Set out bowls of chips and guacamole at a party, and they're pretty much guaranteed to be wiped clean way before your guests leave. And while making the Mexican avocado dip doesn't require any special culinary skills, there are a couple of small things you can do to ensure an appetizer that's perfectly scoopable, with a velvety texture and a flavor combination that lets you taste each ingredient.

We talked to chef Deborah Schneider, an authority on Mexican cuisine whose latest book is Salsas and Moles: Fresh and Authentic Recipes for Pico de Gallo, Mole Poblano, Chimichurri, Guacamole, and More for her most simple recipe, which comes together in less than five minutes. She also shared a few dos and don'ts—including the best way to keep your gorgeously green guac from turning brown.

Get the recipe: Basic Guacamole

Do: Pick the Right Type of Avocado

Even though their bright color may scream, "Pick me!," those smooth Florida avocados, which are usually priced lower than the pebbly, dark-skinned Hass avocados, aren't great for guacamole. Hass avocados have a higher oil content (they're usually from Mexico or California), whereas the Florida ones tend to be more watery. Oil content is key to buttery guac, Schneider explains. Look for ones that have a little piece of stem on the end; that's a good indicator that the avocado continued to ripen after it was picked (as opposed to it staying unripe until rotting). It's fine to buy an unripe avo; leave it on your counter for a few days until, when you hold it in the palm of your hand, it's somewhat soft. (Poking with one finger isn't a good test because they don't ripen evenly; the top and bottom might feel different.)

Do: Keep the Seasonings Minimal

The only other things you need to add are lime juice, salt and some minced chili and white onion. A couple of guidelines: There are times when it's fine to substitute lemon juice for lime, but guac isn't one of them, says Schneider. Limes are more acidic, and have a sweet, bitter flavor compared to lemons' sour taste. For a bit of heat, Schneider likes serrano chilies since they're reliably spicy, while jalapeños vary. And she prefers white onion to red onion (red can stain the guacamole if it sits).

Don't: Overmix

Schneider prefers a chunky dip, with some pieces of avocado intact; she says it lets you appreciate the taste of the fruit with just a little seasoning on it. Use a fork, mash by hand and avoid the food processor or blender.

Do: Make It and Eat It

Since it's so quick to make, your best bet is to prepare the guacamole just before serving. If you want to make it ahead to bring to a party, cover it with plastic wrap, pressing down so there is no air between the surface of the dip and the plastic.


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