We Tested 9 Methods for Keeping Guacamole from Browning and Found a Winner (Once and for All)
Guacamole is one of those dishes that will always be better when made with the freshest ingredients. Nicely ripened avocados, crisp diced onion, chopped cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime juice make an unbeatable and classic dip. The downside? It doesn’t take very long for that mashed avocado to go from bright green to brownish-gray.
That’s because oxygen is guacamole’s most dreaded enemy. When an avocado is removed from its peel and exposed to air, the enzymes in the flesh oxidize and turn an off-putting brown color. While it’s usually still edible, it’s not the most pleasant to eat, let alone serve to hungry guests.
There’s a treasure trove of online advice on how to prevent guacamole from browning, but it’s difficult to know which one is the most effective without trying them ourselves. So we’ve gathered the most popular methods and put them all to the test.
So, What Is the Best Method for Preventing Guacamole from Browning After All?
After testing nine methods, I found that a good squeeze of lemon juice was by far the best at preventing guacamole from turning brown. Lime juice was a close second. Read on to learn more about the methods we tested, including ones that elicited some surprising outcomes.
A Few Notes on Methodology
Ratings: The main criteria I used to test and rate each of these methods was first and foremost how brown (or not brown) the surface of the guacamole was after one hour, and then after two hours. As you’ll see, some methods browned a little while others browned a lot in the same amount of time.
Additionally, for methods that involved using an edible ingredient to prevent browning, I took into account how that ingredient might affect the overall flavor or quality of the guacamole once it was incorporated. If the ingredient altered the flavor too much or made it taste bad, it obviously would receive a low score.
Lastly, I also took into account if a method required a specialized tool or piece of equipment that couldn’t be found easily. A method that called for a hard-to-find tool could risk a lower score.
Timing: I used three different time marks for checking on the brownness of each bowl of guacamole. I checked each bowl after one hour, one-and-a-half hours, and two hours. While the speed at which each started to brown was taken into account, the amount of the browning was also noted.
Guacamole: I used Hass avocados and made a large batch of guacamole with chopped onion, cilantro, tomato, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and juice from half a lime. I portioned the guacamole out into smaller bowls for testing, so each had about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of guacamole.
Method: Brushing the Surface of the Guacamole with Olive Oil
- Rating: 3/10
About this method: This method is recommended by a few different sites, including SELF, Stonehill Produce, and Tasting Table. Smoothing the surface of the guacamole and then brushing olive oil on top is thought to prevent browning. I used a silicone pastry brush dipped in a little bit of olive oil and brushed it on top of the guacamole.
Results: This method didn’t work well. After about an hour, the surface of the guacamole was very visibly brown, much more than some of the other methods I tested. Additionally, even though olive oil is an edible ingredient, it has somewhat of a strong flavor. And after mixing the browned guacamole, the flavor tasted slightly compromised. I gave this method the lowest rating because it not only didn’t prevent browning well, but it also changed the flavor of the guacamole in a not-so-great way.
Method: Leaving the Avocado Pit in the Guacamole
- Rating: 4/10
About this method: After reading less-than-stellar reviews of this method from different outlets online, including Well + Good, Live Science, and McGill University, I was skeptical. It involves leaving the pit from the avocados in guacamole to prevent or lessen browning.
Results: This method did absolutely nothing to prevent browning on any part of the surface of the guacamole. Within an hour, the guacamole started to brown a lot. The only reason this method is ranked higher than the olive oil method is that it didn’t alter the flavor of the guacamole.
Method: Covering the Surface of the Guacamole with Avocado Peels
- Rating: 4/10
About this method: This is yet another method that recommends holding on to part of the whole avocado as a way of preventing browning in homemade guacamole. This method has been addressed and tested by Real Simple and involves laying the avocado peels flat on top of the surface of the guacamole to create a barrier between the avocado and oxygen.
Results: As Real Simple reported, this method was not super practical (it was difficult to actually get the rounded peels to lay down flat against the guacamole). Moreover, it also just didn’t work well in preventing browning. After an hour, the guacamole was more than half brown overall. The browning for this method was very noticeable, although slightly less than the olive oil and avocado pit methods. Although this method didn’t affect the flavor, I gave it a low rating because of the unwieldy nature of trying to get avocado peels to flatten out.
Method: Coating the Surface of the Guacamole with Cooking Spray
- Rating: 5/10
About this method: This method, mentioned by Lifehacker and Cooking Light, is similar to the olive oil method. The technique is super straightforward: Just cover the surface of the guacamole with a little bit of cooking spray, preferably unflavored. In my test, I used a neutral-flavored bottle of Pam.
Results: This method sort of worked. After about an hour-and-a-half, there was a good amount of browning, but considerably less than the methods above. Also, because this involved a technically edible ingredient, I took into consideration how Pam might affect the flavor of the guacamole. Overall, though, because the spray is rather neutral in flavor, it had little to no influence on the taste, at least to a point where I felt that the guacamole wasn’t at least decent.
Method: Covering the Surface of the Guacamole with Plastic Wrap
- Rating: 6.5/10
About this method: This is one of the more common methods recommended by a number of different sources, including All Recipes and Spoon University. The technique involves pressing a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole tightly to prevent browning. This method is thought to work well, as the plastic wrap creates a tightly sealed barrier on top of the guacamole, shielding it from oxygen.
Results: This method was good, but not great. I was slightly surprised by this, as my instincts told me that the plastic would create a tough barrier against the open air, especially if you take the time to carefully place it over the entire surface of the guacamole like I did. After about an hour there was little browning, but after one-and-a-half hours to two hours, there was a decent amount of browning on the surface. Overall, I think this method works well, especially if you only have plastic wrap on hand, but the results could have been better.
Method: Covering the Surface of the Avocado with a Layer of Water
- Rating: 7/10
About this method: This method is not only one of the most popular online, but it’s also one of the simplest ones out there. It involves smoothing out the surface of guacamole and gently pouring a layer of water over the top. We’ve actually written about this method on Kitchn and given particular directions on how to execute it at home.
A method similar to the one mentioned above, however, which involves completely submerging halved avocados in water to prevent browning, went viral on TikTok in 2022. Later on, however, the FDA found that there were some safety concerns related to it.
Disclaimer: A spokesperson from the FDA concluded that while there isn’t sufficient research to support the idea that the first method is unsafe, there is also little evidence that proves it is 100% risk-free. Because this method is incredibly popular, however, we felt it was worth testing.
Results: After about one hour, the guacamole was still pretty green, and there was minimal browning even after one-and-a-half hours. After about two hours, the guacamole had more noticeable browning but wasn’t nearly as brown as the other tests above. That said, though, I gave this method 7/10 because of the uncertainty related to its food safety.
Method: Keeping the Guacamole Covered in a Specialized Guacamole Container
- Rating: 8/10
About this method: This method isn’t so much a method as much as it is the use of a very specialized food product. The Guac Lock is a container made for the sole purpose of keeping guacamole fresh and preventing it from browning on the top.
The container has clear sides, a tight-fitting lid that locks into place, and a flat bottom that can move into the container to fit the size of whatever is in it in order for it to be airtight. To do this, the product comes with a circular white component that’s meant to help firmly press the bottom of the guacamole-filled container into itself to reduce the amount of air.
Results: After about two full hours, the guacamole was actually barely browned at all, which was a nice surprise. I will say, however, I don’t know if the payoff outweighed the process of using the product. The product was just a little bit hard to come by (you may need to go to a couple different stores or sites to get one when it’s in stock) and using the product was a little bit messy. If you only have a small amount of guacamole in the container, it can be a little difficult to press the bottom all the way down to make sure it’s super tight. Plus, when you take the lid off of the product, you will likely have some of the guacamole stuck to the lid of the container.
Ultimately, this product reduced the amount of browning that normally happens, but execution was not the easiest.
Method: Squeezing Lime Juice over the Surface of the Guacamole
- Rating: 9/10
About this method: This is arguably the most commonly used method for preventing browning on guacamole. There are a couple of reasons that might be: First, if you’re making proper guacamole, then you already have limes to use for freshly squeezed juice. Secondly, lime juice already fits the flavor profile for guacamole well, so adding a little extra squeeze on top likely wouldn’t make a difference. Lastly, limes are usually pretty affordable, even given the inflated grocery prices.
Results: This is honestly a tried-and-true method! The lime juice worked super well to prevent browning on the surface of the guacamole, even after a full two hours at room-temperature. The guacamole with lime juice was almost shockingly more green than all of the methods mentioned above. Plus, the taste of the guacamole wasn’t negatively affected by the extra lime juice. The naturally acidic nature of the lime juice honestly has a magical effect on homemade guacamole, not just in terms of taste but also in keeping browning at bay, too.
Method: Squeezing Lemon Juice over the Surface of the Guacamole
- Rating: 10/10
About this method: This method is identical to the lime juice method and is recommended by many sites, including PureWow, Mexicali Blue, and Avocados from Mexico. I simply squeezed the juice from half a lemon over the surface of the prepared guacamole. I checked for browning after one hour, one-and-a-half hours, and two hours.
Results: I couldn’t believe how well this worked! Not only did the lemon juice work well to prevent browning on the surface of the guacamole, but it also did a noticeably better job than the lime juice. While the lime juice did a spectacular job, the lemon juice still beat it out. There was a tiny bit of browning around some of the edges of the guacamole for both the lemon and lime juice methods, but the lemon juice truly worked a miracle! This was a rather subtle surprise, as lemons and limes are both similar in tartness and have similar levels of acidity.
Overall, squeezing lemon or lime juice over the top of guacamole is, without a doubt, the best method to prevent browning. Neither method impacted the taste of the guacamole, and both fruits are affordable and easy to find!