A dollop of guacamole adds a little something special to so many meals, and it’s a heart-healthy snack, too. But sometimes you don’t need a big batch, or perhaps you only have one avocado. This speedy recipe is for those times and more!
Fun fact: avocados are also known as alligator pears, and less commonly, butter fruit.
The latter nickname is new to me, but it makes sense. This endlessly versatile fruit is rich, creamy and downright buttery. (More on the fruit/vegetable classification later, along with additional fun facts and helpful storage tips.)
Happily, the buttery richness comes from beneficial fats, which among other redeeming qualities, help to keep us full longer. Scientifically speaking, when we consume fat, our brains receive a signal to turn off our appetite. Eating healthy fats also slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, which in turn helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
As an added benefit, much of the fat in an avocado is what we call heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, and avocados are the only fruit considered to be a plentiful source of them. What’s more, avocados also contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.
Arguably, guacamole offers one of the most delicious, is not the most popular, ways to savor this nutritional powerhouse. 🥑
Many traditional recipes, however, call for three or four avocados. As a result, many of us hesitate to whip up a batch on a regular basis.
Enter one avocado guac!
Whether you’re cooking for one or two people, or happen to have just one, perfectly ripe avocado on hand, this is your recipe!
I started making this easy variation on my classic bigger batch recipe years ago as an after-school snack for my rapidly-growing sons. It was the sort of thing I could whip up in minutes and it felt sort of special. They would share the bowl between them, and best of all, the nutrient-dense snack would sustain them until dinner.
In the years since, I’ve enjoyed the convenience of this speedy recipe when I make the last-minute determination that a dollop of guacamole would infinitely improve the taco salad I’m serving for dinner. (Since taco salad isn’t the only meal that can be enhanced by the virtues of guacamole, I’ve included a more complete list of ideas, below.)
But first, it’s been a while since I’ve shared some fun facts, so following are a few that caught my attention!
Did you know?
- Though we tend to use avocados like a vegetable, botanically speaking, they are a fruit. Specifically, avocados are single-seeded berries.
- Avocado trees do not self-pollinate. To grow, they need another avocado tree in close proximity.
- Avocados are harvested by hand, using a 16-foot pole to reach the high-hanging fruit. The resulting high cost of labor is why avocados tend to be more expensive than other fruits.
- Who knew? Avocados have higher levels of potassium than bananas! In fact, the levels are almost double: one avocado contains 975 milligrams of potassium, while a single banana offers 487 milligrams.
- The taste and texture of an avocado depends on the region it’s from. Florida-grown avocados are firmer and lower in fat than Hass avocados from Mexico, which are the best pick for mashing and whipping, making the latter an ideal pick for guacamole.
- Most household pets (except birds) can eat an avocado’s creamy green center and not get sick. Beware, however, as the skin and pit can be harmful, even toxic, to cats and dogs.
- The world record for the largest avocado is 5 pounds, 3.6 ounces.
- A single avocado tree produces an average of 60 pounds, or 150 fruit, a year.
- Avocados contain four grams of protein, making them the fruit with the highest protein count.
- Need to ripen an avocado quickly? Place it in a brown paper bag with a banana or two. The bananas release ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that expedites the ripening process in fruit.
- You can freeze ripe avocados－just peel and pit them first. When thawed, they will be rather mushy, so they are best used straight from the freezer in smoothies, or perhaps thawed for use in an occasional baked good.
- Avocados store well at room temperature, but they do ripen quickly, especially in warmer environments. If you aren’t ready to use a ripe avocado, move it to the refrigerator to preserve freshness for a few more days. If an avocado is placed in the fridge when it’s on the firmer side of ripe, it will keep for about a week.
- And finally, have you tried every trick in the book to prevent leftover guacamole or half an avocado from browning, with ho-hum results? A slice of onion placed in the storage container will do the trick! (See photo and additional details below.)
The many ways to enjoy guacamole
- As a topping for tacos (regular or vegetarian), enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas and quesadillas
- As a condiment for burgers－beef, turkey or veggie
- Spread over toast – and topped with an egg for a protein-rich meal
- Dolloped over chili or other lentil and bean stews and hearty soups.
- As a topping for taco salads, burritos bowls and pork carnitas
- On scrambled eggs
- In Loaded Potatoes
- As a dip with tortilla chips or veggie dippers
- On Nachos or Walking Tacos
- As a sauce alternative to grilled chicken and fish
- In Budget Sushi Bowls
- As a topping on this easy taco chicken foil pack meal
- And so much more!
Speedy meal idea
Make a super quick and satisfying burrito-type bowl starting with cooked rice and black beans. From there, add veggies of choice, like corn, tomatoes (or a spoonful of salsa) and bell pepper － even chopped cucumber. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, if you like, and then add a generous spoonful of guacamole. The guac serves as a flavorful binder and dressing alternative while simultaneously providing heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. You could add some cooked chicken, leftover steak or grilled shrimp if you like, but the protein-and fiber-rich beans will give a strictly plant-based bowl excellent staying power.
How to prevent avocados and guacamole from browning
This tip is actually part science experiment! To prevent browning of leftover guacamole or half an avocado, place a few onion slices or a thin wedge on top (they don’t need to fully cover the surface), and then cover and store in the fridge. The plastic wrap doesn’t need to be placed directly on the surface of the guacamole either, as we’re often told to do. The first time I tried this, I couldn’t believe how well it worked. Day one, the guac still vibrant green. Day two (pictured above), the shade of green wasn’t as vibrant, but it was not at all brown. Why does this work? The sulfuric gasses from the onion slow the oxidation of the avocado.
- 1 large ripe avocado, halved and pitted
- 2 tablespoons minced onion (I like red onion)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice*
- ⅛ teaspoon each ground cumin and kosher salt**
- A pinch (1/16 teaspoon) cayenne pepper
- Scoop the avocado flesh into a small bowl and mash with a fork. (You may keep it a little chunky or mash until smooth, as preferred.)
- Add the remaining ingredients, and give it a good stir. Feel free to add an extra pinch of salt or a touch more lime juice to taste. Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips and veggie dippers, or use as a condiment on burgers, burrito bowls, tacos, sandwiches, and more.
*When I don’t have a lime on hand, I use apple cider vinegar instead and it works quite well. Also, too much lime juice can overpower. I’ve played with the amount and find that 1½ to 2 teaspoons, based on precise size of avocado, is perfect. I recommend going light and adding an extra squeeze if desired.
**Sufficient seasoning is key to great tasting guac. For one avocado, I find that somewhere between ⅛-¼ teaspoon of kosher salt is perfect. So as not to overdo it, start with ⅛ teaspoon and add an extra pinch or two to taste.