How to Cut and Peel an Avocado

I once observed the mother of a dear friend of mine meticulously peel an avocado whole, and then cut pieces off of it to use in a salad. I hate to say there is ever any “wrong” way to do something; there are, as we know, many paths to Rome. But, the following method is easier, faster, and much less messy. By the way, if you are buying avocados to prepare a guacamole dip, get them either ripe, with some give to the touch, or get them still firm, a few days ahead of when they are needed, and put them in a brown paper bag to ripen.

How to Cut and Peel an Avocado

  • Prep time: 1 minute

Method

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1 Grip the avocado gently on one side with one hand. With a large, sharp knife in the other hand, cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed. Open the two halves to expose the pit.

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2a At this point there are a few ways you can proceed to remove the pit from the avocado half that has the pit. One way is to make another cut, lengthwise on the avocado half that has the pit, cutting around the pit, exposing it so that it is easier to remove. You can also use a spoon to scoop out the pit.

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2b Another method is a bit tricky, as you'll see. This method is very popular, but you must be careful lest you cut your hand. For safety, fold up a kitchen towel and use that to hold the avocado half with the pit. Gently tap the pit with a knife with enough force so that the knife edge wedges into the pit, but not so hard as to cut all the way through it. I generally just tap it very gently a few times, each with increasing pressure, until a cut is made in the pit sufficiently to twist the pit out. Getting the pressure just right takes a little practice.

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With the edge of the knife, twist the pit out of the avocado and discard.

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3a At this point, you can either scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon (for making guacamole), or slice the avocado into segments. To make it more easy to scoop out the avocado flesh, take a small dinner knife and gently make cuts in the avocado flesh in a cross-hatch pattern, careful not to break through the avocado peel. Then use a spoon to easily scoop out the avocado pieces. If you are making guacamole, don't worry about slightly discolored or brownish sections. Scoop them up with the rest of the avocado to mash.

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3b To make avocado slices, use a knife to slice the inside of the avocado halves into sections. Don't worry if you cut right through the peel.

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4 Use your fingers to separate the avocado segments from the peel.

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Links:
What's in a Name? The Avocado Story - how the avocado got its name, from NPR
Perfect Guacamole

43 Comments

  1. John Koontz

    I’ve been cutting avocados this way for years. I’m glad I’m doing it correctly! Using the knife to remove the pit is the key.

  2. Anna

    A small lightweight vegetable knife will do fine to remove the pit. I just lay it parallell to the avocado surface (and my hand) and press it gently into the pit, then twist and the pit pops out. No risk of cutting yourself, and if the knife was sharper than you thought and you accidentally cut through the pit and level it to the avocado, well, the spoon does it…
    An unripe avocado will be harder to peel, but can actually taste great when finely chopped into a salad. If the peel won’t come off the normal way, I simply use a potato peeler.

  3. pelin

    What I would suggest is do not slice the avacado and do not peel it.
    instead serve as:
    - cut the full avacado into half
    - get the seed out
    - for 1 full avacado mix 1 table spoon of olive oil with 1 table spoon of lemon juice and pour into the round part of the avacado
    - slice some 2 leaves of lettuce (very thin)
    - mix it with a 1 table spoon of mayoneise
    - put it in the avacado (enough for 1 full avacado)
    - serve each half as a starter
    - add salt if you prefer

  4. Caroline

    I prefer to peel the avocado after slicing it in half– that way, you have only two segments of peel to remove, not several. Then I go ahead and slice it. I think this method makes for neater slices, too.

  5. Portia

    I generally continue to slice around the pit, once you get to quarters it is easier to remove and quicker. After 20 years of guac making, I’m pretty comfortable with it, and haven’t cut myself yet! :)

  6. Teddi

    You’ve got to be kidding! Do not hold the avocado in your hand while you are striking it with a knife! Place it on a cutting board then strike the pit with the knife. When the knife is lodged in the pit you can pick up the avocado give the knife a quick twist and the the pit will pop out. Carefully remove the pit from the knife by approaching the pit from the back side of the knife and giving the pit a gentle nudge. Using a large spoon to scoop out the entire avocado half makes for a neat extraction. Place on cutting board, flat side down, for stability and slice or dice as desired.

  7. Lauren

    I learned this technique as a teenager, when I worked in a sandwich shop called Baggin’s in Tucson that had avocadoes on everything (my kind of sandwich shop!). For safety, you can always use a folded up kitchen towel in your hand to hold the avocado if you’re worried about cutting yourself. It really helps.

  8. friedapplepie

    When I do guac I like to have a lot of avo chunks, so once it’s halved and the seed is out, I slice it through to the skin (without actually cutting the skin) in squares, then scoop it out with a spoon. I get nice diced avocado that way. I think i must have seen that on iron chef or something once.

  9. John

    I have tried this method, but I always have a hard time getting the pit off the knife. How can it easily be removed from the knife?

  10. Michelle

    Peeling AFTER cutting into wedges: So smart, so simple! I’ve been cross-cutting the flesh while IN the peel – not as pretty nor as easy. THANKS!

  11. richard

    I’m really amazed that there are so many methods for removing an avocado pit with knives and special tools and whatever. And all these years ignorant me has been pulling out the pit by using my fingernails.
    keep on cookin’ :-)
    Richard

  12. Heather

    I use a spoon to scoop out the avocado whole after I use the dangerous knife method to remove the pit. It works awesome and I don’t have to spend two hours trying to pull peels off slices of avocado. I can also make the slices fancier too :)

  13. Robin

    I usually cut into the avacado pit sideways along the line of the original cut, away from my body and arm (keeping my fingers down in case somthing happens. Then I use the knife to pry the pit out but grabbing the knife handle and turning the sharp part of the blade up and the pit comes along for the ride. That way even if I didn’t get the knife into the pit tightly the pit still rotates and is loose.

  14. leslie

    I have been doing it very similarly for a while but what i do instead of cutting the slices out of the skin i use a spoon and scoope the whole avacado out of the skin (it comes out in one piece) and then slice it however you want afterwards.

  15. RRhodes9

    Less hazardous way. Use a 5″ paring knife to halve the avocado. Lay the knife flat on the open surface of the half with the pit, and push the knife’s edge barely into the pit. Slowly rotate the knife backward to lift the pit out; the knife pivots mostly on the outside hide. Little damage is done to my hand if something slips. If the pit resists too much, then the avocado is not ripe enough.

  16. Jasmine Rice

    I always slice into two pieces, then take the seed out without trying to cut my hand off, then I slice the two into four sections. After that the avacado peels so easy! Then slice into further segments after peeled.

  17. Josh

    An easier way to remove the seed from the knife instead of shaking, pulling, nudging etc.: Reach around the top of the knife and pinch the base of the blade near the seed (your palm is safely around the dull side. The seed will gently pop right off, and your fingers won’t move because they’re tightly pinching the opposite sides of your blade.

    Thank you Alton Brown for this lovely technique. :-)

    P.S. He also advocates the tea towel holding method and using a large serving spoon to scoop. Much cleaner, slightly less fun than my previous scooping tool: my hands. :-P

  18. Annabelle

    I used the knife/whack method at my first job at Togo’s. It’s best to use a serrated knife, it has a better grip which,=less danger. To get the pit off we would gently bang the handle of the knife on the counter over a garbage can. The pit falls right in. I still use this method.

  19. ange

    Ok I watched this on tv. and the guy did everything the same except he didn’t cut the avocado into slices – he took a table spoon and like scooped it all out into one big peice, all nice & easy – no mess.

  20. Christina

    I am another casualty of the knife wacking method. Three stiches on both sides of my hand and six hours in the emergency room changed my mind. If the avocado is very ripe you can squeeze the seed out with very little damage to the avacado.

  21. Jeff

    Why all the whacking and peeling and scooping? You can get the avacado meat out in a fraction of the time if you’re not worried about it coming out in slices. Simply cut the avacado in half (across the hemisphere – the opposite way from shown here) and twist it open. One end will have the seed in it, the other won’t. Just turn the avacado over whatever bowl you’re using and squeeze it. The meat will squish out of the skin leaving next to nothing in the peel. For the end with the seed in it, just squeeze slowly until the seed pops out into your hand, then squeeze the meat out into the bowl. No whacking, no spooning, no time at all.

  22. mizmonica

    Great comments and suggestions here! Living in the “Avocado capital of the World” has taught me that there are several different types of avocado. Some, like Haas especially, have the thick skin, so the technique of dicing it in the peeling works well. Others, like the Bacon or the Fuerte(yum!) have a much softer and fragile peel. Those you have to be more careful with, and sometimes you can peel them pretty easily using just your fingers (after halving and de-seeding.) Often times we slice the avocado into wedges rather than halving them. We can use one, or two little wedges at a time, depending on what we’re doing. We love our avocados on our morning toast. We butter the toast, then put a slice or two of cheese (something white and creamy; we get “quesadilla cheese” at our local Mexican Market) then the avocado sliced up, then topped with salt and pepper. Oh my! So yummy, and fits right in with our So-Cal lifestyle!

  23. Molly

    I always hit it with the knife.. you just have to hit it with the long part, and not the point. I see no way you could possibly slice your hand up if you use the long end of a knife, and not the point. *goes to the fridge to eat some avacado*

  24. El C.Loco

    My proven technique if all I want to do is make a guacamole is toss my aguacates into the old microwave oven and heat’em up. After about 30 seconds or so I pull’em out, jab a hole in one and squeeze it out like a tube of toothpaste. In all it really takes just about a minute is empty an avocado.

  25. Nick Bradley

    I am currently nursing an avocado injury. Sliced through the tendon, artery and nerve in my index finger. Had one operation to repair the nerve and having the tendon done tomorrow. I tried pitting the avocado with the half sitting in my hand – how stupid is that, I can hear you say. It went right through the avocado and straight through my hand, rendering my index finger completely useless.

    Still, great recipe for avocado. Pan-seared tuna steaks with avocado and vine-ripened tomato salsa. Chop the avocado and tomatoes into chunks, mix with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, pepper and salt. Serve with minute-fried fresh tuna steak. Beautiful. Blood dressing optional.

  26. gant

    I started adding cream cheese to my recipie at first just for the flavor but for some reason it keeps the guacamole from browning even if you leave it uncoverd for hours in the fridge.

  27. Shannon

    I slice the avocado in half, then just use the tip of the knife to gently wedge the pit out. Stick it in the bottom of the pit and push upwards and outwards… it will come out, and no danger of slashing one’s hand open :)

  28. greg

    I just use the spoon to scoop it out, i’ts not that hard.I use 2 ava.1/2 cup good salsa,1 jalapeno finly choped,2 teaspoons lemon juice.salt to taste.my friends just love it.even ones that didn’t even like it to begin with.

  29. Deb

    The easist way is to cut as shown above, remove pit and PEEL the skin away with your fingers. you will get a perfect 1/2 avacodo to use for slicing very nice for display prior to eating (besides making guac out of it) and works nice for thin slices on sandwiches or garnish. YUM!

  30. dadadagon

    I think the way shown here is easiest. although you do have to be careful at the knife part,its very easy.

    i have never had a avocado accident! I guess from looking at other comments, i’m lucky.

    By the way,does anyone have tips on keeping the avocado from browning?

    Browning comes from oxidation, or exposure to air. the best way to keep the avocados from browning once cut open is to wrap them in plastic wrap. If you make guacamole, cover it with plastic wrap so that none of the guac is exposed to air. Squeezing a little lemon juice over a just cut avocado will help as well. ~Elise

  31. Jasmin

    I’ve also been using a sharp knife to remove the seed too (happy I got that right). Recently I learnt an excellent way of peeling the skin. A small drinking glass inserted from the bottom of half an avo, sliding up to the top. This will remove most of the avocado meat, cleanly, quickly and ready to slice however you want. (You can also get the dregs out with a spoon and eat as you go… mmmmm)

  32. abruzzo

    I’ve been called a “guac snob” because I believe using a spoon to retrieve the flesh of an avocado is a no-no. I agree with shamu who says to slice into quarters, then peel.

    When you scoop, no how matter how carefully, you either lose some of the flesh closest to the skin (the greenest part) or you scrape some of the underside of the skin, or both. This affects the taste, texture and color of the guacamole.

    Like Bond says about a martini “shaken and not stirred”, an avocado should be peeled and not scooped!

    If you can manage to peel an avocado without it becoming a slippery mess, then more power to you. For me, I’ll stick with the scooping method. ~Elise

  33. Leta Kreminski

    the easiest way to get it ready for dip is to roll the whole ripe avacado around on the cutting surface or countertop. It is mashed at this point. Cut just through the skin all the way around the seed as the first picture shows. then spoon out the mashed avacado. I add a spoonfull of picante, a spoonfull of sour cream, chopped tomato and finely chopped onion. Yum.

  34. Michael

    What is the best way to soften a cut avocado? I cut one open, but it is too hard to scoop out & mash for guacamole.

    Hello Michael, That is a great question. You can wrap it in plastic wrap, trying to cover all exposed areas, so that oxygen doesn’t get to the green parts, and put it in the refrigerator for a few days. But, that doesn’t work very well. We’ve been eating avocados for decades, and even growing them at one point, and I can tell you that once you’ve cut into one, you’re sort of out of luck. Maybe try wrapping them in plastic and putting them in a bag with some bananas? Haven’t tried that, but the ethylene output by the bananas may help accelerate the ripening of the avocado. Then again, it might not. If you try it, let us know how it goes, will you? ~Elise

  35. Erica

    This is good advice you all have. I cut mine in half, SET IT DOWN, tap the knife into the pit (you don’t want to cut it in half), slight twisting motion to release the pit while holding it,then glide your thumb in the side and separate the peel rather than peel it.If I have left over (like a half) rub a little lemon to help keep it from browning, it works best not all chopped up.Happy eating…

  36. Alex

    I find the easiest, quickest way to peel an avocado half is with a rubber or silicone spatula (the kind that you would use for scraping batter out of a bowl, also called a ‘rubber scraper’).

    It won’t cut through the flesh the same way that a spoon will, so you can usually get the whole half out in one motion without leaving the flesh that’s close to the skin.

  37. Nikki

    If you’re out of plastic wrap and lemon juice, you can also spray the cut side of the avocado with cooking spray. That will keep it sealed and prevent it from browning.

    This is a great tip as some who have never seen an avocado could run across it and create beautiful slices instead of mush. I do mine like this too & have never cut myself removing the pit. Coordinated? No. Clumsy? Yes. Lucky? Oh yeah.

  38. Helena

    I have always used the method of cutting the avocado into quarters and then peeling it. It has the added advantage that it leaves most of the brown spots in the peel. I also have a trick for keeping leftover guacamole: put into an airtight container and top with a layer of sour cream or mayo and then put the lid on the container. When you are ready to eat the guacamole, just stir the sour cream/mayo into the mix. It works better than any other method I have used including adding lemon/lime juice or including the pit although I suppose you could do those as well. Happy avocado eating!

  39. dargie

    I do the knife/whack thing, too, and haven’t yet managed to cut the upper part of my left hand off. I love the dressing-in-the-pit-hollow thing, and the other day tried mixing some shoyu and wasabi and putting it in the hollow. Good stuff, a little like avocado maki w/o the rice.

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