The right way to freeze avocados to avoid browning, and the best ways to use them

Someone holding an avocado.
You can freeze avocados and use them to make smoothies, dips, and dressings. d3sign/Getty Images

For avocado fans, the struggle is real: one day it’s hard as a rock, and the next its creamy flesh is already beginning to brown.

Avocados are notorious for their short windows of ripeness, which begs the question: Can you freeze avocados? Experts say yes – with some special consideration and caveats in mind.

“Freezing an avocado doesn’t change the flavor that much, but the preparation and defrosting process could affect the taste,” says Jessica Randhawa, the head chef and recipe creator behind The Forked Spoon. “When the water content freezes in the flesh of the avocado, the water molecules expand and change the fruit’s structure, which ultimately results in a change in consistency.”

In addition to textural changes, frozen avocados may also turn brown during the freezing and thawing process. With that in mind, Randhawa says it’s best to use up frozen and thawed avocados in blended recipes that will mask this textural change, like smoothies, sauces, salad dressings, guacamole, or other dips.

The best way to freeze avocados

When freezing avocados, it’s important to use ripe avocados. To tell if an avocado is ripe, Randhawa says feel the skin by gently pressing it with your fingertips to see if it’s soft.

Halved avocados

A halved avocado.
When freezing avocado halves, make sure you peel them and remove the pit. Enrique Díaz / 7cero/Getty Images

According to Bryan Quoc Le, PhD, a food scientist and author of “150 Food Science Questions Answered”, whole avocados do not freeze quite as well. Instead, you should opt to slice, dice, or puree your avocado before you freeze it.

“Sliced or diced avocados tend to be easier to freeze than whole avocados because the chunks can be coated in compounds that can inhibit the enzymes that cause browning,” says Quoc Le.

1. Prep the avocado. Cut the avocado in half, peel and remove the pit.

2. Brush the avocado with lemon juice or vinegar. The acid in these substances will help to prevent oxidation, but note that they may alter the flavor slightly.

3. Wrap each half in plastic wrap. It’s important to remove as much air as possible to prevent oxidation, so tightly wrap each half individually in plastic wrap so it clings to the curves of the fruit.

4. Store in a zip-top freezer bag until ready to use. Place the plastic-wrapped avocado halves in an airtight storage bag in the freezer until ready to use.

Sliced or diced avocados

Chunks of frozen avocados.
It’s a good idea to brush your avocado chunks with lemon juice or vinegar to help prevent oxidation. Merrimon/Getty Images

Of course, you’re free to slice and dice avocados into any size chunks you desire before freezing. Freezing sliced or diced avocados allows you to portion it easier later.

1. Prep a baking sheet. Use a sheet that will fit in your freezer and line it with parchment paper. Freezing the avocado chunks on a baking sheet ensures you don’t end up with one big clump.

2. Prep the avocado. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and slice in wedges or dice.

3. Brush each piece with lemon juice or vinegar. This will help prevent oxidation and browning.

4. Freeze on a baking sheet until solid. With the slices on the baking sheet, freeze for about an hour until the slices are frozen through.

5. Store until ready to use. Transfer the avocado to a zip-top freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and store until ready to use.

Mashed avocados

Mashed up avocados.
Put your mashed avocados in a resealable bag, and make sure to press out as much air as possible. annick vanderschelden photography/Getty Images

You can also mash or purée avocado before freezing it – if you plan on using it in a blended recipe like a smoothie or dip, this can save you time. It also tends to be easier to get a more airtight seal with this method than if the avocado is in chunks.

1. Prep the avocado. Cut the avocado in half, peel and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash it by hand, or add it to a food processor and blend.

2. Add ⅛ teaspoon of lemon juice per quart of purée. Again, to help with oxidation.

3. Place the avocado in a resealable bag. Make sure to press out as much air as possible – the less oxygen it’s exposed to, the less likely the color and flavor will be compromised.

How to thaw frozen avocados

Ideally, if you have the time and forethought, Quoc Le recommends thawing the avocado overnight in the refrigerator to slow down the activity of the browning enzymes before they’re re-exposed to oxygen.

Alternatively, Randhawa says you can leave it on the counter to thaw for about an hour – an hour and a half at most in order to limit oxidation.

If you’re really in a rush, Quoc Le says you can run the bag under hot water.

When dealing with a whole or halved avocado, always wait until it defrosts before attempting to cut it into smaller pieces.

How to tell if thawed frozen avocados have gone bad

It’s natural for there to be a few brownish spots on the surface of an avocado after it thaws – but if those spots run deep and can’t merely be cut away, it’s likely gone bad, says Randhawa.

Another key sign that your frozen and thawed avocado is unusable is a rancid, chemical smell. Note that if you used lemon juice to help preserve your avocado, it will likely have a slightly tangier taste than you’re used to. However, if it tastes at all bitter, it’s best to toss it.

Insider’s takeaway

Avocados can be frozen whole, in pieces, or mashed. Freezing avocados in larger pieces will cut down on the surface area that can oxidize. However, spraying or brushing lemon juice, or vinegar onto the avocado can also help to prevent browning.

Due to inevitable changes in texture during the freezing and thawing process, frozen avocado is best used for puréed and blended recipes.

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