Of the many Mexican contributions to the American diet, guacamole is among the most popular. While it has many uses, Americans most often enjoy guacamole as a hearty dip for corn chips or as a creamy topping on their favorite Mexican entrée. Guacamole’s mild flavor and subtle texture go well with countless foods and drinks, making it a perfect fit for any party or celebration.
The typical chunky style of guacamole familiar to most Americans is made by combining pressed avocados with a variety of diced vegetables, and seasonings. But due to avocados’ rich nature, a basic guacamole can be made entirely from mashed avocadoes seasoned with citrus juice, and salt.
The following recipe makes a fully loaded guacamole containing onions, tomatoes, peppers, and other ingredients for flavor and seasoning. But feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking. Also note that other than a detailed explanation on preparing jalapeños, this recipe contains no specialized discussion on chopping vegetables.
INGREDIENTS: Normally in this section, I include detailed measurements for each ingredient. But for the sake of convenience when shopping for produce, I am listing the quantities of each produce item directly below. Then, as each ingredient is discussed in the recipe, I will provide detailed measurements.
- 4 Avocadoes, medium
- 1 Onion, small
- 1 Green onions, bunch
- 1 Roma tomato, medium
- 1 Jalapeño
- 1 Garlic head
- 2 Limes
- 1 Cilantro, bunch
- Black pepper
- Kitchen knife
- Paring knife
- Large mixing bowl
- Spatula or scraper
- Masher or stiff wooden spoon
STEP 1: SELECT AVOCADOES. To make this recipe, you need four ripe avocadoes that will mash easily. To assist you in finding ripe avocadoes, please read on. If you are already familiar with purchasing avocadoes, skip ahead to STEP 2.
The two things to look for when shopping for ripe avocadoes are a dark skin, and a pliable body. Avocadoes start out bright green on the tree and are often picked and sold at that point. However, they are underripe and will be tough and fibrous. You may purchase these avocadoes now, but you will need to let them set a few days on the counter prior to use. As avocadoes ripen, the skin darkens. The skin of a ripe avocado will have a dark brown to an almost black color. Further, the flesh beneath the skin will yield to moderate pressure from your thumb.
As pictured above, the bright green avocado is under-ripe. When cut open, the flesh is firm and will not easily separate from the pit or skin. The skin of the middle avocado is much darker but, up close, still has hints of green. Its flesh is softer and smoother than the green avocado, but is still somewhat firm. The darkest skinned avocado pictured above is fully ripe. Its flesh is very soft with deep green and yellow hues. You may easily separate the flesh from the skin and pit, and its texture is not unlike slightly chilled butter. It is not necessary for the skin to be black. Rather, look for avocadoes with an evenly dark skin color and soft flesh.
To avoid purchasing avocadoes that are overripe, apply pressure with your thumb to the stem-end of the avocado. If you feel no resistance, as if there is an air pocket underneath, it is best to avoid that particular avocado.
STEP 2: DICE ONIONS. For this recipe, you will only need approximately 1/4 cup of small diced onions, or 1-1.5 oz. by weight. To get this amount, dice half of a small onion and reserve. Note that any type of onion may be used for this recipe such as white, brown, red, etc.
STEP 3: SLICE GREEN ONIONS. As with the whole onions, you will only need about 1/4 cup green onions, or a touch less than .5 oz. To get this amount, you will likely need no more than two green onions. After washing the green onions, cut off the white ends and discard or reserve for other uses. Then, slice the greens into 1/8-1/4 inch slices. Reserve.
STEP 4: DICE TOMATOES. As with the onions, you will only need approximately 1/4 cup of diced tomatoes. This amount requires one medium Roma tomato, two small Romas, or half of a medium vine or hot house tomato. After washing, dice the tomatoes and reserve. Note that you may seed the tomatoes, if desired, by simply cutting off the tops of the tomatoes before dicing and squeezing out the seeds and pulp into a bowl. Discard the seeds.
STEP 5: PREPARE JALAPEÑOS. This particular recipe calls for one small to medium jalapeño to yield approximately one tablespoon chopped pepper. However, you may use any chili you prefer such as serranos, or habaneros.
This step, and the next two, describe how to specially cut a jalapeño to remove its heat and leave you with a mild guacamole. First, after washing, cut the chili’s top off about 1/4 inch below the stem.
STEP 6: SEED AND DE-RIB THE CHILI. To remove the heat from the jalapeño, you will need to remove the ribs and seeds. To do this, take a small knife and make a single straight cut from the top of the chili to its bottom tip. Spread the chili open to expose all the ribs and seeds. Then, insert the tip of the knife between the flesh of the chili and the pale green rib. Filet the rib off the chili and discard. Repeat for each rib. Wash underneath cold water, if necessary, to remove additional seeds that are sticking to the flesh.
STEP 7: DICE CHILIS. With the stem, ribs, and seeds removed, your jalapeño is now ready for adding flavor, but not heat, to your guacamole. Simply slice the jalapeño lengthwise, then cross-wise, for a small dice. Reserve.
STEP 8: MINCE GARLIC. You will only need one clove of garlic for this recipe, or about 1/2 teaspoon prepared. Peel, then fine chop, mince, or press the garlic clove as desired. Avoid jarred garlic as its use will overwhelm the other fresher and subtler flavors.
STEP 9: CHOP CILANTRO. You will only need about 3/4 teaspoon of chopped cilantro for this recipe, or approximately four or five cilantro stems. From your bunch of cilantro, select four or five stems, wash them, and tear off the stems about one inch below the start of the leaves as pictured. Fine chop, and reserve.
STEP 10: PREPARE THE LIME JUICE. You will need about four teaspoons of fresh lime juice for this recipe. The amount of juice available in limes can be finicky depending on the quality of the limes available to you, and the manner in which it is juiced. But generally, plan on juicing three lime halves or three whole key limes. While you may adjust the amount of juice to your liking, citrus juice is the single ingredient that you should not omit completely. The citrus juice prevents the guacamole from browning excessively, and will cut through the richness of the avocadoes.
STEP 11: PREPARE THE AVOCADOES. For this recipe, you will need four medium avocadoes, which is approximately three cups of diced avocadoes, or 12 oz. by weight. It is important to cut the avocadoes last as they will start browning immediately. To prepare the avocadoes, take a large knife and cut lengthwise through the stem until you reach the pit. Slowly work your blade lengthwise around the pit until you reach your initial entry point. Place the knife down, and grabbing opposite halves of the avocado with your hands, simply twist each half in opposite directions. The halves should split in two with one half retaining the pit. Remove the pit with a spoon and discard. Now separate the flesh from the skin with a spoon, and place the avocado halves into a large mixing bowl.
STEP 12: PRESS THE AVOCADO. To the avocado halves, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and most of the lime juice. Then, with a potato masher or a stiff wooden spoon, press the avocadoes against the bowl until a semi-smooth texture is achieved. You now have a basic guacamole.
STEP 13: FOLD IN REMAINING INGREDIENTS AND SEASON. Now that the base is ready, simply fold in the remaining ingredients with a spatula or bowl scraper. Sample the guacamole and season with additional salt, pepper, and lime juice if needed. For a chunkier guacamole, add additional chopped vegetables. When the flavor meets your approval, serve.
SERVING GUACAMOLE: Guacamole may be served immediately, but must be refrigerated if stored. To minimize browning during refrigeration, reduce the guacamole’s exposure to air. Place it in an airtight plastic container and lay plastic wrap directly against its surface. Browning will still occur but will be minimal. If browning does appear, simply stir the guacamole to redistribute the ingredients prior to serving. If stored properly, fresh guacamole is good for three to four days.
Surprisingly versatile, guacamole is more than just a dip for corn chips. It can be an appetizer, a topping, a spread, a side dish, or even a sauce. And because it is so satisfying, even in its most basic form, guacamole is easily adjusted to accommodate most any person’s palate. Further, its fresh ingredients and vibrant colors will make it a welcome addition to any dish in which it is used, or any celebration you are hosting. So experiment away and discover which ingredient combinations you enjoy most and which dishes you will love it on!