The Linguistic Challenges of Slicing an Avocado

When I posted my recipe for Black Olive Hummus I mentioned that I love hummus sandwiches with sliced avocado, tomato and lettuce. Amy B asked how one should go about slicing an avocado, so I took a few pictures to demonstrate my method. How do you slice an avocado?

First, choose an avocado that is firm, but gives slightly when pressed with your thumb. This one is a bit overripe, as you’ll see in a moment.

Start With a Whole Avocado

Then slice the avocado in two and separate the halves. To remove the pit, hit it with the sharp edge of a chef’s knife so that the knife become stuck in the pit. Hold the avocado half in one hand and pull back on the knife with the other. The pit should come right out.

Slice the Avocado into Halves

Next, make parallel slices down the avocado without slicing through the ****.

Slice the Avocado Vertically

Finally, gently scoop the slices out of the **** using a large spoon.

Scoop the Avocado Slices From the Shell

Tada! You now have a sliced avocado.

Avocado Slices For a Sandwich

**** John and I cannot agree on what the outside layer of an avocado is called. The options thus far are rind, shell, peel, and skin. Anyone care to set us straight?

This is the method we’ve seen used on TV by several graduates of the best cooking schools. Hopefully it will work for you as well.


  1. Jimmy Hudson says:

    Not that I’m setting anyone straight, it’s not a big deal, but since an
    avocado is a fruit, technically a berry, any of those names work, except shell.
    Jimmy Hudson

    PS – I enjoy your work, thanks!

  2. =) Ohh… I love avocado!
    We call the outer part a skin.

    And here’s another tip on how to select an avocado. Not only will it give to your touch, but the best choice – the ripest one will also release the little stem easily. You can rub your thumb over the stem part and gently rock it a bit. If it pops off, the avocado is done. (This helps me choose avocados without denting them so much.)

  3. Linda S says:

    I strongly advise not using this method–”To remove the pit, hit it with the sharp edge of a chef’s knife so that the knife become stuck in the pit.” I used to do this until the day the knife split a seed in half that apparently was too dry and went through the skin into the palm of my hand. I was using a serrated knife and was lucky not to have severed anything going in nor on removing it. Now I just scoop the seed out with a spoon. So PLEASE be careful.

  4. @Kate: That’s a great tip Kate, I’d never heard that before. When I’m at the store I usually pick up several at different levels of ripeness so that we can use them as the get ripe. Or I’ll pick up several that are not ripe and keep my menu flexible so that we can use them just as they get ripe.

  5. @Linda S: Good point! I always leave the avocado on the cutting board when I hack the pit, and only pick the avocado up once I’m trying to pull the pit out.

  6. Stephanie says:

    If the pit doesn’t come out really easily, I just cut that half in half again. One quarter of the avocado becomes free and I can grip the pit, gently hold the avocado, and twist. All pops out.

    If you’re not going to eat all of the avocado in one swoop, keep that pit! Leaving it in prevents the avocado from browning. (Just the top layer will brown.)

    And we usually call it skin, but occasionally “peel” slips out.

  7. having spent multitudes of hours pitting and peeling avocados for hand-made guacamole in a mexican restaurant, 5 gallons at a time, here’s a couple of additional tips:

    1) Scooping – use either a large metal spoon or a rubber spatula. With either ou have to kinda run along the edges first, then scoop it under the meat in a twisting motion, keeping pressure on the peel between your hand and the spatula. Oh, and scoop it before you slice it.

    2) Seeding – the knife method is correct, with a couple of alterations. First, you don’t strike the seed with the blade like you’re cutting or hacking into something. You use about the last 1″ of the heal of the blade in a short, quick motion but you don’t follow through like a golf swing, you pull back once it’s hit the seed. This takes only a little practice. Even if the blade hasn’t penetrated the seed, that’s fine. All you’re looking to produce is a notch like in a screw. If the heal of the blade isn’t still stuck in the seed, gently place the blade into the notch you created and with only a little pressure, twist the seed and it pops right out.

  8. Thanks! I am pretty excited to try avocado on my sandwhiches with hummus this week.

    Amy B