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This 4 ingredient guacamole recipe (with variations) is creamy, tangy, savory, and simple. It has quite a following, and for good reason. Here’s how to make it.

4 ingredient guacamole recipe in a molcajete
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Why we love this recipe

This 4 ingredient guacamole recipe is for people who like big, bold, beautifully balanced flavor. It:

  • Uses a generous amount of lime juice, salt, and cilantro, which amps up the flavor and creates the perfect, memorable balance that stands up to everything from tortilla chips to carne asada tacos
  • Uses a clever method for taking some of the bite out of the raw red onion without dulling its flavor too much
  • Shows you how to cut and mash your avocados to achieve the perfect, customizable texture

I’ve also included some optional ingredients and substitutions, each of which makes a stellar variation all its own. I first published this recipe here way back in 2009. In the ensuing years, I’ve updated the post for clarity and made a few small tweaks to the recipe.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls

The essentials

  • Nice, ripe Hass avocados form the base of the best guac. They’re creamy and buttery and fabulous. If, like me, you don’t live in an area where avocados grow, you’ll still probably be able to find them at various stages of ripeness in your local stores. If you do live somewhere with plenty of access to different avocado varieties, feel free to use your favorite creamy cultivar.
  • Plenty of freshly squeezed lime juice gives this recipe its gorgeous tanginess. The recipe calls for a generous amount, which we — and many of you — adore, but of course you can adjust according to your preference. Here’s a next-level tip: if you live far away from where limes are grown, they can be a little one-note sometimes. Using half lime juice and half lemon juice can restore some of the nuance in this and other recipes. Fine sea salt is a tool, not an ingredient, but it’s important in this recipe. A generous amount balances the acidity of the lime and enhances all the flavors. I’ve suggested our ideal amount, but this, too, is amenable to your customization.
  • Finely diced red onion is a little bit sharp and a little bit sweet, which perfectly complements the creamy avocado. It also adds some gorgeous color. You can substitute white onion or even shallot if that’s what you’ve got.
  • In my book, chopped fresh cilantro is essential to guacamole. You can use the leaves and also some of the small, tender stems. That said, if you simply don’t do cilantro, I know I won’t be changing your mind here. You can leave it out or substitute thinly sliced scallions, flat-leaf parsley, snipped chives, or a combination.

The additions

  • To make it spicy, add one minced jalapeño pepper with the seeds and white ribs removed
  • Two plum tomatoes, diced nice and small and with the cores and seedy pulp removed, add great color, texture, and flavor
  • One to two minced garlic cloves add another layer of flavor. If you use garlic, stir it together with the onion, lime juice, and salt in the first step.
  • I don’t often add cumin to my guac, but it does make a nice, gently smoky variation. If using, stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin when you add the avocados.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a perfect batch of this 4 ingredient guacamole recipe. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll stir together the onion, lime juice, and salt so the acid in the lime juice has a chance to remove a little bit of the “bite” from the raw onion.
  2. Halve the avocados, remove the stones, and dice the flesh right in the skins. Then use a spoon to scoop the diced avocado into the bowl.
  3. Stir the avocado to coat with the lime juice mixture, then mash it with a fork. You can mash it to any consistency you like. I really like to leave some of the diced avocado as-is to achieve a little bit of textural interest.
  4. Stir in the cilantro and any additional ingredients. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Is this recipe vegan? Keto? Healthy?

LOL, you guys. But yes. This recipe is vegan, keto-friendly, and full of good fats, whole foods, and micronutrients. Avocados are high in calories, and there’s plenty of salt in this recipe, so — as with margaritas — please enjoy responsibly.

Can you make guacamole ahead of time?

In general, the answer to this question is no, it’s much better to make guac right before you eat it. However, this recipe has enough lime juice in it to prevent the avocado from browning, even if you store it in the fridge overnight.

So if you’re really in a time crunch on the day of your party, you can make this guac the night before and store it tightly sealed in the fridge. For extra insurance, you can lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface before closing the container.

Leftovers will stay good in a nice cold fridge for two to three days.

How to ripen an avocado quickly

Avocados are beloved — yet ripening is tricky business. So much so, that it’s inspired several whole genres of humor, from puns to cartoons.

Will McPhail Avocado Ripening Cartoon New Yorker Magazine
Cartoon by Will McPhail for New Yorker Magazine

The best thing you can do is to seek out a local market that sells a LOT of avocados. They’ll tend to have plenty of avocados at varying levels of ripeness, and they’ll tend to be less expensive than elsewhere. We have a great Mexican market in a neighboring town that’s THE place to go for avocados.

If that’s not an option, try to buy avocados up to a week in advance. Leave them on the counter until they’re ripe, then transfer them to the fridge to maintain peak ripeness until you need them. (Refrigerating avocados is approved by the California Avocado Commission, in case you were wondering.)

If you’re short on time, there are a couple of great tricks you can use.

Brown bag method

Place unripe avocados into a brown bag (an old-school brown lunch bag works great). As they ripen, avocados give off ethylene gas. Keeping them in a breathable bag helps trap enough of the gas to accelerate their ripening, without creating an overly funky environment.

Banana method

If you’re really short on time and have the flexibility to keep a hawk-eye gaze on your ripening avocados, add a banana to the brown bag. Bananas produce lots of ethylene gas as they ripen, and this will help your avocados ripen even faster. Just pay attention, because they can get overripe quickly.

4 ingredient guacamole recipe in a molcajete with a child's hand dipping a tortilla chip

How to tell if an avocado is ripe

First things first: when you live in a place that’s far from where avocados are grown, there is no such thing as a perfect method for determining what your avocado will look like on the inside. There are just too many variables at play. This holds for both ripeness and any funkiness (brown bits, etc.) that you may encounter. I like to joke that I just offer up a little prayer to the universe each time I open up an avocado.

That said, a prayer is not a strategy.

The stem method

The best thing you can do to gauge whether your avocado is ripe is to pop off the little piece of stem at the top. If the stem:

  • Doesn’t come off fairly easily, the avocado is not ripe enough.
  • Comes off easily and what’s exposed underneath is green, you likely have a good, ripe avocado on your hands.
  • Comes off easily and what’s exposed underneath is brown, you may have an overripe or not-so-good avocado.

The simple observation method

Here’s what Avocados from Mexico recommends:

  • Check the color. If your avocado is ripe, its skin tone will be dark green to nearly black.
  • Check the skin’s texture. Ripe avocados will have bumpy skin.
  • Gently squeeze the avocado. A perfectly ripe avocado will yield to firm, gentle pressure without remaining dented or feeling mushy.

More favorite Mexican-inspired condiments

4 ingredient guacamole recipe in a molcajete

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My Perfect Guacamole Recipe 780 | Umami Girl
4.91 from 10 votes

4 Ingredient Guacamole Recipe

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This 4 ingredient guacamole recipe (with variations) is creamy, tangy, savory, and simple. It has quite a following, and for good reason. Here's how to make it.
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 8
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Ingredients 

  • 2 limes
  • ½ small red onion, diced small (to make about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 4 ripe Hass avocados
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and fine stems

Optional

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, white ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, core and seedy pulp removed, diced
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (if using, add in step 2)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin, if using, add in step 3

Instructions 

  • Juice the limes into a medium mixing bowl. It might seem like there's a lot of juice, but you won’t be sorry.
  • Add onion to the bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and stir to coat. Let sit while you prepare the avocados. 
  • Halve and pit each avocado. Dice flesh and scoop from skins into mixing bowl, tossing with lime juice as you go to prevent browning.
  • Using a fork, mash avocado to desired consistency. I like to leave a some pieces diced and mash some more thoroughly for a little textural interest.
  • Add cilantro and any additional ingredients.
  • Taste for salt and add more as desired. I usually use the full teaspoon, but tastes vary.

Notes

  1. Hass avocados form the base of the best guac. They're creamy and buttery and fabulous. If, like me, you don't live in an area where avocados grow, you'll still probably be able to find them at various stages of ripeness in your local stores. If you do live somewhere with plenty of access to different avocado varieties, feel free to use your favorite creamy cultivar.
  2. if you live far away from where limes are grown, they can be a little one-note sometimes. Using half lime juice and half lemon juice can restore some of the nuance in this and other recipes.
  3. If you adjust the level of lime or salt, you’ll probably want to adjust the other one, too. They really work in tandem.
  4. You can substitute white onion or even shallot if that's what you've got.
  5. In my book, chopped fresh cilantro is essential to guacamole. You can use the leaves and also some of the small, tender stems. That said, if you simply don't do cilantro, I know I won't be changing your mind here. You can leave it out or substitute thinly sliced scallions, flat-leaf parsley, snipped chives, or a combination.
  6. In general, it's best to make guac right before you eat it. However, this recipe has enough lime juice in it to prevent the avocado from browning, even if you store it in the fridge overnight (in a nonreactive, airtight container such a a glass bowl with a lid). For extra insurance, you can lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface before closing the container.
  7. Leftovers will stay good in a nice cold fridge for two to three days.

Nutrition

Calories: 123kcal, Carbohydrates: 8.7g, Protein: 1.6g, Fat: 10.5g, Fiber: 5.3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Snacks and Starters
Cuisine: Mexican
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.91 from 10 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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10 Comments

  1. EXACTLY!

    Super Bowl is just another excuse!

    The inner circle of my tribe gather anywhere, anytime, to share food, beverages, music, and each other. I don’t even watch the sports clips on the news…. rather be in the Kitchen with wine in hand and friends at hand. Last year had Oysters Rockefeller and raw on the half – I have a ‘to die for source’… part of what’s great about being on eastern LI’s N shore.

    Thanks for your guac recipe; I prefer lime and cilantro to be discernable in the foreground, but yet not overpowering…a delicate dance…can’t wait to try this – looks perfect.

  2. Wow, my recipe is so close to yours – but yours has so much lime! Can’t believe I haven’t done that before. I think I’m going to add it to the leftovers in the fridge. Thanks!