How to select the perfect avocado.

How to Choose Perfect Avocados (Nearly) Every Time

I once regarded avocados as the world’s trickiest fruit to buy. But six months of eating them near-daily while living in Mexico enabled me to crack the code. Now I can consistently select a perfect avocado nearly every time. I want to share this hard-won knowledge with you.

Avocados will never lie to you. You will know the moment you cut one open whether it’s a winner. Here’s how to dramatically increase your odds.

Avocado Buying Advice

You’re undoubtedly reading this because you’re tired of buying avocados that disappoint. Since they’re among the most expensive foods, learning how to choose a great avocado ranks among the most useful shopping skills you can acquire.

The Best Avocado Varieties

Some avocado varieties are tastier than others. Hass avocados are widely-regarded as the best. Any avocado that resembles a Hass will rarely disappoint, even if it’s an alternate variety. I try to buy fuerte avocados when Hass aren’t available. Reed avocados are also excellent, but they have a short growing season. Generally, huge avocados with thin and shiny skins are terrible. At all costs avoid the slick-skinned bacon avocado, as this variety lacks flavor and has a watery texture.

Never Purchase Ripe Avocados

Regardless of which variety you choose, the one inviolable rule is of purchasing avocados is to only buy them totally unripe. You want them greenish and rock hard. That enables you to eliminate the risk of bruising.

People tend to squeeze avocados at the market to test ripeness, and that’s all it takes cause bruising.  Even a tiny bruise will spread brown rot throughout the fruit as it ripens. The riper the avocado you purchase, the more likely it has already suffered a bruise. Even partially ripe avocados bruise easily. So I urge you to only buy avocados when they are green and totally unripe.

Thoroughly unripe avocados are nearly impossible to bruise. I’ve had one roll off the kitchen table and bounce off my tile floor, and it still ripened perfectly.

Perfectly ripe avocados make vegan guacamole that’s to-die-for.

Storing Avocados

Once you buy your unripe avocados, you’re going to need to store them.

After purchasing, I keep my hard green avocados in a fruit bowl at room temperature. I like to have my avocados reach perfect ripeness on different days. To accomplish this I’ll put one or two of them into a paper bag, with the top rolled shut, to speed ripening—they’ll then usually ripen a day ahead of the others.

You need to look at your avocados twice a day in order to catch each one at its peak. With practice, you’ll gain a knack of knowing when one’s ready to cut open. The trouble is there’s only a brief window of time during which avocados reach perfection. Any significant waiting past reaching ripeness is detrimental. Figure it takes about a day for a not-quite-ripe avocado to perfectly ripen. Then less than another day until it starts going downhill. If you wait too long before cutting open an avocado, it’ll often have developed disgusting hairlike brown fibers running through the fruit.

How to Tell When to Cut an Avocado Open

The more avocados you cut open, the better you’ll get at judging when one has reached peak ripeness. The skin will turn from green to off-black as the fruit ripens, but that in itself won’t tell you everything. The best indication is softness. Once you get a feel for it, the softest imaginable squeeze is all you need to reliably judge ripeness.

Once you start cutting your avocado open, you can’t go back. If it’s unripe, you’ve ruined the fruit. I’ve cut open more than a thousand avocados, and I still sometimes misjudge. You’ll know you’ve blown it if the flesh is still fused to the pit. Unripe avocados won’t mash properly into guacamole and it digests like you’ve eaten plastic.

That’s all there is to it. All the trouble is worth it because avocados are one of the most delicious and satisfying foods you’ll ever eat.

Tableside-prepared guacamole served at Restaurante La Fonda Cholula, in Tequila, Mexico. The best guac I’ve ever eaten.

Avocado Serving Ideas

Of course the most famous preparation method is guacamole. Just mash some avocados and blend in some lime juice, black pepper, salt, garlic, and perhaps some finely-diced tomato and minced cilantro.

Avocado slices go wonderfully on both salads and sandwiches. Their rich texture combines perfectly with any sort of crunchy vegetable. And of course, sliced avocados are also the perfect garnish for just about any Mexican dish.

Finally, no better breakfast exists than a freshly-baked baguette sandwich with perfectly ripe avocado slices. these two foods offer one of the most delicious flavor combinations you’ll ever experience. You won’t even need salt or pepper.

For further reading: please see our Vegan Mexican Foods guide, as well as our Guide to Fruits.
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