Learn how to make a thick acai bowl with acai powder or frozen acai puree in less than 10 minutes.
Plus, many topping ideas for the best smoothie bowl!
What is the acai fruit?
The acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is the fruit of the acai palm tree which is native to Brazil. The acai berries are about 1-inch (2.5-cm) in diameter and have a dark purple skin and yellow flesh.
They contain pits, something that actually classifies them as drupes but they're usually called berries.
In order to become edible, they are soaked to soften the tough outer skin and then mashed to form a paste.
According to healthline.com the health benefits of acai berries are many. They are considered a superfood because they're very high in antioxidants (which fight free radicals), fiber, and they can boost brain function.
It's also believed that they may have anti-cancer effects.
An açaí bowl is nothing more than a smoothie bowl made with acai powder or pureed acai berries and other frozen fruit, mainly bananas and berries such as strawberries and blueberries.
This smoothie bowl has become very famous because it's delicious and a perfect treat not only for kids but for everyone who likes to eat healthy. It is one of my favorite healthy breakfasts, along with these Greek yogurt parfaits with fruits and these fluffy whole wheat and grated apple pancakes.
It can also be part of your Mediterranean Diet plan, since the Mediterranean Diet includes the consumption of fresh fruit, especially after a meal, as dessert.
This 10-minute acai bowl recipe has a texture similar to ice cream, and that's why you can also call it nice cream. According to thekitchn.com nice cream is a frozen banana-based ice cream but the term can also include any fruit-based, vegan and dairy-free treat that is also free from artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and refined sugar.
For the basic homemade acai bowl recipe you'll need:
- Frozen bananas (they should be very ripe)
- Acai fruit (freeze-dried powder or puree)
- Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or a mix
- Sweetener such as maple syrup or stevia (optional)
- Fruit juice or almond milk (optional)
You can freeze the fruit several days before (even weeks). I always have frozen bananas in my freezer, peeled and tightly wrapped with plastic wrap.
I also like to keep 1-2 bags of frozen mixed red berries or strawberries for when I need them for smoothies and other recipes like this strawberry milkshake without ice cream.
For the best acai smoothie bowl with creamy texture and sweet taste use very ripe bananas.
I don't suggest replacing the maple syrup with honey because honey tends to be difficult to dissolve when added to frozen mixtures.
Follow this simple step by step guide for how to make a healthy acai bowl:
Step 1: Freeze all the fruit you'll need. This step makes the final mixture thick like a soft serve ice cream.
Step 2: Chop the fruit and transfer it to a food processor or high-powered blender with a tamper. Chopping the fruit helps to speed the process. can also be used
Step 3: Process/blend until you have a smooth mixture. Because everything is solid frozen, you will have to stop and scrape the bowl several times. Be patient!
Step 4: Transfer to bowls and serve. You can serve it plain or you can add your favorite toppings.
Acai bowl toppings
Traditionally, acai bowls are served with fresh fruit and granola on top (this a simple video for how to make granola).
When I'm in a hurry, I eat it plain, straight from the blender bowl with nothing else on top. Other times, when I want to indulge myself, I add all sorts of things, depending on my mood.
Some of my favorite topping ideas for acai bowls include:
- Fresh fruit such as kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, cubed mango, pineapple, peaches and apples.
- Shredded desiccated coconut or coconut flakes.
- Bee pollen (not for vegans).
- A drizzle of almond butter or another nut butter.
- Chopped nuts or seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans).
- Spices like cinnamon and cardamom.
- Chia seeds and flax seeds for omega-3 healthy fats.
- Hemp seeds for extra protein.
- Cereal, oats or granola.
- Fresh mint leaves.
- Grated dark chocolate, chocolate chips or even crashed cacao nibs.
Acai powder vs frozen acai packets
Fresh acai berries have a short shelf life that's why they are exported and widely available in powder form or puree.
Acai powder. This is freeze-dried and gently milled acai berries. It's like concentrated fruit and it's very convenient because it can be stored at room temperature.
Frozen acai puree/pulp. It is usually sold in the freezer section of your grocery store in individual packets of 100 gr / 3.5 oz. Try to find a brand with pure acai puree without added sugar and preservatives.
In most cases the puree is of better quality if it's labeled as “acai grosso” which means it's very high in fruit content and has less water.
To make an acai bowl you can use either frozen acai puree or acai powder.
Because the smoothie bowl made with acai powder has more banana, it's creamier, smoother and sweeter. It's like eating a delicious soft serve ice cream, but very healthy. I really can't think of anything better to treat your kids. And the best part is that they're going to love it!
Variations - Substitutions
Banana-free acai bowl: To make this recipe without banana, you can replace it with an equal amount of mango, pineapple, or even avocado. If you use mango or pineapple, adding 2 teaspoons of chia seeds will help the mixture to thicken further.
Protein rich acai bowl: To make this smoothie bowl richer in protein you can add 4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt plus some peanut butter or almond butter. If you prefer to add protein powder you should also add some milk (non-dairy milk is also fine). Per 1 tablespoon of protein powder add 2 tablespoons of milk.
Nice cream acai (smoother and fluffier): For a creamier and fluffier acai bowl similar to ice cream you can add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil and a splash of milk.
10-minute acai bowl recipe (with acai powder or puree)
- 2 large frozen bananas sliced (12.4 oz / 350 grams)
- 1 cup berries (4.2 oz / 150 grams)
- 2 tablespoons acai powder (see notes if using frozen acai puree)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1-2 tablespoons juice, (optional). (Apple juice, orange juice or even water is fine. )
- For Serving:
- Fresh fruit, granola, chopped nuts, desiccated coconut, bee pollen.
- Blend: Transfer all the ingredients for the acai bowls (except the juice/water) to a food processor or a high powered blender with a tamper and process/blend until smooth.You will have to stop and scrape the bowl several times before everything starts to blend together, but don't give up, it will come together eventually.Add 1-2 tablespoons of orange or apple juice (or water) if you want to speed up the process. Taste and add more maple syrup if you like it sweeter.
- Serve: Pour the acai mixture into 2 bowls and top with fresh fruit, granola, nuts, shredded coconut or whatever else you like.Serve immediately.
- 1 ½ frozen bananas (9.2 oz /260 grams), sliced
- ½ cup frozen berries (2.6 oz / 75 grams)
- 2 packets frozen acai puree (7 oz / 200 grams total)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1-2 tablespoons juice or water (optional)
The taste of acai is described as slightly tart with earthy notes. Most people say it reminds them something between blackberries and unsweetened chocolate.
The earthy after-taste is probably what gives the fruit this chocolate flavor. The chocolate flavor may be due to the polyphenols (antioxidants), which are present in both Acai berries and cocoa beans.
If you live in a place where frozen acai puree is hard to find, then you can substitute 2 packages of acai puree with 1 large banana + 0.5 cup berries + 2 tablespoons acai powder.
If you're wondering how to make an acai bowl without acai, then you probably want to make a smoothie bowl. Your best solution is to use blackberries, raspberries and 1-2 teaspoons of cocoa powder.
For a similar antioxidant profile you can also acerola or blueberries with some raw cacao.
For thick smoothie bowls with acai make sure to follow these tips:
Keep all the fruit you're going to use in the freezer.
Don't use too much liquid (1-2 tablespoons of juice or water should be enough).
Preferably use acai powder instead of acai puree (this will let you add more bananas which make it more creamy).