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.


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

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. 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.

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 possible too ripe!), but that is another tactic to decipher whether an avocado is in the zone.

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.


Beyond this - trust your taste buds to balance things out. If you like 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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4.58 from 14 votes

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

  • 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)
  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.

Makes a large bowl of guacamole.

Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


I'm def trying this at home. I never get through my weekly purchase of avocadoes and sometimes they go off so will be good to turn them into this. Thank you. xoxo Ivy

Purple Ivy

Timely recipe and process. I was just told to eat more avocados by my naturopath. Have you ever added a bit of turmeric? Apparently the body needs fat to better use turmeric.


A pinch of cumin is so good in guacamole. Other than that, our recipes are the same :)


no tomatoes in your guacamole -- YOU ARE MY HEROINE!!! :) btw: i had a grilled avacado (half) a couple of weeks ago with a Japanese ponzu sauce in it which was absolutely delicious!


I love the way you write about perfect, simple food. You're the best. I hate to admit it, but I love the tomato water bomb in guacamole. I think it's just a Texas thing. But I agree: no guac is complete without lots of raw onion. If you do it right, you don't taste onion, you just taste heat. I also add cilantro, but I put cilantro on almost everything.


While my guacamole may vary slightly (prefer red onion), I think the key to great guacamole is sprinkling salt on the garlic and then mashing it. My friends and I have been doing this for years! You've hit the nail on the head!


Finding good avocados is key. Sometimes that feels like such a crapshoot, no?

Maryea {happy healthy mama}

Heidi, here in NZ it is a great summer for avos (as we call them) and we have consumed buckets of guacamole. It is good to have a refresher on recipes and methods. Like you I like it chunky not smooth like baby food, in fact I don't even mash it, I peel and dice the avos and then gently stir in the other ingredients. My all time favourite is your "Twist on Guacomole" from a few years back, it has the cumin and curry in it and is just the best and was made almost daily over our Xmas/New year holiday at the beach. Lastly we have a well laden lemon tree so it is usually lemon not lime juice. Just now (midsummer) limes are $34 per kilo! Lemon works fine.


Avocado, queso fresco or french feta, oluve oil, salt to taste and voilá! You'll never prepare it any other way again.


The paper bag technique is new to me, thanks for mentioning it!


you have perfected the simplicity of guacamole! love it, thanks for sharing!


Our avocadoes in Puerto Rico are green-skinned and shaped more like gords. They are way bigger than the Haas variety I see in the States. They're ripe when you can feel the seed rattle inside when you shake them. We eat them like a side vegetable and people don't generally make guacamole, although I do!


There's a trick I use to get out ALL the avocado flesh that I never seem to see mentioned anywhere. Instead of scooping out the flesh with a spoon, just lay the avocado half cut side down on a cutting board, lightly score the skin down the middle with the tip of your knife, and peel off the skin in two big pieces. You don't lose ANY flesh and you can easily cut the avocado half into whatever shape you want!


Pomegranate seed! Make it just like you do and then fold in some little red jewels.


Your basic process is sound. . . but sometimes I marry the sumptous buttery flesh with a pinch of cumin and crushed dried chipotle pepper. It's a bit of a Mexican flavour thing that I like. Not too much but a subtle reminder of where this food comes from. It's quite fabulous. A little sprinkle of Mexican oregano adds a floral suggestion that works well also.

Laura Di Lembo

My husband and I were just chatting last night about avocado and how we never brought one. We were thinking of getting some this weekend, so your recipe comes at the perfect time. I'm going to give this a try this weekend.

Lail | With A Spin

You're missing the heat in this recipe!! My recipe is quite similar but I omit the garlic and do a quick shake of ground chili pepper flakes to add some spice.

kb in to

The perfect avocado starts with the care it has received before you buy it. I try to only buy them just as they are being put out - less bruising - as I have seen stockers upend the box they are packed in. I prefer Haas avocados with the pebbly skin rather then those huge smooth skin ones. All go in frig except the one we want to use first - it stays out. I do put a bit of jalapeno in my guacamole. If it or the onion seem too hot/spicy I'll put lime juice or lemon juice on that and let it sit a bit. I have used white wine vinegar if I'm short on the citrus. Also to keep it from turning brown? Eat the whole bowl - no leftovers.


While my guacamole may vary slightly (prefer red onion), I think the key to great guacamole is sprinkling salt on the garlic and then mashing it. My friends and I have been doing this for years! You've hit the nail on the head!


Rick Bayless suggests that it's best to buy avocados that still have a part of the stem. Years ago, I started including some minced cucumber in my guacamole, and it's a nice addition, too. (It can be salted and drained before being added, to cut down on the liquid.)


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