Are you craving sunshine and warm days like I am? Let’s divert our eyes from the cloudy weather and focus on these vibrant, refreshing açaí bowls instead. They’re like a tropical vacation in a bowl, minus the jet lag and sand in your pants. You can enjoy them in the morning before work!
I’ve been curious about açaí bowls for a while now, after seeing them pop up on my friends’ vacation feeds from trips to Southern California and Hawaii. Like always, I researched acai bowls to the end of the internet and played with my own acai bowl recipe until it was just right.
Since acai grows in the Amazon, it seemed natural to blend acai with tropical fruits. These smoothie bowls are simply and naturally sweetened with frozen banana, mango and pineapple. If you’ve been looking for a fun way to eat more fruit, this is it.
These vegan acai smoothie bowls are cold, creamy and almost sorbet-like in texture. In fact, the smoothie portion is so delightful that you could serve it as a light after-dinner treat. Or, load it up with crunchy granola, nuts or seeds, and fresh fruit, and you’ll have a nutritious and satisfying breakfast.
Bonus? Unlike most smoothies, this one keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.
What the heck is acai?
First of all, here’s how to pronounce acai. Secondly, acai fruit grows on acai palm trees, mostly in Brazil, along the Amazon river. The fruit looks like deeply purple (nearly black) blueberries, about the size of grapes. You can see them here.
Acai “berries,” as they are called, are actually stone fruit like mangoes. Most of the inside is taken up by the hard seed, with a thin layer of edible fruit around it. The berries don’t travel well, so the fruit is mashed and frozen.
Acai consumption was mostly limited to the Amazon region until the 1970s, when it spread to northern Brazilian cities. It became popular as an energy food in the jujitsu and volleyball circles, and by the 1990s, acai bowls (açaí na tigela) and acai bars were all over Brazil. Learn more here.
What does acai taste like?
Acai is one of few fruits that are naturally sugar free, which means that it doesn’t taste like a regular fruit. In fact, I don’t think you’d want to eat it on its own.
Acai tastes very earthy and sort of tannic to me, almost like a blackberry that’s not very sweet. Sambazon describes the taste as, “a little like exotic mixed berry meets a hint of cacao.”
To balance the acai flavor, I blended acai packets with frozen banana, pineapple and mango. Those frozen fruits make this smoothie delightfully creamy and sweet (although not overtly sweet). No additional sweetener or dairy products required!
Why would I want to eat acai?
Acai berries contain lots of antioxidants, as well as other nutrients, fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats (including omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9). The Mayo Clinic says that acai berries may have more antioxidants than cranberries, blueberries and strawberries.
I tend to be skeptical of “superfoods” that come from far-away places, since many inexpensive grocery store items are rockstars already—such as cabbage, broccoli, wild blueberries and beans. So please don’t feel like you “need” to eat acai to be healthy. These smoothie bowls are just a fun way to explore an exotic fruit.
Where can I buy acai?
You can buy acai pulp in single-serving packets in the frozen fruit section at health food stores and Trader Joe’s. Make sure to buy the unsweetened kind. Sambazon is one of the biggest brands and they have sustainable harvesting in place—especially important since we’re dealing with a product of the Amazon.
If you can’t find acai or don’t care to buy it, I have lots of other smoothie recipes for you. This green mango smoothie would be great in bowl form!
Tropical Acai Bowl
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 smoothie bowls 1x
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Blended
- Cuisine: Brazilian
Make your own creamy acai bowls at home! This acai bowl recipe is the best. You’ll need frozen fruit and acai packets, and fresh fruits, nuts or seeds for toppings. Acai bowls are easy, delicious and nutritious. Recipe yields 4 cups, enough for 2 large servings or 4 small.
- 1 ½ cups frozen mango chunks
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 cup frozen banana chunks (freeze ripe bananas in ½″-thick slices)
- Two packets (3.5 ounces or 100 grams each) frozen unsweetened açai berry purée
- 1 cup ice cold water, more if necessary
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
- Recommended garnishes: coconut granola, shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped nuts, chia seeds, sliced fresh banana or kiwi or other tropical fruits
- In a blender, combine the frozen mango, pineapple and banana. Run the açaí packets under warm water for about 10 seconds to let them thaw a bit, then cut them open and pour the açaí pulp into the blender.
- Pour in the cold water, securely fasten the lid, and start blending on the lowest speed until you can gain traction, increasing to high speed as it becomes available. If necessary, pause the blender to scrape down the sides, and add ¼ cup to ½ cup more water if it just won’t blend. (I used the tamper provided with my Vitamix and didn’t need to add any more liquid.)
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste, and blend briefly to combine. Pour the smoothie into bowls and top with garnishes of your choice. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Storage suggestions: If you’re planning on having leftover smoothie bowls, wait to top with fresh fruit or granola just before serving.
Recommended equipment: My Vitamix blender makes this smoothie ultra creamy (affiliate link).
No nutrition info available??
I’m sorry it isn’t available right now. I’m actively working on it to fix the issue! Stay tuned.
I loved your take on this – especially your commentary on super foods; it was thoughtful and logical. Thanks for taking the time to give the background of acai as well. I learned a lot and if I can find some acai, I’d like to try this bowl!
Thank you, Molly!
I’m ready for summer days brought in with tropical smoothie bowls like this one!
Antri C. | Beauty Blogger & Reviewer
Have in mind that you have gained one more fan… love it and save it for later into my Pinterest board “healthy meets tasty” xoxo
Thank you, Antri!
I agree with Molly, I have a desire now to use acai berries. Put it on my Trader Joe’s list. This bowl looks delicious. I have all the ingredients and am ready to go once i get the acai. Thank you for the great recipes!
Let me know what you think, Doreen!
Eating it right now on a cool, cloudy PNW day dreaming of warm, tropical weather! Delicious and magical!
That looks absolutely delicious! :-)
Wow, now it’s my turn to be curious about acai bowls.
Looks really interesting xD
oops, I guess there’s something wrong with my name lol!
Thanks! Let me know what you think.
I love your comment about a tropical vacation in a bowl. I’ve been seeing acai bowls everywhere but I haven’t tried them yet. I’m not sure why but it just hasn’t happened. Thanks for some good information about acai. Your acai bowl looks delicious.
Love to hear what you think, Winnie!
I made this recipe today for breakfast! So delicious. I always want to try the acai bowls at restaurants and markets, but so expensive. I halved the recipe and it served 2 easily and my Vitamix blended it easily still.
I LOVE your cookbook and website. I have made dozens of your recipes. I love the veggie and wholegrain focus. It is exactly how I love to eat. Delicious food without thousands of calories and richness.
Thank so much, Martha! I really appreciate it. I agree with you! I’m happy you think this is a great option too.
I was so excited to see this recipe, because my family and I just went to Hawaii in January and loved the açaí bowls there! I thought I followed the recipe exactly, but maybe I did something wrong? Mine turned out pretty icy tasting initially and then melted almost immediately and turned into soup. I have the rest of it in the fridge, but I’m worried that when I check it later today it will have melted too so I’m not sure how best to eat it on another day. I have a regular blender and did have to add close to 1/2 cup of additional water to help it blend. (I love your blog and have loved every other recipe I’ve tried, by the way!)
Hi Iralyn, I’m sorry this recipe didn’t meet your expectations! It sounds like maybe you under-measured the frozen fruit (easy to do since they’re in big chunks)—it’s important to have enough banana to achieve a creamy texture. And, I’m betting the bowls you enjoyed in Hawaii were made with a more high-powered blender than the one you have at home. My leftover smoothies were still quite thick from the refrigerator but I didn’t need to use much water. I’m sorry to disappoint!
This look soo delicious and pretty. I wish we had a Trader Joes in the UK- I miss that place so much, haha.
TJ’s is the best! :)
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I’m not a big fan of breakfast, but these are perfect after doing an hour of fasted cardio in the morning. Also a great way to try an açaí bowl if you’ve never had one, and are thinking about making your own at home.
Thanks for sharing, Heloise!
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I really like your blog because you always do your research before presenting a dish that is foreign to you. As a Brazilian expat, I am so tired of seeing gringo açaí bowls being made of 90% grape juice. That should be called a grape bowl, I’m sorry.
Where I grew up, we usually eat it with guaraná syrup and banana, or just pure with tapioca flour as a topping. It’s definitely the food I miss the most.
I’m curious to give your recipe a go!
I try to be as authentic as I can, while adding my own flare. Let me know what you think, Vanessa!
This was so yummy! I followed your recipe exactly and wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for another great creation. :)
Cooking enthusiast (and other KC local here) :) I’m planning a dinner for about six people and went to triple the recipe. The açaí purée didn’t change despite the other ingredients. Is that correct or should the purée packets be 3x as well?
Hi Paul! I’m sorry that didn’t triple correctly. I try to provide accurate plug-ins but haven’t found one that is just perfect yet. Yes, if tripled then do that for everything.
This looks great! Is there a good substitute for the acai? Thanks
You could substitute another fruit. Let me know what you think!