Guacamole is so easy to make that it's almost silly to buy it from the store. But sometimes you just don't have 10 minutes to chop and mash your way to homemade. Maybe you're heading straight to a party from work, or grabbing some snacks on the road while heading for the beach, or maybe you'd rather focus your efforts on making an entrée and not an app? Besides, you can't always get your hands on perfectly ripe avocados right when you need them.
That's why store-bought guacamole will always have its place. Every supermarket has a few brands to choose from, tucked away near the hummus or salad dressings. But which one tastes the closest to homemade? Clearly we needed to put them to the test.
I rounded up all the brands I could find (and a bag of chips), asked my guac-averse husband to set up a blind tasting.
I will fully admit that they all tasted pretty darn good with tortilla chips. But when tasting them side by side with just a spoon, some brands really stood out from the rest. Some were way more sour than others, and some had an oddly unctuous texture, like they were whipped with oil or something. Those tended to score lower, and when I checked the ingredients afterward I found they were the ones that had no lime juice whatsoever, and usually a thickener/stabilizer like guar gum or xanthan gum too.
Here are the results.
Wholly Guacamole Homestyle, $4.99 for eight ounces
Of all the brands, this one tastes the closest to homemade. It's bright with lime, but not too much, with plenty of small chunks of avocado, onion, and tomato interspersed throughout the purée. It has just enough spice to keep it interesting, and the salt is balanced.
Whole Foods, $5.08 for .57 pounds
I'm not sure if it's cheating to include this, as it's made on site, not in a factory. But, hey, store-bought is store-bought. This is super chunky almost to a fault, with 1/2-inch pieces of onion and whole cilantro leaves studded throughout. But I like a rustic texture so I am on board with this. The salt and lime are balanced, and there is just enough warm heat from jalapeños to make it interesting, but not outright hot.
Trader Joe's Chunky Spicy Guacamole Autentico, $2.99 for 12 ounces
What I like about this one is its strong vegetal flavor of peppers, plus a big hit of spice. This is made with a healthy hit of chiles — jalapeños, serranos, and chiles de arbol — which makes it stand out from the crowd.
Hope Guacamole Green Chile, $4.99 for eight ounces
This organic brand is sold at Whole Foods, and it is the most dense of all the brands I tried. It has distinct vegetal notes from the green chile peppers, which I like. It could use a little more lime to loosen and brighten it up, but it is tasty overall.
Sabra Classic Guacamole, $4.99 for eight ounces
Classic is indeed the perfect way to label this very middle-of-the-road guac. It has all the usual guacamole ingredients (no weird stuff), but it is just too neutral to score higher. Mostly a smooth purée, it does have some nicely discernible chunks, although it isn't as "homestyle" in texture as the Wholly Guacamole and definitely not as rustic as the one from Whole Foods.
Cabo Fresh Fiesta Guacamole, $6.99 for 12 ounces
If you like the blast of salty lime you get on lime-flavored tortilla chips, you might like this one. The brightness is almost artificial in its intensity. And there is something not completely "avocado" about the creaminess. There aren't any artificial flavors, but it does have several ingredients contributing to that super-acidic flavor: pickled jalapeños, vinegar, ascorbic acid, and citric acid. No lime juice, though! Guar gum must be the ingredient that gives it the weird texture.
Trader Joe's Avocado's Number Guacamole, $3.99 for 12 ounces
If you don't like lime or chunks of onions, this one's for you. The flavor is super salty and almost savory like broth, with none of the citrus notes I associate with guac. It's brightened with vinegar only, which is maybe why the savoriness of the dehydrated onion and granulated garlic really stand out.
Yucatan Authentic Guacamole, $4.39 for eight ounces
The texture is a little too silky and whipped for my taste, resembling more of a baby food purée than a chunky guacamole. And it is overly salty and sour. Sugar listed as the third ingredient (why?) and it contains xanthan gum. There's also no lime juice in this guac.
Do you have a favorite store-bought guacamole? Was it listed here? Tell us in the comments below!