The Controversial Ingredient Your Guacamole Has Been Missing

According to a 'Queer Eye' Season 4 star.

July 23, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

It’s summer, which means it’s high time for guacamole, right? Heat plus being outside plus tangy avocado-based dips seem to be a good match. In my book, that’s an unbeatable trio. We’ve touted guacamole (particularly this one as one of your barbecue’s inalienable companions.

And yet, it seems guacamole has been hiding a secret. It seems our expectations are about to be upended, overturned, put down, flipped, and reversed á la Missy Elliot. Because there’s one element of a standout guacamole I—and apparently a whole bunch of us—have been neglecting to include: sour cream.

You may be asking why? Why now? Why this realization? Why mess with a good thing? To which I’d say: Okay, yes, I agree. The almost supernatural combination of buttery avocado and salt and the brightness of lime is one that begs very little tampering. But also, experimentation and innovation are important cultural touchstones. Take, for example, Frankenstein and his monster, the chocolate chip cookie, the lunar landing. All of these were born from a desire—accidental or not—to push the limits of human knowledge.

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Like in the latest season of Queer Eye, which was released on Netflix last Friday, the crew drives down to Kansas City in Episode 6 to meet Deanna, a Chicana woman who runs a Latino Arts festival. Upon crashing a dinner party (were they even invited??), each member of the Fab Five starts drilling into the area of the house that corresponds to their respective spheres of influence (JVN goes to the bathroom, Tan to the closet ... You get the drill).

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Top Comment:
“Mayo. Maybe a tablespoon per 2 large avocados. It rounds out the fat and makes it taste and "feel" better. But I'm going to try the sour cream next time.”
— Earlene M.

Antoni Porowski, of course, heads to the kitchen where he starts talking to Deanna’s relatives about some of the dishes they’ve laid out on the counter. He points to chiles rellenos and homemade tortillas and a bowl of guacamole. Lime juice, he offers, helps to keep the avocados in his guacamole from browning. It’s then that Martha, Deanna’s friend, counters that sour cream actually works better.

Deanna and Antoni on 'Queer Eye' (Season 4, Episode 6). Photo by Netflix

He practically cheers in response.

It’s not the first time that Antoni has entered the put-cream-in-your-guacamole wrestling ring. During the show’s early days, he came under fire for suggesting a swirl of Greek yogurt in guacamole would lend the dip some tang and extra smoothness. Martha goes one step further, claiming that the added sour cream also helps to keep the spread greener for longer.

Could this be the case? Apparently, Martha Stewart’s done it. Meanwhile, this Medium article recommends sour cream, Mexican crema, or even cream cheese as ingredients that can help prevent guacamole from oxidizing and turning brown, in addition to adding some much welcome creaminess. Some other recipes differentiate between guacamole and guacamole cream, as if the addition of sour cream changes the label of the final product.

So where do we stand? Guacamole, like so many dishes, is one that benefits from a million iterations, each one special to its maker. There’s something to be said for maintaining tradition, especially in the face of change. But what if tradition for you means a revelation for another?

Do you add sour cream to your guacamole at home? Let us know in the comments below.
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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


LadyR May 19, 2021
From my manuscript:

My Very Special Guacamole

Serve a small bite size scoop of my special guacamole in a crunchy parmesan nest or on crispy tuiles for a tasty amuse bouche. Consider counting three per person for a walk about gathering, served on a paper not plastic toss-away tiny plate. Intersperse your gathering area with decorated well-marked, scattered small beautiful "toss trash" containers the purpose of which can't be missed. Decorate them to stand out from the decor but are still pretty eye-candy.

Here's "My Very Special Guacamole" -

Be very careful how you choose your produce department avocados. Decide ahead of time when you plan to use the avocados. Choose ones of equal ripeness. If you don't know how to choose, ask the supermarket or produce staff to help you decide.

To encourage ripening at home, put avocados in a closed brown paper bag on the counter, together with an apple or a banana. The gases created will speed up the ripening in a day. Watch closely.

Avocados are not inexpensive and when you get them home it's dreadful to discover they are inedible, full of stringy textured sometimes black innards. Yet the exterior shows no telltale signs.

At the produce counter pop off the little end pip to help check for ripeness. The flesh under the pip needs to be super green. Don't squeeze the fruit; touch very gently. When ripe it will bruise. Look for ones that have that special tactile feel.

When you are ready to make my guacamole, split the fruit and pop out the giant pit. (You can plant the pit in a soil filled small pot and grow a pretty counter plant. But don't expect fruit to grow.)

Working quickly mash the fruit in a bigger mixing bowl than you think you need. I mash using a wide pastry whisk. I mostly work with three avocado at a time. Begin by spritzing the perfect flesh generously with fresh-squeezed lime juice. Some people use lemon. I prefer the gentleness of less acidic limes.

Sprinkle with a little garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper. Add a few tablespoons of best quality store-bought or rich homemade mayonnaise. Just let the mayo sit atop the lime-covered mash. Don't stir yet. Move quickly.

Now the "special" part begins. Pull out all your herbs and spices containers. If you have fresh, wonderful! But many are seasonal and not always available. I always have a giant airtight covered jar of fresh dried dill in my pantry. It keeps from one season till the next if well air-dried before storing.

And my Very Special Guacamole must have dill. For three mashed avocado I add about a generous teaspoon of dried dill to sit on top of the mayo. Don't stir yet.

Next best product choice if you don't have fresh is LiteHouse brand fresh freeze-dried herbs from Germany. They bloom like just picked when moisture attaches.

Next add a sprinkle each of sweet paprika, nutmeg, a pinch of thyme, basil and parsley. Add a flutter of garlic salt.

Sometimes I add just the tiniest dab of my homemade golden oven-roasted garlic purée from its sterilized glass airtight refrigerated jar. You shouldn't even know it's there when the mix is finished; just enhances other flavours.

If you insist and love it, add a smidgeon of crushed rosemary and or oregano. You might even add a pinch of tarragon.

Move quickly and arrange your mis en place ahead of time, because you want to keep the fruit from discolouring. Now it's time to stir and fold the herbed/spiced topped mayonnaise into the avocado so it's evenly distributed. No need to taste test. It's just perfect every time.

Using a rubber spatula put the guacamole into a just right size (so there's as little head space air space as possible) sterilized cold glass covered dish. Anchor the lid to expel any air space as best as possible. Burp the lid if doable. You might want to cover first with cling wrap. This guacamole will stay fresh for a couple of days and not discolour. Even if it does, it's edible. Just stir.

When you are ready to serve, spritz with a little fresh squeezed lime, again, and perhaps add a half cup of ready to eat tiny salad shrimp. Fill a crispy iceberg lettuce cup, using an ice cream scoop or serve in a crunchy parmesan cheese tuile nest. Eat immediately so the nest doesn't have a chance to get soggy.

There's loads of ways to serve. When I'm alone I often eat a scoop of just the guacamole by itself for breakfast. Sometimes topped with a barely hard cooked egg yolk crumpled on top. Sprinkle the egg yolk with just a whiff of sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Or a flutter of sea salt flakes and a few grains of cayenne.

Sometimes buttered, only with real butter (maybe fluffy air-filled pre-whipped), crustless toast points, other times just plain.

You could elaborate by topping with a little fresh full fat cold sour cream and a folded sheer napkin of Norwegian Smoked Steelhead frozen salmon (always in the freezer and it thaws instantly) or top with that so special Jewish cream cheese and a twisted fresh, cold, cured, sweet lox rose. Eat immediately.

An excellent pairing palette cleanser choice is the always perfect Noilly Prat. It cuts the delicious fat residue. If you don't have, substitute Bacardi Martini and Rossi vermouth; just a sipping tester glass of either. Or use a shot glass.

Lady Ralston's Amuse Bouche Hors D'Ouvres Collection ~ a Bite of this and a Nibble of that


I prepare my generous size 3-avocado guacamole and store it refrigerated in an airtight container and have it for breakfast three mornings in a row. Just tablespoons of it as I keep it covered. It is a very satisfying way to break a twelve hour overnight fast. I prefer my guacamole prepared using lime juice. Others prefer lemon. This amazing recipe is not just good, but especially good for you.

Cherrybounce May 18, 2021
It’s silly clickbait to say this is controversial. Lots of recipes for guacamole use sour cream. Adding some finely chopped tomatillos adds a fresh zing and also helps keep the guac from browning also.
Paula May 18, 2021
Just yesterday I made an omelette and filed it with avocado and sour cream (full fat) mixed well.
Charles H. August 9, 2019
This isn’t anything new. From adding yogurt, sour cream, or mayo. I’ve seen all the tricks for so-called preservation or achieving a creamier product when it comes to guac. I say, do what you love. And if you don’t have the aforementioned additives, a nice piece of plastic wrap/parchment pressed against the top of the guac has never let me down.
zaqary July 28, 2019
I’ve been adding sour cream or buttermilk for at least 25 years. I’m interested in the others use of mayo, I imagine it’d be similar, or like adding olive oil. I’ve done that and it adds a little something nice too.
Susan B. July 27, 2019
mayo or sour cream. Been doing this forever behind my guests backs! Texture and flavor both improved.
Kimberly R. July 29, 2019
That's definitely a great approach for people with potential allergies and food restrictions.
Earlene M. July 27, 2019
Mayo. Maybe a tablespoon per 2 large avocados. It rounds out the fat and makes it taste and "feel" better. But I'm going to try the sour cream next time.
MBE July 27, 2019
I almost always add a bit of good mayonnaise! Likely more controversial than sour cream but we love it!
emmy J. July 24, 2019
My go-to recipe for guacamole for a crowd calls for low-fat cottage cheese. It's more guacamole-ish than for-real, but it makes a single avocado go a long way, and, yes, it doesn't go brown. (Guacamole with Cottage Cheese, from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites)
MLHE July 28, 2019
Yes to cottage cheese! My grandmother did this for me and my 10 cousins for family gatherings back in the 1960s and it really stretched the guacamole enjoyment for all. She also added fresh chunks of tomatoes, green onions, maybe some chopped jalapenos, and oh...we used to eat that great guacamole with Fritos and drink Cokes...the good old days of summer. Thank you!
Rachel P. July 24, 2019
I had no idea this was controversial - I do it in my cookbook, but I can attest to how delicious it is!