I ruined a lot of avocados to figure out the best way to store avocados.

Rachel Roszmann
June 22, 2020
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Ripe avocado mashed on a slice of toast and sprinkled with seasoning is nothing short of amazing—and when something is that good, it's easy to go overboard. But going overboard when shopping for avocados can leave you with a problem: too many avocados and not enough time to enjoy them before they go south. And what happens when you need only half an avocado? Read on for our best whole and cut avocado storage tips!

Why Do Avocados Turn Brown?

Unless you eat up an avocado as soon as you get home from the grocery store, you may have noticed that any leftover avocado goes from green to brown in a hurry. While slightly brown avocado doesn't taste much different from the vibrant, dark green of a freshly cut avo, it is unappetizing to get a scoop of brown guacamole piled on a tortilla chip. The brown is just oxidation—it happens to other produce too, like apples and potatoes, when they're exposed to oxygen. The transformation is almost immediate with all three, but apples and potatoes can dodge oxidation by being submerged in water. Unfortunately, that's not a solution for avocados, but there are ways to slow the process.

The Best Way to Store Cut Avocados

There are times when half of an avocado is enough for what we're preparing (avocado toast or a salad topper) and wasting this green gold is not an option. You can buy avocado savers online but, in a pinch, there are easy ways to store cut avocados. (Learn How to Cut an Avocado the right way here.)

Skin-On

If you haven't scooped out the avocado flesh yet, don't! Leave it in the skin and keep the pit intact if you can. The skin and the pit block oxygen from reaching the flesh, limiting how much is exposed and will inevitably turn brown. To help preserve the rest of it, place plastic wrap directly on the flesh so there's no chance of air getting to it and store it in the fridge. It should stay green for at least two days.

Stored with an Onion

You can put your avocado half in an airtight container with a sliced onion and refrigerate it. The fumes from the onion slow down the browning process. Your avocado will stay green for at least two days, but it may absorb the onion flavor. That could be a benefit, depending on what you plan to make with it.

Skin-Off

If you've already scooped out the avocado flesh, it's OK; you can still save it from the dark side. Spoon mashed avocado into a nonreactive container. Then, instead of topping the container with a lid, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the avocado, making sure there are no air bubbles. Like the skin-on scenario, your avocado should remain green for at least two days in the refrigerator. To slow the process down further, you can add acid like lemon or lime juice. And if the mixture does look brown, simply scraping off the top layer should reveal green avocado below.

Avocado Storage for the Long Term

If you want to get more than just a few extra days out of your cut avocados, it's time to think outside of the box. One option is to preserve it by pickling it. Sounds crazy, but you can pickle just about anything. Pickled avocado slices make a great stand-alone snack, but they're also excellent on sandwiches. You can also freeze them. We put together this quick guide for freezing avocados to show you how to do it and how to best use frozen avocados.

The Best Way to Store Whole Avocados

Avocados can be stored on the counter and let them ripen properly at room temperature (don't store it in a paper bag–because it emits ethylene gas and the bag traps it, the avo may ripen faster than you'd like. But the best way to store whole avocados that you're not ready to eat is in the refrigerator, as refrigeration slows down the ripening process. It's best to refrigerate an avocado that is ripe or close to it. (Find out how to tell when your avocado is ripe here.) If you refrigerate an unripe avocado, it will ripen eventually, but the texture and taste may be compromised. If your avocado is ripe, place the whole, uncut avocado in an airtight container or in the produce drawer in the refrigerator. It should be good for about two weeks, depending on how ripe it was going in.

Myth-Busting Ways to Preserve Avocados

The internet is packed with ideas for storing avocados that don't actually work that well. Here are a few:

Store Them with Olive Oil

Some people suggest that a thin layer of olive oil can save your avocado from turning brown for a day or two. The idea is that the oil creates a barrier to oxygen so it won't brown. While it may buy you a little time (if you use a lot of oil), your avocado will go brown before the day is over.

Blanch & Shock

This trick involves dunking a whole avocado (skin-on) in boiling water for 10 seconds and then dunking it in ice water. While it may keep the browning at bay for a little while, it changes the taste and texture enough to make it not worth the effort.

Mashed Avocado & the Pit

Ever come across an avocado pit in a bowl of guacamole? Some people think that putting a pit in a bowl of guac will keep it from browning. While the pit can prevent browning in a cut avocado, (by blocking oxygen from reaching the flesh below it) it is not a magic bullet. Adding the pit to your guacamole will not prevent it from turning brown.