Before we do anything else, let’s all agree that good guacamole begins with good avocados.
And as a matter of fact, if we did nothing other than mash up a couple of good avocados and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt or two, it’d still be pretty great.
Granted, almost no one stops there. But you could easily enough! The best guacamole tends to be the simplest.
The word guacamole is derived from Ahucatl, a Nahuatl (one of the Aztec languages) word meaning avocado and molli meaning mixture.
I’ll take an avocado mixture as just about the best description of guacamole I’ve seen. Because no two guacamoles are exactly alike. And that’s a good thing.
Now, I like a bit of heat and serrano chiles are perfect for the job. Different crops of peppers have different strengths or heats, so be careful. For me, two serranos – seeds and all – is usually perfect. That said, I’ve seen people use anywhere from none at all to a half dozen! You do you.
I also like jalapenos, but, alas, the Lady Suppertime does not.
By the way, if it turns out to be too hot? Add another avocado. It’s the only way once the heat is in there. Just like salty mashed potatoes, there’s no going backwards.
For the adventurers, yes, I’ve seen a few people use habaneros and even ghost peppers too. There’s an old saying that comes to mind:
You don’t have to be crazy to do that… but it helps.
Unless it’s a pain contest, go with the heat level you like best. After all, it’s your guac, right?
Cilantro. Some people love it, like me, and some people wouldn’t go anywhere near it for a big pile of money. Julia Child hated it. And that’s fine. Use or omit, your call.
Onions. White onions seem to work best, but yellow and red (both of which I almost always have on the counter) are fine too. Or even some scallions.
Lime Juice. I was told once this isn’t so authentic. But I like it, so I add it. I’ve seen others use lemon juice and I’ve tried that. I like lime juice. Does it have to be fresh lime? No, but it helps.
The trick with an avocado is to get it as close to perfectly ripe as you can. A gentle squeeze should yield slightly. Baby bear territory here – not too firm, not too soft, but just right.
And we can’t go just by color. Yes, they tend to darken as they ripen, but the correlation isn’t perfect. Pick it up, feel it. And don’t be that jerk who pops the stem to check – that just ruins it for everyone else. Okay?
We all know the perfectly ripe avocados at the store are already gone. Someone earlier than us got there first. It’s okay. Get the ones that aren’t quite ripe. Take them home and let them ripen on the counter. If you want to speed it up a bit, put them in a paper bag. If you can’t find a paper bag, even though you’d have sworn you had one, welcome to my kitchen. Pull up a chair, I’ll make us margaritas.
Once your avocados seem perfect to you, use them. If you’re not ready, put them in the refrigerator to apply some brakes to the ripening.
Oh, and I prefer Haas avocados for guacamole. Just saying.
Before I had one of these, I just used a bowl, a heavy spoon, and my favorite potato masher. Because a molcajete isn’t terribly safe for kids and grandkids – it’s quite heavy.
And the little kids love to use my potato masher. (Okay, I do too, don’t judge.)
That said, my regular mortar and pestle are way too small for guac anyway. But the molcajete works great for up to four avocados, which is perfect for the three of us.
Though, like I said, it is heavy. I paid about $15 off the shelf and use it for plenty of other things as well. So it’s all good.
First, I grind the onion, peppers, cilantro, and some salt into a thick paste.
Then, I mash in the peeled, seeded, and rough chopped avocados. Stir in the lime juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed.
If I’m feeling fancy, I stir in a seeded tomato, chopped. You see, I like the tomato but it’s not a deal breaker if I don’t have one.
I know, is that all there is? Yes.
Simple, but then you can build on it.
Garnish with a little chopped tomato, onion, and cilantro. Serve with warm tortilla chips. Makes me hungry just looking at it.
Google “guacamole recipe” and you will get almost 37 million results! (As of this moment.) Is mine the best guacamole or even the best ever? It’s pretty good but that seems like a high bar for something so simple.
I’ll tell you what, if you want something different, maybe try Hugh Acheson’s Roasted Poblano and Pecan Guacamole in The Broad Fork cookbook.
Somewhere around here I even have a recipe for Guacamole with Old Bay and Crab.
But learn the basic stuff first. It’s easy, it’s homemade, and it’s inexpensive in season.
Besides, if you don’t like your base, you probably won’t like fancy stuff on top of it anyway.
Homemade Guacamole is so much better than store-bought and easy to make. It's all about the avocados and a few touches to make it your own.
- 4 ripe avocados
- 2 tablespoons white onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 serrano peppers, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- sea salt to taste
- 1 roma tomato, diced (optional)
Grind the onion, cilantro, peppers, and sea salt in a molcajete (or a sturdy bowl with a heavy spoon).
Mash the avocados into the mixture until desired texture, a few small chunks with some texture, but not a puree.
Stir in the lime juice, half a tablespoon at a time until desired taste.
Adjust salt to taste as needed.
Stir in chopped tomato, if desired. Serve with warm tortilla chips.
Guacamole turns brown as it oxidizes. There are no great and sure-fire ways to prevent this. Covering tightly with plastic wrap pushed flat on the surface to remove any air works best for me.