Avocados are a strange and delicious fruit that can be used in a plethora of ways. While avocado toast gets much of the notoriety and even some derision, we all know the true star of the avocado world is guacamole.
Guacamole is comprised of smashed avocados mixed with spices and lime juice, which is key for a restaurant-worthy spread. Sometimes it even includes diced produce such as tomatoes, peppers, or onions. Early versions of guacamole can be traced to the 1500s, when Spanish explorers encountered the Aztecs, though avocados themselves date back thousands of years. With all that history, there are lots of unique guacamole recipes out there to take your dip to the next level, whether you prefer it with cilantro or without the controversial herb. But not everyone has the time or interest in such culinary creations.
Now, of course, you walk into any grocery store, and you likely will find a selection of pre-made guacamole that stays green and fresh-looking, making it hard to know which one to get. With ready-made guacamoles, some are definitely better than others. We purchased 12 varieties of prepared guacamole and tasted each one, judging based on the flavor, texture, and combination of ingredients. We're here to let you know which ones are worth your money and which ones to skip.
Do Buy: Trader Joe's Organic Chunky Homestyle Guacamole
The Trader Joe's Organic Chunky Homestyle Guacamole was nearly perfect. While guacamole is undoubtedly best when made fresh, this packaged product was the closest we found to achieving that delicious homemade quality.
The Trader Joe's guacamole was thick but easily scoopable. The flavors were well-balanced and combined fresh, bright ingredients with subtle and effective spices. Beyond the avocados, its main ingredients include tomatoes, onion, lime juice, jalapeño peppers, salt, garlic, and that love-it-or-hate-it cilantro.
Overall, this was the guacamole we knew the moment we tasted it that it was likely to be the winner, and when all was said and done, we kept coming back to this one. Trader Joe's definitely spans the quality gamut here, bookending this list. But we are happy to see that the company can and does make a truly excellent guacamole. In a pinch, this is the guac we will be running to the store to get. Whether it is for our own night in or for a party, we will not be disappointed to open up a container of this delightfully chunky guacamole.
Don't Buy: Trader Joe's Guacasalsa With Tomatillos
Trader Joe's Guacasalsa was arguably the worst guacamole we tried. But this product was not all bad. As the name implies, there are tomatillos in this. What surprised us, though, was the quantity. Tomatillos are delicious and naturally tangy. The green color works well with the green avocado, but this guacasalsa has one major flaw: consistency.
Often, tomatillos are compared to tomatoes, as they are both acidic and look similar (though they are not the same). But while most guacamole recipes that include tomatoes just sprinkle them in, keeping the avocado as the star, this guacamole's first ingredient is the tomatillo, which changes the product's texture from a rich, guacamole-like dip to a more liquid, salsa-like condiment. Then Trader Joe's went and added more water into the mix. This creates a tangy guacasalsa that is so watery it practically falls off the chip. Other ingredients include jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime juice, garlic puree, and sea salt. So while the flavor was good, this overly smooth, runny guacamole will not be finding its way back to our fridge.
Do Buy: Trader Joe's Chunky Guacamole Made With Greek Yogurt
Trader Joe's certainly knows how to mix things up when it comes to guacamole. This Chunky Guacamole from the retailer was the most surprising one that we tried. This time, in addition to traditional guacamole ingredients, Trader Joe's has added Greek yogurt. This non-traditional ingredient packs a serious and delicious punch.
The Greek yogurt adds an extra layer of creaminess and an extra layer of tang that is simply not reached by any of the other guacamoles. While some guacamoles verge into sour territory, this one stays firmly in the pleasantly tangy range. In addition, this guacamole has chopped tomatoes and red onions, which just adds some more texture and flavor. Other ingredients include lime juice, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, sea salt, and black pepper.
The downside is that the Greek yogurt adds a slight chalkiness. In addition, the flavor is a departure from the traditional guacamole flavor. Once upon a time, this product fell under the horribly named "Reduced Guilt" line of foods that Trader Joe's offered. The inclusion of Greek yogurt cuts down on calories. While we don't love that this was the incentive to try this combo, we do enjoy the result. And we are glad Trader Joe's has dropped the shaming name from the product.
Don't Buy: Sabra Classic Guacamole
Sabra Classic Guacamole singles had the most potential, but then the manufacturers went and squandered it. This dip started off strong; the base ingredients of avocado, onion, tomato, jalapeños, salt, and garlic are good. But somehow, the flavors just don't come through. This guacamole has concentrated lime juice, dehydrated onions, and dried cilantro, so you would think the flavor would be potent, but it's just not. It is lackluster and kind of boring.
There is also ascorbic acid, which we think contributes to the odd aftertaste this guacamole has. While we understand the need for acid, as guacamole can oxidize and turn brown quickly, most of the other guacamoles on this list do just fine without it, so we have to wonder why the brand even bothered including it. While this guacamole was aesthetically pleasing and had a pleasant consistency, its flavor just couldn't compare to the other guacamole options out there.
Do Buy: Kirkland Signature Classic Chunky Guacamole
Kirkland Signature Classic Chunky Guacamole came in as a surprising star, beating out other house brand guacamoles on our list. Costco has a reputation for quality when it comes to its Kirkland Signature items, and it definitely upheld the wholesaler's reputation here.
This guacamole is cheap and comes in large quantities. But more importantly, it tastes good. This guac brings bright flavors with lime juice and diced tomatoes; it has texture, and it really delivers everything we could want with guacamole. Also, as an added bonus, it is organic. There really is not much to complain about with this guacamole. We also appreciate that instead of using dried cilantro and dried garlic, this guacamole uses fresh versions. Rounding out the ingredients list are onions, red onions, and jalapeño peppers. All of this adds visual and flavorful elements that were lacking in some of the lesser guacamoles.
This guacamole was incredibly close to taking home the win. It was almost there. It did not win through any fault of its own but simply because there was one other guacamole that blew us away.
Don't Buy: 365 Guacamole Spicy
Once again, we had high hopes for this particular guacamole, but they were dashed. Let's start with our biggest gripe: This guacamole is called spicy, and while it tastes spicier than other brands, it is not what we would ever consider spicy -- particularly because the other guacamole on our list from the 365 brand sold through Whole Foods Market was comparably spicy when it wasn't supposed to be.
In addition to the spice level being off, the balance of flavors is also just not up to par. This guacamole is super acidic. It's to the point that the acid becomes a prominent flavor. Maybe this has to do with the use of acetic acid, ascorbic acid, and citric acid, all of which seem unnecessary and all of which are included on the ingredients list. This guacamole also has jalapeño peppers along with jalapeño powder, garlic powder, onion powder, lime juice concentrate, salt, and dehydrated onions.
Speaking of unnecessary, this guacamole contains xanthan gum, which we have to question. The additive is typically used to thicken and stabilize foods. But it gives this guacamole an almost pasty consistency and is just so unnecessary. This is a perfect example where less would have been more.
Do Buy: Good Foods Chunky Traditional Guacamole
Good Foods Chunky Traditional Guacamole was good enough. We would consider it a top three guacamole from among the ones we tried. This guacamole brings us back to a traditional style, with only the basics you would expect to find in it.
The ingredients here are simple but effective. There are avocados, tomatoes, red onions, onions, cilantro, sea salt, jalapeños, lime juice, and garlic. This combination offers a bright and flavorful guacamole that is not too spicy or too plain. It nearly perfectly finds the balance between those two qualities.
In addition, the texture is just right. The chunks of avocado along with the pieces of tomatoes and onions add to the textural interest of the dip. We particularly appreciate the use of two types of onions, which add a multitude of flavors and mild sweetness to the guacamole. While there were a few guacamoles we liked better, this was very nearly the best.
Don't Buy: 365 Guacamole Traditional
Based on our thoughts on the spicy guacamole from the 365 brand, it should come as no surprise that the traditional guacamole isn't any better. Once again, the contents include xanthan gum, which messes with the texture. Guacamole is not naturally a particularly runny product, so we really do wonder why Whole Foods Market felt the need to firm things up even more.
Also, once again, the flavor is off, with an incredibly strong acidic flavor overpowering everything else due to the inclusion of acetic acid, ascorbic acid, and citric acid. Other ingredients include salt, jalapeño peppers and jalapeño powder, garlic and onion powders, red bell peppers and onions that are dehydrated, lime juice concentrate, and cilantro flakes.
We also found that this version of the guacamole was a little spicy, which further proved that the spicy guacamole wasn't all that different from the traditional version (it's also why the spicy guac ranks even lower than this traditional version, even though the problems are the same). At least this one wasn't pretending to be something it's not. It just wasn't very good. It is ironic to us that Whole Foods, the company founded on the principle of simple food devoid of fillers and preservatives, has the most additives of all the guacamole dips we tried. It is confusing, and there are much better guacamoles out there.
Do Buy: Wholly Guacamole Classic
Wholly Guacamole is where this list takes a significant turn for the better. The classic version from this brand is exactly what you think of when you think of a basic guacamole. The texture is on point. It is smooth but offers small chunks to keep things interesting. There is a mild tang from the distilled vinegar in it, and there are some nice peppery and spicy notes. Overall, it's a solid dip.
That being said, the Wholly Guacamole Classic is a little boring, and there is some room for improvement. It would have been nice to see lime juice instead of vinegar. This would have added bright citrus notes and acid instead of just acid. We also would have appreciated some greater chunks of produce. The ingredients list includes only jalapeño peppers, salt, dehydrated onion, and granulated garlic. Again, there was nothing particularly wrong with this guacamole; it is just that there were comparable and better ones available. It also was on the more expensive side.
The brand does make some other varieties -- spicy, chunky, organic, and Hatch chile -- which may bring more to the table. But this version, which was the only one available to us at the time, did not measure up to some of the others on our list.
Don't Buy: Park Street Deli Restaurant-Style Guacamole Southwest
For those unaware, Park Street Deli is one of the many brands sold at Aldi grocery stores. Historically, Aldi has made some pretty decent store-brand items, and this is no different. While it was not our favorite, the Park Street Deli Restaurant-Style Guacamole Southwest flavor was pretty good. It was thick and creamy and offered up a unique flavor.
Our main gripe is the inclusion of the roasted corn and black beans with the avocados and tomatoes. While it's fine -- we might even say good -- it really turns this into a whole new kind of dip. If you are searching for a classic guacamole, this is not the option for you.
The ingredients list also includes poblano and jalapeño peppers, red onions, cilantro, sea salt, lime juice, and garlic. In addition, this guac has some firming agents and acid components. While this doesn't ruin the texture or flavor like it does in the 365 brand guacamole, it just doesn't feel necessary, especially when other versions of the dip from this line do not include them.
Do Buy: Park Street Deli Guacamole Classic Singles
It is the return, and redemption of the Park Street Deli Guacamole. This time, we are here with the classic flavor. Not only does this offer the affordability of Aldi, but this version of the dip is superior to its Southwest variant.
First of all, we have a classic flavor. It is mildly flavorful and is exactly what you think of when you think of guacamole. In addition, this version does not have the same additives that the Southwest version has. Instead, it is made from a straightforward combination of avocado, distilled vinegar, water, jalapeños, salt, dehydrated onion, and granulated garlic. While these are not all fresh ingredients, they are all perfectly serviceable. They are also identical to what's in the Wholly Guacamole brand dip, and it tastes like it. The two products are nearly indistinguishable.
The thing that gives Park Street Deli the win here is the price. Prices may vary by location, but we can buy Wholly Guacamole at $0.49 per ounce at Kroger, while the Park Street brand sells for only about $0.29 per ounce at Aldi. The Park Street Deli Guacamole tastes the same but is cheaper, so it gets the win between the two.
Do Buy: Good And Gather Classic Guacamole
Once again, we are here with a guacamole that is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the previous two. The Good & Gather Classic Guacamole has the same ingredients in the same order as the Wholly Guacamole and the Park Street Deli versions do. They all have similar textures and flavors. Frankly, if all things were equal, any one of those three could have taken this spot.
When considering each of the guacamoles available, we were drawn to the version from Good & Gather, which is a Target brand, for a few reasons. One is price. The Good & Gather Classic Guacamole costs almost $0.40 per ounce. Again, the Wholly Guacamole dip is the most expensive of the three for a product that is not discernibly better than the other two. While Park Street Deli is cheaper than Good & Gather, Target has more locations than Aldi, which makes it easier to access. In the absence of other defining factors, Good & Gather's moderate price and easy availability give it a win.
Everyone has their own opinions on what makes a guacamole great. Whether you are a fan of tomatoes and cilantro or you prefer a plain guacamole, there are a few things we looked for in order to make our determinations.
The first was the balance of flavor. We looked at how each company balanced spiciness, acidity, and any additional flavors and textures. With this, we only included guacamole that included more than just smashed avocados with some salt and pepper. We also took into account the texture and body. We felt a quality guacamole should be scoopable but not too runny and should include some pieces of avocado. We did not want a full puree, as the lack of texture can be detrimental to the dip.
Read the original article on Mashed.