I’ve Tried All the Hacks to Ripen an Avocado, and *This* Is the Only One That Really Works

Photo: Stocksy/Babett Lupaneszku
Few things are worse than heading to the grocery store with very intention of making a fresh batch of homemade guacamole for your upcoming get-together, only to find that every single avocado is rock hard. Bummer. Although an unripe avocado can definitely ruin your day (or at least your mood), we’ve recently discovered that there are tons of (genius) methods for how to ripen avocados, pronto.

In fact, if you've ever Googled "the best way to ripen an avocado," you know there are more techniques than you can likely count. So, which ones actually work and which ones are nothing more than a big ol' pile of mush? Well, we've done some digging, and after trying the majority of these hacks for the sake science (and avo toast), we're here to tell you that we've uncovered the single best way to ripen an avocado. Ahead cooking experts share some of their best-kept industry secrets for how to ripen avocados quickly. Because, fam, we don't gatekeep around here, and can't we all agree that we all deserve a perfectly ripe avocado every now and then? Amen to that.

Experts In This Article

How do you ripen avocados in 10 minutes?

I guess it's only fair we start with the tried and not-so-true methods that don't work very well for ripening avocados quickly or that prevent avocado from turning brown (although eating a brown avocado is safe, at least in most cases). That said, keep in mind that, although we hate to say it, there's no best way to ripen an avocado in just 10 minutes without seriously compromising it's flavor and composition. But let's delve right in.

First up on the list: Baking an avocado. Yep, you heard that right... baking. Well, unfortunately, unlike an unripe banana, baking an avocado in the oven typically only results in nothing more than a hot watery fruit with an uneven (not smooth and creamy) texture. Noooo, thank you.

Then, there's the microwave an avocado hack, which as you may have expected, achieves a similar result to the oven trick. Although when working in short intervals and microwaving about 30 seconds at a time your avocado might get softer, it still doesn't compare to a naturally ripened version of the fruit. So, what gives? We caught up with Jeanine Donofrio, the founder of Love and Lemons and a New York Times bestselling author of Love and Lemons Simple Feel Good Food, who shared her go-to method for ripening avocados, and it's simple, like really simple.

Is there a way to ripen a hard avocado... that actually works?

According to Donofrio, it all boils down to patience. "I hate to say it, but I think that patience is the best way to ripen an avocado. You can speed along the process slightly by storing the avocado somewhere fairly warm, like a sunny countertop. But otherwise, any hack I've tried—I've tried them all!—has either not made a big difference or actually worsened the avocado's texture and flavor," Donofrio says. Of course, this isn't what the many of us impatient folks want to hear. However, if preserving the smooth, velvety texture of an avocado that we know and love is the goal, patience is the gold standard.

Although waiting for an avocado to magically turn soft on its own can feel like a verrry frustrating guessing game, Donofrio reassures us that she's tried just about every method out there with little-to-no success. That said, there's one method that may be slightly more promising than the others. "I love avocado, so naturally, I've tried every avocado-ripening hack—putting it in a paper bag, putting it in a paper bag with other fruit, microwaving it, baking it, the list goes on. In the best case scenarios, the avocado may have ripened marginally faster with the paper bag methods; but the technique didn't make a huge difference," she says. And she reiterates that the worst methods were by far the microwaving and baking techniques. "These hacks made the avocado mushy and brown. I wouldn't recommend trying them," Donofrio says.

How to ripen an avocado using the paper bag method

Now, if you are looking to dabble in paper avocado softening methods, all you need is nothing more than a paper bag and some flour. Once you have secured the goods, you'll want to add about two to three inches of white flour at the bottom of a paper bag. Next, set your avocado on top. Roll the top of the bag a few times to completely seal it. (Doing so traps in the ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process.) Many people suggest trying this method with a ripe banana instead of flour (as the banana itself produces a lot of ethylene gas), but flour helps soak up any moisture that gets trapped in the bag more effectively.

The result? Your hard-as-a-rock avocado should (emphasis on the should) start to soften in just about 36 hours. Although, if your avocado is especially rock-solid, just wait it out for another 12 hours.

Meanwhile, Olivia Roszkowski, chef-instructor of Plant-Based Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, suggests sealing the avocado with a piece of bruised fruit in a paper bag and then placing it in a warm spot in your kitchen like on top of your fridge. Why? This method creates a lot of ethylene gas that is trapped in the paper bag and will cause the avocado to ripen relatively quickly. A paper bag is a great vessel to use because it traps the ethylene gas but is still somewhat permeable to the outside environment which helps not having too much moisture build up," Roszkowski says.

That said, the culinary instructor also agrees that patience will likely yield the most effective results. "If you aren’t in a rush, skip the extra bruised fruit and just use the paper bag method. Just make sure to check daily because some avocados ripen quicker than others. And if you can spare 36 to 48 hours, purchase the rock-hard green avocados. This ensures that no one has been pressing on it which can ultimately lead to brown spots. The mini-sized avocados are a bit more tricky, so I recommend purchasing the regular-sized variety," Roszkowski says.

How long does it take for an avocado to ripen on the counter?

As Donofrio says, letting an avocado do its ripening thing on its own terms is the way to go, but you'll need to plan ahead or be willing to adapt. That's because depending on where the avocado is in its stage of ripening, this process can take upwards of several days (we're talking like four if it's super unripe), and much less 10 minutes. While some of these "quickie" methods do make your avocado softer in minutes, it's not the kind of softness you want for your avocado toast. So, Donofrio recommends taking this all into account when cooking. "If you want to try an avocado recipe, I recommend shopping a few days ahead or being willing to swap out the avocado if needed," she says.

What can I do with rock hard avocados?

Well, if your avocados are rock hard, the best thing you can do is set them aside and wait for them to ripen naturally. But what does this mean for your avocado-forward recipe that you were halfway through making? Donofrio says ingredients swaps will be your new BFFs. "Replace avocado with a dollop of cilantro lime crema in tacos and burrito bowls. Skip it in favor of vegan sour cream on your next bowl of chili. Or, instead of starting your day with avocado toast, slather your toast with hummus. Swaps like these will help you fill in the gaps while you wait for your avocados to ripen," Donofrio says. This is especially good to know if eating avocado causes you stomach pain.

How do you speed up or slow down avocado ripening?

We've covered the speeding up avocado ripening bit extensively, but what should you do once you've reached optimal ripeness and want to keep it that way? The good news is there are tons of ways for how to keep avocado fresh for longer. "Pop them in the fridge. If you have a ripe avocado but aren't ready to use it, it'll keep well in the fridge for three or four days. The cold slows the ripening process," Donofrio says. And whatever you do, don't store avocados in water, which can quickly turn into a breeding ground for harmful germs and bacteria. Easy enough, right?

Fun fact: Roszkowski notes that the quicker you ripen your avocados, the longer they will ultimately last. "This is because as they sit and ripen, they are also losing moisture content which affects oxidation. If you have the opportunity to force-ripen your avocados in a paper bag, they will have a long storage life ahead of them in the fridge," she says.

And once they've reached the perfect level of ripeness, which Roszkowski says is as soon as the avocados turn from green to brown and are very slightly pliable-to-the-touch, you should place them in an airtight container or plastic bag with a paper towel inside and keep them in your fridge crisper drawer with the bag slightly open to allow some ethylene and moisture to keep escaping. "I’ve had avocados last up to a month using this method. When you do reach in to use one, gently assess which is softest and needs to be used up first."

Of course, if all else fails, here are seven avocado substitute options that can help do the trick.

These are the surprising avocado benefits you should know about:

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