This authentic Mexican guacamole recipe makes a genuine Mexican guacamole of the kind an abuela (Mexican grandma) might make – the kind that’s made table-side at good restaurants in Mexico. It’s all about the creamy luscious texture, bright green colour and full flavour of perfectly ripe avocados.
I’ve been making this authentic Mexican guacamole recipe since our first trip to Mexico in the mid Nineties. When we lived in Potts Point, Sydney, we had a ritual during the summer months where friends would come over on weekend afternoons for drinks and nibbles on our balcony overlooking Sydney Harbour.
After returning from our first holiday in Mexico, I began making this authentic Mexican guacamole recipe, which I’d served with classic margaritas. Following our inaugural Cuba trip, I replaced the margaritas with mojitos. After Brazil and Chile, it was caipirinhas and pisco sours, respectively. The guacamole was the only constant.
A warning: this is a very authentic Mexican guacamole recipe. It doesn’t include extraneous ingredients like pineapple, cheese and bacon. It’s all about the creamy luscious texture, the bright green colour and full flavour of perfectly ripe avocados, and the bite of chilli and ever-so-slight sourness of the lime.
Authentic Mexican Guacamole Recipe
This authentic Mexican guacamole recipe is super easy to make and is best served with a bowl of fresh tortilla chips and washed down with classic margaritas or micheladas. You can also top your nachos or big old bowl of chili con carne with a few spoons of this wonderful avocado dip.
The History of Mexican Guacamole
Avocados are such a staple of the Australian diet – I’ve been eating ‘avo on toast’ since I was a kid growing up in the 1970s – that many Aussies probably think the fruit originated in Australia. In fact, the oldest avocado artefacts were found in Puebla, Mexico, in 10,000 BC, and there’s evidence that avocados were cultivated in southern Central America and South America over 7,000 years ago.
In Mexico, the Aztecs are credited with using avocados to create what we now know as guacamole in the 1300s. The word ‘guacamole’ derives from the Aztec ‘āhuacamolli’ which translates to avocado soup or sauce, from ‘āhuacatl’ (avocado) and ‘molli’ (sauce/concoction).
Ahuácatl also translates to testicle which is worth noting. Because while the Aztecs and other pre-Colombian peoples, who had a low-fat diet, are thought to have eaten avocados for their nutritional value and vitamins, minerals and fats, they also believed avocados were an aphrodisiac and wouldn’t allow Aztec women to leave their homes during avocado harvest.
In America’s First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe writes that “The one recipe that we may be sure of is the Aztec ahuaca-hulli, or avocado sauce, familiar to all of us today as guacamole. This combination of mashed avocados, with or without a few chopped tomatoes and onions, because the Aztecs used New World onions, and with perhaps some coriander leaves to replace New World coriander… is the pre-Columbian dish most easily accessible to us.”
From Mexico, guacamole is thought to have travelled to Spain with the conquistadors who became smitten with avocados after appreciating their status among the Aztecs. In the USA, American farmers in California in 1915 are credited with renaming the fruit, previously called the ‘alligator pear’, the avocado.
Although the first reference to guacamole in the USA appears to be in the San Antonio Light in 1911 in a story on the ‘Mexican Fiesta for Carnival’ which stated that “At the Mexican restaurants on Haymarket Square during the entire week, such delicacies as…enchiladas, tamales, chiles, reyones, chili con carne, guacamole and tortillas will be served.”
Tips to Making this Authentic Mexican Guacamole Recipe
Over the years I’ve tweaked this delicious, fresh mashed avocado dip a little. For instance, for a while I added a little sour cream. Then finely chopped red capsicum. I also tried sweet corn kernels. But I’ve always returned to my favourite – this simple, authentic Mexican guacamole recipe made with just a handful of ingredients to allow the fresh creamy flavours of the avocados shine through.
Where my recipe differs to an even more authentic recipe by Mexican cuisine authority, Diana Kennedy, author of The Art of Mexican Cooking, is that I use red onions instead of white onions, as I prefer their sweetness and colour.
How you combine the ingredients – whether you mash them together with a fork or use a Mexican mortar and pestle called a molcajete – is a subject much-debated among Mexican chefs, cooks, and foodies. One chef we met in Mexico told us it was essential to use a molcajete while a cooking instructor we did a Mexican cooking class with was adamant that it was not. She insisted that the molcajete should only be used for dry not wet ingredients.
As most people probably won’t have a molcajete sitting on their kitchen shelf, the instructions that follow call for a fork. However, you could also try an Asian-style granite mortar and pestle.
Whatever you use, make sure you don’t mash the avocado too much and definitely don’t put it in a blender. While the guacamole should be creamy, it should be chunky not smooth, and should retain some lumpy bits of avocado.
The key to a truly great guacamole is the quality and freshness of the ingredients, which should be at their best. Look for ripe Hass avocados (the ones with the rough dark green-purple-black skin) and if you can’t find them ripe, buy hard avocados and let them ripen for 2-3 days on a sunny window sill rather than buy soft avocados that are probably bruised.
Make sure your tomatoes are also bright red, firm and sweet, and the coriander (cilantro to our American readers) is as fresh as it gets with a strong fragrance.
To retain the freshness and bright green colour of the guacamole, don’t make it beforehand and don’t refrigerate it unless you absolutely have to. And if you have to, add the lime juice in the recipe.
In good restaurants in Mexico City, guacamole is made table-side or in the kitchen immediately before serving. It should also be eaten right away. Because it’s such a cinch to make, I have always waited until my friends arrived to make it.
It’s so easy to whip together that you can prep it while you chat and sip a Margarita. Most of our favourite Mexican restaurants make it to order, right at the side of your table, which is how fresh it should be.
I am rarely left with half an avocado. I’d rather add it than return it to the fridge. But if you are left with a half, my friends swear by this nifty avocado keeper for storing cut avocado halves.
Authentic Mexican Guacamole Recipe
- 2 large avocados, black-skinned Haas avocados if you can get them
- Juice of 1 lime (optional)
- ¼ red onion (although white will do too, we prefer red), finely diced
- handful of coriander/cilantro
- ½ tomato, finely diced
- 1 chile (Serrano if you can get it, though I know jalapeno will have to suffice for many people not living in Mexico or the USA), finely diced
- salt (preferably good quality sea salt)
- Slice the avocados in half, remove the seeds, scoop out the avocado flesh, and pop it into a bowl.
- Add a little lime juice now if you are going to eat the guacamole immediately (and you should) – if you’re not, don’t. The liquid of the juice rises to the top if it sits in the fridge, which is not nice at all.
- Add the onion, tomato and coriander/cilantro, chile, and salt to taste.
- Mash all ingredients together until everything is combined. Simple as that.
- If you prefer a smooth consistency continue to mash, but appreciate that you’ll be working at it for a while. I personally like my guacamole as it's made in Mexico, creamy yet chunky, with lumps of avocado pieces. Whatever you do, don’t blend.
- Scoop your guacamole into a bowl.
- Garnish with roughly chopped coriander/cilantro or a few springs.
- Serve with a bowl of plain corn tortilla chips on the side.
Originally published in September 2010, during our stay in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, this post has been reformatted, updated and republished in November 2017.
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