The most reliable way that we've found is to first slice the avocado in half lengthwise and then firmly strike the pit with the heel of a chef's knife. The knife lodges a few millimeters into the pit, so we can gently twist the pit to dislodge it and then lift it out.
To protect your fingers and give you a firmer grasp on the avocado, hold it with a folded kitchen towel. Also, definitely use a chef's knife for this, not a paring knife. It might seem safer to use a smaller knife, but paring knives just don't have the heft to lodge into the pit. A smaller knife is more likely to bounce or slip off the pit and put your fingers in danger.
Obviously, the chef's knife method has its downsides. Using a spoon to scoop out the pit is at least safer, though it often takes some of the avocado flesh with it or crushes the flesh underneath. Elise at Simply Recipes recommends cutting the avocado half into fourths, which makes it easier to grasp the pit and dislodge it with either a spoon or your fingers.
• How to Cut and Peel an Avocado from Simply Recipes
And then, there are avocado pitters that you can buy:
• Amco Avocado Slicer and Pitter, $15 from Amazon
How do you get the pit out of avocados?
Related: Look! Crispy, Creamy Avocado Fries
(Images: Emma Christensen)