This authentic Mexican guacamole recipe makes a genuine Mexican guacamole of the kind your Mexican abuela (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 for almost 30 years, since we tasted our first genuine guacamole in Mexico City on our inaugural trip to Mexico in the mid-Nineties. We became so smitten with this sublime guacamole that was so much simpler yet far superior to the one I’d been making for a decade or longer, that upon our return to Sydney, Australia, we established a guacamole ritual.
Australians adore avocados. We grow outstanding avocados. And I’d been eating sliced avocados with salt and pepper on toast for as long as I could remember, a couple of decades before ‘smashed avo on toast’ became a thing. Yet for some reason, despite enjoying an avocado with little else but salt, whenever I made guacamole prior to that first trip to Mexico, I would mash it up with all sorts of other ingredients.
After returning from that life-changing trip to Mexico, and two months travelling around that magical country, I began making this authentic Mexican guacamole recipe when avocados were in season, which I’d served with classic margaritas, just as we’d enjoyed at dozens of atmospheric restaurants and bars all over Mexico.
We relished reliving the experience so much, dreaming of being back in Mexico, that we established a ritual during the summer months where friends would come over on weekend afternoons for drinks and nibbles on our Potts Point balcony overlooking Sydney Harbour, and I’d make this authentic Mexican guacamole just minutes before they’d arrived.
Important to note: 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 vivid colour and full flavour of perfectly ripe avocados, and the subtle bite of chilli and ever-so-slight sourness of the lime.
Authentic Mexican Guacamole Recipe Just Like Your Mexican Abuela Would Make
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.
If you’re making a Mexican feast for friends, fill your table with dishes of guacamole and our easy red tomato salsa, bowls of tortilla soup and plates of tacos al pastor, char-grilled corn on the cobs, a grilled corn salad, nachos, and quesadillas.
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 Australians probably think the fruit originated in Australia, as I did as a child.
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).
Interestingly, ahuácatl also translates to ‘testicle’. 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. Aztec women weren’t allowed 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.
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
I have to confess that many years ago I used to tweak my mashed avocado dips from time to time. For a while I added a spoon of sour cream. Then a little finely chopped red capsicum or bell peppers. But I’ve always returned to this simple, authentic Mexican guacamole recipe made with just a handful of ingredients to allow the lusciousness of the avocado shine.
Where my recipe differs to that of 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.
We use a mortar and pestle to make guacamole here in Southeast Asia, but how you combine the ingredients – whether you use a Mexican mortar and pestle called a molcajete or mash them together with a fork is up to you. It is a subject much-debated among Mexican chefs, cooks and foodies.
When we interviewed chef Martha Ortiz of Dulce Patria in Mexico City, she said it was essential to make guacamole with a molcajete, while Marilau, the cooking instructor we did a Mexican cooking class with in San Miguel de Allende was adamant that a molcajete was not necessary for guacamole. She insisted that the molcajete should only be used for dry not wet ingredients.
As most our readers outside Mexico 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. (We adore the Krok, a handcrafted mortar and pestle made in Thailand.)
If you’re using a Mexican molcajete or mortar and pestle, lightly pound the harder ingredients first, starting with the onion, and finish with the soft ingredients, namely the avocado. If you’re using a fork, then follow the recipe below.
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 hours before serving it and don’t refrigerate it unless you absolutely have to. And if you have to pop it in the fridge for a while, then add a little lime juice and combine just before serving.
In good restaurants in Mexico City, guacamole is made table-side or in the kitchen immediately before serving, as it should also be eaten right away. Because it’s such a cinch to make, I have always waited until just before 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 made 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 Hass avocados if you can get them
- juice of 1 lime
- ¼ red onion - although white onions are fine, too; we just prefer red, finely diced
- handful of coriander (cilantro)
- ½ tomato - finely diced
- 1 Serrano chilli - 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 slide it into a bowl.
- Add the lime juice now if you are going to eat the guacamole immediately (and you should); if you’re not, don’t, as the liquid of the juice rises to the top if it sits in the fridge.
- Add the finely diced onion, tomato and coriander (cilantro), chilli, and salt to taste.
- Mash all the ingredients together using a fork until everything is combined into a texture that's creamy yet still has chunky lumps of avocado.
- If you prefer a smooth consistency continue to mash, but appreciate that you’ll be working at it for a while. Whatever you do, don’t blend.
- Scoop your guacamole into a bowl, garnish with coriander (cilantro) and 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 updated and republished in November 2017, and updated again in July 2023.
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