in the kitchen with: raya carlisle’s guacamole

We’ve been courting wedding photographer Raya Carlisle since the wee infant stages of the In the Kitchen With column.  In fact it dates back to before Raya had her own infant, who is a big (little) boy now!  We are so very happy that Raya  has come through with a great summer recipe to use up those ripe avocados for the ultimate party food, guacamole.  Everyone has his or her own personal take on guacamole.  I make mine following a Rick Bayless recipe, but am always curious to try new variations.  If you’ve never made guacamole, Raya has a great step by step for you.  Let us know your version too!  -Kristina

About Raya: Raya Carlisle was born and raised on the coast of California, influenced by the natural grandeur and homegrown glitz. She makes a living photographing weddings and nothing makes her happier, but food photography freaks her out (I’m working on it).  She now resides in another California beach town a little bit south with her husband and 2 1/2 year old son where an ideal afternoon is homemade guacamole and margaritas.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!


This is best made in a volcanic rock Molcajete, available online at Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table, or if you live in/near LA can be purchased at the Olvera Street Market.  Some come pre-seasoned, but if yours doesn’t make sure to season it first.


2-4 ripe avocados
1 medium sized tomato
1 serrano chili
Fresh lime juice
Sea salt

1. In your molcajete, start with 1 tsp. finely chopped serrano chili (I take out the seeds because I’m a wimp, but if you want more spice leave them in), 1 tsp lime juice and 1 tsp sea salt.
2. With the tejolete (pestle) grind up the chili, lime juice and salt until you have sort of a paste.
3. Add 1 avocado to the molcajete and mix lightly with the chili, lime juice and salt.
4. Dice tomato and add to molcajete along with a tablespoon or so of cilantro (more or less to taste)
5. Mix again lightly with the molcajete so everything is mixed well, but you don’t mash up the avocado too much.
6. From here you can add more avocados and more finely chopped chili, lime juice and salt to taste. In these pictures I used 4 avocados total and just added another pinch or two of salt and juice from 1/2 a lime.
7. Serve with your favorite chips, or if you want to make your own slice up corn tortillas, then lightly brush with olive oil and cook at 400º for about 10 minutes or until browned, turning once.  Add sea salt and serve warm.

Why Raya chose this recipe:

This guacamole is inspired by a popular NYC Mexican restaurant. At the photography studio I used to work at we came up with our own version (of course the restaurant would not divulge their recipe) and was a favorite to make for our clients during shoots.

  1. Anita says:

    Oh, how I love avocado’s! And I’m soooo hungry right now. I could eat about four of them! That gucamole looks so delicious, but frankly, I’d just really like to have those avacados. Can you tell I eat a lot of raw vegetarian food? Yum.

  2. elra says:

    Simply irresistible! Yum!

  3. Rhaya says:

    I’ll admit this post not only caught my eye because I love guacamole, but also because we have the same first name! :) (Spelled differently, but I bet it’s pronounced the same!)

  4. guac=summer! I love it!

  5. Leah says:

    This looks delicious!!!

  6. ELodie says:

    This looks yummy and great pics too. I love Raya her blog is so inspiring.

  7. Veronica says:

    I make mine almost the same way, except minus the cilantro, and add finely chopped onions, garlic, and pickled jalapenos as well as the serranos… mmmm.

  8. Yay Raya! The Paper Pony is one of my favorite blogs and I love Raya’s photography. Can’t wait to try her gauc too!

  9. This looks so yummy! I like mine really chunky and with an extra squeeze of lime!

  10. alice says:

    that green knife is so cute. where do they sell that?

  11. erin a. says:

    Raya – you’re so cool for making your guac in a Molcajete.

  12. Michelle H says:

    For a fun twist, try substituting quartered or halved red grapes for the tomatoes. It adds a really surprising sweet element that is super yummy.

    Beautiful pictures, by the way!

  13. your recipe is just like the one we make here in Guadalajara, Mexico… great!
    I mean, it’s so usual to find “mexican” recipes in US sites that are not at all… but yours catches the spirit precisely… :D

  14. Yay, Raya! You look beautiful and you guac looks delish! PS not only does she take beautiful wedding photos but she also takes awesome pics of interiors, like my shop :)

  15. Raya says:

    Thanks everyone. Loved reading these comments. Molcajetes rule!! And thanks to my lovely & talented photographer friend Annie McElwain for the photo of me : )

  16. angie says:

    that looks delicious!

  17. Nickie Frye says:

    Ok, YUM!! So glad you included peppers. Many people omit adding heat to guacamole which is a huge miss IMO.

  18. old lady says:

    where did you get the great cutting mat.

  19. Raya says:

    The cutting board is actually a poly cake doily from this IKEA set:

  20. Cassandra says:

    I always add just a splash of silver tequila to my guacamole, it’s delicious!

  21. Sounds great!
    I like to make a chunky guac with all the same ingredients, plus a little white pepper, and finely chopped onion and garlic.

  22. Raquel says:

    I love Design*Sponge, but I don’t see how a basic recipe for guacamole earns it’s own blog post. Is it interesting because she is white and is making her guacamole with a molcajete?

    1. grace says:


      our recipe column isn’t about complicated menus- it’s about embracing delicious meals from our favorite design and food personalities. some will be more detailed, but some will be simple classics that are meant to be staples for your everyday meals.


  23. Nic says:

    Rachel, It’s interesting because it is a basic good recipe, not her use of the molcajete. It gives people a starting off point, and then they can add jalapeno if they like it spicier or a dolup of sour cream if they like it creamier.

  24. kristina says:

    @Raquel –

    We have over 130 recipes in the In the Kitchen With archive which vary in complexity from the simplest – Chickpea Salad with Arugula and Roasted Garlic to the much more involved Petite Sugarcane Cured Bacon “BLT” with Roasted Tomato Confit & Ginger Aioli, all of which were individual posts.

    We work with the participants to get original (previously unpublished) recipes which have a personal significance to them, but which are also simple enough that our readers will be inspired to get into the kitchen and try them out.

    Raya chose to illustrate her recipe with a step by step sequence, which as you noticed was indeed different from what we usually show on the column.

    Let us know if you have a look through the archive and try anything you see!

  25. Johanna says:

    This recipe sounds great! I’ve made guacamole before, but I don’t have a molcajete. I might have to get one. Does using one make the guacamole much better?


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