Game-Changing Ingredients That Will Upgrade Your Guacamole

Want a game day recipe that will really guac your world? Go for the W and get the most outta your 'mole with these crowd-pleasing upgrades for your guacamole.

You're serious when it comes to cheering for your team, so you definitely don't want to play around with rookie-league guac. With great ingredients, you can keep it simple with perfectly ripe avocado, salt, and a squeeze of lime juice. But it's a whole lot of fun to be a little extra. While we admit we're into everyone just having fun (go sports!), we want our snack tray to walk away with MVP and a trip to Disney World.

From kicking up the heat, to pulling a one-eighty with fruit, making it creamier and dreamier, or pumping up the protein, we're bringing our A-game with hot sauce, meat, cheese, chilis, all kinds of spices, and a blazin' grill. (And zero peas.) Get ready for the guac of your life, 'cuz it's go Hass or go home!

Spice it up with chili crisp

It's the crispy spice du jour — and it's basically the rowdy fan with the face paint, ready to dive into your next bowl of guacamole. Doing the job of several ingredients, chili crisp adds heat, a little crunch, umaminess, and a garlicky-sesame vibe that totally works with avocado and tortilla chips. Even better, it's a super easy upgrade.

Chili crisp works magic on everything, but as a guacamole mix-in, you'll want to think ahead to the level of heat you'd like to eat. Usually, eliminating the jalapeño from a normal recipe will leave you enough room to adjust the spice as needed. Just season your regular guac as usual with salt and lime juice, and then stir in the chili crisp at roughly 1 tablespoon per two avocados. A gentle swirl will do it, so you can still see those bright red ribbons of chili crisp throughout the dish. If you're into cilantro (our hearts go out to Team Soapy Flowers), a little sprig on top offers a fragrant finish.

You can make chili crisp yourself and then brag about it during the commercials. But if you're neck deep in pig-in-a-blankets and chile con queso, a jar of chili crisp from the store works just fine. Can't find it anywhere due to local chili crisp fever? You can create a similar flavor and texture with gochujang (fermented red chili paste) and fried onions from the spice aisle.

Lighten up with Greek yogurt

Secretly cut a couple of those guacamole cals by subbing in a little Greek yogurt where some of the avocados would be. And — bonus — no one will know you did it. Not even you.

Plain Greek yogurt adds about four times the protein of its avocado friends, and can potentially slash the calories in half. And thanks to its equally creamy thickness and texture, it tastes just as good as the real deal. While there's really no wrong way to try this method, we recommend using about ¼ cup of yogurt for each avocado in your recipe. You'll get a smooth consistency, along with that signature guacamole green color.

As an added benefit, Greek yogurt also keeps guacamole from turning brown as quickly as it usually does. That's because the lactic acid in the yogurt blocks the enzyme-to-oxygen reaction of the avocado, so it keeps its gorgeous green hue for much longer. Thanks to science, you can chip-n-dip your way through the game like a stone cold snacking champ.

Bring home the bacon

So, the full instructions here are pretty simple: Bacon. Do it. (Is there any way to mess up adding bacon to stuff?) Leave those imitation bacon bits on the shelf where you found them. We've got a few tips to create the most flavorful and savory (real) meat lover's baco-mole. 

First things first, soggy, floppy bacon has no place on a game day platter or anywhere else. No matter what type of bacon you cook up, make sure it's got that crispy crunch so it contrasts the velvety texture of the avocado. We're gonna suggest one crumbled strip of bacon per avocado. And then an extra slice or two to sprinkle on top. Plus one for taste-testing because you always want to taste your cooking. (Do not disregard these obviously very scientific guacamole conversions.)

Highlight the salty meaty vibe with the addition of smoked paprika, or even chipotle peppers. If we didn't have those items in the pantry, we might also mix in a splash of liquid smoke. Hawaiian pizza fans can also finally live their best lives with a bacon and pineapple guac combo. Just sauté diced pineapples in the same pan that you cooked the bacon, with all that delicious fat in there. Caramelized dreams come true much?

Mellow out with onion ceviche

You know those days when you're not in the mood to be drop-kicked by a bunch of onions? Show 'em who's boss by crafting a makeshift onion "ceviche" to mellow out their bite.

We use this trick for all sorts of recipes where onions never hit the heat, but it's especially great for guacamole. Just chop your onions ahead of time, and let them sit in a bowl of salted lime juice for about 15 minutes. This leaves you all the onion flavor, with much less of the tang. While it's not as crucial to do it with sweeter red onions, we like this method as a way to effortlessly elevate our guac. It also tenderizes the onions a little bit, so that they're still firm, but gentle on the tum-tums.

If you want to save your lime juice for margaritas, you can also do the same trick by soaking onions in water with a little salt. While some recipes call for marinating the onions for up to an hour before you assemble your guacamole, even a five-minute lime juice bath will do wonders for that onion flavor.

Warm it up by adding cumin

Look up "authentic guacamole recipe," and you'll find dozens of different versions of what guac should really be. And while there have been battles fought and won over whether or not peas should be any part of this, ground cumin has its naysayers and loyal fans, too.

But honestly, cumin goes really well with chili. It rounds out the spicy heat with a deeply earthy, nutty flavor — which, hello, is delicious in guacamole. If you're new to cumin in guac, start with just a sprinkle, and add up to ½ teaspoon for every three avocados.

If you're already comfortably living the cumin life, kick everything up a notch by toasting your own cumin seeds, in place of the ground cumin. Just toss up to ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds into a pan and dry roast them until they start to turn a darker brown, or for roughly five to 10 minutes. Those toasty, nutty aromas and oils released by the cumin seeds will boost your guac from intramural flag football, to Ultimate Fantasy League.

Feel the fire with grilled avocado and smoked paprika

What food doesn't taste better on the grill? For this upgrade, it's the avocado that's taking all the heat. We're never eating avocados any other way again.

Maybe you've noticed, but avocados don't usually appear as a cooked ingredient in many recipes. That's because excessive heat can cause them to morph into something much more bitter than they tasted in their sweeter, raw form. That being said, an avocado that's cut in half (pit out), and grilled for five minutes until it's perfectly charred, and then mashed up with lime, salt, cilantro, and jalapeño? Divine. A dash of smoked paprika to showcase that woody, grilled flavor? Get out of here before we have to call the cops. It's illegal to taste this good.

You can go straight onto the grill with those avos, but we like brushing a bit of olive oil and lime on them, with just a sprinkle of salt, to protect the flesh (Like Hawaiian Tropic before it had SPF). Put the halves face down on the grill and let the fire do its thing. Grill marks or it didn't happen!

Zip it up with vinegar

Get extra zesty by adding a deliciously tangy vinegar to your guacamole. Whether it's white, champagne, apple cider, or even plum vinegar, each offers a unique take on your favorite recipe.

Since vinegar tags in as an acid, some people prefer to skip the traditional lime juice. But, we like to go all out when we're serving a crowd, so vinegar and lime it is. The sweet and sour flavor of many vinegars adds a surprising sharpness which plays really well against a buttery avocado. Vinegar also does the work of keeping the avocados from browning, so you'll have no problem keeping it green.

Think of it as ½ tablespoon of vinegar for each avocado — or roughly half the amount of lime juice that you might have used. If you're doing both the lime juice and vinegar, split the difference between the two. And now that we distracted you with all the acid this dish can take, don't forget the salt to make these flavors really pop.

Crank up the heat with Frank's RedHot

What do you do with a bottle of Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce, a couple of ripe avocados, and the best 10 minutes of your life? You make a spicy guacamole, that's what.

This one's a clear match made in heaven, for anyone who's ever put hot sauce on avocado toast. (Literally what else is supposed to go on top of the fried egg we also added?) Letting jalapeños take the afternoon off, Frank's RedHot brings the peppery heat with a touch of that vinegar flavor, too. The brand recommends a simple two avo guac mash with cilantro, onion, and lime — plus 2 tablespoons of Frank's RedHot; one for the guac, and one to drizzle on top (per Frank's RedHot).

For those of us who want some of the heat (but not all of it), Frank's RedHot Original hits low on the Scoville scale with just 450 Scoville heat units (SHU). For anyone who wants to stay on brand but melt their faces, Frank's RedHot XTRA Hot slaps a little harder at 2,000 SHU. Of course, it's not pure capsaicin (the burning hot stuff in peppers) which hits a whopping 16,000,000 SHU. Instead, Frank's RedHot lets us enjoy our spicy guac without having to chug an emergency gallon of milk.

Knock it out of the park with Knorr MiniCubes

Possibly the cutest upgrade on our list, Knorr Cilantro MiniCubes pack big flavor in a tiny package. They're perfect to crumble straight into your guacamole recipe if you happen to be fresh outta cilantro.

We admit that MiniCubes offer straight-up convenience over, say, low-in-sodium qualities, but in the personality department, we're MiniCubes any day of the week. That unmistakable cilantro flavor punches right through those avocados to bring an herbal brightness that we love in guacamole. We'd start with one MiniCube per two avocados, and continue crumbling and tasting from there. One MiniCube is equivalent to 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped cilantro.

While we're on the subject of bouillon, Knorr offers yet another guacamole upgrade — this time with savory chicken flavors (cubed, of course). Mix 1 Knorr Tomato Bouillon with Chicken cube with 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, nuke it for 20 seconds, smash it up with your usual avocado, salt, cilantro, and lime, and you've got yourself the Rolls-Royce of bouillon cube guacamole dips.

Ground coriander

We can hear the collective wheels turning as we all try to remember what coriander looks like. (It's the one with the, uh, leaf?) But even if you can't pick it out of a lineup, we promise that adding a little ground coriander is a guaranteed home run.

It all comes down to a tricky little name game between what are known as "cilantro" and "coriander." The facts in this case are these: Both herbs grow from the same species of plant, whose same parts got different names. In the United States, the leafy parts and the stem are "cilantro" and the seeds are "coriander." Everyone outside of North America calls the leafy parts "coriander." (Sigh.) Either way, we're talking about the coriander seeds for this one. They taste a little different than leafy, citrusy cilantro. In fact, when the seeds are ground, they feature less of those floral tea-like flavors, and become a bit woody and nutty — almost like a cousin to cumin or even cinnamon.

Try out just a pinch of ground coriander seed in your guacamole recipe (roughly ¼ teaspoon for every four avocados), and discover what flavors you can unlock when you use all of the coriander plant. (Ugh. Cilantro. Whatever.)

Get rich with cream cheese

Dip a fat chip into the most decadent guacamole of your life. This one's for those of us who work hard, play hard, and snack even harder. Get richer, creamier, and eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head-ier with thick, velvety cream cheese guacamole. (Yes there are still avocados in it. Otherwise, it would just be chip dip.)

Give into the creaminess. Just assemble your favorite guacamole recipe, and fold in about ¼ cup of cream cheese for each pound of guac. Along with those buttery ripe avocados, cream cheese cranks up the smooth grooves without stealing the spotlight. You might taste an extra zippiness, but it only enhances the lime flavor. Cream cheese also goes to bat to mellow out any bitterness that might be lingering from raw onions or garlic.

Sour cream also works, but we like the laid back cream cheesiness for this recipe. Of course, your ratio of cream cheese to avocados affects the color of the finished dip. We like that bold green avocado hue, so we keep our cream cheese minimal. But no one's judging if yours turns out like a light (yummy and cheesy) pea soup-colored masterpiece.

Add protein with quinoa

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have quinoa guacamole. At first blush, it might seem like a tragic snack from Gwyneth Paltrow's fridge. But in reality, this one just might become your favorite A-list guac.

This combo favors the quinoa over the avocado, but dips just as well as your usual guacamole. It's sometimes called guacamole quinoa, or quinoa avocado salad, but for our purposes it's guacamole with quinoa in it. (Guacaquinoa? Anyone?) The main selling point here, other than a more interesting texture, is that quinoa packs about eight times less saturated fat than avocado. It also has almost four times the protein.

You could follow a recipe, but we would just add in a couple cups of cooked quinoa to bulk up our go-to avocado-based guacamole. Simply adjust the seasoning to cover the addition of extra, unseasoned, (whole grain) seeds. Quinoa tastes nutty, kind of like brown rice, which makes it the perfect complement to any avocado dish. Step it up by toasting 1 cup of uncooked quinoa in a pan, just until it browns, and then cooking it as usual, and adding it to your guacamole. Beautifully sweet and fragrant flavor profile made possible by you.

Get sweet with fresh fruit

Ready to break out of the standard guacamole box? Like, bust down the doors and take no prisoners? Well, it's high time you put some fruit in your guac. Not counting the avocado, of course, which is indeed an official fruit. (A+, fellow nerds.)

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the sweeter side of guac, but there are a few tried and true favorites among the bunch. Love the juicy pop of pomegranate seeds? Add them to your guacamole. If getting the seeds out of the pulp feels like you need the jaws of life, buy the seeds already extracted. Mix in half a cup for every two avocados, and save a few to sprinkle on top.

Partial to the strawberry and balsamic vinegar combination? There's a guac for that. This sweet and tangy pairing plays well against the almost neutral base of the avocado. You can also pull out the stops with diced pineapple and grapefruit (brownie points if you caramelize them before mixing them in), or stay in it to win it with the addition of a bright, ripe mango. Many of these types of recipes keep the classic lime-cilantro-jalapeño trio as part of the mix, but for a mellower vibe, skip the jalapeño and go all in on the sweetness.

Just put some freakin' cheese on it

We just want to throw on our favorite team jersey, maybe some pants, and curl up with a bowl of guacamole that's positively loaded with glorious cheese. Sacrilege? Don't mind if we do!

There are a bunch of different ways to incorporate our favorite food group into our other favorite food group that don't involve broiling cheese over the top like French onion soup. Our favorite just might be Elote guac (aka, Mexican street corn style), stripping everything off the cob and featuring a basic guacamole recipe topped with fire-roasted corn, cotija cheese, sour cream, and plenty of spicy Tajín seasoning. Genius. Is it weird if we just use a spoon for this one?

Another showstopper? A guacamole cheese ball. Guac mixed with cotija cheese, cream cheese, and queso fresco gets chilled and set into a round mold, then covered in crumbled tortilla chips tossed with smoky, spicy seasoning. It's also perfectly acceptable to mix shredded sharp cheddar cheese into your usual guacamole mix. Just about any cheese that packs enough flavor to stand out against the avocado landscape will do the trick. Cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, Monterey jack cheese, or Flamin' Hot Cheetos — (wait, who said that last one?) — it's all about celebrating that team spirit and creating a winning game day favorite.