My mother is an expert zhuzh-er. When I was growing up, I would sink low into my chair while she added salsa, hot sauce, and extra lime (stolen from the rims of everyone’s margarita glasses) to the guacamole at our local Mexican restaurant.
It left me red-cheeked with embarrassment then, but these days, I can fully appreciate her talent of knowing just what any dish needs—whether it be her own cooking, an appetizer at a restaurant, or a store-bought prepared food.
There are a lot of “good” store-bought guacamole out there, but with a few simple tips, you can make them great. Here’s how (thanks, mom!):
Sprinkle in Some Salt and Pepper
This might seem obvious, but something as simple as salt and pepper can really bring out the flavors in a bland, store-bought guacamole. I recommend adding sea salt and fresh cracked red pepper for the best flavor transformation.
Squeeze a Little Lime
It’s just a fact that all store-bought guacs need more lime. And if you like some tang, now is not the time to be conservative; go ahead and add in a whole lime—it’s hard to overdo it! As an adult, I’ll even sacrifice the lime on my own margarita glass, knowing it will bring the guac to a whole new level of delicious.
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Squeeze out every last drop.
Spice It Up
This can take the form of anything spicy you have lying around, including crushed red pepper, chopped jalapeno, or any bottled hot sauce. Just add it in to taste and watch your guac transform before your eyes. If you’re looking for a smoky flavor, you could always opt for smoked paprika and chili powder, which will add some strong flavor without a lot of spice.
Add a Dab of Dairy
Antoni from “Queer Eye” got a lot of flack for adding Greek yogurt to guacamole, but honestly, it’s a delicious way to take your guac to a whole new level of creamy. As an added bonus, Greek yogurt is also full of protein and beneficial probiotics—and it keeps your guac from turning brown. All you need is a dollop, and you can also use sour cream for something even more decadent.
Feature Fresh Veggies
Most of us have at least one spare onion or pepper lying around somewhere. Now is the time to put them to good use because adding some fresh chopped veggies can take a store-bought guac to such a delicious place, you’ll forget it came from the store at all. Just dice the onion or pepper nice and small, stir them in, and enjoy the amazing crunchiness and freshness of your new creation.
Stir in Some Salsa
If you don’t have any fresh veggies around the house, check the fridge and pantry for a jar of salsa. You can add a couple tablespoons of salsa to any store-bought guac and get spice, acid, and extra veggies all at once. In fact—and this might be a controversial opinion considering the heated debate over pineapple on pizza—but sometimes I add pineapple salsa to store-bought guacamole for a touch of sweetness. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it!
Fold in Fresh Cilantro
Fresh cilantro is a staple herb in so many Mexican dishes—and for good reason. It not only packs a ton of flavor and health benefits, it also makes your guac smell amazing and incredibly fresh. Just chop the leaves of fresh cilantro finely and add to taste.
Related Reading: What to Do with Cilantro Stems
Whether you’re leaning on store-bought guac for convenience, price, or because you just can’t bear to miss another avocado’s fleeting window of perfect ripeness (How can it be rotten when it was hard as a rock 48-hours ago?!), the seven tips above can make sure that you never have to sacrifice on flavor.
Header image by Chowhound