If pressed, I could tell you in one sentence how to make good guacamole. It's something like that. Crush ripe avocados with finely chopped white onions, a chopped clove of garlic, a pinch of lime juice and salt to taste. But to make great guacamole, it's the small choices between these commas that make the difference. If you stood with me throughout the process, you would pick up dozens of decisions and considerations that are really important. So I thought I could try to be with you longer in this matter – I'm going to take you step by step through my thought process associated with one of my favorite foods.

Good shopping is the key

Like most things that end up on the table, your success or failure depends on how you behave in the market. The most important step in this entire process is to get the perfect avocados. Ripe. But not too ripe. Beautiful, buttery, green fleshy decadence – that's what you're looking for. Sometimes easier said than done.

Guacamole Recipe - The Little Steps That Lead to Great Guacamole

Choosing the right avocados

I spend more time selecting avocados for guacamole than actually preparing them. They want avocados that are ripe and the only way to find out if they have peaked is to rate them one by one. To tell if an avocado is ripe enough or not, hold it in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze it with your fingertips. There should be something like butter that has been coming out of the fridge in an average temperature kitchen for an hour. The giving should be even across the surface of the fruit. Try to imagine whether this amount of giving would result in good mashing ability. Avocados tend to be more mature on the surface and less mature on seeds. Remember when you rate them.

Also look at the color. Overripe avocados (depending on the variety) are usually black with pockets of unstructured softness. I usually don't use the trick where you wiggle the stem button – if it's loose, the avocado is ripe (but possibly too ripe!), But that's another tactic to decode whether there is an avocado in the zone located.

If you buy under-ripe avocados and have a few days before using them, they will continue to ripen over time. If you are in a hurry, avocados mature faster sealed in a paper bag. To slow down the ripening process, put them in the refrigerator (but bring them back to room temperature before use).

Guacamole Recipe - The Little Steps That Lead to Great Guacamole

The right temperature is key

Temperature matters here and you should use room temperature avocados. Since avocados are so high in fat, imagine trying to crush cold butter at room temperature. One gets a lot creamier than the other. So don't try to make guacamole with cold avocados. Serve at room temperature, not chilled.

The concept of guacamole "stretching"

Avocados can be expensive, so many restaurants "stretch" or spill their guacamole with things like chopped tomatoes. I'm not a fan of it. In particular the addition of tomatoes. I don't like how watery tomatoes bump against greasy avocado – it's literally oil and water. I like it when guacamole is about avocado, and unless I throw a few placeholders in the mix (like the ones in my last book), I usually keep them as clean and simple as possible.


In addition – trust your taste buds to balance things out. If you like a little spicy kick, add some chopped serrano pepper. Use salt and lime juice and gradually adjust it until everything tastes right.

Guacamole Recipe - The Little Steps That Lead to Great Guacamole

If you want to improve your guacamole even further, try this popular guacamole with Indian spices, inspired by a Julie Sahni recipe. I also love using these guacamole on these vegan nachos – so good!

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