In all honesty, credit for this mango peeling hack goes to one of my favorite petite fashion bloggers, Jean Wang of Extra Petite. It’s too good not to share! I’ve been avoiding prepping my own fresh mango for years (basically if my mom isn’t there to do it for me). They don’t pair well with my trusty vegetable peeler and can be tricky to prep with just a paring knife. I’ve included step by step instructions and photos below, and you can also check out my video tutorial here (part 2 changes angles to match your perspective).
In the meantime I have primarly been getting mango frozen from Trader Joe’s. The bag is typically around $3.49, which is less expensive than fresh mango near me ($1+ each so about $1 per cup), but I could never get through a bulk pack from somewhere like Costco. The frozen mango is also ripe and fully prepped, versus waiting on a fresh mango to ripen or during an off season. I’ve found the TJs to be sweeter than other grocery store bags. You can throw these into smoothies, or let them defrost overnight in the fridge. I also like to let them defrost just a little bit (30 min) at room temp or zap in the microwave for 10 seconds so they are still a little bit of a slushy as a frozen treat. Anyhow, back to cutting a fresh mango.
Picking Fresh, Ripe Mango
Most stores offer two broad types of mango: conventional and honey (ataulfo) mango. I’ll be walking through this tutorial with a conventional mango. I think the honey mangos tend to be more consistently sweet and less fibrous in texture, but they are usually more expensive and slightly smaller than conventional mangos. Honey mangos are always golden yellow on the outside.
For conventional mangos, I am partial to choosing the ones that have some red or yellow coloring on the skin. Not every variety of mango is necessarily better in these colors, but there are a lot of plants in general that ripen as they change from green to yellow to red (e.g., bell peppers, tomatoes). You’ll want to find a mango that has a little softness when you check it but is not overly squishy. This is similar to picking a peach or avocado. You should be able to feel softer flesh at the surface but it shouldn’t leave any damage when you lightly squeeze the mango.
Similar to my advice on watermelons, if all the mangos are solid green and hard as rocks, leave those alone and do not buy them. Pick a different fruit or go find some frozen or jarred mangos. If there’s any doubt about the readiness of your mango(s), put it in a paper bag on the counter when you get home, fold over the top of the bag, and let it continue to ripen for 1-2 days. There is no saving a sour, unripe mango. Perhaps if you hide it in a smoothie or a puree with a ton of added sugar, but one taste and you will understand. While there are certainly uses for green mango, green papaya, green tomatoes, green bananas, etc., those are used in a completely different manner than their ripe counterparts.
You will need your mango, a cutting board, a paring knife, a cup, and the container of your choice to store your cut mango. The cup needs to be wide enough to almost fit the mango inside it, because you will be using almost the full width of the mango. I prefer this 12-ounce plastic cup because I’m clumsy so I always prefer plastic, and it has a lower center of gravity than a taller glass. Your average pint glass would also work well.
Slice and Peel the Mango!
Wash and dry your mango. Your mango will have a little bit of a teardrop or pear shape, formed around the pit in the center. Hold your mango upright on your cutting board (wider side on bottom, stem on top) so that the narrower side of the mango is facing you. The wider, tear-shape side should be perpendicular to your body.
The pit will take up about the middle inch of the mango in width, so line up your knife about half an inch from the center and begin to slice off the side of your mango. You will want the knife to reach most of the way into the mango to keep your cut cleanest. If you’ve cut too close to the pit, you’ll feel the resistance and adjust your knife out a bit. Rotate your mango and take this cut all the way around until the slice separates. If you’ve made a bit of a mangled mess, trim the flaps of mango off and sample your mango or set the little pieces aside to eat later.
Set everything down and grab your slice of mango and the cup. Use either your fingernail or tip of your knife to dig into the bottom of the slice a bit to separate the end of the mango peel from the yellow-orange flesh. I do this on the wider/bottom side so I am not working with a top-heavy slice.
Hold your piece of mango atop the edge of the cup, with the peel facing out and the mango flesh lined up over the inside of the cup. This is the best way to catch juice drippings and the actual piece of mango without dropping it.
Slowly push the piece of mango down so the cup begins to cut between the mango peel and flesh. I use both hands for this, and I push pretty firmly on the skin side to ensure I’m getting the most mango off. Carefully work that all the way down until the peel is completely separated. Check out your peel – if you’ve left too much mango on it, snack on that and push harder next time. I use my knife to retrieve the mango from the cup since it’s slippery, then cut it in a cross hatch to get small chunks of fruit. Transfer the mango to your storage container, using a spatula of some sort if you find that helpful. Repeat on the other side of the mango.
Slice and Peel the Skinny Sides!
Now you should be left with a center “slice” of the mango. Turn the mango 90 degrees from how you last cut it so you are facing the wide, exposed part. Cut into the top center, then go down one direction to slice off the skinny sides of the mango. You will be able to cut about one inch off. When you feel the knife hit harder or more fibrous sections, you’ve reached the edge of the pit. Follow the pit, then stop at the bottom and repeat on the other side or rotate the mango and take the cut all the way around.
Trim off the dark parts where the stem or center of the mango was. Use your fingernail or knife to peel back the edge of the skin on these pieces, and line it up again on the cup (peel side out). Since this piece is narrower, I grip the peel with one hand between my thumb and pointer finger, and push the mango down with the other hand. Once the peel is separated, dice up the mango flesh and repeat until you are done! Two mangos will yield about two cups of mango. I keep the prepared mango in the fridge to snack on for a few days.
If your mango pit has a lot of flesh left on, you can cut that off and add it to your container. I like to just snack on the remaining bits of mango before tossing the pit.
After you get through the process once, this is so quick and easy! I’ve been peeling and prepping mangos for the last few weeks in a row after avoiding this for many years.