Homemade guacamole is so good—but sadly it can turn bad quickly, and we’re not just talking about it browning. A bit too much lime juice, a potent onion, or not enough muscle with the mortar and pestle (hey, we did a tough upper-body workout today!) can lead to subpar dip.

No more! We asked three masters of the Mexican fare to share the right tools and combination of ingredients to achieve the perfect consistency and flavor every time. You’re about to become even more popular at parties (if you’re generous enough to share)!

1. Pick perfect avocados.

1. Pick perfect avocados.

For starters, use Hass avocados (the dark green ones with bumpy skin) since their buttery flesh makes for the ideal dip texture. Then, make sure they're perfectly ripe: The skin should dent just a little bit when pressed with a thumb, sort of like pressing into a tennis ball. “If it’s got any hard spots or super soft spots, it will screw up the taste and consistency,” says Nick Fontova, co-owner of LA’s Project Taco snack shop.

2. Choose a few flavor add-ins.

2. Choose a few flavor add-ins.

The key is using some, but not too many. Guac is all about the avocado, so resist the urge to load it with a ton of extras. “The other components are there to enhance the avocado’s flavor, not dominate it,” says chef Hugo Ortega, author of Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico.

3. Don’t forget the salt.

3. Don’t forget the salt.

Salt is crucial for bringing out the flavor of the other ingredients, says Fontova. At Project Taco, they use sea salt since it has a cleaner flavor than table salt, and sprinkle a little extra on top of the guac before serving for an extra flavor hit.

4. Do the mash, not the purée.

4. Do the mash, not the purée.

Think fork rather than blender or food processor. “Guacamole is best when it’s slightly chunky—just mashed enough to bind the larger pieces together,” says Ivy Stark, executive chef at New York’s Dos Caminos.

5. Squeeze in some lime.

5. Squeeze in some lime.

The tartness of freshly squeezed lime juice helps balance out the richness of the avocado, Stark says. But that’s not all: The acid also works as an antioxidant to help the delicate avocado flesh from turning brown. No need to add a ton—a teaspoon or two, and you’re set.

6. Serve ASAP.

6. Serve ASAP.

For the optimal flavor and most vivid green color, serve immediately. (Even with the lime juice, guacamole will start to turn a not-so-appetizing shade of brown if it sits for more than a few hours.) “You can’t freshen it up after letting it sit—it’s either fresh or it’s not,” Fontova says. “It should be eaten within the hour.” (We don’t see a problem with that happening!)

Ready to give it a go? Try this guacamole recipe from Stark.

How to Make the Best Guacamole You've Ever Tasted
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