Over the past 30 years, avocado toast has been the subject of culty obsession, disbelieving derision, and often both at once. This mashed-fruit-on-bread has turned into an edible example of Instagram culture, and culinary appropriation and gentrification. A brief history: Avocado toast became a thing in 2011, thanks to Jessica Koslow’s all-day Los Angeles café, Sqirl. Koslow had adopted the toast (and good vibes) from another all-day cafes in Australia. And before all this, avocado glut plus tortilla was so ubiquitous a snack in pre-colonial Mexico (bread was introduced by European colonists during the 1500s), that it seemed silly to call it a trend, let alone develop a recipe.
But here we are, in 2020, giving you one. You don’t have to go to a hip café, bakery, or restaurant to enjoy good avocado toast. You can and should make it at home—and often.
First, the bread: nothing too soft, too white, or too fluffy. Go for a seedy, square, and wheaty loaf from your local bread baker. An aggressive toast protects against an all-mush experience, provides a better base for mashing against, and brings toasty, roasty flavors to the creamy, fresh party. I personally love the dry, hard toast that a toaster provides, but feel free to fry your bread in a bit of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet.
When it comes to the avocado, you don’t have to go so far as creating a rose. I’m team slice-and-mound, versus purée-and-mound (this is not guacamole toast, after all). The slicing creates distinct chunks of creamy avocado, while the slight mashing adheres the avocado to the toast, keeps everything intact while you nosh.
As for toppings, go as simple or extravagant as your morning (or afternoon or evening) allows. I’m equally happy eating avo toast topped with a poached egg, aleppo pepper, and spicy olive oil, as I am eating one with only salt and pepper off a kitchen towel. The template below is wonderful as is, or you could build up from there. Consider: watery-crisp ribbons of veg, nutty and seedy sprinkles, fluffy herbs, an oozy egg. —Coral Lee
Test Kitchen Notes
This is one of Food52’s Best Recipes. In this series, our test kitchen sets out to create the ultimate version of your favorite recipes. Let us know on the Hotline if there's one you'd love to see next. —The Editors
slices seeded bread
lemon or lime wedges
red pepper flakes, aleppo pepper, or freshly ground black pepper
Toast the bread until it’s a deep brown and very crisp. Halve and pit the avocado. Use a paring knife to thinly slice the flesh lengthwise, then a spoon to scoop it out. Mound each half onto each toast and use the back of the spoon to smush and fan out the slices. Squeeze lemon or lime over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper flakes, and finish with olive oil.
Coral Lee is an Associate Editor at Food52. Before this, she cooked food solely for photos. Before that, she cooked food solely for customers. And before that, she shot lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum and taught yoga.
When she's not writing about or making food, she's thinking about it. Her Heritage Radio Network show, "Meant to be Eaten," explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food. You can follow her on Instagram @meanttobeeaten.