Learning how to cut an avocado is simple, fun, and yields a whole fruit's worth of smooth, creamy green goodness. If you love avocado but don't quite know how to approach preparing it at home, we've got some time-tested tips for breaking into this beloved staple of the produce aisle. Soon you'll be slicing and dicing avocado for guacamole, sandwiches, burgers, salads, toast (or, if you're looking to breathe new life into the concept, avocado toast salad, or simply eating it on its own with a sprinkle of salt and lemon juice.
How to tell if an avocado is ripe
Slicing a perfectly ripe avocado is much easier than slicing an overripe or underripe one. Squeeze the avocado gently — almost barely — toward the middle (where the center of the pit would be located) to avoid bruising it. If it yields under the slight pressure of your fingers, it's ripe and ready to eat. If it buckles, it may be overripe (but still likely good to eat), and if it doesn't yield at all, it may need another day or two on the counter before it's at peak deliciousness.
Using a knife
To slice an avocado with a knife, hold the avocado in your nondominant hand, make the initial cut into the avocado until you hit the pit, then rotate the avocado in your hand, slicing lengthwise around the pit, keeping contact with it, until you've cut all the way around. You can also make the initial cut, then place the avocado down on a cutting board and keep it steady with your nondominant hand while you slice around the pit. It doesn't have to be perfectly even, but you do want to complete the cut where you began it for a clean, easy separation.
Using both hands, gently twist the halves in opposite directions, and they'll begin to come apart. One half will contain the pit. Lightly tap the pit in its center using the sharp edge of the knife, then hold the avocado half in your nondominant hand, rotate the knife slightly to wedge the pit out of the flesh, and lift it away on the knife blade. The pit will be slippery, so instead of trying to pull it out of the blade using your hand, place the pit on the cutting board with the knife at a 45-degree angle and apply slight pressure until the pit is released. You can use a kitchen towel to hold the pit steady while you do this, if necessary.
When the pit has been removed, you can discard it or sprout it for a fun zero-waste project. Hold each avocado half in your hand or place on a cutting board, flesh side up, and carefully score slices down its length, or down its length and across if you're making cubes. No need to create sculptural marvels here — leave that to the pros. Avoid making the slices and cubes too thin or small or they may turn to mush as you try to turn them out.
When you've created the slices or cubes desired, invert the avocado and push gently on the roundest part of the skin to release the slices or cubes You can do this directly onto the cutting board (if using them to top soup, burgers, or sandwiches) or directly into a bowl for salad and guacamole or even the jar of a blender for a smoothie. Continue to push gently on the outer skin all the way around to release the avocado flesh.
Repeat with the other half or store it to use later.
Other ways to cut an avocado
There's more than one way to cut an avocado, and several tips and tricks to get the exact slices you're looking for. If perfect presentation is the focus of your dish, follow the above steps until you've got two avocado halves ready for slicing, and then instead of slicing into the flesh (stopping when you hit the peel) place both halves face down on a cutting board, slice through the skin and flesh, then peel the skin away from each avocado slice just before serving to help it retain its structure and keep the outside layer bright green.
You can also abandon both the pitting method and slicing lengthwise method entirely and just slice the avocado crosswise into rings, especially if you won't be using the whole avocado right away (this method helps prevent the oxidation that turns the flesh brown and mushy).
Using a tool
Avocado slicing tools are sold online and at specialty kitchen stores, though keep in mind they'll take up drawer space to perform one function that you could do with a sharp kitchen knife in any of the aforementioned ways. Separate and remove the pit from the avocado halves, hold one half in your nondominant hand, and "scoop" the flesh from the peel using the tool (which is shaped specially for this purpose). The flesh should release easily from the peel in even slices. Repeat with the other half.
What is avocado hand?
Believe it or not, people end up in the emergency room all the time with what surgeons have dubbed "avocado hand" from underestimating the sharpness of their knives, the thinness of the avocado's skin, or a combination of both. Your hand is indeed quite vulnerable while holding the avocado half you're slicing into, so exercise abundant caution—no, even more caution than that—the first dozen or so times you attempt this technique. Don't be afraid to rely on your cutting board more than your bare hands until you're intimately familiar with the slippery ins and outs of avocado butchery.
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Put your sliced avocado to work: Bacon-Stuffed Burgers with Pimento Cheese and Avocado