Guacamole! Did you know that over 2 billion pounds of avocados are consumed each year in the U.S.? (Google it.) That's over 7 pounds per person. I'm guessing that most of those avocados go into what has become America's favorite dip, guacamole.
Where Does Guacamole Come From?
The word "guacamole", and the dip, are both originally from Mexico, where avocados have been cultivated for thousands of years. The name is derived from two Aztec Nahuatl words—ahuacatl (avocado) and molli (sauce).
Video: How to Make Perfect Guacamole
Ingredients for Easy Guacamole
All you really need to make guacamole is ripe avocados and salt. After that, a little lime or lemon juice—a splash of acidity—will help to balance the richness of the avocado. Then if you want, add chopped cilantro, chiles, onion, and/or tomato .
Guacamole Tip: Use Ripe Avocados
The trick to making perfect guacamole is using ripe avocados that are just the right amount of ripeness. Not ripe enough and the avocado will be hard and tasteless. Too ripe and the taste will be off.
Check for ripeness by gently pressing the outside of the avocado. If there is no give, the avocado is not ripe yet and will not taste good. If there is a little give, the avocado is ripe. If there is a lot of give, the avocado may be past ripe and not good. In this case, taste test first before using.
The Best Way to Cut an Avocado
To slice open an avocado, cut it in half lengthwise with a sharp chef's knife and twist apart the sides. One side will have the pit. To remove it, you can do one of two things:
- Method #1: Gently tap the pit with your chef's knife so the knife gets wedged into the pit. Twist your knife slightly to dislodge the pit and lift to remove. If you use this method, first protect your hand with a thick kitchen towel before proceeding.
- Method #2: Cut the side with the pit in half again, exposing more of the pit. Use your fingers or a spoon to remove the pit
Once the pit is removed, just cut the avocado into chunks right inside the peel and use a spoon to scoop them out.
- Still curious? Read more about How to Cut and Peel an Avocado
Once you have basic guacamole down, feel free to experiment with variations including strawberries, peaches, pineapple, mangoes, even watermelon. One classic Mexican guacamole has pomegranate seeds and chunks of peaches in it (a Diana Kennedy favorite). You can get creative with homemade guacamole!
- Simple Guacamole: The simplest version of guacamole is just mashed avocados with salt. Don't let the lack of availability of other ingredients stop you from making guacamole.
- Quick guacamole: For a very quick guacamole just take a 1/4 cup of salsa and mix it in with your mashed avocados.
- Don't have enough avocados? To extend a limited supply of avocados, add either sour cream or cottage cheese to your guacamole dip. Purists may be horrified, but so what? It tastes great.
Here Are a Few Other Guacamole Recipes to Try
- Spicy Three-Chile Guacamole
- Strawberry Guacamole
- Guacamole with Charred Sweet Corn, Bacon, and Tomato
- Copycat Chipotle Guacamole
- Bacon and Blue Cheese Guacamole
Other Ways to Use Guacamole
Guacamole has a role in the kitchen beyond a party dip, of course. It's great scooped on top of nachos and also makes an excellent topping or side for enchiladas, tacos, grilled salmon, or oven-baked chicken.
How to Store Guacamole
Guacamole is best eaten right after it's made. Like apples, avocados start to oxidize and turn brown once they've been cut. That said, the acid in the lime juice you add to guacamole can help slow down that process, and if you store the guacamole properly, you can easily make it a few hours ahead if you are preparing for a party.
The trick to keeping guacamole green is to make sure air doesn't touch it! Transfer it to a container, cover with plastic wrap, and press down on the plastic wrap to squeeze out any air pockets. Make sure any exposed surface of the guacamole is touching the plastic wrap, not air. This will keep the amount of browning to a minimum.
You can store the guacamole in the fridge this way for up to three days.
If you leave the guacamole exposed to air, it will start to brown and discolor. That browning isn't very appetizing, but the guacamole is still good. You can either scrape off the brown parts and discard, or stir them into the rest of the guacamole.
How to Make Perfect Guacamole
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of minced red onion or thinly sliced green onion
- 1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped
- A dash of freshly grated black pepper
- 1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
- Red radishes or jicama, to garnish
- Tortilla chips, to serve
Cut the avocado, remove flesh:
Cut the avocados in half. Remove the pit. Score the inside of the avocado with a blunt knife and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. (See How to Cut and Peel an Avocado.) Place in a bowl.
Mash with a fork:
Using a fork, roughly mash the avocado. (Don't overdo it! The guacamole should be a little chunky.)
Add salt, lime juice, and the rest:
Sprinkle with salt and lime (or lemon) juice. The acid in the lime juice will provide some balance to the richness of the avocado and will help delay the avocados from turning brown.
Add the chopped onion, cilantro, black pepper, and chiles. Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. So, start with a half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness.
Remember that much of this is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.
Chilling tomatoes hurts their flavor, so if you want to add chopped tomato to your guacamole, add it just before serving.
Serve immediately, or if making a few hours ahead, place plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole and press down to cover it and to prevent air reaching it. (The oxygen in the air causes oxidation which will turn the guacamole brown.) Refrigerate until ready to serve.