Pics or it didn't happen.

Smoothie bowls are like the choose-your-own-adventure of beautiful Instagram-friendly breakfast foods. You can make them with any combination of fruit, nuts, cereal, seeds, chocolate, coconut, nut butter, granola… the opportunities are endless.

What are smoothie bowls, exactly? They’re just what they sound like—only better. Blend up your favorite fruits and other smoothie ingredients, then pour them into a dish and shower them with toppings. They’ve been popular for years now; smoothie bowls are like the *actually* good-for-you grandchild of those buckets of birthday cake-flavored fro-yo we used to eat with a mountain of candy on top that we called healthy. And we’re happy to say that they’re here to stay—there’s just something about sipping food through a straw that we’ve never been able to get on-board with. We’ll stick with spoons, thanks.

If you want to jump on the smoothie bowl bandwagon but took one look at the price of one at your local juice bar and felt deeply confounded, we get it. DIY one instead! In addition to being cost effective, you get complete control over the quality and quantity of your ingredients and toppings.

Here's how to make a smoothie bowl from scratch. Once you've nailed the method, try making one of these delicious smoothie bowl recipes!

Blend up your base—in the proper order

From acaí and strawberries to matcha, mango, and more, there’s a smoothie flavor out there for every flavor preference.

The trick to making your base super smooth is to put the ingredients in the blender in the proper order. Liquids always go on the bottom closest to the blender blade. Soft ingredients (including yogurt, greens, avocado, fresh fruit, and nut butter) go next. Anything hard, like ice or frozen fruit, should always go last. This arrangement helps your blender process your smoothie in the most effective and efficient way. Anyone who has ever tried to start a blender with a mountain of ice on the bottom knows that you’ll be stopping and stirring a hundred times before it starts running smoothly!

Don’t forget to make it creamy

Adding a half of a frozen banana or fresh avocado will give your smoothie a creamy mouthfeel and the structure it needs to support your toppings. Forget to thicken it and your toasted almonds will sink to the bottom of your bowl as soon as you sprinkle them on top.

Forget the fruit juice

Juice brings tons of unnecessary sugar to the table with very little nutritional value. For your liquid component, go for a plant-based milk (almond, oat, cashew, and soy are all delicious) or coconut water instead.

Throw in a handful of greens

Try tossing in a bit of spinach or kale with your other smoothie ingredients—we promise it won’t taste like salad. Greens will up the protein and fiber in your breakfast, which help you stay fuller for longer.

Choose a wide bowl

After you’ve blended your base, pour the smoothie into a bowl that’s open, wide, and relatively shallow. This will optimize the space you have for toppings and help prevent heavier ones from sinking to the bottom. It’ll also make your smoothie bowl a lot more photogenic.

Light toppings go first; heaviest ingredients last

Start with lightweight toppings, like matcha powder, chia or flax seeds, slivered almonds, toasted quinoa, chocolate shavings, or coconut flakes. Then follow with heavy ingredients, like slices of banana, kiwi, or mango, granola, a generous spoonful of almond butter, or dried fruit. Make sure to strike a balance with different tastes (sweet, tart, nutty) and textures (crunchy and creamy) for the ultimate topping experience.