Christy learned the art and science of cooking from her Southern kin. Her cooking secrets aren't secrets because she shares them freely.
Store-bought guacamole famously doesn’t keep well. It seems to go from fresh to brown in the blink of an eye.
The solution? Make your own guacamole at home. This easy recipe takes only 15 minutes. Toss it on a salad or eat it with chips and pico de gallo, and this tasty, creamy, buttery dip will have you shouting “holy guacamole!”
How to Make Guacamole (Without Tomatoes) From Scratch
This recipe calls for only five ingredients. It’s inspired by Chipotle’s recipe, although I use a little more lime juice and cilantro—and my family makes me serve the jalapeños (the sixth ingredient) on the side.
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- 2 ripe Hass avocados
- ½ lime, juiced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, chopped
- Cut and peel the avocados, as shown below.
- Place the avocados in a bowl and sprinkle with lime juice and salt. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Leave some small chunks for texture.
- Stir in cilantro and onion.
- Taste. If necessary, add more salt, cilantro, or lime juice. (Every avocado has a slightly different taste and might need more of the other flavors to balance it out.)
Guacamole Variations and Substitutions
- Black pepper: ¼ teaspoon
- Cumin: ¼ teaspoon
- Garlic: 1 crushed clove
- Tomatoes: 1 cup diced tomato or ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- Tropical fruit: Add diced mango, guava, or papaya.
- Extra-creamy texture: Use a food processor for a smoother, ultra-creamy mixture.
- Onion: Substitute white or yellow onions for the red onions. I like the crunch of red onions and the milder taste. White onions are similar, but a little more oniony, whereas I think yellow onions work better in cooked dishes. However, this is purely a personal preference. Use what you like—or what you have!
- Peppers: Add 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper. Sadly, in my family, I have to leave the peppers out and add them only to mine. Otherwise, no one else will eat it. (Yes, I’ve been tempted to throw peppers in anyway so I’ll have all the guac to myself.)
What Is “Traditional” Guacamole?
The recipe given above is for traditional guacamole.
I mean, relatively traditional. If you go back further, the Aztecs were making an “avocado sauce” by mashing the fruit with salt before the first Europeans arrived. Avocado was the Spaniards’ attempt to say “ahuácatl,” the Aztec word for the fruit. It’s also their word for “testicle,” because that’s what avocados looked like. (The Aztecs must have had big ones.)
Over time, additional ingredients were added, growing into the traditional recipe shown above. A few traditional recipes call for diced tomatoes. I don’t add tomatoes because I’m big on texture, and tomatoes mixed into guac become mushy. (It’s the same reason I don’t eat tomatoes on sandwiches.) I like my guacamole tomato-adjacent. I pile guacamole and pico de gallo separately—along with black beans—on my salad, burrito, or loaded nachos.
So, what is not traditional guacamole? Guacamole with anything else added, such as cheese, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mangoes, guavas, or papayas. Or peanuts, ham, or bacon.
I mean, I’m not saying don’t add bacon to your guacamole. Just don’t call it traditional.
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How to Slice an Avocado
First, peel the avocado and remove the pit, which is easy if you follow this process.
- Hold the avocado in one hand.
- With your other hand, press a chef’s knife into the avocado lengthwise.
- When the knife reaches the pit, hold the blade steady and rotate the avocado—not the knife—all the way around.
- Remove the knife and separate the two halves.
- The pit will be stuck in one of the halves. Press the chef’s knife about ⅛ inch into the pit to hold it and twist the avocado. The avocado will pop off, leaving the pit stuck to the blade. Discard the pit.
- With a spoon, scoop the avocado out of the skin. If the avocado is ripe, it will slide right out. Discard the skin.
Once the avocado is in two peeled halves, it’s easy to slice or dice it.
The Official Chipotle Guacamole Recipe
In 2020, Chipotle tweeted the company’s signature guacamole recipe. The ingredients are the same as above, but the proportions are slightly different.
Chipotle Executive Chef Chad Brauze’s Guacamole Recipe
The same day, Chipotle executive chef Chad Brauze went live on Instagram to show us how to make guacamole. However, his ingredients were used in different proportions than the recipe Chipotle shared.
So which one is the actual Chipotle recipe? Who knows? I’ll just list them both.
Here’s Chef Chad’s ingredient list:
- 3 ripe Hass avocados
- ¼ cup red onion (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon jalapeño (chopped)
- 1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
- Juice from 1½ limes
- ½ tablespoon salt
Chef Chad first mixes all the aromatics—the onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice—before folding them into the mashed avocados.
How Healthy Is Homemade Guacamole?
Avocados contain large amounts of fiber and heart- and brain-healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain oleic acid, which is what gives olive oil its anti-inflammatory properties. Avocados are high in:
- Monounsaturated (healthy) fats
- Oleic acid
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, E, and K
- Minerals magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc
All of which makes guacamole (and avocados in general) a superfood. Plus, it’s lower in calories than many other dips.
It can be even healthier when you make it at home because you control the ingredients. Companies often load prepared food with sugar and extra salt. Sugar does not belong in guacamole. Period. Ever. Like, not at all. And the salt should be just enough to bring out the flavor, not give guacamole a long shelf life. If you do buy premade guacamole, check the ingredients list carefully.
In short, all guacamole is healthy, and homemade can be the healthiest of all.
Why Is Guacamole Bad for You?
Some people argue that you shouldn’t eat too much guacamole. However, their argument typically goes like this: Guacamole is healthy, but people eat chips with it, and chips are unhealthy.
Who says you have to eat chips with guacamole? Put it on a salad. Put it on loaded quesadillas. Dip carrots in it.
There are so many healthy ways to eat guacamole. Don’t call guacamole unhealthy because of the chips.
How to Choose a Perfect Avocado
Avocados are notoriously finicky. They’re perfectly ripe for only a couple of days, when they want to be ripe, with no regard for when you want to use them.
In other words, avocados are like cats.
Here’s how to choose suitable fruits at the grocery store or farmers’ market. Hold the avocado in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze the thickest part.
- Not yet ripe: If it’s hard, like a baseball, it isn’t ripe. Buy this avocado for a dish you’ll make in a few days. Leave them on the counter or in the pantry—not the refrigerator—to ripen.
- Ripe: If it gives slightly, it’s ripe. The peel is also typically a little darker than that of an unripe avocado. The color and texture should be consistent over the whole surface, with no discoloration or soft spots. Buy this to use today or tomorrow.
- Overripe: If it’s mushy, set it aside. It’s overripe. Do not buy it.
Use a ripe avocado right away, as it won’t stay perfect for long. It might keep one to two days in the pantry or a week in the refrigerator.
How to Ripen an Avocado More Quickly
An unripe avocado will ripen in about three to seven days, depending on how close it is. Speed it up by one to three days by putting it in a paper bag at room temperature. (The paper bag concentrates the ethylene gas, which is both put out by ripe fruits and makes the fruit ripen faster.)
Just don’t put the cat in the bag with them. (Or let the cat out of the bag.)
Do You Have to Use Hass Avocados?
Absolutely not. Many people prefer Hass (which rhymes with “pass”) avocados because they are creamier and more buttery than other varieties. Grocers like Hass avocados because their almost-black skin is thicker and tougher, making them more resistant to bruising. They also have a longer shelf life. Chances are whatever avocados you buy are Hass: they make up 80% of all the avocados eaten every year.
Here’s a fun fact: Every Hass avocado tree in the world is descended from a single tree planted in 1926 in Rudie Hass’s yard in Pasadena, California. Hass bought a small grove of Fuerte avocados, the then-dominant variety. Unfortunately, he couldn’t afford to buy more Fuertes to fill out the remaining space, so he bought seeds from a local grower, and once they sprouted, he grafted Fuerte shoots onto their rootstock.
One of those grafts didn’t take, however. Hass let the original seedling grow—and it produced a walnut-sized avocado in its first year. That first fruit was remarkable, considering that most avocado trees don’t bear fruit until their fourth or fifth year.
Better still, the avocados from this accidental tree were creamier than Fuertes. He took a bag to the Pasadena post office, where he worked as a mail carrier (lugging his mailbag over his shoulder, as they didn’t have mail trucks in the 1920s). He sold all his avocados, so he grew more. Then he patented the Hass avocado and sold trees to nurseries.
Every Hass avocado tree ever planted is descended from that single tree in Hass’s yard. The mother of all Hass avocados died of root rot in 2002. Today, a historical plaque reminds passersby that this is the spot where the world’s favorite avocado was born.
So, if you have some other variety on hand, can you make excellent guacamole? Absolutely! Rudie’s story proves you can get amazing results from whatever you have on hand. Or … um … use whatever you Hass.
How to Keep Your Guacamole From Turning Brown
Air makes guacamole turn brown. To prevent browning, keep the air—all air—away from the guac.
Some people suggest an airtight lid or extra lime juice, but test results show neither method works. Another theory says that leaving the pit in the guacamole will keep it from turning brown. Unfortunately, except for the guac immediately below the pit, that doesn’t work, either.
These methods work:
- Plastic Wrap. With a spoon, press the leftover guacamole down to push out as much air as you can. Then put the plastic wrap over it. Not across the top of the bowl—press it all the way down to the surface of the guac, forming an airtight barrier. Then refrigerate it.
- Water. This works even better than plastic wrap. Press the guacamole down with a spoon and pour water on it—yes, water on your precious guac!—until it’s covered to a depth of about half an inch. Any loose cilantro or onions on the surface might float, but that’s okay. Put an airtight lid on it or cover the bowl with plastic wrap. When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, pour off the water. (I also pour off any floating cilantro or onions, as they’re now waterlogged.)
- Vacuum Sealer. Try this if you have the equipment. Vacuum-sealing is how store-bought guac stays green until you open it.
Can You Make Guacamole From Frozen Avocados?
Because it’s so hard to have perfectly ripe avocados at precisely the moment you want them, you can now buy frozen avocados. They’re peeled, pitted, and diced, and they’re covered with citric acid to prevent them from browning.
So . . . will they work for guacamole?
I made two batches on the same day—one from fresh avocados, the other from frozen—so everything else was the same. The cilantro was from the same bunch, the juice came from the same lime, and it was served with the same chips and loaded quesadillas.
It took longer than expected for the frozen avocados to thaw. I was told to expect about 20–30 minutes on the counter. I waited 40 minutes, and they were still stiff enough that I had to work the potato masher pretty hard. (Good upper body workout for me that day.) The verdict: I recommend putting them in the refrigerator the night before.
In the unofficial, totally unscientific taste test in my house, half the tasters said they couldn’t tell a difference. The other half said the frozen avocados made good guac, but not as heavenly as fresh avocados. I’m big on texture—which is an important factor in good guac—and I thought the texture of the frozen avocados wasn’t quite the same. The verdict: Use frozen if you need to, but fresh if you have them.
Finally, because frozen avocados are treated with citric acid as a preservative, I cut the lime juice in half. I used only enough to make the guac creamy.
In the future, however, I’ll use fresh avocados when I can get them, and I’ll leave the frozen avocados for emergency guac or for smoothies.
What Goes With Guacamole?
First, pile it on any Mexican or Southwestern food.
- Tortilla chips
- Loaded nachos
- Loaded quesadillas with guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream
- Southwestern salads with guacamole, tomatoes, black beans, onions, peppers, and tortilla strips
- Burrito bowls with lettuce, rice, guacamole, tomatoes, black beans, corn, and your choice of meat
Beyond that, try it on things you might not have considered.
- Dip for veggies
- Omelets or scrambled eggs
- BLT sandwiches—or any sandwiches!
- Sweet potatoes
© 2021 Christy Marie Kent