How to cut an avocado

Nov 2, 2010 at 6:22 p.m. ET

Avocados are delicious in sandwiches, salads and everyone’s favorite game-day dip: guacamole. Today, California is the largest U. S. producer of avocados. There are approximately 80 varieties, though Haas avocados are typically what we see in the grocery store. Slicing is easier than the fruit's thick skin and unwieldy seeds (or pits) might lead you to believe. Here's how to get the job done.

Slicing avocadoStep 1: Give it a squeeze.

Choose an avocado that's ripe but not overripe; an avocado past its prime will be too soft to slice cleanly. At the market, look for avocados that are firm to the touch. If you want to use them immediately, look for avocados that yield to gentle pressure when touched.

Step 2: Use Caution.

Hold the avocado gently but firmly so it doesn't slip from your hand. With a large, sharp knife in the other hand, cut the avocado lengthwise around the pit. Slightly twist the two halves, separate and remove the seed (see below).

Step 3: Remove the pit.

You can scoop the pit out with a spoon, cut around it or -- if you're confident in your knife skills -- tap the avocado pit with a knife until it makes a significant cut in the pit. Then, just twist the pit out.

Step 4: Scoop it.

If you're making guacamole or serving the avocado mashed -- say, on a sandwich -- scoop the avocado flesh from its shell with a spoon. If you're making a salad and prefer to dice the avocado, slice a crosshatch pattern with a small paring knife into the avocado. Alternatively, cut each half into long wedges with the peel still on; remove the peel once the pieces have separated.

Recipes with avocado

Avocado soup with fresh tomato salsa
The dish on avocados
Avocado-stuffed crab cakes