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The Internet’s Top Guacamole Recipes — Tested, Ranked, And Improved For Cinco De Mayo

I still remember where I was the second I fell in love with guacamole. Up until that point in life, I had, like probably a lot of kids, a basic aversion to green foods. And especially creamy green foods. I think kids see guacamole and imagine creamed spinach or something. My go-to Mexican restaurant order back then was the flautas and I always used to order them without the guac, which seems like pure lunacy to me now.

Then, when I was about 19, my college housemate invited me to go to the beach with his family. After a morning of jetskiing, we staggered back to a foldout table where I watched his mom cut open fresh, ripe avocados, mash them up with a fork, and season them with salt and garlic salt. That was the whole recipe, and we absolutely devoured it like hyenas pulling at a carcass, accompanied by nothing but crappy store-bought Tostitos. The sense memory has stayed with me all these years. That was the day that I became an unabashed avocado piggy. I can’t imagine having people over for Mexican food or Margs (like, say, for a Cinco De Mayo party) and not having some guac on the table.

If you have an abundance of nicely ripe avocados that you’ll be eating seconds after you mash them, I’d still say that basic avocados-salt-garlic salt recipe is ideal (downsides are that it’s not going to keep, at all, and with no fillers, you’re going to need a lot of avocados). That version is proof that under ideal conditions at least, guacamole doesn’t need a lot of frills. Obviously, most times conditions aren’t ideal. And as I’ve grown, my tastes have continued to evolve anyway. For a long time, I was anti-tomatoes in guac. I’ve done a 180 on that, and now I like tomato in the right proportion. It adds a “fresh sweetness.” I also love the thin, green avocado salsa, which isn’t guac, exactly, but is super easy, cheap, and makes a perfect taco drizzler.

The most common guacamole add-ons are garlic, tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and lime or lemon, the latter at least as much to prevent oxidization (which turns guac an unappetizing shade of dull green-grey when you leave it too long) as for flavor. Up to, including, and adding to that basic framework, there are a number of different ways to do things. The internet, naturally, has some popular answers.

As a long-time (and, I’d like to think, pretty decent) guac maker, I thought we could prep for Cinco De Mayo this year by tasting some of the internet’s favorite guacamole recipes, judging them against each other, and maybe synthesizing what we learned for our own best-of-all-worlds recipe. Stay tuned for Vince’s Galaxy Brain Guac Recipe at the bottom.

Based on a Google Search for “best ever guac recipe,” the top five recipes were from Downshiftology (Lisa Bryan), WellPlated (Erin Clarke), Delish (Lena Abraham), AllRecipes (name not given), and FoodNetwork (Alton Brown).

To make it as fair as possible, I tried to make them all within the same short time frame, using the same avocados (I bought some with a little give to them the day before, then stuck them in a paper bag with a banana overnight to get them riper faster), and attempted to accomplish that by creating a guacamole assembly line of sorts. I prepped the most common ingredients first, then did the avocados last.

Mise En Place For Guacamole
Vince Mancini

One quick note on chopping tomatoes here, which can be a pain in the ass. Most guac recipes (and all of these that called for tomatoes) suggest Roma tomatoes, which makes sense, considering you need tomatoes that are decently firm and not too watery for guac, and Romas tend to the be firmest, least watery tomato variety. You’re also going to want to leave out all the seeds and soft inner pulp, which Romas don’t have too much of. That can be kind of a pain in the ass.

Here’s my go-to method for that. First, you slice off a round at the bottom of the tomato — enough to expose the air cavities in the tomato center — and cube those.

Tomato Step One
Vince Mancini

Now, see those air cavities you just exposed? Stick your blade right in one, parallel to the outer wall of the tomato and slice vertically to remove a big rectangular slab.

Tomato Slab
Vince Mancini

Now you’ve got a big rectangular slab. And you know what to do with a rectangle, right? Just brush out the seeds and water off to the side, then cut vertical columns in that slab and then cut horizontal rows in those columns. BOOM, you’re on a one-way train to cube city, bitch, cube cube city, bitch.

You may also notice the three different kinds of onions up there. That’s right, some guac recipes call for white, yellow, or red onions, respectively, and they’re all pretty similar, yet slightly different. But we’ll get to that.

PART I: THE RANKINGS

5. Food Network

Alton Brown Guac
Vince Mancini

Classic Ingredients:

Avo, garlic, tomato, onion, lime, jalapeño, cilantro.

Onion Variety:

Unspecified.

Unique Elements/Ingredients:

Cumin, cayenne pepper, using a potato masher to mash the avocados, leaving it to sit at room temp for an hour before eating.

My Notes:

Looks: very vibrant and bright green, nicely chunky and not too watery.
Nose: Cumin definitely comes through on the nose. Lots of cumin.
Texture: Great texture, but all I taste is cumin. 4/10.

My Wife’s Notes:

“CUMIN?! COME ON! Too much.”

Bottom Line:

Sorry, Alton. Actually, not really, I’ve always taken an instant and instinctive dislike to that guy. His show combined whimsical Wes Andersonian production values with an unsmiling, beady-eyed host with the flat affect of a serial killer to bizarre effect. I always found it uniquely unsettling, like the styling on Big Bang Theory.

Aaaanyway, I thought I was going to hate Alton’s tip about the potato masher, but I tried it and thought, “You know what? Not bad.” If you include the cleaning time it’s probably not much of a time-saver, but there is something satisfying about the avocados not squirting away when you try to smush them. I mean what is this, my sex life? But seriously, folks…

The real killer here was the cumin. Listen, I’ve put cumin in guac before, I don’t think it’s an insane idea. But I used the suggested quantity here and it was all I could taste. None of the other guac recipes had it, and after tasting them all side by side I promise you won’t miss it. Cumin is a great spice, but I feel comfortable saying that you should positively leave it out of your guacamole. I also didn’t let this rest of an hour like it said, but I really doubt that would’ve made any difference. And anyway, f*ck that. It’s guac. At the most, you should wait exactly as long as it takes for your guests to arrive and no longer (assuming you have them — no shame in preparing guac for one, I’ve done it many times).

4. Wellplated

WellPlated Guac Build
Vince Mancini

Classic Ingredients:

Avo, garlic, onion, roma tomato, lime.

Onion Variety:

Red.

Unique Elements/Ingredients:
Lime and lemon, plus “6-8 dashes hot sauce,” Worchestershire sauce, and black pepper.

My Notes:

Looks: Smoother as a result of the liquid sauces, and darker green from the Worchestershire. Less appealing to me.
Nose: Smells like ripe avo. Good.
Taste: Taste is very citrusy, but also with a weird vinegar note. It has a soy sauce-y, oily quality to it. It’s okay, but not what I think of when I think of avocado. 5/10

My Wife’s Notes:

“Least favorite by far, Worchesteshire heavy — why?? Watery/saucy.”

Bottom Line

Lemon? Fine. Black pepper? Why not? I usually put black pepper on my avocado toast, so that makes sense (this is why I’m so poor!). Hot sauce instead of chilis? Eh (I used Tapatio here). It saves you time, but adds water, which is guac’s enemy, for both flavor and texture. Worcestershire sauce? That’s gonna be a big no from me, dog. I see where they were going with this, trying to add a fishy funk (from the anchovy paste in Worcestershire) and an umami punch to their guacamole, but it just adds a weird vinegar note, not to mention makes the guac slightly darker in color and a smidge more watery. In fact, this one has four separate liquids — lime, lemon, hot sauce, and Worchestershire. The last is the worst of them because to me it tastes distinctly un-Mexican. Not to mention its worst sin, being annoying as shit to type. I think you could accomplish the same effect here better with some Maggi seasoning, which actually is widely used in Mexican and Mexican-American cooking and snacks, and is much more concentrated than W-fuck typing that again-shire.

Whether you need to accomplish that effect remains to be seen. I’m going to say no.

I was actually curious how the red onions and lemon juice here (this recipe had a distinctly Greek flair) affected the finished product, but, thanks to the hot sauce and War Chest The Shire, I couldn’t really taste it. For what it’s worth, my current favorite pico de gallo recipe has lemons instead of limes, so I don’t think that is a bad call in and of itself.

3. Delish

Delish1
Vince Mancini
Delish2
Vince Mancini

Classic Ingredients:

Avocado, lime, onions, cilantro, jalapeño.

Onion Variety:

white.

Unique Elements/Ingredients:

No tomato or garlic.

My Notes:

Looks: Nice bright green to look at, and lighter and chunkier because of the lack of water. Nice.
Nose: Pure avo.
Taste: Nice creamy texture, plus a little crunch from the onion. Needs a little salt so I added some. Beautiful texture but I do miss the garlic. And yeah probably the tomatoes too. 6/10.

My Wife’s Notes:

“Most plain, too bland compared to the rest, good choice for boring people.”

Bottom Line:

This one is simple, and keeping it simple while omitting the watery tomatoes gives it one of the best textures. This one is fine as a time saver, and it uses white onions, which would be my first instinct as well, but my biggest objection to it is the lack of garlic. I probably wouldn’t leave out tomatoes, but I definitely wouldn’t leave out garlic. That’s an absolute guac necessity, in my opinion. This was fine, but it just felt unfinished, especially judged head-to-head with the others.

2. AllRecipes

Allrecipes guacamole 1
Vince Mancini
All Recipes2
Vince Mancini

Classic Ingredients:

Avocado, lime, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic.

Onion Variety:

Unspecified.

Unique Elements/Ingredients:

Dried cayenne pepper.

My Notes:

Looks: More or less like guac should — chunky but creamy, not too wet, not too dry.
Nose: more onion-y on the nose, but I did use the yellow onions for this one, which seems slightly stronger.
Taste: Fresh, creamy, and definitely garlic-heavy, but pretty good. There’s a vague hit of dry spice, but not in a bad way. 7.5/10

My Wife’s Notes:

“Good — missing one extra thing to make it great. It either needs more spice or more salt.”

Bottom Line:

This one is… pretty good. Mostly it’s a pretty classic guac — tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic. Cayenne is the outlier ingredient. The plus side of cayenne is that it’s a decent time saver. By far the biggest pain in the ass of guac (or salsa) making is cutting and de-seeding chilies. It’s a lot of small knife cuts, and a lot of hand washing. I wear gloves when I cut chilis now. Maybe that seems like overkill, but I’ve gotten chili fingers on my (and, on at least one occasion, other peoples’) genitals before and it is NOT fun. I used to work in a Chinese restaurant where I did a fair amount of chili handling, and at a certain point you can wash your hands all you want but that hot oil is going to be so deep in your finger grooves that your fingers are going to be deadly heat weapons for the next few hours.

Aaaanyway, powdered cayenne is a valiant attempt to skip all the chopping and maybe accidentally giving yourself or your significant other (or these days, my infant son) a pepper crotch. It also takes the guesswork out of the heat that comes with jalapeños, some of which are damn near as hot as scotch bonnets, and others of which are damn near as mild as bell peppers. BUT, I do think you lose some noticeable chili flavor without jalapeños. No one would complain about this guac if you served it, but it was slightly not quite as good as my top pick.

1. Downshiftology

Downshift Guac 1
Vince Mancini
Downshift Guac 2
Vince Mancini

Classic Ingredients:

Avocado, lime, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño

Onion Variety:

Yellow.

Unique Elements/Ingredients: None to speak of, though it does have double the garlic of the other two recipes that included garlic.
My Notes:

Texture is very chunky. It looks nice though, very fresh and giving the impression that it’s going to balance well on a chip.
Taste: The taste is a really nice balance of creamy, garlicky, cilantro, lime, and crunch. It’s definitely pretty garlicky, but for the most part I have no notes. This is what I think of as a very classic guac, and it’s hard to quibble with much. 8/10

My Wife’s Notes:

“Garlic heavy. Tastes a lot like [Vince’s Galaxy Brain guac, which she tasted at the same time] though not as “fresh and delish”.”

Bottom Line:

This is a classic guac. It’s going to make your breath smell like garlic, but who do you really have to impress anyway? You should be so lucky. I don’t feel like I need to “fix” this one, but I do think a couple pretty small tweaks are in order to make it just a smidge better. Which brings me to…

PART II: Vince’s Galaxy Brain Guacamole Recipe

Okay, before I get to this I’m going to do what all internet recipe writers do and put lots of words above it, solely to piss you off. Whatever, indulge me. And anyway, I feel compelled to explain why I did what I did here.

The Lime/Lemon Acid Conundrum: Guac needs citric acid, both to slow down oxidation and for flavor. The downside is that it’s also liquid, which isn’t great for guac texture, and you can also easily overdo it. I love a nice tart pico, but over-limed guac, like the kind you get at Chipotle (which I assume they over-lime to keep from oxidizing) honestly sucks. I don’t even consider Chipotle guac guacamole, I don’t know why anyone would drop an extra two bucks on that one-note garbage.

Vince’s Solution:

Tajin
Vince Mancini

Tajín. If you’ve ever had fruit at a Mexican fruit stand or street corn I’m willing to bet you’ve seen this stuff. In Guadalajara, street vendors mix it with Maggi and put it on potato chips (it’ll give you high blood pressure, but at least you’ll eat well). Its main ingredients are chili powder and… dehydrated lime juice. Which seemed perfect for our purposes here. Basically, I was trying to get the lime flavor and deoxidizing properties of lime without the liquid, which I think this stuff accomplishes.

NOTE: Many claim that leaving the avo pits in the bowl helps slow down oxidization. Anecdotally, I agree (though the science seems to discredit it) and always do this. — Ed

The Onion Question, And The Onion Technique:

These recipes called variously for white, yellow, or red onions. I never did a control group so I can’t point to any science on this. Anecdotally, I can say that all the Mexican restaurants near me whose salsa I like best seem to use white, so white it is. More importantly, none of these recipes did what I always do with my salsa and guac onions: RINSE THEM SHITS.

First I chop, then I put my chopped onions in a wire strainer. Then I run the chopped onion under cold water for a few seconds. This, I know I read or saw somewhere (can’t remember where, sorry), removes a little bit of the bite and sharpness from the onions. I then tap the strainer against the counter to remove as much water as possible and sprinkle a little salt on them. True, none of the guacs I sampled for this tasted too sharp or oniony, and this step risks adding unnecessary water, but I say live dangerously. Rinsing your onions lessens the chances that you’ll accidentally over-onion your guac and ruin it.

But Chopping Jalapeños Sucks, Bro. Plus I Pepper Crotched Myself.

Chopping jalapeños sucks, and jalapeños vary widely in intensity. But that chili flavor is an important guac component. What’s a boy to do?

Microplane
Vince Mancini

BUST OUT THE MICROPLANE, SON! I also opted for serrano, which packs more of that green chili flavor into a smaller, more intensity-consistent package. True, they’re even more of a pain in the ass to chop than jalapeños, which I assume is why most recipes don’t call for them. But that’s where the fancy grater, that, if you’re anything like me, you already own comes in. Chopping schmopping, just zest that shit right into the guac. I do like small chili chunks for salsa, but guac already has chunks, and I think the more diffuse heat from the chili oils the microplane grater provides creates actually works well for guacamole.

Dry Spice? No. But Kinda.

Alton Brown’s recipe with the cumin was a cumin bomb, and I don’t have any specific objections to cayenne or black pepper. And I’ll always have that first guac with the garlic salt — which probably had some other stuff in it too, like dehydrated parsley and some other flavors — somewhere in the back of my mind. My innovation here? Lawry’s seasoning salt. Most people have it (or something very similar) in the pantry. It’s very similar to regular salt but adds just a little special kick without anything too offputting.

And Now For Something Completely Controversial…

Crema Salvadoreña
Vince Mancini

I know, I know, suggesting putting dairy in guac can get you killed on some corners of the internet. I probably would’ve challenged myself to a fistfight over this circa 2009. But a little dairy (and I’m only suggesting a minuscule amount here, like a half teaspoon) is great at keeping guacamole from turning brown. And I’ve witnessed first-hand taqueros in Mexico adding mayonnaise to their guac to for the same reasons.

Mayo does still seem a bridge too far, but sour cream at least is pretty common in certain parts of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Mexican-style sour cream is a little better than regular, and Salvadoran-style is a little better than Mexican style, so here we are. Just add the smallest amount your spoon can hold and mix it in at the end. The taste won’t change much and the texture and color will be juuuust a little bit better.

My Wife’s Notes On My Guac (she did not see me prepare it or know what was in it):

“A lil’ kick! Fresh onion, tomato, cilantro… tastes ‘fresh & spicy.'”

Jesus Christ, Will You Just Give Us The Stupid Recipe Already?

FINE, fine.

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 of a small white onion (chopped, rinsed, and lightly rubbed with a pinch of salt)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cubed and deseeded (see note above)
  • 1 teaspoon smashed and minced garlic (I’m measuring in teaspoons here because cloves can vary widely in size)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (cilantro quantities are hilariously unscientific, let’s be honest)
  • About 1 serrano pepper the size of a finger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt, plus more to taste (call it a heaping half teaspoon)
  • 3 shakes Tajín
  • 1/2 teaspoon sour cream (I like the Salvadoran kind but whatever works).

Directions:

Take your three avocados and PUT THEM UP YOUR ASS! Jk, jk. Halve them, take out the pits with your knife, and scoop out the halves into a mixing bowl with your spoon. Sprinkle the avocados with your Lawry’s and Tajin. Just eyeball it, give ’em a light dusting. More Lawry’s than Tajin.

Then mash ’em up chunk style. Use a fork, use a potato masher, find a smooth-skinned neighborhood man with delicate fingers and have him squeeze them in his palms while you tweak your filthy little nipples. Whatever your bag, man, it’s your guacamole.

Add all that other shit to your mashed avocados and stir it up good.

Put a chip in the guacamole. Put that chip in your mouth. Feel the good vibes as they emanate from your scalp and radiate down your arms and throughout your entire body. It’s electric! You’re alive! You’ve become a beam of pure white light! Luxuriate in that sensation. You have won the guacamole today.

Read our Top Chef Power Rankings here. Vince Mancini is on Twitter.

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