Consider this your guide to making the best guacamole ever.

By Leslie Kelly
Updated February 12, 2021
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It's a tortilla chip's BFF, but guacamole was originally created in the 16th century as a sauce rather than a dip. Let's raise a toast to the Aztecs for coming up with this simple dish that has become a party essential.

The best thing about this red hot green stuff? It's so versatile. It can be a munch-able masterpiece whether it's a simple, super easy recipe or something fancy with a long list of ingredients. It can be mild or fiery hot.

How to Make Guacamole Step-by-Step

We'll be using Chef John's Classic Guacamole recipe as a guide, but you can always add or subtract ingredients based on your tastes (keep reading for more twists on classic guac). Before you get started be sure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment:

Here's What You'll Need:

1. Ripe Avocados

There are some methods for ripening an unripe avocado, but we suggest either buying firm avocados and allowing them time to ripen or buying ripe ones and using them immediately. Let them ripen in a brown bag on the counter, testing for ripeness by gently pushing on the stem end. It typically takes a day or two to ripen.

2. Citrus

Lemon juice, or lime is traditionally used to season this fruit — yes, avocados are a fruit! — but feel free to mix it up and try a squeeze of grapefruit or blood orange. It's important to get the citrus mixed in the guac because it prevents the green flesh from turning brown. While some recipes suggest adding the pit to prevent oxidation, that's a myth. It's the acid in the citrus that slows the process.

3. A Sharp Knife

From the stem end, slice the avocado in half. Twist to separate the halves. Press the blade firmly into the pit and wiggle it. That should be enough to coax it from its home. Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl and sprinkle with citrus.

4. Avocado Smashing Device

If you don't own a molcajete, the Mexican version of mortar and pestle, a fork or a potato masher will work just fine for turning chunks of avocado into the dip known as guacamole. While some recipes call for blending in a food processor, it's easy to over mix and turn guac into something that resembles baby food, so you're better off smashing them by hand with one of those tools.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh serrano chili
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • ¼ cup finely diced white onion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt for grinding vegetables, plus more to taste
  • 4 large Hass avocados
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes, drained (Optional)
  • 1 lime, juiced, or more to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place minced peppers, 1/4 cup of the chopped cilantro, and the diced onions on a cutting board. Chop them together into very small pieces. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Using the flat side of the knife blade, smear the mixture to work it into a paste, and chop again to achieve as fine a texture as possible.
  2. Stem, halve, and pit the avocados. Scoop out flesh and place in a bowl.
  3. Add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, onion and serrano mixture, salt, and fresh lime juice. Mash with a potato masher to desired texture (smooth or chunky), five or six minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.

Guacamole Recipe Inspiration

Here's a quick guide to sprucing up your guac style. Choose one, two or all of the ingredients from the list and spice it up with our recommended spice combinations to make something truly yours.

1. Traditional Mexican Guacamole

a small bowl of guacamole with tomatoes and chili pepper
Traditional Mexican Guacamole
| Credit: Molly

Ingredients: Avocado, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, lemon or lime juice, chopped green onions, red pepper sauce, salt and pepper, chili powder, garlic powder

2. Japanese Fusion Guacamole

Ingredients: Avocado, mango, edamame, cilantro, serrano pepper, sriracha sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger root, wasabi, shiso leaves, ground white pepper, garlic powder

3. Habanero Guacamole

guacamole and tortilla chips up close with chopped peppers
Credit: Stirring up Trouble

Ingredients: Hot peppers (Jalapeno, habanero, serrano, chipotle peppers), sriracha sauce, red pepper sauce, salsa, sour cream, fire-roasted tomatoes, cayenne pepper, wasabi, chipotle powder, ground white pepper, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, salt and pepper

What to Serve With Guacamole

Of course chips and guacamole are a match made in heaven — try these homemade tortilla chips or even sweet potato chips. But you can also try dipping fresh veggies like bell peppers or carrots in your guac. Or skip the cocktail sauce and use guac as a dip for shrimp!

If you're not in the mood to dip, try spreading guacamole on toast, adding it to burrito bowls, or as a topping for crab cakes. The options are endless!

How to Store Guacamole

When avocado meets oxygen, an enzyme in the avocado flesh turns brown in a process known as oxidation. The best way to prevent this from happening is to serve and eat your guacamole immediately, but we know life happens.

If you do have leftover guacamole, here's what you need to do: Transfer guac to an airtight container and use a spoon to flatten the surface. Add about 1/2 inch of water on top, making sure to cover the entire surface. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap, and store in the fridge for up to three days. Simply pour out the water and stir when you're ready to serve.

You can also freeze guacamole for up to five months by placing it in a resealable plastic bag, squeezing out the air, and sealing. For more, read our guide to freezing avocado.

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