How to Ripen Avocados Quickly

Updated: Mar. 08, 2024

Nothing is more heartbreaking than reaching for a rock-hard avocado. In a pinch, here's how to ripen avocados in a day.

We’ve all been there. In the final moments of preparing homemade guac or a loaded BLT, you reach for an avocado only to realize it’s not anywhere close to being ripe. Sadly, there’s no real way to ripen an avocado instantly, but there are ways to speed up the process. Here, you’ll learn how to ripen avocados quickly, even when they’re rock-hard.

4 Ways to Ripen Avocado Fast

Our Test Kitchen put the most popular methods for ripening avocados to the test. Here are four that we found work the best.

Ripen avocado with banana

Since avocados never seem to ripen fast enough, why not pair them with the fruit that seems to ripen faster than you want it to? To ripen with bananas, toss an avocado into a small paper bag with an unpeeled banana (even a green banana will do). Then, fold the opening of the bag over to seal it closed. Leave the avocados undisturbed with the banana for a day or two, then use as desired.

Why this works: Bananas release ethylene gas, a naturally occurring hormone in fruits and vegetables. It triggers the enzymes that cause the starches in fruit to break down and convert into sugar, ripening them in the process. Because of this, one of the best ways to keep bananas fresh is to hang them. But when trapped in a bag with the avocados, the ethylene gas is held at a higher concentration, which causes the avocados and bananas to ripen at a faster rate than they would if left out on the counter.

How long it takes: Bananas are magic when it comes to ripening avocados (not to mention, this hack also helps quickly ripen bananas). They’ll soften rock-hard avocados in one to two days.

Ripen avocado with apple

To ripen an avocado with an apple, toss them both into a small paper bag and fold the top of the bag over a few times to seal it. Then, let the fruit hang out together for a day or two until the avocados are ready for enjoyment. (Here’s how to store apples that are not on avocado duty.)

Why this works: Just like ripening an avocado with a banana, an apple helps speed up the ripening process by adding extra ethylene gas to the paper bag with the avocados. The higher concentration of ethylene causes the avocados to soften faster. Just don’t leave them in the bag too long or you’ll have to eat brown avocados.

How long it takes: An apple will do the trick in as little as one to one days.

Ripen avocados in a paper bag

avocado in a paper bagonebluelight/getty images

If you don’t have any apples or bananas available to speed up the ripening process, toss your avocados into a paper bag alone. You could also wrap them tightly in newspaper, which would serve the same function as a paper bag.

Why this works: While the ripening process will happen faster with a friendly apple or banana in tow, popping your avocados into a paper bag will still trap the ethylene gas they emit on their own. There simply will not be as high of a concentration of ethylene gas in the bag, and thus, the ripening process will be slightly slower.

How long it takes: Using a paper bag alone will result in ripe avocados in about two to three days.

Ripen avocados on the counter

If you have plenty of time to spare (and don’t plan on eating avocados every day), allowing the avocados to ripen on the counter and let nature do its thing may be the course of action for you. Simply unwrap the avocados from their produce bag and let them hang out at room temperature until they reach their desired ripeness.

Why this works: This method works the way nature intended the ripening process to occur. After picking, ethylene causes an avocado’s ripening enzymes to begin breaking down the starches in their flesh and turning them into sugar. This process both softens and sweetens the fruit.

How long it takes: Ripening an avocado can take anywhere from four to seven days, depending on its starting ripeness.

Here’s how to tell if an avocado is ripe!

‘Hacks’ That Won’t Ripen Avocado

Woman choosing avocados in supermarketOscar Wong/Getty Images

There’s no instant way to ripen an avocado, just as there’s no way to prevent avocados from browning. Don’t let the viral TikTok reels fool you. Here are two popular methods that fall flat.

Ripen avocado in the microwave

While ripening an avocado in the microwave sounds promising, it’s not actually ripening, but rather cooking. This method is supposed to be for avocados that are nearly ripe and requires cutting an avocado in half, removing the pit and wrapping each half in microwave-safe plastic wrap. The avocados are microwaved on high for 2 minutes, cooled until they’re safe to handle, and then run under cold water to halt the cooking process.

Why this doesn’t work: While this method will soften the flesh of the avocado, it will not do anything to ripen it. The avocados will still taste unripe and lack the creamy, buttery flavor we want in a perfectly ripe avocado.

Ripen avocado in flour

This method has been touted for years, and we’re not sure why. According to this urban legend, burying an avocado in a canister of flour will speed up the ripening process faster than leaving it on the counter.

Why this doesn’t work: Flour does not release ethylene gas, which, as mentioned, is key to the ripening process. Therefore, flour will not do anything to help ripen avocados. In fact, flour may introduce avocados you’re trying to ripen to unwanted moisture, contaminants or even foodborne bacteria present in raw flour. This could make you sick or cause the avocados to spoil before they ever have a chance to fully ripen.

How to Slow the Ripening of Avocados

If you bought the fruit with the intention of making avocado recipes later in the week and they’re ripening too fast, pop them into your refrigerator. This will slow the ripening process. A ripe, uncut avocado can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Here are more tips for storing avocados.