Guacamole

Chef Debra prepares traditional guacamole for Cinco de Mayo.

Makes about 2 cups of Guacamole

The base of most traditional guacamoles have the following 4 ingredients:

  • Avocados
  • White onion
  • Lime
  • Cilantro. 

While Americans often enjoy Guacamole as a dip, another use is as a condiment in many Mexican dishes. There are many variations so you can make your Guacamole your own: hot or mild, chunky or pureed, herbs and spices of your choices that might include garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, turmeric. The sky is the limit!  Adding diced tomatoes or salsa is controversial for some. I make it like my family likes it and so should you!

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe avocados or 3 medium ripe avocados
  • One fourth white onion finely diced (about one fourth cup)
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro

Ingredient Notes:  The avocados should be slightly soft and not hard. Hard avocados are not yet ripe and will not have the full flavor or creamy texture that is needed. Avocados contain no acid and no salt.  Adding the lime juice helps balance the creamy fat of the avocado. Be sure to add salt to further balance the flavors.  Do not add too much lime juice as it is a myth that it will help keep it from browning. You would have to add so much lime juice that it would completely overpower the mild delicious flavor of the avocado. It is all about balance.

Ingredient Note: Cilantro is also a controversial ingredient. Some people love it, some just don’t prefer it, but there is a third group for whom it tastes like soap. For the third group they have genetic olfactory receptor genes with an acute sensitivity to the aldehydes found in the herb and account for its unique taste and smell. Cilantro adds a bright flavor to the guacamole, so the lime juice helps with that. Other popular substitutes include fresh basil, dill and parsley.

Optional Ingredients to add a spicy element:

  • Hot sauce
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Jalapeno
  • Poblano or serrano pepper

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare any produce before you cut into the avocado. The avocado will immediately begin the inevitable process of breaking down and discoloring the minute it is exposed to air. Citrus juice will help shield the avocado, but it is not fool proof. Start with soaking one quarter of the white onion.

Dice one quarter of the white onion.

Recipe Tips: Onions can be very strong and irritating to your eyes.   Here is a technique to lessen the odor and the sulfides that cause the irritation. The secret is to cut the onion as little as possible at first UNTIL you get a chance to soak it. When your knife cuts through the cell walls of the onion, it releases the offending sulfides into the air causing burning eyes and a runny nose. Soaking the onion layers in cold water for a time helps to remove some of the sulfides that are trapped in the walls and in between the onion layers.

The second tip is to use as sharp a knife as possible. A dull knife will squish and tear the onion as you dice it resulting in more sulfides being released into the air, whereas a sharp blade will cleanly cut through the onion. Using a sharp knife will also be faster resulting in less time your eyes and nose will be exposed to the sulfides.

TBK Tool:  Knife Sharpener with Cut Glove

To do this cut the whole unpeeled onion into quarters so that each quadrant has a piece of the root or stem attached to hold the layers intact. Remove one quarter and set aside on your work tray or cutting board. Store the rest in an airtight bag or container for another use. 

Cut the root or stem tip from the onion quarter so that the layers of the onion fall apart from each other. Discard the onion peel and stem.  Separate the layers and let them soak for about 15 minutes in cold water. This water bath will remove a significant portion of the sulfides but will not affect the onion flavor. Set aside and prepare your other ingredients while it soaks.

TBK Tools:  Work Trays

Step 2: Cut the cilantro (or other leafy herb of your choice). You will need about one half cup of minced fresh herb (plus more for garnish if you desire). 

Recipe Tip: Use scissors and a small bowl to neatly and effectively fabricate the herb leaves into small pieces.

Close-up of Chef Debra's hands using kitchen scissors to chop and slice herbs. She is wearing a green chef's coat.
Chef Debra demonstrates using kitchen scissors to chop and slide herbs while containing the herbs in a small bowl.

Step 2: Juice the limes to produce about one half cup of juice.

Recipe Tip: It is better to produce more juice than less so that you have flexibility to adjust it as you season the final product. If there is leftover juice, store it in the freezer bag that you lay on its side in your freezer so that it freezes into a very thin layer that you can easily break as much as you need for a future recipe. It will thaw quickly and taste as fresh as the day you squeezed it.

TBK Tool: Mesh Strainer

Step 3:  Mince or fine dice the onion. Remove the onion layers from the water bath and pat dry with paper towels. Use the corral method to safely cut the onion into very small pieces and set aside. Read Cutting Safety: The Corral (method 1 of 3).

Step 4:  Now is the time to prepare any optional ingredients such as Jalapeño or Serrano peppers, diced tomatoes or minced garlic. It is a good time to gather any dried herbs or spices you want to add to the mixture.

TBK Tools: Salt and Pepper Cellars, Dry Measure SpoonsLiquid Dropper with Bottle and Funnel (for hot sauce), Garlic Peeler, and Mini Box Grater

Step 5: Now it is time to prepare the avocado. We recommend you use the very safe and effective “Avocado Tool” to perform this task as it can cut, deseed and scoop the avocado very safely. (click here to learn more). Remove the soft inner contents of the avocados and place in a medium mixing bowl. Discard the skin and the seed.

TBK Tools: Avocado Tool

Safely prepare an avocado in 3 steps using the Avocado Tool:

Step 1: Slice

Using the Avocado Tool Step 1, Chef Debra demonstrates slicing the avocado in half lengthwise.
Step 1: Chef Debra slices the avocado in half lengthwise

Step 2: Separate the halves

Avocato Tool Step 2, Chef Debra separates the two halves of the avocado
Step 2: Chef Debra separates the two halves of the avocado.

Step 3: Scoop

Avocado Tool Step 3, Chef Debra scoops out the avocado. Discard the skin and seed
Step 3: Chef Debra scoops out the avocado flesh and adds it to the bowl.

Step 5:  Depending on whether you want a chunky guacamole or a smooth end product, mash the avocado into the texture you want.

Recipe Tip:  A handheld potato masher is a wonderful tool for this step. If you want it chunky, use the potato masher that has a single steel curvy wave design that allows chunks to come between the waves and out to the side. If you desire a smoother outcome, use the manual potato masher that is a stainless steel circle with many smaller holes punched into the circle that has more surface area to further mash the avocado.

Step 6: Add the prepared ingredients: Lime juice, diced onion, cilantro. Add in small amounts at first because you can always add more into the mixture, but you can’t remove it if you put in too much.  It is all about balance and preference. Tasting the mixture very often in this step is crucial to see if you have the right citrus level, the right spice level, the right salt level, and the right level of any seasonings or other produce you have selected. 

Recipe Tip: Once the guacamole is perfect serve it right away if possible. If you are not going to serve it right away, it is important to cover it with plastic wrap touching the surface so that air cannot reach it and cause it to discolor. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh herbs (cilantro) as desired.

Enjoy!

Chef Debra prepares traditional guacamole. She is wearing a green chef's coat
Chef Debra smiling and preparing guacamole with chips. She is using the Avocado Tool to help her cut open the avocados.

Next steps

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