How to make guacamole

Lew Robertson/Getty Images

It’s just avocado mashed in a bowl, right? Wrong.

It is very, very, very hard for me to turn down a bowl of guacamole and tortilla chips. There are few foods that leave me as powerless—but that doesn’t mean I am not silently judging the guacamole the entire time I am shoveling it into my face. I’m also pretty particular about what makes a great guacamole, and I’ve had my share of guacamole that’s too thick, too runny, too spicy, and just plain weird. (I’m pretty sure one was made with mayonnaise.) Guacamole is a simple thing, and although you can trick it out with all sorts of ingredients—jicama, tomatoes, bacon and pimientos—the foundation of the dish should be solid. Here are some pointers:

Start with the Right Avocadoes

This is one of those times when local isn’t best. You want Haas avocadoes (the small, black skinned kind), not Florida avocadoes (the large, green skinned kind). My parents, who live in Florida, have an avocado tree in their backyard so I have experimented many times with those watery, slightly sweet avocadoes. My conclusion? They don’t work. Layer them in a sandwich, or eat them in a salad. But don’t mash them into guacamole. They contain too much water and lack the buttery richness of Hass avocadoes. When picking Haas avocadoes, you want the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) to be slightly soft when you squeeze it. If the little stem at the top of the avocado falls out or comes out easily, that’s also a sign of ripeness.

Mash it by Hand

Step away from your food processor. Guacamole should be smooth but not baby food-smooth. You want some nice chunks of avocado throughout (they are so delicious to scoop up on a tortilla chip). If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork or potato masher until it is coarsely mashed. You also want to do this just before serving—guacamole tends to turn brown after it’s been sitting around for awhile.

You Might Also Be Interested In

Stir in Flavorings

After you mash the avocado, gently stir in chopped cilantro, minced chiles, and diced onion until they are incorporated.

Salt Generously

Add salt to the guacamole. Then taste and see if it needs more salt. (It probably does.) Guacamole is so rich and fatty that it needs a strong amount of seasoning.

You Might Also Be Interested In

Don’t Add Too Much Lime Juice

Lime juice is not like salt—you need less than you probably think. I use a lot of acid, especially lemon juice, when I cook, and I have been guilty of watering down my guacamole with way too much lime juice. For the most balanced flavor and texture, start with a teaspoon of lime juice per avocado, and go from there.