seconds, or until you can’t see any leafy specks remaining, just a consistent light green color throughout.

how to make a protein smoothie thicker

You’ll be surprised by how much water is in the greens, as the jar will seem fuller than when you started (so don’t add too much milk if you’re making a full blender’s worth).

Step 2: Add Your Protein Powder and Frozen Fruit

how to make a protein powder smoothie

Next, I’ll add the protein powder, then about 1½ cups of frozen fruit, and blend on medium for another 45 seconds. The sequence matters, otherwise, you’ll get a lot of protein powder sticking to the blender’s lid.

Assuming I’m making a full blender of smoothie, I’ll add about 60-70g of protein powder. This typically equates to 3 to 4 scoops, depending on the product. I also wouldn’t add more than 2 cups of frozen fruit to avoid blending issues (unless you have a Blentec or Vitamix).

how to make a protein smoothie with frozen fruit

Because a full blender makes at least 2 large servings worth of smoothie, this pans out to around 35 to 40g of protein per serving with the greens and peanut butter.

I’ve tried using vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, and horchata-flavored protein powder, and all of these flavors work great in this ‘recipe.’

how to make a protein smoothie with blender

If your blender has a frozen smoothie setting, this step is a good time to use it, especially if your frozen fruit is slow to mix. My Oster blender has this option, which utilizes a dual-direction blade motion. You can also add a bit more plant milk if it’s too thick.

Step 3: Blend In Your Banana and Peanut Butter

how to make protein and greens smoothie

Lastly, I’ll add about ½ a cup of peanut butter (sometimes more if it’s a high-calorie batch for my dad) and top it off with the banana. It’s best finish with your thick and starchy stuff.

Like the step above, add the banana last to avoid the nut butter from sticking to the blend lid.

how to make a protein smoothie with peanut butter and banana

Here you’ll only need a quick 30-second blend on a medium to high setting. The outcome should be one smooth, consistent color with no chunkiness. If you’ve opted for nut butter and avocado, it will be milkshake thick.

And that’s all there is to it. It’s a simple process but one where sequence matters to achieve optimal consistency. The beauty is that you can use this same series of steps but swap out different ingredients, like frozen blueberries and cashew butter.

how to make a thick protein smoothie

What Do You Put In Your Protein Smoothie?

Do you use any specific ingredients, protein powders, or processes to make your protein smoothies? If so, I’d like to know about it. Leave a comment or tell me your smoothie-making ideas via my contact page.

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About The Author

tyler tafelsky vegan protein powder review editor

This article was written by Tyler Tafelsky, the lead editor here at Vegan Protein Powder Reviews. Tyler is an experienced writer in the health, nutrition, and athletic space. Over his lifetime, he’s tried hundreds of plant-based nutritional products and writes about his favorites here on this blog. Learn more about Tyler by viewing his full author bio or by following him on social media platforms like LinkedInTwitterFacebookPinterest, or Instagram. Also, visit his website to learn more about what he’s up to.