Avocado is a delicious and nutritious fruit that can be prepared in many ways. Three popular avocado dishes are guacamole, smashed avocado, and avocado salsa. While all three dishes use mashed avocado as the base, they have distinct ingredients and textures that set them apart.
Guacamole is a thick, chunky Mexican dip or spread made from mashed avocados. The name comes from an Aztec Nahuatl word, “āhuacamolli,” meaning avocado sauce. Guacamole has its roots in Aztec cuisine but has evolved over time with Spanish influences after colonization. Today, guacamole is popular in Mexico and North America.
Ingredients in Guacamole
The main ingredient in guacamole is ripe avocados. The flesh of the avocados is mashed and mixed with additional ingredients to make the dip. Common extra ingredients are:
- Chopped tomatoes
- Chili peppers like jalapeño or serrano
- Lime or lemon juice
Texture of Guacamole
Guacamole can have a chunky, thick texture with pieces of avocado and vegetables visible, or it can be blended completely smooth. It depends on personal preference. Some chunkiness provides more varied textures. Puréeing creates a denser, creamier dip.
When made well, guacamole has a rich, creamy mouthfeel from the avocado. The green flavor of the avocados dominates, complemented by bright lime juice and herbal cilantro. Onions and chili peppers add savory spiciness. The tomatoes provide fresh acidity and color. Salt enhances the flavors.
Smashed avocado is a simple dish made by mashing ripe avocado flesh. It is often eaten as a breakfast food or snack, spread on toast or eaten with crackers. Smashed avocado has fewer ingredients than guacamole.
Ingredients in Smashed Avocado
Smashed avocado starts with ripe Hass avocados. The bare minimum ingredients are:
- Avocado flesh
Optional additions like lemon juice, chili flakes, or herbs can add more flavor.
Texture of Smashed Avocado
True to its name, smashed avocado has a coarsely mashed texture. The avocado chunks are lightly crushed but still retain some of their original shape. This gives smashed avocado a rustic, chunky appearance. The texture should be spreadable but not completely smooth.
With minimal ingredients, the fresh buttery avocado flavor takes center stage in smashed avocado. A pinch of salt enhances the natural flavors. Lemon brightens it up. Overall, smashed avocado has a milder, simpler taste than guacamole.
Avocado salsa combines mashed avocados with Mexican salsa verde, made of tomatillos instead of tomatoes. It has a thinner, sauce-like texture. Avocado salsa can be served as a dip, condiment, salad dressing, taco topper, and more.
Ingredients in Avocado Salsa
Avocado salsa contains:
- Chopped tomatillos
- Serrano or jalapeño peppers
- Chopped avocado
- Optional: garlic, lime juice, water
Texture of Avocado Salsa
Avocado salsa has a thinner, spoonable consistency compared to guacamole. While guacamole can be spread on a chip, avocado salsa is more of a pourable sauce. The tomatillos provide liquid that creates a looser texture.
Avocado salsa offers bright, tangy flavors from the tomatillos and lime juice. The avocado gives it a silky, creamy mouthfeel and green color. Onions and peppers add savory spice. Cilantro offers fresh, grassy flavors. Overall, avocado salsa is more tart and thin than guacamole.
While smashed avocado, guacamole, and avocado salsa all contain mashed avocados, they vary in:
- Texture: Smashed avocado is chunky, guacamole is thick and scoopable, avocado salsa is thin and pourable
- Ingredients: Guacamole and salsa have more extra ingredients, smashed avocado is simpler
- Flavors: Guacamole is rich and creamy, salsa is tangy, smashed avocado emphasizes the avocado
- Uses: Guacamole is a dip, smashed avocado is a spread, salsa is a sauce
Origins of Guacamole
Guacamole originated hundreds of years ago with the indigenous Aztec people in what is now Mexico. The Aztecs grew avocados and ate them mashed into a sauce called āhuacamolli with chili peppers and tomatoes.
When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they adopted guacamole and added ingredients like onion, cilantro, and lime juice. “Āhuacamolli” became “aguacate” in Spanish and eventually “avocado” in English.
Today, guacamole remains an iconic Mexican and Mexican-inspired dish. It has also become a beloved snack and appetizer across the United States, especially for occasions like Cinco de Mayo and Super Bowl Sunday when millions of pounds of guacamole are consumed.
Traditional Guacamole Recipe
To make traditional guacamole:
- Chop 2-3 ripe avocados and mash the flesh with a fork
- Add the juice of 1 lime and 1/2 a chopped onion
- Chop 1-2 Roma tomatoes and 1 serrano chili pepper and add to avocado
- Chop a handful of cilantro leaves and add
- Season with salt and pepper
- Mix well and adjust seasoning
History of Smashed Avocado
While guacamole has origins in pre-Hispanic Mexico, smashed avocado is a much more modern dish. The simplicity of smashed avocado makes good use of nutritious, tasty avocados.
Smashed avocado started gaining popularity in the 1990s in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand as a quick breakfast dish. In the early 2000s, Australian cafes started serving smashed avocado toast. Avocado toast soon became a trendy brunch meal.
The California avocado industry promoted avocados’ use in toast as a versatile snack. Due to its popularity, smashed avocado is sometimes called “avocado toast” even when not served on bread.
Simple Smashed Avocado Recipe
To make smashed avocado:
- Slice 1 ripe avocado and remove pit
- Scoop out avocado flesh into bowl
- Roughly mash avocado with a fork or spoon
- Season with a pinch of salt and pepper
- Optional: add a squeeze of lemon juice
Serve smashed avocado on toast, with eggs, as a dip, or however you like!
History of Avocado Salsa
Avocado salsa has roots in Mexican cuisine, stemming from traditional salsa verde. Salsa verde is made mainly from tomatillos, herbs, and chilis. Adding rich, creamy avocado gives it extra body and luxurious texture.
In Mexico, salsas are typically served as condiments to accompany dishes like tacos, meat, and eggs. Mexican restaurants first popularized avocado salsa in the U.S. as an appetizer dip with tortilla chips.
Bottled green salsas made with avocado are now sold in supermarkets across the United States as dips and salad dressings. Avocado salsa’s popularity continues rising along with interest in Mexican cuisine.
Easy Avocado Salsa Verde Recipe
To make avocado salsa verde:
- In a blender, blend 1 pound tomatillos, 1/2 onion, 1 jalapeño, and a handful of cilantro
- Scoop out 1 avocado and add to blender
- Blend until combined but still chunky
- Add water if needed for thinner consistency
- Season with salt, pepper, lime juice
- Dip for tortilla chips, pita chips, or raw veggies
- Burrito or taco topping
- Quesadilla or nacho topping
- Sandwich spread
- Toast topping
- Dip for crackers or bread
- Bagel, sandwich, or wrap filling
- Eggs Benedict topping
- Salad dressing base
- Dip for chips
- Taco topping
- Enchilada sauce
- Salad dressing
- Grilled meat marinade
All three dishes provide the nutritional benefits of avocados, which contain:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamins C, E, K, and B-6
Amounts vary based on ingredients. Guacamole and salsa have chopped produce, providing more nutrients. Plain smashed avocado is lowest in calories when served without bread or oils.
Buying and Storing Avocados
Ripe avocados are key for great guacamole, smashed avocado, or salsa. Look for avocados that yield slightly when squeezed but aren’t squishy. Ripe avocados can be stored in the fridge up to 5 days.
To ripen avocados faster, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple, which will release ethylene gas. Store guacamole, smashed avocado, and salsa in airtight containers for up to 3 days.
Prevent avocados from browning by storing them with the pit in or sprinkle with lemon juice. Plastic wrap pressed onto the surface also prevents oxidation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is guacamole just smashed avocado?
Guacamole goes beyond smashed avocado with the addition of ingredients like onions, tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, and spices. The extra ingredients provide more complex flavors.
Is guacamole better than regular avocado?
Whether guacamole tastes better than plain avocado comes down to personal preference. Guacamole has more going on with its seasoning and mix-ins. But plain avocado showcases the taste of high quality, ripe fruit.
Why is avocado salsa different than guacamole?
Avocado salsa uses tomatillos as the base while guacamole primarily uses avocado. Salsa also has a thinner, pourable texture compared to the thicker dip consistency of guacamole.
What’s the difference between mashed avocado and guacamole?
Mashed avocado is simply avocado flesh crushed with a fork or spoon. Guacamole has added ingredients like lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and spices for more complex flavors.
Can you freeze guacamole, smashed avocado, or salsa?
Yes, all three can be frozen for longer term storage. Place in a freezer-safe container in a single layer, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Thaw in the fridge before using.
While smashed avocado, guacamole, and avocado salsa all deliver delicious avocado flavor, they have notable differences. Understanding the contrasts in texture, taste, and use can help you make or choose the right dish for any occasion.
Smashed avocado is a simple snack or breakfast. Guacamole is a chunky, flavorful dip. And salsa is a pourable dressing or topping. With ripe avocados and basic ingredients, you can easily whip up any of these avocado delights at home.