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Erica Howard Knows Guacamole

I love good guacamole more than any reasonable person probably should.

The problem, of course, is that most guacamole isn't that great. It's rarely inedible, but usually I'm left a little disappointed. "I'm from Texas," I thought to myself one day. "That means I have the guacamole Instinct, right?"

Is This Avocado Ripe?

There's a magical spot in the ripening process where the avocado tastes almost buttery and it almost melts in your mouth.

  • Look for avocados that give just a little bit when squeezed. They shouldn't completely collapse under your fingers, but if there's no give at all they'll be too hard and won't really have any flavor.
  • Color isn't a perfect indicator but usually if they're almost entirely black but you can just see a hint of a shadow of green underneath, they're ripe.
  • Make sure there are no dings or bruises on them because there will be brown spots inside.
  • While the skin of a ripe avocado is usually somewhat pebbly, they should not be shriveled toward the top. That's a sign that they're overly ripe and will be stringy inside.

All of that being said, it can be hard to find a store that consistently has ripe avocados so it may not be a bad idea to go to the store a day or two in advance and get ones that are as close to ripe as possible. Then, let them ripen on your counter top until you're ready to make the guacamole.

Guacamole With Jalapenos, Onions, and Tomatoes


  • 2 ripe Haas avocados
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 smaller cloves), finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (preferably Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional but highly recommended ingredients:

  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, finely minced (This makes a mildly spicy guacamole. For less heat, use only half of a jalapeno. For more heat, leave some of the seeds in.)
  • 1/4 red onion, diced finely (about a slightly rounded 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped finely (cut off the stems from the bottom of the bunch first)
  • 1/2 small heirloom tomato, chopped finely (or a similar quantity of grape or cherry tomatoes or red bell pepper) – OR – 3-4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely


  1. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and twist the halves apart. Remove the pit by whacking it with a knife and twisting the knife. Use a spoon to scoop out chunks of avocado into a bowl.
  2. Add garlic, lemon juice, and sea salt and mash with a fork until you have almond-sized chunks of avocado and the other ingredients are well-distributed.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and fold in with the fork until everything is just combined. The avocado chunks will get mashed a bit more in the process but you'll still have some small chunks rather than a puree.
  4. Serve immediately.

As a side note, I know that some people will think it's sacrilege that I've used lemon juice rather than lime. If you're dead-set on substituting lime juice, go right ahead. However, I've noticed over the years that every guacamole I've really loved was made with lemon.

More: Listen to Erica Howard talking about her love of guacamole in the Earth Eats podcast.

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