Guacamole Recipe

To make the best guacamole you have to go off-recipe. It's all about the in-between steps, decisions, and knowing when avocados are at their best.

Guacamole

If pressed, I could tell you how to make good guacamole in one sentence. It goes something like this. Mash ripe avocados with finely chopped white onions, a minced garlic clove, a squeeze of lime juice, then salt to taste. But to make great guacamole, it's the little decisions going between those commas that make all the difference. If you were standing next to me throughout the process, you'd pick up on the dozens of choices and considerations that actually matter. So, I thought I might try to go longer-form with you on this one - walk you through my thought process, step-by-step here, related to one of my favorite things to eat.
The Best Simple Guacamole

Good Shopping is Key to Great Guacamole

Like most things that end up on the table, your success or failure depends on how you do at the market. The most important step in this entire process is procuring the perfect avocados. Ripe. But not too ripe. Beautiful, buttery, green-fleshed decadence - that's what you're after. Sometimes easier said than done.

A Lineup of Ripe Avocado

Choosing the Right Avocados for Guacamole

I spend more time choosing the avocados for guacamole than actually preparing it. You want avocados that are ripe and the only way to figure out whether they're at their peak is to evaluate them one at a time. Here's what to look for.

  • Feel it. To decipher whether or not an avocado is ripe enough, hold it in your palm, and give it a gentle squeeze with the pads of your fingers. There should be some give, like butter that has been out of the refrigerator for an hour in an average-temp kitchen. The give should be uniform across the surface of the fruit. Try to imagine whether that amount of give would translate to good mash-ability. Avocados tend to be more ripe toward the surface, less ripe toward the seed. Keep that in mind as you're evaluating them.
  • Color. Look at the color as well. Over-ripe avocados (depending on the varietal) tend to be black with pockets of unstructured softness. I don't typically use the trick where you wiggle the stem button - if it's loose, the avocado is ripe (but possibly too ripe!), but that is another tactic to decipher whether an avocado is in the zone.
  • Consider timing. If you buy under-ripe avocados and have a few days before using them they'll continue to ripen over time. If you're in a rush - avocados ripen more quickly sealed in a paper bag. To slow down the ripening process, place them in the refrigerator (but bring back to room-temperature before using).

Guacamole Ingredients

The Right Temperature is Key

Temperature matters here, and you're going to want to use room-temperature avocados. Because avocados have such a high percentage of fat, imagine trying to mash cold butter versus room temperature. Once is going to be much creamier than the other. So, don't try to make guacamole with cold avocados. Also, serve at room temperature, not chilled.

The Concept of Guacamole "Stretching"

Avocados can be pricey, so a lot of restaurants will "stretch" or bulk out their guacamole with things like chopped tomatoes. I'm not a fan of this. The tomato addition in particular. I don't love the way watery tomatoes bump up against fatty avocado - it's literally oil and water. I like guacamole to be about the avocado, and unless I'm throwing some wildcards in the mix (like the one in my last book), I typically keep it as clean and simple as possible.

Variations

Beyond the basics, trust your taste buds to balance things out. If you like your guacamole to have a bit of spicy kick, add some minced serrano pepper. Use salt and lime juice, adjusting little by little, until things taste just right.

If you want to take your guacamole up another notch, try this favorite Indian-spiced guacamole, and inspired by a Julie Sahni recipe. I also love to use this guacamole on these Vegan Nachos and this taco salad or on homemade tortillas - so good!

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Guacamole

4.6 from 15 votes

Be sure to read the post up above for all the tips.

Ingredients
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 4 ripe avocados, room-temperature
  • 1/2 medium white onion, minced
  • a squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • to serve: chopped cilantro, chives or chive blossoms (optional)
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle the garlic with the salt and smash and chop into a paste. Then use a spoon to remove all the avocado flesh into a wide, medium bowl. Be sure you get all the avocado near the skin, it's the best part. Sprinkle the avocado with the onions and garlic, and use a large fork to fold everything together. I like a chunky guacamole, so I tend to fold, chop with the edge of the fork, fold, chop. After a few folds add the lime juice, and fold some more. Taste and adjust with more salt or lime juice, and serve topped with cilantro and chives (or chive blossoms).
  2. You can store any uneaten guacamole in a refrigerator. Any surface area exposed to air will likely brown, so (preferably) use a glass jar (Weck) where the lid comes in contact with the avocado, or a piece of plastic wrap pressed to suface.
Notes

Makes a large bowl of guacamole.

Serves
16
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 
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Comments

we don't like adding anything crunchy (onions) or fruity (tomatoes) that distracts from the smoothness of the avocado. we (CA) use california fatty avocados, salt, lemon or lime juice, smashed up garlic in the mortar till it's smooth, and finally the really great clincher is lemon or lime zest, depending on which citrus for juice we used...this is an outstanding guac that really emphasizes the smooth fatty avocado, despite the garlic and lemon...

johanna

This how I make my guacamole. I call it “pure”.

Barbara Ann

Agreed - there is no room for watery tomatoes in guacamole!

Alexandra Shytsman

I've always been pretty good at finding ripe avocados but I find that in Canada (especially in winter) even if they come from central/south America or the US, they just don't taste as fresh. I like my guacamole with a lot of lime but have had to scale down because my spouse prefers the guac to taste more like avocado (booo). I must say I do use garlic but rarely try with onions (although I would be tempted to use red onion in normal circumstances so I would have to try white onions to see how that tastes). I like a little kick and I do sometimes use pepper flakes or even a dash of sriracha. And to finish off, chives would be nice (I've used green onions as well). I must say that this Indian spiced avocado recipe sounds really fun!

Caroline

    Thanks Caroline! Shallots are a nice alternative to onions as well.

    Heidi Swanson

If you can get a fuerte avocado, they are superior in almost every way. Very buttery and they last much much longer (without turning brown) than Hass. If picked between November and February they will be ripe in 9-10 days. I am fortunate enough to have a 25ft tree in my yard but I see them at the local farmers market too. My guacamole recipe is simply 1 avocado with 1/8 t salt and 1/4 t lime juice. No other flavors or textures to distract from the avocado.

mind1

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