Açaí Makes the Best, Healthiest Smoothie Bowls — What Does It Taste Like?

Açaí berries come from a palm tree and is often described as a "superfood" due to its nutritional benefits.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Mar. 6 2024, Published 4:06 p.m. ET

A woman in a red top holds an açaí smoothie bowl with fruit inside.
Source: iStock

The often-incorrectly pronounced vegan-friendly superfood açaí is perfect for your post-workout smoothie and plant-based morning breakfast. Açaí boosts your daily protein needs, especially in puréed form and when paired with other animal-free protein sources.

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Açaí is a staple in smoothie and juice bars around the U.S., but for those too intimidated by the word to speak up and order it, you may be wondering what açaí actually tastes like.

Join us as we traverse cultures and explore the remarkable taste of açaí in all its forms.

A person holds a wooden spoonful from an açaí bowl atop a wooden table with strawberries and lemons in the background.
Source: iStock
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What does açaí taste like?

Pronounced "ah-sigh-ee" (according to the Fresno Bee) and not "ah-kye" (per Parade), açaí is grown and harvested in Brazil. According to Parade, it is often found as a base in smoothie bowls and sold in frozen form in some markets around the U.S.

In my extensive experience on a mission to try as many açaí bowls as possible, from trendy juice and smoothie cafes throughout Manhattan to beach towns in California, it is best paired with fruits and nut butters.

Less sweet and less aromatic than a blueberry or strawberry, less bitter than a raspberry, and less punchy than a blackberry, açaí doesn't provide the zip, tang, or uniqueness you may be wondering about or expecting from an exotic fruit. Rather, as YouTuber Zoe Claire found out, it features a relatively muted flavor that humbly gives way to a host of other smoothie bowl ingredients.

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Believe it or not, per Parade, it is an antioxidant-rich berry that contains comparatively less sugar and carbohydrates. Instead, it provides a slew of other benefits, like fiber and protein, and is thought to stave off cancer and high cholesterol.

Thus, it is a great option for those with a sweet tooth but for whom sugar intake must be monitored, as it pairs nicely with almond and peanut butter, coconut, and supplements like chia and flax seeds.

Açai bowl with bananas in a white bowl on a table with other fruit.
Source: iStock
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Your experience with the taste of açaí is more contingent upon the ingredients supporting the bowl.

Parade notes that some frozen packets of açaí sold in grocery stores may be loaded with sugar to enhance the taste. In some restaurants, bowls loaded with Nutella or other chocolate-adjacent condiments and sweeteners can sabotage an otherwise healthy bowl.

According to MedicalNewsToday, açaí contains helpful fatty acids and 19 amino acids. It has anti-inflammatory properties, has shown promise as an anti-cancer and anti-tumor agent, and is protective against brain and heart disease.

It's important to ensure you're consuming high-quality frozen or powdered açaí free of added sugar and sweeteners.

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A person's hands hold many açaí berries above green buckets of açaí berries.
Source: iStock

What do açaí berries taste like?

Per Parade, the açaí berry itself isn't actually edible. The açaí berries must first be soaked and processed, often in a puréed form, ending in the frozen packets in grocery stores.

Furthermore, consuming unprocessed açaí berries may be dangerous to one's health.

According to information published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the unprocessed juice of açaí berries may be linked to Chagas Disease, and açaí consumption is also thought to impact the validity of MRI test results.

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