Knife Skills: How to Cut an Avocado

Knife Skills

Videos and step-by-step guides, each highlighting an essential knife technique.

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik. Video: Serious Eats Video]

Resembling the passionate love child of a vegetable and a stick of butter, avocados are creamy, fatty, and delicious. The above video will demonstrate how to slice and dice an avocado (safely!). Below, we've also included step-by-step instructions for cutting your avocado, as well as shopping and storage tips.

Shopping and Storage

A ripe avocado should give significantly to the touch, but should not be mushy. An impression made by pressing firmly with your fingers should stay in the flesh. On a Hass avocado (the most common variety), the skin should be dark brown and pebbly, not green. Other, seasonal varieties of avocados, like the smooth-skinned, crisp-fleshed Fuerte, may still be bright green when ripe.

Unripe avocados should be stored at room temperature, in a fruit basket, until fully ripened. To hasten their ripening, place them in a brown paper bag; this will concentrate the ethylene gas the avocados naturally release, which is used as a signal to ripen. Adding a banana or an apple or two to the bag will also speed up the ripening process, as those fruits also produce ethylene.

After ripening, an avocado should be consumed immediately, although it can be kept in the fridge for a night or two. Allow it to come to room temperature before eating (unless you like eating fridge-cold avocados, weirdo).

Two hands displaying the two halves of a split ripe avocado

Once exposed to oxygen, the flesh of an avocado will quickly darken. A good trick to keeping an avocado half from oxidizing is to place it cut side down on a plate with a thin layer of oil at the bottom. Store the avocado in that position in the fridge, and the oil should prevent the surface from browning.

Unfortunately, there's no real way to prevent an avocado that's been mashed into guacamole from browning pretty rapidly. (The old "leave the pit in the bowl" trick is a myth.) The best you can do is to put it in a bowl and place a triple layer of plastic wrap directly on its surface, to form a "skin." Treated this way, it should remain green for a few hours. Stir any discolored portions back into the rest right before serving, and nobody will know the difference.

How to Cut an Avocado, Without Going to the Emergency Room

If anecdotal reports from emergency-room doctors are to be believed, avocado-related knife injuries are on the rise. Safely cutting an avocado is easy, as long as you follow these steps.

Collage of four photos: removing avocado stem, halving avocado by rotating knife around the fruit, and splitting apart the two halves

Step 1: Remove the Stem Piece

First, check the avocado for a small woody bit at the stem end. If it’s there, remove it with your fingers. Not all avocados have one attached, but some do, and leaving it on can get in the way of your knife in the next step.

Step 2: Slice the Avocado in Half

Using a paring knife, slice down to the pit in the center of the avocado. Then carefully spin the avocado around, maintaining the blade’s contact with the pit, until you’ve rotated it fully.

Some people recommend doing this on a cutting board; if that’s more comfortable for you, you can do it that way, too. We find it easier and more stable to do this step in the air, but no matter what, take care not to accidentally cut yourself in the process.

Step 3: Twist the Halves Apart

Now twist the avocado halves to separate them. The pit will remain in one half.

Step 4: Carefully Remove the Pit

This step requires some care. Take the heel of a sturdy knife, and—using a gentle and controlled movement—tap it into the pit to embed it. Then rotate the knife to remove the pit. A couple knocks of the knife’s handle against a garbage can rim should jolt the pit loose and into the garbage.

Once again, this is a step that some people prefer to do with the avocado on a cutting board, but we find it easier and more stable to do it in our hands. If you do hold the avocado aloft, you must take extreme care not to swing down hard or with the knife point first, to avoid the risk of cutting the hand holding the avocado.

Collage of six photos: removing avocado pit, slicing avocado half, scooping out slices, a fanned-out display of avocado slices

Step 5: Slice or Dice the Flesh

Place the avocado halves on a cutting board, and, using a paring knife, cut the avocado flesh into slices; if you spin the avocado halves around halfway through slicing, you’ll avoid cutting near the hand that’s holding them steady. Try not to cut through the skin.

To dice the avocado, simply rotate it 90° after making the initial slices, and cross-cut it into dice.

The biggest mistake you can make here is to slice the flesh while holding the avocado in your hand: A sharp knife can easily slip through the skin and cut the hand below.

Step 6: Scoop Out the Avocado

Collage of two photos: dicing an avocado half and scooping out the dice

Using a large spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh, running the spoon as close to the skin as possible to get it all out in one go.