This Basic Guacamole Recipe Is The ONLY One You Need

Illustrated By Ly Ngo.
By J. Kenji López-Alt 

and I have come a long way together. It's one of the earliest foods I remember eating. My mother would make a batch heavy with tomato and onion every time we had a potluck event at my school. I'd hit it first, knowing that it'd soon be too brown for me to eat without grossing myself (or friends) out.

I remember eating guacamole on the back porch of a Cape Cod vacation home. We were each quietly browning in our own way — me from the afternoon rays of New England sunshine filtering through the scrub oaks, the avocado dip from the effects of the oxygen-rich breeze gently rolling in off the surf.

Guacamole was the very first dish I learned how to make — unless you count heating up a frozen chicken potpie or pouring hot water into a Cup O' Noodles — and, as a consequence, was ground zero for my kitchen experimentations. It stuck with me through my awkward formative years in the kitchen, a gentle, creamy backdrop for the follies I foisted upon it. Ever try pouring fancy balsamic vinegar into your guacamole? Or, how about roasting your avocado before mashing it? These are things I strongly advise against, and certainly not in mixed company.

I've come to realize in my 25-odd-year relationship with the dip that the best guacamole is the simplest. Which is not to say there's no stone left unturned.

It's really no wonder that guacamole was the first thing I learned how to make. It wouldn't surprise me if that's true of a lot of you Serious Eaters. I mean, I know people who can't make anything but guacamole. 

So, this Super Bowl Sunday, whip up a bowl of the good stuff for everyone to enjoy. 
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 serrano chili, roughly chopped
1/2 cup picked cilantro leaves, finely chopped, divided
2 tsp kosher salt
4 ripe avocados
2 tbsp juice from 2 limes

Place onion, chili, half of the cilantro leaves, and salt in a mortar and pestle. Pound into a fine paste. Alternatively, combine onion, chili, half of the cilantro, salt, and half of the lime juice in a food processor or blender and process until smooth paste is formed, scraping down sides as necessary.

Split each avocado in half, discard pits, and spoon out flesh into a medium bowl. Roughly mash with a stiff whisk. Add onion/chili puree, remaining cilantro leaves, and half of the lime juice (if using mortar-and-pestle method). Fold to combine. Season to taste with more salt and lime juice. Serve immediately with warm tortilla chips.

More from Food & Drinks


R29 Original Series