Dip

A 30-Second Trick for Way, Way Better Guacamole

Starring your pantry staples.

January 30, 2019

Guacamole is like chili: Everyone has their own secret, best-ever recipe.

And I'm not here to mess with that. Go ahead and keep making guac your favorite way—I'm sure it's excellent.

I am here to share with you a little trick for taking your guacamole, whatever your formula may be, to new heights. It's a trick I learned from a good friend, who regularly hosts me for fish taco night. His tacos are otherworldly, but the star of dinner is always his avocado salsa. A San Francisco native, he uses the recipe from Cindy Pawlcyn's Fog City Diner Cookbook, which is tucked into the page on Grilled Stuffed Fresh Pasilla Chiles.

Pawlcyn's avocado salsa calls for the delicate mixing of diced avocado flesh with jalapeño, red onion, scallion, and cilantro—but the real innovation comes in the form of dressing. She has you whisk together 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar with 6 tablespoons of olive oil, plus salt and pepper, and add it to the mixture. The dressing just sort of hangs out in the serving dish, pooling around the salsa. As a result, every bite begins with a hint of delightful, lightly seasoned tang, balanced by the roundness of olive oil, right before you get to the creamy avocado. It has the same layered-flavor appeal as salting a rim, or dipping an artichoke leaf in melted butter.

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Top Comment:
“My simple, easy formula for the fastest guac is avocados and store bought salsa that contains cilantro, with some lime juice and salt. No chopping necessary and it comes together in less than 5 minutes. I don't have the proportions down to a science, I just add salsa, lime, and salt to taste each time.”
— Janet B.
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And to me, it's been revelatory. So much so that I began using this same tactic not just with delicate avocado salsas (chunkier and less homogenous than guacamole in nature) and avocado salads (like this wonderful-looking one by Melissa Clark), but with any old guacamole I was whipping up. Taking 30 seconds to combine acid and oil, and then pouring that dressing over my guacamole creates that same layered effect I adore in Pawlcyn's salsa—and even more so, in my opinion, because the mashed texture lends itself particularly well to being coated in vinaigrette.

Here's my simplest go-to formula, based on Pawlcyn's original dressing ratio:

I love to experiment and riff with the vinaigrette component—lime juice, lemon juice, and sherry vinegar all work well as the acid. Sometimes, I dial up the sharpness by reducing the amount of oil or increasing the amount of vinegar or citrus juice. I've played around with different spices and chopped herbs based on whatever I have on hand. When I reached out to Pawlcyn to ask how she riffs on her original dressing (for which she uses unseasoned rice vinegar, never seasoned), she said she often uses fresh lime or lemon juice, too. "We [also] do a salad with alternating slices of avocado and papaya. Sauce again on top, often with papaya seeds blended into the vinaigrette so it's peppery," she notes.

No matter what you're working with, it really does take any guac to the next level. And the one after that.


What's your go-to formula for guac? Let us know in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches.

4 Comments

Erica T. February 2, 2019
I can’t imagine my guacamole without lots of mouthwatering lime juice, but I might try rice vinegar in a pinch!
 
Janet B. January 30, 2019
Sounds interesting and I'm willing to try. My simple, easy formula for the fastest guac is avocados and store bought salsa that contains cilantro, with some lime juice and salt. No chopping necessary and it comes together in less than 5 minutes. I don't have the proportions down to a science, I just add salsa, lime, and salt to taste each time.
 
farmersdaughter January 30, 2019
Guacamole to me is a simple prep of avocado and lime, with very little else (if anything) to be added. Once you start down adding a bunch of ingredients, and then a rice vinaigrette, it isn't guacamole anymore, it's more of an avocado salad.
 
J February 3, 2019
Amen!