Once cut, avocado is exposed to oxygen which makes it turn brown. Here are 11 ways to stop the browning from even starting.
Let’s say I don’t have to use an entire avocado. I actually chuckled as I typed that because this is never a problem, but play along. Anyway, the only problem with avocado is when you try to save it and the outside turns brown. Not very appetizing.
But keep reading because I’ve got some tips that will help keep your avocado from turning brown.
Why Do Avocados Turn Brown?
So why does this happen? It’s just like apples and bananas. Avocado contains an enzyme that turns flesh of the fruits brown when cut. It’s the oxygen exposure that causes this reaction to start.
This doesn’t impact taste, just appearance. But it’s not very pretty which makes it less appetizing.
Luckily, you can prevent this from happening a few different ways.
How To Prevent Avocados From Browning
Your main goal is simple. Prevent oxygen from touching the cut avocado. No oxidization equals no browning. Got that? Let’s get started.
1. Plastic Wrap
My grandma uses the old Saran Wrap trick. You simply put plastic wrap over the cut side of the avocado and press it into place. She swears by this method of covering the exposed surface of the avocado.ws
But I’ve run into two major issues. First, plastic wrap is not easy to put on, at least for me. It gets stuck together. Second, if you don’t have it on tight enough, air gets in and here comes brown avocado.
2. Citrus Juice
I opt for spritzing my avocado with lemon or lime juice. In a pinch I’ll use orange juice. This creates a barrier that keeps your avocado green.
Note some people say that this can leave the avocado flesh slimy. I’ve never had this happen, but again, avocados don’t last long in my house and there’s usually lemon juice in the fridge.
3. Leave The Pit
Some people say that simply keeping the pit in the halved avocado works. I disagree. It does not. BUT, it does mean that there is less surface area exposed to air. So leave it in there and then combine ideas (1) and (2) from above: Spritz with citrus juice and cover with plastic wrap. Keep it in the refrigerator for best results.
4. Get A Brown-Fighting Friend
One friend of mine swears by keeping her avocado in a small airtight container with a couple of slices of onion. Onions release sulfur compounds that counteract the enzyme that causes browning. You also want to make sure the onion slices are only touching the outer skin of the avocado, not the flesh that you want to eat later or it’ll taste like onion.
5. Add Oil
You can also spray the halved avocado with cooking spray or rub it with cooking oil such as olive oil. It works like the citrus juice to keep a barrier between the avocado and the air.
6. Use A Cold Water Bath
Some cooks use cold water baths to prevent browning. This keeps air from reaching the flesh. Use this technique if you’re prepping several avocados for use later in the day. Fill a bowl with cold water and add your halved avocados. Refrigerate. Use within four hours.
Keep Guacamole From Browning
If you have guacamole or mashed avocado, there are a few other things you can do.
- Press plastic wrap over the mound of guacamole.
- Scoop the guac into a tall thin container (a cylinder). Then only the tiny bit at the top opening is exposed to air. Top that with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
- Or, instead of plastic wrap on the top of the cylinder, pour cooking oil onto the top, about ⅛ of an inch. That acts as a barrier to the air. Pour off the oil and discard before serving (or stir it in).
- Spritz the top of the guacamole with citrus juice before topping it with plastic wrap.
My favorite method for preventing brown avocados and brown guacamole though? Eat it. Seriously, invite some friends over. Have a guacamole party. I’ll bring the margaritas. Problem solved!
If you need recipe inspiration for the avocados you’ve now saved from going brown, browse all my avocado recipes and tips.
This post originally appeared in June 2017 and was revised and republished in July 2023.