Vegan "Orange Julius" Smoothie

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Vegan-Orange-JuliusWhen we were kids, my parents used to take us to the The Fountain Coffee Shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel for breakfast on special occasions.

I adored everything about that place, from the old-school palm tree wallpaper and green leather booths to the extra crispy bacon. The waitresses wore button-down pink dresses and doted on my sister and me (which I appreciated), and I swear they had all worked there for at least 35 years. What I remember most vividly is that everyone in the place always seemed absurdly happy.

It was glorious.

The Coffee Shop’s food was solid, but what I loved most was their “orange freeze,” which was basically the best version of an Orange Julius ever. I’m pretty sure it was just fresh squeezed orange juice blended with orange sherbet and a dash of vanilla, but it tasted like sunshine and happiness, and I would get freakishly excited about it. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)

Vegan-Orange-Julius-2I also enjoyed the fact that every time we visited the Coffee Shop my Dad would tell the story about taking my sister there on the best day ever (aka the day that I was born). According to him, they had just bellied up to the bar when Cher walked in and sat down next to my sister. Olivia then proceeded to engage the diva in conversation (she’s always been a talker), proudly informing her, “My mom had an operation, and out popped SAWEENA!” Cher was very impressed, I’m sure.

For the record, I really like to picture Cher wearing the “Turn Back Time” thong bodysuit and my sister with an orange freeze moustache during this exchange.

Vegan-Orange-Julius-3Those Coffee Shop breakfasts were wonderful and hilarious in their predictability. We’d arrive, order, and listen to the Cher story. Then my sister and I would pick at our food and CHUG orange freezes, after which we’d experience immediate brain freezes/sugar highs/extreme bliss. Dirt naps in the car on the way home were a given.

Ahhhh, the good old days.

I hadn’t actually thought about orange freezes in a long time, but then NYC’s first Dairy Queen opened a few weeks ago in my hood. When I waited in line for 30 minutes to get a Blizzard and then left before ordering because I was too hungover walked past it, I remembered that DQ merged with the Orange Julius chain, and I was immediately overcome by a wave of sweet, sweet nostalgia and a craving for an orange freeze.

Passing DQ/Orange Julius on a daily basis has only intensified that craving, and yesterday I had to give in. Yes, I could have purchased an actual Orange Julius, but long lines make me panicky, as does the amount of sugar/artificial ingredients in those bad boys. So, I decided to make my own…

Vegan-Orange-Julius-4I’m pleased to inform you that my Orange Julius Smoothie was straight up delightful, and drinking it brought back all kinds of childlike Coffee Shop joy. (I obviously made sure to tell myself the Cher story beforehand and take a nap after. It’s tradition.)

The simple blend of fresh orange juice, orange zest, banana, almond milk and a dash of vanilla in this frozen treat is the perfect balance of tart and sweet without any added sugar or scary artificial flavors. Gwyneth would be proud.

I know, I know, traditional Orange Freeze/Julius do not contain bananas, but trust me on this one. Using frozen bananas thickens and chills the smoothie without diluting the flavor, and they add an awesome creaminess without tasting overwhelmingly banana-y.

Vegan-Orange-Julius-8In other exciting news, this smoothie is gluten-free, vegan, and packed with potassium and ridonculous amounts of vitamin C, so you can feel fabulous about drinking it on the reg. I highly recommend whipping this up for an immunity-boosting breakfast/snack/dessert, and serving it at pool parties and summer soirées as a refreshing pick-me-up. Everyone loves an Orange Julius. Fact.

Now, I’m sure a few of you are going to read this recipe and be like, “Serena, I have to juice my own oranges??! You’re the worst!” No, you guys are the worst. First of all, I’m only asking you to juice 3 oranges, max. That takes approximately 2 minutes, give or take 30 seconds for those of you juicing by hand (also, not that hard.) And yes, fresh squeezed orange juice really does make all the difference. Please try it ASAP.

If you’re feeling creative, you could try freezing the smoothies in molds for fabulous Orange Julius popsicles. Making your own popsicles is so hot right now.

Or maybe add some vodka into the mix. That would be festive….

Vegan Orange Julius Smoothie: (Serves 2)

2 ripe bananas, frozen (Yes, you an use room temp ’nanas in a pinch, but then you’ll have to add more ice…)
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest (This is the zest from about ½ an orange.)
1½  cups fresh squeezed orange juice (This is the juice from about 2-3 oranges, depending on their size.)
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4-6 ice cubes
1 tablespoon agave, optional (I don’t think this smoothie needs it, but if you’re into things extra sweet, go for it.)

Preparing your Vegan Orange Julius Smoothie:

-Peel your bananas, place them in a Ziploc bag and freeze overnight.

Vegan-Orange-Julius-step-1-Juice your oranges. You can do this using a fancy juicer, citrus press, or by hand. (Relax, you’ll only need to juice 3 at most.)

Vegan-Orange-Julius-step-2, pinthis-Place the frozen bananas, orange zest, orange juice, almond milk, vanilla extract, and ice in a blender or food processor.

Vegan-Orange-Julius-step-3-Puree until smooth. Taste and add agave to sweeten if necessary. Pour into two glasses and garnish with orange slices if you’re feeling fancy.

Vegan-Orange-Julius-7Experience childlike glee.

I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Summer Soirée event this week. For more refreshing summer sips, check out the awesome blogs below.

Feed Me Phoebe: Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie with Cacao Nibs
Poet in the Pantry: Strawberry Lemonade (Sweetened with Pure Maple Syrup)
Dishin & Dishes: Summertime Basil Lemonade
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Frozen Mango Lemonade Mocktail
Dishing With Divya: Thandai
Virtually Homemade: Strawberry Soda with Lime
The Lemon Bowl: Banana Licuado (Mexican Smoothie)
Weelicious: Mermaid Deep Sea Punch
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Mango Lassi
Cooking With Elise: Black Cherry Sweet Tea
Devour: 5 Booze-Free Picnic Sips
Taste With The Eyes: Roasted Barley-Corn Tea
Daily*Dishin: Sweet Balsamic Spritzers
FN Dish: Refreshing Summer Drinks for the Whole Family

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  1. Rose on July 17, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Turned out great! Thank you for the idea. I only had one orange so I used a little more zest and some extract. I also added almond milk, greek yogurt and line juice to give it some zing. Delicious!

    • Serena Wolf on July 22, 2020 at 1:47 pm

      I’m so thrilled to hear it was a hit! Love the lime juice addition.

  2. Jennifer Burch on August 8, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Just thinking….coconut rum might be a good addition 😉

    • Serena Wolf on August 8, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      Love where your head’s at ;).

  3. Rachel Medina on November 17, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Sipping this right nowm OMG. Heaven. Sweetest way to get in my vitamin C. Thank you for the recipe!

  4. Tasty Little Dish Blog on September 12, 2015 at 1:53 am

    What do you recommend in terms of preparing this for a party? I am planning an Orange Julius themed birthday party but it will be at a venue so I can’t really make them on location. Do these travel well and stay good? I am worried the juice will separate and get watered down. Any tips?

    • Serena_Wolf on September 14, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Hi! Sadly, I’m a little nervous about these traveling. You’re right, the juice will separate (that could be solved by a little shaking, but I’m mostly just worried that as they melt, the consistency will get a bit icky). With that said, if it’s only a short trip and you keep them in a cooler and then shake them up upon arrival, they may be fine!

  5. grace nickel on August 8, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Thanks so much for this recipe was really yummy!

    Just one thing though- I used average sized oranges but needed 5 of them to get the required amount of juice… Was worth it though 😉


    • Serena Wolf on August 8, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Thanks, Grace! So happy to hear this was a hit–I’ll make a note about the number of oranges in the recipe!

  6. The Petite Cook on January 21, 2015 at 6:18 am

    I’m in love with this smoothie! Great idea and it makes a super healthy morning start!

    • Serena_Wolf on January 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

      So happy to hear that! This is one of my all-time faves.

  7. Zarah on January 13, 2015 at 5:11 am

    I think I might need to adopt you. I was sleepless, last night, lying in bed, pinterest-to-blog-surfing through the phone when I ended up back here and I just didn’t leave. I am surprised that I didn’t wake the husband up, because I was actually laughing out loud. This post, for example. The image of your sis with an orange mustashio and Cher in that thong overalls… I.can.not.stop.giggling! Thank you! Sleeplessness was much more fun than usual, last night!

    (Also – obviosuly – I will definitely try this. Sounds delicious!)

  8. Chiara andthekiwi on January 12, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Hey!!! Your smoothie is now in my selection of “9 super detox vegan smoothies” on my blog here ->

    Good job with your recipe! 🙂

    • Serena_Wolf on January 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Thanks for including this smoothie, Chiara! Love the roundup.

  9. CChi on July 1, 2014 at 12:03 am

    My husband and I both had a nasty stomach bug. We were dying for juice, but had none in the house, then I remembered I had all the ingredients for this recipe. It really brought us back from the brink! Thanks!

    • Serena_Wolf on July 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      So happy to hear this worked some magic (thank god for Vitamin C), and I hope you’re both feeling better!

  10. Brinn on June 20, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    WOW this is seriously good. Thanks for the awesome recipe, everyone in our house loved it! Next time will make a double batch and freeze some popsicles 🙂

    • Serena_Wolf on June 20, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks, Brinn! So glad that this was such a hit.

  11. Allison on June 20, 2014 at 11:25 am

    The colour of those oranges is just so intense and gorgeous! It looks like a fireball. I love the addition of the banana to make it creamier. This would be so refreshing on a hot summer’s day 🙂

    • Serena_Wolf on June 20, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Thank you, Allison!

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