3 Vegetable cocktails that are low in sugar but packed with flavor

vegetable cocktails three juices flat lay
Photo credit: Solstizia/Getty Images

Fall seasonal veggies are here, but can you drink them? You’ve all heard the long-running debate about whether juicing or blending is better for your health, but we’re more interested in knowing if vegetables can be sneakily added to adult drinks. We don’t often think of sipping our vegetables while getting a buzz, but vegetable cocktails can actually be great alternatives to the often-too-sweet drinks we’re used to, especially during the holidays.

Veggie cocktails are a healthier and delicious way to get your recommended daily serving of produce, especially given that, on average, only one in 10 adults meets the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations. Even more striking, the fruit and vegetables we do eat the most tend to be tomatoes and potatoes, coming in at 49.2 pounds of potatoes per person and 28.7 pounds for tomatoes per person annually.

It’s time to introduce some variety. If you’re a parent, you may know some clever ways to sneak veggies into meals. But we’re giving you options, adult-style. Which means we’re adding alcohol, of course (but we do have one vegetable mocktail shooter recipe included, as well).

Juicing versus blending

Let’s first focus on the major differences in how to prep these drinks. While juicing is done using a juicer, smoothies using the whole vegetable are prepared using blenders.

Juicing removes the water and nutrients from the vegetables, making for an easier-on-the-digestive-system drink. It separates the indigestible fiber from the item, which makes it easier for your stomach and GI tract to break down the foods. Juicing makes nutrients quickly and readily available for absorption into the body. You can get more nutrients from the juice, although you are likely to get more of its sugars, too.

If you have issues with high blood pressure or diabetes, the blended smoothies are good because they don’t stimulate a quick rise in blood sugar levels. They allow for a slow and even release of nutrients in the body, unlike juices, because all the parts of the vegetable — including the fiber, pulp and skin — are used. Plus, added fiber is a healthy benefit of using the whole vegetable.

We recommend blending these three cocktails because we like using the vegetable in its whole form whenever possible. Though you can juice the vegetables, if you prefer.

MORE: 4 herbal mocktails that are just as good as any cocktail

3 vegetable cocktail recipes

We used three fall vegetables that are easy to come by and easy to incorporate into drinks: tomatillos, butternut squash and beets. They have wonderfully distinct flavors and are crowd favorites if you are taking on bartending rights at the next holiday party.

The tomatillo Bloody Mary

The tomatillo is the tomato’s Mexican green cousin, although it’s not the same thing as a green tomato. It is typically used for salsa verde recipes and vinaigrettes. You’ve probably enjoyed it in your tacos at some point.

Tomatillos are a great source of vitamins A, C and K and are helpful in digestion. Substitute this exotic produce for the classic red tomato the next time you make a Bloody Mary at home. It tastes just as great virgin-style, if that’s your preference. Here’s a quick blended version that will take you less than 10 minutes to make.

What you’ll need:

  • 5 medium tomatillos, husked
  • 8-10 ounces Tito’s gluten-free vodka
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3-5 dashes Tabasco green pepper sauce
  • 6-8 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • A couple pinches of salt and black pepper
  • Celery sticks for garnish
  • Lime wedges for garnish


  1. Cut the tomatillos into smaller pieces before adding to the blender.
  2. Blend all ingredients together with a scoop of ice.
  3. Then strain into a tall glass.
  4. Rub a bit of lime and salt onto the rim of your glass. Garnish with the celery stick and lemon wedge.

Butternut squash mocktail shooters

Butternut squash is commonly referred to as a vegetable, although technically it’s a fruit. We will keep it on this fall vegetable list because it makes such a great addition to many savory recipes. It is nutty and a little sweet and packs a punch with cancer-fighting antioxidant properties. It is also high in many B vitamins.

Butternut squash is mostly served roasted and baked. However, this shooter-style recipe requires the butternut squash to be boiled and blended. It is creative and makes for a great appetizer before a holiday meal. Also, your guests won’t need an Uber to get home, because these shooters are alcohol-free.

MORE: Holiday foods to avoid — and what to eat instead

What you’ll need

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 3 cups fat-free vegetable broth (which I use from a can for convenience)
  • 2 butternut squash (peeled, seeded, cut into cubes)


  1. Add your oil, garlic and onion to large pot and set to medium heat.
  2. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add cilantro, salt, pepper, broth and squash next and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer on a lower heat for 20 minutes and check for the squash to become tender.
  5. Use handheld blender or add to a regular blender to puree.
  6. Add to small shot glasses and serve.
  7. Garnish with more cilantro on top.

MORE: These 2-ingredient cocktails are easy and party-worthy

Beet sangria

Beets, which are considered a root vegetable, are available year-round, but they are grown at their best in cooler weather. Whenever I suggest eating beets to my nutrition clients, their reactions range from loving them to claiming they taste like dirt. As a child, I was not a fan of them, but I have grown to appreciate their nutritional value and I like them now as an adult.

Love them or hate them, there is no denying their benefit to our immune systems, with vitamins A, C and K. They’re also great for our gut health because of their high-fiber content. (Just beware of their power to stain your clothes and countertop if spilled.) My favorite way of doing this calls for a blender and Prosecco, so pace yourself. The Prosecco gives a fizz to the sweetness, which I appreciate.

What you’ll need

  • 3 cans diced beets
  • 1 standard-size bottle of Prosecco (750 milliliters)
  • 1/3 cup triple sec
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries


  1. Make sure to have a large pitcher on hand, because when it comes to sangria, the presentation is equally important.
  2. First blend the canned beets and peeled orange until they puree.
  3. Add that liquid to your pitcher. You can pour through a mesher first if you want to avoid the pulp.
  4. Squeeze in your lime next.
  5. Then stir in the triple sec and chilled Prosecco.
  6. For garnish, toss in the fresh blueberries and strawberries.

This sangria contains the highest amount of sugar out of all three drinks, but by sharing the pitcher with others, you can enjoy the beet benefits without too much excess.

Looking for more? Get creative and use the tips below to create your own vegetable cocktail.