Have you ever wondered how to make a smoothie sweeter without sugar? If you want to make your smoothies taste better without adding empty calories, then we’re right there with you.
Taste and flavour are hugely important in building healthy eating habits for the long term. But what can you do if your smoothie tastes bitter, bland, or sour?
In this article – we share 7 ways to sweeten a smoothie without adding sugar.
We’ve been making smoothies for 10+ years and had our share of sour or bitter ones in that time! Over the years we’ve figured out some tasty hacks for saving a bad smoothie and turning it into something that’s delicious. Our in-house nutritionist advises against adding sugar, so our tips are all healthy alternatives.
So, if you’re looking for healthy ways to sweeten your smoothie, here are 7 of our favourites…
- Use spices
- Add vanilla or almond drops
- Include protein powder
- Blend in some tasty herbs
- Use nut butter
- Add sweet fruits
- Buy in-season fruit
Your home-made smoothie will taste amazing and still be made of real produce that doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or chemicals. Let’s explore each of these tips in more detail…
#1 – Use spices instead
Want to know how to make a smoothie sweeter without sugar or extra calories? Then spices are your friend.
Adding them will improve the taste and create more flavour without adding unnecessary sugar. Simply sprinkle a little in with your fruit and veg before adding the liquid (this will ensure it blends thoroughly).
Some spices also provide additional health benefits, so can add extra nutritional value to a smoothie. Cinnamon and ginger are our personal favourites, but you could also experiment with turmeric, ground cloves, and allspice.
If you’re wondering how to make smoothies sweeter without sugar, then adding spices should be high on your list.
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#2 – Add vanilla or almond drops
This is a trick that many physique competitors use when prepping for an event. Because they’re super-strict with their calorie intake, they have to be creative with their recipes. Adding a drop of vanilla or almond extract is an effective way to add flavour to a smoothie without sugar.
Although there are specialist health products out there, you can save yourself some money with the supermarket alternatives. You’ll find them in the baking aisle with other cake ingredients.
They do contain sugar but since you only need a drop, it hardly adds any calories. If weight management is your goal then this is a decent option.
#3 – Include a scoop of protein powder
Adding a scoop of protein powder can add extra sweetness as well as nutrients. Vanilla is usually a safe bet since it mixes well with most other ingredients. It’s a great way to fix a bitter or sour smoothie.
However, it also important to note that some protein powders contain sugar so you may be adding it without realising. Take a look at the ingredient list so you know exactly what’s in it beforehand.
We like MisFits protein powder in vanilla or salted caramel and Free Soul protein powder in vanilla or ginger. Both contain extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in addition to high-quality protein (without loads of sugar). If you’re unsure how to make smoothies taste better, adding flavoured protein powder is a full-proof option.
#4 – Blend some herbs in
Herbs don’t tend to be sweet but they do provide additional flavour. They’ll add a different dimension to your smoothies and may make them taste fresher.
Herbs can also disguise other bland ingredients while adding some extra nutrients too. Mint is one of our favs that we add to mojito smoothies (with citrus and cucumber).
#5 – Add a little nut butter
If you’re wondering how to make your smoothie sweeter, then adding nut butter is a great option. Almond or peanut butter are our absolute favourites but there are lots of different flavour combos now available (chocolate and hazelnut will make everything taste better!).
As with protein powder, you’ll need to check the ingredients list to ensure you’re not adding additional sugar too. There are lots of pure butters that don’t contain anything except nuts which make tasty smoothie sweeteners. But you’ll need to check as many of the standard supermarket brands are positively unhealthy so best avoided.
You might also like… 7 mistakes that make a smoothie unhealthy without you knowing.
#6 – Use other fruits to sweeten a recipe
If your green smoothie is tasting that bit too ‘plant-based’ then try sweetening it with more fruit instead. Of course, sugar is still sugar but the fibre in fruit means your body digests it more slowly. As a result, you don’t get the sugar rush or GI spike which can cause hunger pangs afterward.
When it comes to fruits that’ll make your smoothies sweet, banana, mango, and nectarine (fresh or frozen) should be top of your list. They’ll have more impact on the sweetness than blueberries, raspberries, or apples.
#7 – Buy produce in season
Finally, the key to super-sweet smoothies that are naturally healthy is to use fruit that’s in season. This is when it’s at its juiciest, sweetest, and most flavoursome. The natural sugars in fruit are usually at their highest when they’re fully ripe, so this is when fruits taste their very best.
If your smoothie isn’t sweet enough, tastes bitter or sour, then it’s likely because the fruit isn’t fully ripe. This might be because it’s not in season or was picked too early before it has fully ripened (which is when fruit tastes sweetest).
For example, adding fresh strawberries to your smoothies in winter is likely to result in a pretty bland smoothie (not to mention they’ll have flown halfway around the world). But if you consume strawberries when they’re in season (i.e. May – July) then they’ll be super sweet and pack the most flavour.
Fruit and veg that’s in season also tends to be at its most nutritious. This handy cheat sheet on seasonal smoothie ingredients can help you pinpoint which are at their best right now.
Smoothie Sweetening FAQs
Here are some of the most common questions we get about making a smoothie taste sweeter…
Bananas, mangoes, and pineapples make smoothies particularly sweet (more so than berries, apples, pears, or citrus fruit).
Try adding pineapple or mango instead of banana as they’ll add extra sweetness.
Our in-house nutritionist doesn’t recommend adding sugar to smoothies. It’s an unhealthy addition that can undermine the benefits of an otherwise balanced smoothie. According to Harvard University, added sugar can lead to higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease, which are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
A quick online search for smoothies will return lots of 5-star rated recipes with mouth-watering photography. Yet when you delve deeper into the detail, it’s surprising just how many of these supposedly healthy smoothies include directions to ‘add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the blender’.
That’s crazy. And a fast track to weight gain…
It still shocks us to see these ‘healthy’ smoothies being loaded up with unnecessary sugar. If it’s really a decent smoothie recipe, then it absolutely won’t need sugar. That’s just a trick people (and big companies) use to mask bland flavours or dodgy ingredient combinations. But worst of all, it completely undermines the healthiness of a smoothie.
We get it… fresh fruit and veg doesn’t always taste as good as a packaged juice drink. But by following our recipe tips above you can completely transform them.
Some people think that honey in smoothies is a healthy alternative to granulated sugar. After all, it’s a natural product, right? But the evidence on this is pretty mixed so it’s hard to say one way or another.
Although honey occurs naturally in nature, this doesn’t automatically make it a healthy addition to your smoothie. It’s pure, unrefined sugar and still causes an immediate spike in your blood sugar.
It doesn’t contain fibre like fruit does, so will hit your system pretty fast. Honey also isn’t an option for vegans and we know many of our readers follow a plant-based diet.
You can also sweeten a smoothie with maple syrup or agave nectar but we don’t recommend adding either. This is because they’re all forms of added sugar and don’t provide your body with much nutritional value. It really doesn’t need syrups – what it needs is the vitamins, minerals, and fibre found in fresh fruit and veg.
Some people put stevia in smoothies to add some extra sweetness. We’re not big fans and have found that it can sometimes taste bitter. So, we’d suggest that you’re better off going with one of our 7 alternative ideas.
How To Make A Smoothie Sweeter (The Healthy Way)
So, now you know exactly how to make a smoothie sweeter without adding extra sugar. These tips can help you to reduce your processed sugar intake and maximise the nutritional value of your smoothies. They’ll make healthy smoothies sweeter without sacrificing their nutritiousness.
We’d love to know how you get on – tag us on Instagram @theblendery to get your photos featured!