The One Trick That Actually Works for Keeping Guacamole Green

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Whether the next gathering you’re hosting is a Super Bowl party or a Sunday brunch, snack variety is key. And while I personally love switching up options depending on who’s coming over, one combo almost always makes the cut: tortilla chips and fresh-made guacamole. It’s a steadfast, reliable crowd-pleaser.

But here’s the thing: If I’m having people over, I like to prep as much of the food as I can in advance — and that doesn’t always mesh with fresh guacamole. For the longest time, I’d just grit my teeth and make it at the very last minute, right before guests arrived (or in some cases, after) to ensure things didn’t brown too soon. But, honestly, that’s always stressful.

To see if I could make it a little earlier, I tried all the anti-browning tricks suggested by the internet — like leaving the pit in, or covering it with plastic wrap — but nothing consistently worked. That is, until a few years ago, when a reader tipped me off to their favorite pre-party guacamole trick. Once I tried it myself, it immediately became my favorite as well.

Credit: Melissa Jameson

Add a Top Layer of Pico de Gallo to Keep Guacamole Perfectly Green

Here’s what you do: Make guacamole as usual and scoop it into its serving container. Then cover the top of the guac with a thin layer of pico de gallo. When it’s time to serve, scoop out the pico and put it in a separate dish, or mix it in fully for a blended pico guac. Either way, you’re left with perfectly green guacamole.

Why does this work? The pico de gallo — chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, salt, and lime juice — prevents browning by acting as a barrier to keep air from getting at the guacamole. Now, it’s worth noting that the idea of using a barrier to fend off oxidation isn’t new.

What I love about using pico de gallo is that if you’re prepping a party spread that includes chips and guacamole, you likely already have some on-hand. (It’s easy to make, but most grocers sell it prepared. Trader Joe’s makes a great version for $3.) I also love that, unlike opting for plastic wrap or foil as the barrier, there’s no waste with pico de gallo.

And side note? Yes, you can still absolutely eat brown guacamole! There’s nothing wrong with it — the taste is unchanged; the color is just a little unappealing. (And if I’m having people over, I want all the food to look as delicious as possible. Can ya blame me?)

Credit: Melissa Jameson

Don’t Have Pico de Gallo Handy? Water Works Too.

Previously, we highlighted another smart waste-free trick to keep guacamole green: store it with a layer of water on top. If you just don’t have time to make or get pico, it’ll work, too. But I would still recommend pico if you can. It’ll help avoid dealing with the guest disclaimer (“Don’t worry, it’s just water!”) as you’re pouring it out.

Two last pico tips? When adding the top layer, press down gently to ensure the barrier lines up as closely as possible with the guacamole. And if you’re not a huge fan of the extra lime juice pico will bring, either adjust the amount in your guacamole upfront or opt for the water method instead.