real life test kitchen: holy guacamole!


I don’t usually need an excuse to eat fresh guacamole, but I’ve got one today: It’s Cinco de Mayo! What I love about this ingenious Mexican dip is that after you mash the avocados, you can basically improvise. Out of curiosity, I consulted three culinary bibles—the The Joy of Cooking, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and Ruth Reichl’s The Gourmet Cookbook. To give you an idea of their differences, Joy suggests mixing in “chopped fresh cilantro,” while Bittman merely uses it as a garnish. But Bittman does happen to be a believer in adding a “perfectly ripe” tomato, cored, seeded, and diced, while Reichl relegates tomato to the “variations” category — see, no consensus! So I made up my own recipe. I mashed two avocados, but not too much—a semi-chunky texture was the goal. Then I added diced tomato and white onion, minced garlic, Tabasco green pepper sauce (a substitute for serrano chiles, which I forgot at the store), kosher salt, fresh lime juice, and a dash of Worcestershire (strange, I know, but a Tex-Mex restaurant, Tejas, in my neighborhood uses it and has a rabid fan base). Now tell me: What are your secrets for making the perfect guac? —Megan K.

p.s. To keep the guacamole from turning brown while you wait for your guests, Bittman has a helpful tip: Tuck the pit(s) back into the mixture, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

From our partners

I dice up jicama and mix it in – it gives the guac a nice snappy refreshing taste. But really, any guacamole is good guacamole!


I stir in pureed tomatillos, minced garlic and kosher salt. The acid in the tomatillos adds a little tang and prevents the avocado from oxidizing.

I put the pit back in! I definately works….but do cover it with cling wrap too!

love the tip about sticking the pits back in! thanks for sharing. so interesting. i like cilantro & i use purple onions! lots of garlic salt, too.

My suggestion: If, after you’ve thrown together your guacamole and you find it’s less than perfect, mix together a pitcher of mojitos or the ultimate pomegrante margarita… Anything boozey… Immediately, the guacamole is delicious – everything tastes better when you pull out the tequila! :)

Seriously though, Trader Joe’s has some decent guacamole if you don’t have time to mix up your own… Although I prefer making it myself since it takes about 3 seconds. I love the photo and this post in general, I’m cooking Mexican tonight now thanks to you!


Depends what I have or don’t have on hand, but I always add cilantro and if there’s no green Tabasco sauce I add a hint of store bought salsa or taco sauce. And when making guacamole for kids I always add a spoon of creme fraiche (sour cream is close) ’cause it lightens up the spices and makes it creamier.

I always add some lime juice – this also keeps the avacodos from browning.


Add a pinch of cumin. Also garlic salt can be subsituted for the salt and garlic separately.

megan k.

Thanks for these great tips! I’m going to experiment with some of the new mix-in recommendations. And Joy, you’re so right about the cling wrap–it’s essential for storage. Holly: We’re getting a Trader Joe’s near my house soon, so I’ll have to try their version when I’m in a pinch.

i never heard about the putting back the pit thing- i wonder why it does that?

Christian Stovall

I would recommend replacing the white onions with red ones – adds color and a little more complexity with the flavor. Also, I always put in cilantro (Bitman can be a little crude), garlic and finely diced jalapeño for heat. Lime juice is key for some brightness and to slow discoloration, but the linchpin is the avacados – if they aren’t haas and ripe, you should make something else. Here’s my recipe:

3 ripe hass avacados, roughly mashed
1/2 red onion, evenly diced
jalapeños, finely diced (1 for mild – 2 for not so mild)
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro
kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

One last thing – salsa is a good friend of guacamole, but has no business being in it.


I mash up the avocados (roughly, I like it chunky)
add diced red onion
add fresh (MUST be fresh) cilantro
add lime juice
add louisiana brand hot sauce

Everything is to taste- I like it spicey so usually add a decent amount of hot sauce. This is particularly yummy with the lime tortilla chips and a cold Corona!