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How to Make Guacamole

Created December 8, 2016
10-Minute Fresh Guacamole
Holy guacamole! It’s so easy.


We’re all about a great, customizable base recipe at Pillsbury. Case in point: Our new basic guacamole recipe contains just avocados, lime juice, hot sauce and salt.

Now, is this basic guacamole good? Absolutely. It’s a no-fuss, essential recipe that doesn’t NEED anything else. But we’re never going to be satisfied with just one version of a delicious thing. We figured, why stop there? So we came up with three spin-off recipes that all start with this addictively simple avocado dip.

These are all delicious (and literally every person on the Pillsbury team will vouch for that), but I personally think the 10-Minute Fresh Guacamole is the most exciting one, and this is my lazy-person reason why: Instead of chopping up ingredients like tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic (ugh, so much chopping), you just add fresh store-bought Pico de Gallo salsa. You know, the one made with—yep—fresh chopped tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic. This two-second shortcut adds a ton of bright flavor with zero extra work for you. It really is the easiest, most restaurant-like guacamole you’ll ever make.

Excited? Yeah, you are! Let’s talk guac—starting, of course, with the avocados.

How to Select an Avocado

Real talk: Guacamole is only as good as the avocados you start with, so you want to make sure you pick good ones. Ripe, but not too ripe. (Unless you intentionally choose ones that aren’t ripe yet, but more on that in a second). Guac is ALL ABOUT the avocados—that’s why it’s so good!—but those mysterious alligator pears aren’t always easy to judge by their green, bumpy covers. Here’s how to tell if you’re buying one that’s ripe for using right away, or one that will be at its peak in a day or two.

How do you know if an avocado is ripe? You can identify ripe avocados by looking at two things: their texture, and their color.

  • How does the avocado feel? Ripe avocados have just a little give when you squeeze them in your hand (gently; you don’t want to bruise them). There should be some resistance to the pressure you apply. Unripe avocados are hard and very difficult to squeeze, while overripe ones will have a lot of “give” to them, and or no resistance to any pressure, as avocados continue softening as they ripen.
  • How does it look under the hood? Another way to tell if one is ripe is to peel back the small stem, or “steam button,” at one end of the fruit (and yes, it’s a fruit). If the flesh you see underneath is a true avocado green (but in a good way, not in an outdated-fridge way), you’re good to go! But if it’s a paler green with a white-ish hue, it’s not ripe yet. And if the flesh is mushy or soft and getting a bit brown, you’ve missed the window on that one.

What does a ripe avocado look like on the outside? Hard to say. Different types of avocados will have different appearances at various stages of ripeness, so judging an avocado by its color isn’t the most reliable method. Judging by feel and interior color is the best. Take a look:

Ripe and unripe avocodos

The avocado on the left is just turning ripe. The avocado on the right is overripe and even has some dark spots in the fruit on the inside.

How far in advance can you buy them? If you want to make guacamole tonight, buy avocados that are already ripe. Ripe avocados can turn overripe quickly, so make sure you consume them within 1-2 days. But if you’re shopping in advance and want to make guacamole a few days from now, choose ones that aren’t ripe yet. This buys you some time, but you’ll still want to keep an eye on them once you’re home; generally unripe avocados won’t be good to eat beyond 4-5 days.

How can you make an avocado ripen faster? A tried-and-true trick is to put your unripe avocados in a brown paper bag for a few days (along with a banana or apple, if you have one). The bag helps trap natural gasses that fruits give off, and they’ll ripen faster when kept together without too much ventilation.

How should you store avocados? Uncut, unripe avocados can be stored a few ways. If you want to let them ripen at their natural pace, just leave them out at room temperature until you’re ready to use them. If you’d like to prolong the life of an uncut, unripe avocado a little bit, you can slow down the ripening process by storing them in the refrigerator. However, like other fruits, time in the fridge can negatively affect the texture of an avocado. So you can do it, but I can’t promise that you’ll like it.

How do you keep cut avocados from turning brown? When cut avocados turn brown, it’s because the exposed fruit is oxidizing. This can happen in as little as a few minutes. To prevent browning, squeeze fresh lemon or lime slices onto the exposed surface of a cut avocado right away, and store them cut-side-down in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The acid in the juice will help keep the flesh from browning. Or use our other strategy—always eat the whole avocado.

Should you always buy an extra avocado? Our guacamole recipes call for three avocados each; this will give you about 1.5 cups of mashed avocado depending on the size of the fruit you get. Some people swear by always buying one extra avocado; this way, if one isn’t as ripe as you want or gets bruised, you have one to spare.

What nutrients are in avocados? According to the USDA, one avocado offers 13 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, no cholesterol and 1/3 your daily value of vitamin C. They also contain over 20 grams of unsaturated fat, those good fats that can help you feel full longer, and contribute to healthy skin and nails.

How to Make Guacamole

Finally, we get to the good stuff! We’ll walk through the steps using our favorite recipe:

10-Minute Fresh Guacamole

How to cut an avocado: When it comes to the easiest way ever to cut an avocado, we’re partial to the “slice, twist, thwack” method for this step. Here’s how to do it: Using a knife, SLICE into the avocado towards the pit, all the way around, along the longest side. TWIST the two halves to separate them, and carefully “THWACK!” the blade of a larger knife into the pit. Then you give the knife a little twist, and the pit will pop right out.

Avocados, salt, limes, hot sauce, pico de gallo

Once you’ve cut the avocado in half, we suggest dicing the fruit using a small knife to cut crosswise into the flesh of each half and then scooping it out.

Mashing the ingredients: Next, it’s time to add salt, lime juice and a little hot sauce to your avocados and coarsely mash them together. If you have a special tool you want to use for this, go for it, but avocados are so soft that just a normal dinner fork will do.

Mash chopped avocados

This makes our base recipe. If you’re not adding anything else, you can stop mashing and start eating.

If you’ll be dressing up your guacamole with some tasty add-ins, do that after you’ve mashed the avocados. That way the base is smooth and creamy, and you can mix the other ingredients right in. If you combined all your ingredients at the same time and then mashed them, you’d still get a dip that tastes good, but the tomatoes, onions, etc. would get a little mangled-looking in the process.

Mix in pico de gallo

What other ingredients are good to mix into guacamole? The shorter list would be what isn’t good in guacamole. The saying “everything’s better with bacon” definitely holds true here. And if you like fruit salsa, try adding mango for a sweeter flavor.

What should be the ratio of avocados to other ingredients? You always want there to be more avocado than anything else in the recipe, but the exact ratios will vary based on your individual tastes. You can adjust the amount of lime juice, hot sauce or salt depending on your preferences. And if you’re making mango guacamole and really love mangoes, by all means, feel free to kick up the amount in your recipe until it’s as mango-y as you like. Guacamole is one of those un-recipes that doesn’t need to be exact to be delicious.

How to Serve Guacamole

What type of dishes work best for serving guacamole? You don’t need anything fancy to serve guacamole—a cereal bowl would do, if it’s big enough. At restaurants, guacamole is often prepared and served in a molcajete, which is a stone bowl that’s used both to mash and serve. If you’re making guac at home, you can use any bowl you like. In fact, a regular glass mixing bowl or ceramic cereal bowl will be easier to clean than a molcajete anyway.

What are the best things to eat with guacamole? Guacamole and tortilla chips go together like peanut butter and jelly. Guac also makes a great dip for cut veggies like carrots, bell pepper, celery and even sliced radishes for some extra spice. Instead of chips, you can also use small slices of crisp thick-cut bacon as dippers. You can serve it with small pieces of bread or crostini for a nod to super-trendy avocado toast. Or you can use it to top a burger or a sandwich. Really, a spoonful of guacamole goes with just about anything.

How to Store Guacamole

How long will guacamole stay fresh? If you’re lucky enough to have any extra guacamole, you can store it covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, but it’s always best when fresh.

Why does guacamole turn brown? Like cut avocados, guacamole can turn brown over time when exposed to air. This doesn’t mean that it’s gone bad; it’s perfectly safe to eat guacamole that’s turned brown (as long as you’ve stored it in the fridge). It’s just not the most appetizing thing to look at.

What’s the best way to keep guacamole from turning brown? The best way to keep guacamole from browning is to make sure the surface is totally covered so it doesn’t make contact with air. Our trick is to make sure the surface of the leftover guacamole is as level as possible, and then cover the top with about half an inch of water. Follow this with a fitted lid or plastic wrap to keep it totally safe in your fridge. When you’re ready to eat the rest of your guacamole, you just pour off the water and give the guac a little stir.

What should you do if your guacamole has turned brown already? If your guac does turn brown on top, you can always scrape off that layer to expose the bright green underneath. Or you could just stir it and pretend it never happened. Again, the change in color is caused by harmless oxidization, so as long as you’ve stored it covered in the fridge it will still be safe to eat within 2-3 days.

Now that you know how easy it is to make guacamole, check out our other how-to articles. We’ll show you how to cook (almost) anything!