If life gives you (perfectly ripe) avocados, make guacamole. Otherwise, buy this.
Let’s be real — nothing beats a batch of fresh guacamole. Even the most simple guacamole recipe creates a divinely creamy bite our tortilla chips can’t get enough of. We’d live off of the stuff if we could (avocados have healthy fats... so beach bodies here we come!). But how often do your really have a couple of perfectly ripe avocados at your disposal? Not very. That’s when store-bought guac comes to rescue.
WATCH: Bacon-Pimiento Guacamole
We gathered our staff (yes, our jobs are hard) to taste and rate seven popular guacamole options you can snag at the grocery store. Because look, it’s really important to know that in a few weeks, when we’re laying out poolside or beachside in the summer sun, sipping frosty beers and attempting to stay reasonably hydrated, we’ll have an already-made container of guac waiting for us in the fridge. And that container needs to be the best one out there. Yes, we realize that sounds more “extra” than a side of guac at Chipotle… but you’ll thank us later.
Collectively referred to as “baby food,” this brand was as disappointing as it gets. Tasters used colorful terms—like “runny,” “watery,” “chemically,” “weird,” and even “icky”—to describe the green puree. Point being, we’re gonna stay clear of this one when backyard barbecue season rolls around.
Boasting actual pieces of tomato and onion, this packaged guacamole appeared the most promising. Unfortunately, the flavor didn’t quite hold up. Staffers described each scoopfull as bland with a subtly strange aftertaste. Though everyone agreed the flavor was relatively inoffensive, it’s not something we’d intentionally reach for in the store, unless it was the only option.
Trader Joe’s Avocado’s Number Guacamole to Go, $3.99
Squeezed out of individual-sized packets, this variety received votes for “not the best, but not the worst.” Some noted the flavor to be a little preservative-heavy, sour, and overly garlicky. Though not inedible, it’s probably not one we’ll be slipping into our lunch bags.
The Backup-Plan Guacamoles
Trader Joe’s Reduced-Guilt Chunky Guacamole, $3.99
We tried one lighter take on classic guacamole, and staffers offered mixed reviews. We unknowingly dipped tortilla chips into a Greek yogurt and avocado blend which, promises 50% less fat and 40% less calories than regular guacamole.
Given that this was a blind tasting, participants spent a lot of time trying to wrap their heads around what the very apparent difference in this dip could be. The color (which is a very pale green) was off putting to most. Though the flavor was fine, it didn’t fool anyone into thinking they were digging into classic guacamole. As one staffer described it, “It tastes like they’re hiding something.” That said, if you intentionally purchased this option for its lightness… you’d probably be okay with looking past the fact that it’s not your standard guac.
If there’s one thing staffers loved about this guac it’s the chunks of real avocados. It’s not often you come across a packaged avo-dip that has some real texture to it. The major critique from tasters is that this brand is seriously lacking acidity. One reviewer said, “I like that you can see chunks of avocado. Fresh tasting, but needs more acid.”
If you’re not eternally wed to traditional guacamole, this provides a great twist on the classic and feels a little fresher than any packaged option. Simply mix fresh avocados with the salsa-like sealed bag and BAM you have yourself a delicious, nearly-homemade dip. However, this mix-in, semi-homemade option does require that you have ripe avocados on hand, so it loses a couple of convenience points when compared to the other contenders.
Tasters agreed the flavor was more reminiscent of salsa verde blended with avocados than of traditional guacamole. Some reviewers were concerned it wasn’t guacamole-like enough to even be compared to the other contenders, but almost everyone agreed it was very pleasantly flavorful. One reviewer said, “I like the salsa verde and smokiness. It would be so good on a taco!”
The Perfect Guacamole
Whole Foods Guacamole, $7.99 per pound
If there was a truly perfect pre-made guacamole this would be it—and at this price point, it better be delicious. Whole Foods makes this guac fresh, and it truly tastes like what you might mix up in your own kitchen. One reviewer said, “Perfect texture. Perfect spice. Did I mention it is perfect?” Others commented on how smooth and creamy it was, and the flavor boost from fresh cilantro and garlic exceeded our expectations for a store-bought container. So, moral of the story: Fresh is always best. But when time isn’t on your side, Whole Foods offers a convenient, pricey alternative to making it on your own, and we could definitely eat it for days.