We know the answer is obvious to most of you, but nevertheless, a lot of people ask this question. The difference between avocado and guacamole is the first item is a fruit, and the second item is a dip using that fruit. Hear us out: We've got some intel that more of you might not know, such as the types of avocado, their best uses, and all the crazy things you can do with avocado and guacamole. And that craze of smearing or fanning out avocado on toast all pretty and Instagram-my? Yeah, that trend has played a big part in the renewed passion for this creamy, buttery, rich fruit.
An avocado is botanically a large berry with a single seed. Its rise in popularity the last few years stems from other trends: California cuisine, health and wellness, good fats, and Mexican cuisine. While there are many varieties, there are two main categories of avocado.
Hass avocados from California comprise most of the avocados in the United States. Their rich, nutty flavor and buttery, high-fat flesh, make it a classic West Coast variety and a favorite worldwide. The leathery, pebbled skin turns from green toward black as it ripens. These avocados are great for almost all culinary purposes, but especially mashed up in guacamole and toast, and used in baking.
Florida-grown avocados (Hall, Lulu, and Choquette), are marketed as the less oily, lower-fat version, which one company calls "SlimCados." The fruit tastes milder and is much larger and heavier than a Hass. The skin is smooth and greener too, staying green when ripe. The low-fat, firmer flesh means the Florida avocado can maintain its shape for slicing and dicing in salads and salsas.
When it comes to guacamole, there are just as many ways to make this avocado-based dip as there are to craft a turkey sandwich. Purists will cry you don't need anything more than avocado, salt, and maybe a little squirt of lime juice. Besides contributing an acidic brightness to balance out the rich buttery avocado, lime (or lemon) juice can keep the avocado flesh from browning — which it does, fast. Here's another way to prevent an avocado from browning and here's how to ripen an avocado.
People who like to play with the classic inject all sorts of extra ingredients, such as jalapeños, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro. Adding peas has been a contentious twist, however. Be warned. The most important factor in all guacamole is the fruit's ripeness. You want the avocado to be perfectly ripe, which means basically black on the outside and giving just a bit when you grasp it. If the avocado is too hard, you won't get the same buttery, creamy flavor and texture.
Serve your guacamole with tortilla chips or crackers, or if you want to be all hipster about it, as a topping on toast. Guac adds a fatty silk texture to burgers, sandwiches filled with turkey or chicken, and in all sorts of tacos, and other Tex-Mex favorites.
We picked a few favorites out of our dozens of recipes with avocado and guacamole specifically.
1. Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado-Corn Salsa
You can use a slightly less ripe avocado with this recipe because you want the cubes to hold their shape. If you can't grill the shrimp because it's too wintry outside or you don't have a grill, just sauté the spiced shrimp and follow the rest of the recipe. No problem. This is a fresh way to have tacos, filled with spice and creaminess. Get our Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado-Corn Salsa recipe.
Use perfectly ripe and soft avocado any time you're going to mash it, like in guacamole. This recipe doesn't tweak the traditional dip too much, adding Roma tomatoes, scallions, and serrano chiles. You'll have about six cups when all's said and done — enough for a party. Get our Guacamole recipe.
3. Fennel, Avocado, and Mint Salad
This is not your typical avocado-laden Cobb salad. There's a pistachio-caper vinaigrette, first off. Then there are sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mint, and fennel. Of course, you've got the avocado in there too. Get our Fennel, Avocado, and Mint Salad recipe.
4. Bacon and Tomato Guacamole
Definitely less traditional, this rendition calls for bacon, white onion, tomato, cilantro, and chipotles in adobo sauce. Use Hass avocados. Get our Bacon and Tomato Guacamole recipe.
5. Avocado Crema
It's not guacamole, but it's close. The main difference? Sour cream. This makes a good sauce on spicy shrimp, on black bean cakes, and on eggs in breakfast burritos. You can use it as a dip too. Get our Avocado Crema recipe.
6. Guacamole Turkey Burgers
With the dark-meat ground turkey and rich guacamole, this is anything but a bland, dry healthy substitute for a beef burger. Try it. You'll see. Get our Guacamole Turkey Burgers recipe.
7. Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Coconut Cream
Saving dessert for last, delve into this dark chocolate dream. It's pretty healthy compared to regular chocolate mousse, with the cacao and lower sugar content. It's vegan too. Get our Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Coconut Cream recipe.
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Amy Sowder is the assistant editor at Chowhound in New York City. She loves cheesy things, especially toasties and puns. She's trying to like mushrooms. Her running habit is the excuse for her gelato passion. Or is it the other way around? Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and her blog, What Do I Eat Now. Learn more at AmySowder.com.