I put a pic on instagram of guacamole two weeks ago and got enough fervent responses about cilantro and garlic salt, lack of chili to realize that people really care about their guacamole. As we here in America, we who make enough of this creamy delicacy to fill a football stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, are engaged in a dish now nearly as national as Turkey on Thanksgiving, I thought I’d fire up the old blog again to pronounce my conviction:

Guacamole = avocado + lime + shallot + salt.

And that’s it.

The lovely Elise Bauer goes even further, a simplifier after my own heart. Guacamole, she says, needn’t be anything more than avocado and salt.

And when you know that, you also know how easy it is to make it a little better—a squeeze of lime and some shallot whose acid has been tempered with that lime.

As I said in a long-ago post, #guacamole is a broader lesson about aromatics and acid, here shallots and lime. Avocados are one of my favorite fruits; they’re kind of like butter, a ready made sauce—all you have to do is adjust texture and add flavors.

I find my self living in Rhode Island these days, so I will have to suffer countless Patriots fans, but at least I will enjoy some of this delicious guacamole.


  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 avocados
  • optional: cilantro, diced tomato, small diced red chili pepper or jalapeno, sriracha, smoked paprika, chipotle powder
  1. Combine the shallot and lime in a large mortar. Sprinkle the salt over the shallot and let it all macerate for 10 to 20 minutes.
  2. Scoop the flesh of two avocados into the mortar and smash it with a pestle till the avocado is the consistency you like and the shallot and lime juice are uniformly distributed.
  3. Taste it. Add more acid if it needs it. Add more salt if it needs it. Keep doing this until it’s so good that it hurts.
  4. Add optional ingredients as you wish.

Serves 2 – 4 (i.e, use at least 1/2 an avocado per person)


17 Wonderful responses to “Guacamole”

  • Dan desalvo

    Not permitting people to explore their own culinary worlds of imagination, creativity and taste creates a zombiesque exercise in food prep. Should there be a need for more than 5 ingredients to the majority of recipes? I wholeheartedly agree with your approach. I also thoroughly enjoy your reads on charcuterie. Thanks

  • Michael Trippe

    Patriots fans… ugh! Love the guac recipe. I’m with you & Elise Bauer – the simpler, the better. I usually smash the avocado with some salt and maybe a spoonful of whatever salsa I have on hand or some mexican hot sauce (Cholula or Tapatio or such).

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Gil

    My Eastern European variant is to use a clove of garlic and a few tablespoons minced red onion as aromatics. It’s definitely not as “fresh”, but a worthy remix.

  • Kiara

    Excellent post, and I agree on all points. This is a perfect recipe for guacamole and it isn’t something that should be complicated.

    In your absence from posting regularly, I’ve taken to reading your beloved’s blog. She is eloquent, thoughtful, and lovely. I’m happy for you both.

  • Anton Zuiker

    In Vanuatu, avocados are called butterfruit, and we often had only avocados, lime and salt, so that was our guacamole. And thanks for blogging again! Working on your North Carolina book tour stop …

  • Pamela Garelick

    Glad to see you are blogging again. We need seriously opinionated voices on all things food!

  • David

    I have had it down to just avacadoes and fresh-squeezed lime awith a potato-masher; with great enjoyment, and If I eat enough, I get pleasantly sleepy.

  • David

    Rhode Island in February?? Eat Local…no more avocados for you until you get back to the civilized world!

  • Allen

    Love guacamole & Philly. Way to go Eagles! Go Flyers!!

    From the comments in previous gaucamole post, I add diced Granny Smith apples to increase the volume when I’m on a tight budget, which is always.
    I always let the onion or shallot sit in salt & lime for a bit, per M. R.

  • Juzz

    Waiting for your recipes post. Glad to see your first post of this year. I don’t have mortar, can I blender it with blender?

  • John

    My go-to guacamole recipe is: a good pinch of salt, a little garlic powder (less bite than fresh), a pinch of cumin, and lime juice. Maybe a shot of hot sauce, but that’s it. (Using that or salsa messes up the lovely green color.) Haven’t tried shallot in there, but if I did, I’d soak the chopped shallot( or fresh garlic) in some lime juice for a couple of minutes to tame the bite. I also just mash with a fork and keep things a little bit chunky. Beating it up with a potato masher seems like overkill unless your avo’s aren’t properly ripe.

  • gwyn

    Oooh, I’m intrigued by the additional of shallot! for me it’s usually just avocado, lime & salt, but i’m going to try this. that is, if i can wait those 10-20 minutes….. So happy to see you back!

  • Paul

    I’ve tasted avocado made like this ( I hesitate to call this a guacamole) but what’s the point? Maybe this is what some taste buds really like and appreciate, but I think you can expect anything without roasted chiles (jalapeno/serrano), garlic and tomatillo is going to be quite bland not to mention spices like pepper/dash of comino leaves. I hesitate to use fresh or dried chiles because they can overwhelm the nuanced flavor of the avocado. Roasting the chiles and even the tomatillo mellow the flavors. (Tomatillos need not be roasted they can be peeled and cooked/in boiling water then pulsed with a blender or food processor.