Finally, a fail-safe way to make delicious homemade guacamole.

By Betty Gold
August 28, 2019

To put it simply, the key to making the perfect guacamole is planning ahead. Why? Because the most important thing to getting guac right is finding the right avocados. Don’t leave that for the last minute.

According to Chef Pati Jinich, host of Pati’s Mexican Table on PBS, "The best way to get your guacamole recipe right is by shopping for avocados one or two days before your event and finding the avocados aren’t ripe yet.”

Surprised? So were we. But the logic is simple: “If you wait for an hour before the party, you never know what you’re going to find,” she says. “Sometimes you go to a store and all they have is overripe avocados, and there is really no way to fix that.” Unless you have a super reliable local purveyor, buying ahead is the safest bet. 

This is especially important when prepping guacamole for major events, such as the Super Bowl or Cinco de Mayo because other shoppers are likely stocking up as well.

Unless you can find them locally, Jinich suggests looking for Mexican Hass avocados, which have a dark, pebbly skin and a buttery, creamy texture when ripe. Buy them when their skin is more green than black and they feel hard as a baseball when gently squeezed. Put them in a paper bag with an apple or banana (together they’ll release ethylene gas to hasten ripening), then place them in the warmest area of your kitchen. She suggests a window that receives morning light, or next to your stovetop if you do a lot of cooking.

“They can even be hard the night before, but if you keep them warm and cozy, they will be ripe the next day,” she says. “You have to be kind and considerate to your avocados.”

If you go to the store and all of the avocados are ripe—characterized by darker skin (more black than green), and a slightly soft texture—not all hope is lost. Bring them home and put them in the fridge to prevent them from over-ripening. You can keep them in there for four to five days.

Once you have a perfectly ripe avocado, the rest of the recipe is much more forgiving. We recommend starting with the classic ingredients, then offering guests the option of adding their own toppings. An easy go-to recipe starts with two to three ripe avocados, a generous amount of sea salt or Kosher salt, and one to two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lime juice. To that, you can add chopped cilantro, a little bit of white onion or scallion, and a fresh chopped jalapeño or Serrano chili. Stir to combine.

You can serve that classic, or you can top it off with a handful of pomegranate seeds. Better yet, start a guacamole bar: grab another bowl, and top another version with queso fresco or Feta cheese. Other crowd-pleasing mix-ins include fresh tomatoes, seared chilies, fried chunks of chorizo, crunchy peanuts, or freshly diced pineapple. For a classy spin, you can use crab or lobster meat and season with olive oil.

Give some TLC to the chips, too. Instead of using store-bought, you can easily make tortilla chips at home or opt for baked pita chips. Cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, and jicama sticks are delicious veggie options for dipping.

To preserve leftover guacamole and keep it from browning, stick plastic wrap directly onto the dip instead of over the entire bowl, or cover the dish with a layer of water and pour it off before serving. Though we doubt there will be much leftover.