I usually make smoothies with frozen fruit berries and a banana with a liquid like orange juice or home made kefir.

I notice lots of smoothie recipes online call for ice cubes and fresh fruit. Is there a benefit to making smoothies that way? Since half your volume is crushed ice it seems like the result would be less flavorful.

  • If you want to buy and use fresh fruit, you need to get the drink ice cold somehow, right? I guess you could freeze the orange juice instead of using water ice cubes. – Catija Feb 12 '15 at 21:56
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    It also reduces the amount of sugar in the final product. If a smoothie is being made as a meal replacement/supplement, the extra calories add up quickly. – Eris Aug 27 '15 at 3:33

Yes, it makes it less flavorful. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad idea.

Often it'll still be plenty flavorful even with a decent amount of ice in it. So by using ice, you save the trouble of having to freeze some ingredients first, and don't go through your fruit quite as fast. You can avoid having to keep fruit juice on hand.

It also lets you pretty easily control exactly how cold/icy you want the smoothie. If you live in a hot area, smoothies with a decent amount of ice are actually pretty nice - they stay cold much longer, and the icy graininess can make them more refreshing.

I'm sure plenty of people would never dream of using ice and some people do all the time; feel free to go on doing whichever suits you! (I'm originally from Texas, and honestly, in addition to blending some ice in, I used to put whole ice cubes in after blending just to make extra sure it stayed cold.)

For a helpful comparison: a lot of really good sorbet recipes use a decent amount of water. For example, David Lebovitz's mango sorbet (from The Perfect Scoop) uses two large mangoes and 2/3 cup of water. Sure, it could use some kind of fruit juice instead, but I promise, it really really tastes like mango, and doesn't taste watered down at all.

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I make smoothies almost daily and have made them both with and without ice. You can add ice for a variety of reasons but they all come down to personal preference.

Some of the reasons that I prefer adding ice include:

  • Adds bulk so it takes longer to drink and fills me up more
  • Gives the drink more texture similar to small cubed ice which I prefer
  • Keeps the beverage colder for longer
  • Ice is very inexpensive when compared to fresh fruit, and is still refreshing
  • I can leave larger chunks of ice if desired to slowly melt depending on when I will consume the smoothy
  • Allows me to add warm/warmer ingredients but still end up with a ice cold beverage
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I think the central argument for ice is efficiency.

Sure, using "4 oz acai, grape, or pomegranate juice" as well as 4 oz amounts of rather potent fruits such as "strawberries, blueberries, peaches" will result in a fantastic smoothie.

But the ingredients in the quoted recipe are packed with flavor, and some of them are also quite expensive.

Adding ice releases the possibility of using 2 oz amounts of those frozen fruits, using just two of them, or skipping the fruit juice while still having a great smoothie. If the fruits are fully ripe there is often flavor to spare and the taste won't be watered down.

Ice, if used wisely, can help create a delicious, cold smoothie that costs less.

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Personally, I can't drink thick liquids if they are not icy - I gag. Drinkable yogurt, milkshakes that have melted, ice-less smoothies, etc. are all a complete no-go for me. Sure, most people don't have this reaction, but I'm betting I'm not the only one. For whatever reason, the ice particles make it far more agreeable to me.

Additionally, it can help to cut down on calories in two ways. One, obviously, water/ice has no calories, whereas the same volume of additional fruit/juice does. Second, when it's so cold from the ice, you can't chug the stuff quickly, lest you get brain freeze. Prolonging the drinking of it gives your stomach time to process that it's getting filled up, so there's less of a chance you end up grabbing additional food/calories after the smoothie.

My 2 cents...

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It makes no good sense to use ice in smoothies. Alton Brown's smoothie recipe is the highest reviewed on Food Network, and uses no ice at all.

4 ounces plain, low-fat soy milk

4 ounces acai, grape, or pomegranate juice

4 ounces frozen banana

4 ounces frozen strawberries

4 ounces frozen blueberries

4 ounces frozen peaches


Combine the soy milk, juice, banana, strawberries, blueberries, and the peaches in the carafe of a blender. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 8 hours.

In the morning, or when the fruit is partially thawed, put the carafe on the base of the blender, start at the lowest speed and slowly accelerate to medium, until you achieve a vortex. Blend on medium for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and blend for an additional minute. Serve immediately.

As you say, all ice is going to do is water the smoothie down.

As Catija says in comments, you can make ice cubes out of the juice and/or freeze the fruit, but it makes no sense to use frozen water.

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    One disadvantage of that recipe is need to wait for the frozen fruit to partially thaw in the fridge. – Ross Ridge Feb 12 '15 at 22:10
  • @RossRidge You could defrost it a bit in the microwave if you're in a hurry, or under water. – Jolenealaska Feb 12 '15 at 22:12

I do prefer using ice in my smoothies as it gives it that thicker, but cool and refreshing texture, with a hint of your fruit flavor. Of course I totally see where you're coming from without wishing to use ice, in the end however it all depends on your personal opinion as opposed to the other's.

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I have a freezer full of fruits that I prepare in advance. Blue Berries, 1/2 Banana, 1 chunk Pineapple, Flax Seed, heaping hand full of Spinach, 1/2 Kiwi, cranberries, Non Fat Yogurt, Soy Milk and Flaxseed. I have a bag of frozen Blue Berries and cranberries and pineapple. I also freeze the Kiwi in quarters so it blends. I don't add juice or ice. Don't taste the spinach at all. Tastes good.

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    You are not answering the question (purpose of ice cubes) – user34961 Jul 23 '17 at 17:24

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