Making Guacamole with Hard Avocados



Freshly picked California Hass Avocad0s

Having lived on an avocado farm with my husband who has grown avocados for over 40 years, I must tell you up front that it is impossible to make guacamole with hard avocados.  That’s why I wanted to write this for you.    If you have found this post, you were probably searching for information about how to do that.

I don’t intend to mislead anyone, but if you really do want to learn more about avocados and how to have the best avocado experience ever,  bear with me and I’ll explain.

Rock Hard Avocados

The avocados in the photo above were just picked and they’re rock hard.  When a mature avocado is picked from the tree it IS rock hard.  Avocados are supposed to be hard.  The nice thing about a hard avocado is that you can take good care of it until it has softened and is perfect for eating.  I hesitate to use the word “ripe” because technically a hard avocado IS ripe.  It needs time to soften before it can be eaten.


This Fuerte avocado is perfect.

Ripe Avocados

The indication of ripeness in an avocado is the oil content.  Oil?  Yes!  At the beginning of a new crop season (in December here in California) the state samples various sizes and varieties of avocado to determine the oil content.  Unless that avocado has the right amount of oil,  it won’t soften at all.  It will just turn rubbery.  Nothing anybody would want to eat.  So even if an avocado looks ready in November,  don’t pick it!

Avocado Oil Content

The minimum amount of oil is just enough to make the avocado edible.  If you want really  good avocado flavor (you do, don’t you?) then you must wait a few more months for the oil in the avocado to increase.  I’m talking about the Hass variety right now, because they are the ones found most commonly in stores.  If you can find other varieties like Bacon or Fuerte that are short season winter avocados,  then you will want to go ahead and eat them between December and March.   If you love Reed avocados ( the ones that look like cannon balls) you have to wait for  July, because that’s when they will be mature enough to pick.

Best Time to Eat California Hass Avocados

Hass Avocados can be very tasty in February and March…but if you can wait until April – August,  you’ll get the really delicious flavor and creamy consistency that makes a Hass avocado perfect for salads,  sandwiches, or guacamole.  The oil content continues to increase as the the avocado hangs in the tree, so if you get a Hass avocado that was picked later in the summer,  it will be  even more buttery and creamy.  It will also soften sooner.  (Try California Fuerte avocados  in December-March…they’re amazing!)

How Long Until an Avocado is Soft Enough to Eat?

Since it’s the oil content that allows the avocado to soften,  you will find that fresh picked avocados will take longer to soften in the early months of the year.   Sometimes up to 2 weeks!  If you are buying your avocados in a grocery store,  they might have been picked 2 weeks ago…or 1 week ago…or even longer if they were shipped in from another country.  Sometimes the avocados are kept in cool storage (to keep them from softening) and they get TOO cold.  Then they may not soften at all,  or you might find red spots in the avocados. For more information about ripening avocados,  read The Secret For Perfectly Ripened Avocados.

What to Do with Hard Avocados

The best thing to do with hard avocados is to WAIT.  I know, you wanted your guacamole for tonight’s party.  We have the same problem here on the ranch.  If I want avocados to serve for guests who are coming tomorrow, I needed to pick them a week ago.   Avocados are just like that … they  help us develop our skills for planning ahead!  The best way to be sure to have ripe avocados when you want them is to keep a few on the counter at all times.  If they begin to soften a day or two early, put them in the refrigerator.   Just buy a few California avocados several times a week and you’ll be covered.


What About the Paper Bag?

Yes, you can put your avocados into a brown paper bag with an apple or banana.  The natural ethylene gas released by the fruits will hasten the softening of the avocado.  But please don’t put that paper bag on a sunny windowsill, as a popular magazine recently reported.  Avocados do not need to be exposed to heat or sun, and doing so may change the flavor or ruin them entirely.  In fact,  farmers go to great lengths to keep the avocados from getting cooked in the sun after they are picked.  If you try the paper-bag-method,  just put the paper bag on your kitchen counter.


The paper bag will hold in the natural ethylene gas released by the ripening fruit, and help the avocados soften a day or so sooner.

What If I Cut It Too Soon?

Even the most experienced avocado-philes (myself included) can make an innocent mistake.  You pick up the avocados one by one, hoping that you will find one that is perfect for eating right away.  You gently squeeze each one…could this be it?  Hmmm…maybe this one is ready.  Should I cut it and find out?  At this point you have to decide whether you are willing to take the risk.  If the avocado “gives” slightly as you gently squeeze it,   you are probably okay to go ahead and cut it.  If the green Hass avocado color has darkened to a blackish green and it definitely feels soft when you gently squeeze it,  you are good to go.  If the skin has some dimples in it and it’s black and feels squishy when you squeeze, you have waited too long.   Go ahead and cut it open, but cut off the bad spots or the flavor of your guacamole will be affected.

But what if you decide to cut that avocado and when you twist the halves apart you realize that it was too early for the fruit to be soft enough to eat?   I have heard that some people just put that avocado into a smoothie.  We have tried putting the two halves back together (with the pit still intact) hoping that it will still soften.  I can tell you that it doesn’t really work well.


Please Don’t Put Peas in My Guacamole

Most Outrageous Thing I Have Read Lately

Another solution that I read in a magazine is to make guacamole by putting the hard avocado  in a blender with a cup of peas.   Honestly, I am still shaking my head over that one.   In the first place, an avocado that has not softened is not going to taste like  ripened avocado.   Be honest if you are going to talk about making guacamole, please.  I can understand that well-intentioned avocado marketing folks would like to tell the world to buy avocados and make guacamole.  But what happens if someone actually believes that a hard avocado can be put into the blender with peas?   I  called my friend Rachael at La Fuji Mama,  who is a one of the most well-informed avocado lovers I know, and read the magazine excerpt to her.  After we both stopped laughing, we just couldn’t get over  that anyone would print such misinformation.

What Questions Do You Have About Eating Avocados?

There was a time when I didn’t even know how to cut an avocado open and eat it.  I was born and raised in Vermont and came out to California to attend graduate school, but stayed after I found a job.   I had no reason to wonder about avocados until one evening when I met The Farmer at a social event for singles. He had been farming avocados for ten years when we met.   Out of curiosity I innocently asked him if avocados grow on bushes!   Now that we’ve been married for 33 years and have spent the whole time farming avocados,  I think I can answer a few questions about avocados myself!   I’ll be glad to help anyone who wants to ask about ripening, cutting, slicing or preparing avocados.  Just leave your questions in the comments, or come visit me on Facebook, Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

Don’t Try to Make Guacamole With Hard Avocados, Please

If you want to know how we make guacamole for a party,  here’s the post I wrote about that.  How We Make Guacamole For a Large Party    No matter how much we might wish that rock hard avocados could be made into guacamole, it just isn’t true.

By the way,  we do ship our fresh California avocados direct to avocado lovers all over the USA.   If you’re interested,  check out for boxes of fresh avocados, including Hass, Fuerte, and Reed avocados in season.

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  1. Such an informative post. After living in San Diego for almost 40 years, I learned so much about avocados – especially, that it is “Hass” when I had thought, for years, it was “Haas”. Yikes!
    Lizthechef recently posted..Grandma’s Recipe of the Month: “BarBQ”My Profile

    • Thanks, Liz. I see that misspelling all that time. People even try to correct me. And it’s “Hass” like “Lass”…not Hass like Claws.

  2. I loved this post! I recently made the mistake of checking unripe avocados..Darn! I was too impatient. I learned my lesson!

  3. We just had some really strong winds. Knocked about 30 avocados off my tree. Most are pretty large some are small. Will the ripen on their own on the counter? Or should I just throw them out? I hate to waste an avocado.

    • Do you know which variety your avocado tree is? Are these avocados mature or are they the new set? If they have been sizing up on the tree since last year, you can let them soften and eat them. The smaller ones may be your new crop which won’t be mature enough to eat until next year. Sadly, those are not usable.

  4. Love all the info. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. I wish someone would figure out how to freeze avocados!
    Tammy recently posted..I forgot my son’s first word and lied about it…so sue meMy Profile

  6. Thank you for this informative article! I am always picking up hard avocados and, by golly, I want to eat them now. They’re so expensive that I hate to just toss out a hard one that I cut open, so I was hoping there was a magic fix. I guess I just need to plan ahead better.
    Today I cut open a Hass avocado that I thought was just right – outside turning black, tip feeling soft – but I cut it open and was met with the sad unyielding interior holding the pit firmly in place.
    As an experiment, I tried slicing them and brushing with olive oil and salt. I grilled them in a skillet and tossed them with my scrambled eggs. The result was actually pretty good! I’m guessing they were just close enough to “ripe” that the heat and added olive oil was able to coax them into edibleness, and the outside was still creamy enough to lend its delicious avocado flavours.
    About Hass vs. Haas, I have seen them marketed as both and didn’t know which was correct. Poor Rudolph Hass would probably have been disappointed to see the changes to his name, so Hass it shall henceforth be to me.
    Also…I have seen frozen avocado halves, vacuum sealed. I wonder how that works.

    • Hi Diane, We still make mistakes ourselves…cutting an avocado that we hope will be ripe but finding out we needed to be patient a little longer. I’m glad you found a way to use your avocado and enjoy it!

      Avocados can be frozen; vacuum-packed as you have seen, or mashed and wrapped in plastic with no air exposure.

      The bottom line is that avocados are so special that they do take special care and patience. Worth the wait!

  7. Thanks. That’s exactly the information I was looking for.

  8. Thank you so much!! Best article! Love your story and thanks for sharing and educating!

  9. Thanks for the message. But I cut and chopped up an unripe avocado. Now what. Can I save it in an airtight container and still use, or is it out for the count?

    • Alicia, I feel your pain! It happens to all of us. If the avocado is still really hard, you can’t use it. If it’s just firm, I would add some salsa to it and put it in the blender. Never hurts to try.

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  11. What a great find!!!
    I’ve been searching for a while trying to figure out why my Hass STILL won’t ripen.
    We got a few off the tree earlier in the year that were pretty good, but all of the ones we’re getting now are like rubber inside.
    They just won’t ripen no matter what we do.
    We’ve tried the paper bag with an apple in it but no luck.
    Even tried to let them fully mature on the tree until they fall off….still no good.
    It looks like you’re in the San Diego area.
    We’re out in East County in Japatul Valley.
    We sure could use any advice you could give us!!!!

    Jim Pollard

    • Hi Jim, The avocados you picked earlier this year were probably last year’s crop. The ones you are picking now might be the new crop that is sizing up early. They won’t be mature enough to pick until mid-December. The oil content isn’t high enough now to allow the avocados to soften properly. When they are mature enough in December the flavor will be mild. As the oil content increases, the flavor will be better. Best time to pick is between March and June. Sometimes you can leave the fruit on the trees even later, but the avocados have been maturing much earlier for the last 2 years. Hope this helps.

      • Hi Mimi,

        If that’s the case then maybe we really have another problem???
        All of the avocados set at the same time.
        We just purchased the property in December and there was no fruit on the trees at the time.
        We have one hass and one fuerte on the property along with other fruit trees.
        What really gets me is the ones that fall off the tree look great.
        Do you think we should write this years crop off and worry about next years?
        I don’t know how well the previous owners took care of the trees.
        Thanks again

        • The new crop is sizing up early this year at our farm, and they do look beautiful, but they will not soften until the oil content is high enough in December. It may be possible that you didn’t see some of the fruit that was in the trees when you first moved in? If you were able to eat any of the fruit that fell, that could be the case. The care that you give the trees now will help the current crop size up and ripen, but you are also setting the conditions for the bloom next spring. Careful watering and fertilizing is important.

  12. I’ve bought avocados many times that don’t soften regardless of how long I keep them! They just turn yellow but stay hard! Are these unripe ones that will never soften? How do I pick ripe ones? Thank you!

    • Hi Ping, I’m sorry you have had that experience but you are not alone. Sometimes avocados are picked too soon and sold at roadside stands. The avocados sold in stores are usually mature, but sometimes they are held in cold storage for a long time while they are transported great distances on ships or in refrigerated trucks. Where do you live? If you are in the USA you can order avocados directly from growers, including our farm. When you purchase avocados in stores, look for California avocados. Do not store them in temperatures lower than 45 degrees. Refrigerators are too cold and avocados will sometimes not soften after they are kept refrigerated. You can choose a ripe avocado in the store but gently pressing it in the palm of your hand. If the avocado barely “gives” when pressed, it is ready. It should not be mushy or soft.

      • Thanks for your reply! I live in Hong Kong n I’m not sure where the avocados here are imported from but I don’t think they are from California coz they look a little different. They usually have bumpy skin n most of the time aren’t creamy, unlike the California ones. I buy them from big grocery stores but still no guarantee of quality. I have to resist from buying them even thought I love avocados! Wish I live closer so I could order from your farm! Thanks anyway! I will try my luck again with your advice n hopefully will pick some good ones!

  13. Hi, Mimi. We moved into this property about 5 years ago. We are by Cal Poly Pomona. There is a lone avocado tree and we were told that it won’t bear fruits. We did notice that it had “pickles”-very tiny fruits with no pit, and later found out that it is the Fuerte variety. We also found one in the past years on the ground which was bigger and half eaten, therefore, saw the core in the middle. We thought maybe it was the squirrels who have been taking the mature avocados. BUT, today we found quite a few big ones on the ground and in the tree. I picked up the three from the ground, opened them, and they all had the pit in the middle. They are scratched up pretty bad by probably squirrels. Nonetheless, we are elated!!! I have several questions. 1. What do you think happened? 2. Are the pickles edible? 3. What can we do to protect the few big ones we have still hanging in the tree so that the birds or squirrels won’t get to them?

  14. Yes, I DID search how to make guacamole with hard avocados, how did you know??…and yes I’m disappointed that I’ve already cut and skinned one half (very painstakingly I might add), and it does feel like it was for not..I was trying to make it for my fiancé who grew up with an avocado tree in his backyard in Cali..but your post still made me laugh nonetheless and it was just what I was looking for. So thank you. Better luck to me next time 🙂

  15. I let me avocados ripen and they are black…but when I cut it open, the very middle is like its over ripened and the rest is hard and rubbery. I have always let the ripen in the counter, but this last while my avocados have turned out like this. What can I do? And why does it do this?

    • Did you buy your avocados at the store? Do you know if they were kept in cold storage for a while? Sometimes this happens because of the way avocados are stored before they get to your kitchen. Try to buy them when they are green and hard, then wait for them to turn black. Once in a while this happens because of the growing conditions — weather, etc. So sorry — avocados, like people, aren’t always perfect. But it’s still worthwhile to keep looking for the best ones!

  16. What to do if I cut an avacado which is hard, how can eat it? Any suggestion? Thanks.

  17. I bought about 75 small Hass avo’s at a fruit stand in Santa clara Ca. luckily I didn’t pay to much… But my question is will the flavor of these Avo’s get better as they ripen? These have this, well what I would describe as a rancid oil taste I’m sure you know that taste I’m talking about.. They arn’t ready to eat yet ….. I always thought that this taste was from a tree that wasn’t grafted… I am a native of Calif. and I lived in one of the main Avo cities in Calif. ( Fallbrook Cal.) So I have eaten a lot of Avo’s….. What I am wondering is will these improve or should I cut my losses and start over?

    • Dear Dana, That rancid flavor that you describe means that the avocados are over-mature. During this time of year the oil content has become very high, and that oil does get rancid. This is why avocados have less flavor early in the season, and they do get better in April, May, June. It depends on the tree, the place where they’re grown, how they were cared for — but eventually all avocados get past their prime. There is a chance that some of the avocados you have will taste okay, but we are almost to September now, and that’s very late for southern California avocados. If you want to make a big batch of guacamole for a party, I would start over with avocados from central/northern California. Or maybe you can find some Reeds (later variety) that are good. (It’s even late for Reeds in southern Ca now too.)

      • I bought these in Northern Calif on Sat Aug 27th they are still hard and not ripe because they are still to hard to eat I cut one open and it was soft in a small spot but the rest had to be tossed… Well, I will give them a few more days and see what happens… but I will be replacing them just in case… Thanks Dana

  18. I live in Southern Calif and have an avocado tree that is blooming for the first time…I had 2-3 for the last couple years but this year…at least 50. I wait until the fruit is big and just barely turning that green/black before picking (I’ve picked about 6-8 so far). I than put them into a paper bag and let them sit until when I touch them they are soft. Usually the skin is turning bumpy and (what feels like) overripe. But when I open them up, the flesh is still hard and tasteless. I have so many on the tree and I would hate to have them all ruined. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Avocados bloom in the spring and set fruit soon thereafter. They grow large and appear to be ready, but the oil content must develop before the fruit will be mature enough to soften and be edible. The 2016 crop will not have enough oil until mid- to late December. The flavor will actually be best in April or May of 2017 for the fruit hanging on the tree right now. I think you are trying to pick them too early.

  19. Thank you. Very good service to hear from a farmer the accurate scoop on avocados. I am a novices novice. After reading your blog I realize I made multiple mistakes. 1) I bought a Mexican avocado. 2) It was hard. 3) I immediately put it in the refrigerator. 4) I cut it the next day for guacamole. 5) I googled “making guacamole with hard avocados” 6) I almost wrapped it in foil and baked it at 200 for 1 hour. Then I saw your blog. You are a true hero for titling your blog to catch the unsuspecting googler such as me. Well done.

    • 1) It’s okay to buy a Mexican avocado if that’s all you can find. 2) It’s good to buy hard avocados. 3) The Fridge is a no-no. 4) It needs to be soft to make guacamole. It’s okay to make a mistake -that means you’re learning! 5) The Internet is a great place for information. YouTube even has videos! Try for California avocado info too. 6) The oven or microwave won’t help at all. THANK YOU for visiting my blog! Hope to see you here again!

  20. Thank you the useful information!! I have a problem with avocadoes I get at supermarkets here in Portland, OR. When I purchase the hard avocadoes I leave them out to ripen but there is a point after several days when some parts of the avocado feel ripe but other parts are still hard and when I cut the avocado the soft parts are rotten and has influenced the hard part. What the heck is going on there?

    • Avocados sometimes are kept in cold storage — when they are shipped from Mexico or South America, and when they are held in storage. Sometimes the cold storage causes the avocado to ripen unevenly. This may be happening. You might try ordering fresh avocados from our farm – they will not be kept in a cooler — will be shipped on the day they are picked and will arrive in 3-4 days.

  21. Lately, all the avocados I have been getting are not soft when I buy them, but I let them sit for a few days on the counter. Once they start to feel soft enough to serve, sometimes too soft to eat for anything other than guacamole, I will slice and the outside is much, but the inside is hard and won’t even come away from the pit. Any idea what is happening? Or what I might be doing wrong?

    • Hi Trish, We have had similar experiences with the larger avocados this year, probably due to the weather this past year. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. It sounds like you are doing everything right: buy hard green avocados, let them soften on your kitchen counter. It is July now, so the oil content will be higher in the fruit from southern California. Flavor should be delicious!

  22. But you didn’t tell us what to do with a rock hard avo that has been cut open too early.

    Deep fry? Stir fry? Bake? With what? Salt and pepper? Lemon juice? Anything else?

    • Compost. Or let the dog play with it. If you really did cut it open too early (and it’s an easy mistake to make, I have done it many times) then the best thing to do is learn from the mistake, take a deep breath, and accept the reality. So sorry. Avocados just aren’t good to eat until they soften.

  23. After IRMA my yard was covered with Fla. Avocados, over a hundred. Alas, they appear unripe and I hope the suggestions for using them work out.

    • So sorry to hear about the avocado loss! We often have big winds in the winter, and if the avocados are mature enough we can pick them up off of the ground. However, sometimes the fruit isn’t mature so it’s a complete loss.

  24. You can chop the avocado in half then cover the open side with cling wrap and put it in the microwave for 3 1/2mins. Then let It cool down then scoop it out. And it’s perfect

    • Cooked avocado just won’t taste the same as an avocado that has been allowed to soften. Think of a green banana cooked in the microwave…just won’t taste the same as a ripe banana, even if it’s soft.

  25. Great and thanks to learn so much about avocados from your blog.

    I had inherited two avocado trees from the previous owner. When we first moved in the owner told us that there were only a handful avocados on the trees.

    Last year spring (Sep in Western Ausralia), there’s a great bloom and we had one tree full of avocados. It did fall off to the ground during the early stage (almost 100s of them). Now the fruits had grown big and we had harvested some to eat. The issue is that the fruit is not creamy. Is it because the oil content is not enough and I need to keep it on the tree longer? I need to prune the trees in August to prepare for the bloom in Spring again. Can I keep it on the tree in Spring.

    Please advise and thanks.

    • Let me think about those dates, as I know your seasons are opposite to ours. We do not prune trees to prepare for bloom. The pruning we do is to get ready for harvest…taking out the dead wood. Once in a while we remove a limb that is growing into the road, but we usually wait for the fruit to be harvested first. Our fruit sets in the spring, and begins to be ready to harvested 9-10 months later, but the oil content isn’t very high so the fruit isn’t creamy and the flavor is bland. If we wait another 3 to 6 months later, the fruit is much nicer. So 10 – 18 months after the fruit sets is probably correct.

      By the way, lots of baby avocados do fall off the trees. The tree just cannot handle that many babies, when they are going to grow to weight 8-16 ounces each!

  26. Thank You for the facts.
    We just had a hurricane that took out our “old faithful” avo tree. We are in Bermuda. This tree usually sets in April/May and the fruit are mature starting in late Sept/October through December. We now have about 6 grocery bags of hard fruit. About 1/3 of them are arount 60 t0 75% the weigt of mature fruit. The rest are 25 to 50% the weight of mature fruit. The ripe fruit are the shape and size of your Hass but with shiny green skin.
    Is there any point in trying to ripen them or should they just go into the compost?
    From your info above, I am guessing there is simply not enough oil content yet and they will never ripen.
    Seems from what you say

    • I’m not familiar with your avocado season in Bermuda. I’m so sorry for all the destruction that happened to you. The avocados will probably not have enough oil content to soften and be edible. So sorry.

  27. Before I run across your page I read that if you rap hard avocados in tin foil and put them in the oven at 200° for 10 minutes they should soft and depending on how hard the avocado is it may take up to an hour but it said it increases the ethanol process in the hyperdrive

  28. Ok, thank you

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