How to Cut a Pineapple
Spiky and thick-skinned, pineapples can be intimidating. But cutting pineapple is easy once you know a few basic steps. Learn the tips and get some favorite pineapple recipes, too!
Photographs by Rachael Nusbaum
I’d wrangled with probably a hundred pineapples working in restaurants before anyone bothered to teach me the best way to cut a pineapple. Before that, I just hacked away haplessly with the long, dull knives they had in the prep kitchen until the pineapple was in workable chunks. (If you’ve not gathered yet, these were not very well-run kitchens.)
Yes, you can get at the meat of a pineapple without special knowledge or tools. However, you can do it faster, safer, and get better-looking spears or rings when you know the proper way. Eventually I learned how. With a few simple steps, your fruit salad will be a breeze from now on.
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Pineapple cutting FAQs
From knowing when a pineapple is ready to cut into, to storing the cut fruit for maximum freshness, and even choosing the right knife, start your pineapple cutting lesson right here
How to tell if a pineapple is ripe
First off, give the pineapple a once-over. You’re looking for leaves that are green and supple, not withered. A rind that’s bright yellow with evenly spaced eyes is a good sign. The pineapple itself should have a little give and not be rock-hard. The big tell? Sniff the bottom of the fruit. If it’s aromatic, it’s a go. If it’s funky or lacking a smell at all, leave it behind.
Does a pineapple ripen after cutting?
Pineapples don’t ripen after they’re harvested. Surprised? A whole pineapple will get softer and its flesh can darken as it sits on your counter, but it’s not technically ripening or getting sweeter.
Hacks for cutting pineapples
The main thing to know is that cutting a pineapple in half is not the way to go. Check out our step-by-step guide below — it’ll give you the best cut pineapple.
After trimming off the outer skin, the body of the pineapple will have “eyes” — brown indentations in the flesh. You can get rid of the eyes by making spiral grooves with a paring knife. Or if you have a tomato corer or melon baller, dig in with that.
If you have a cutting board with a groove around the edge, use that to catch any liquid if the pineapple is especially juicy.
The best knife for cutting pineapple
You want a knife that’s long and sharp. It doesn’t matter if it’s serrated or not. A sharp chef’s knife, santoku knife, or long serrated knife will all do the job.
How to core a pineapple
Pineapples have a tough core that you’ll need to cut out. You can buy a pineapple corer, but it’s not necessary at all. If you’re cutting the pineapple in rings, just use a round cookie cutter to cut the core out of the slices. To core a pineapple you plan to cut into chunks, cut off the top, bottom, and rind as we direct below. Then quarter the pineapple lengthwise. Each quarter will have a strip of the core you can easily cut away.
How to keep cut pineapple fresh
Once your pineapple is cut, refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to four days. Simple!
Step-by-step: The easiest way to cut a pineapple
Master the skill of cutting a pineapple with these simple steps and illustrations
Step 1: Gather your equipment
You’ll need a long, sharp knife and a large cutting board (a groove is useful for catching juices). A paring knife and a round cutter may also come in handy.
Step 2: Remove the crown
Lay the pineapple on its side and cut off the top with the long knife.
Step 3: Remove the bottom
With the pineapple still lying on its side, use the long knife to cut off the bottom.
Step 4: Remove the rind
Stand the pineapple upright. Cut the rind off the sides in strips by working your way around the pineapple and cutting straight down. (Don’t worry about the eyes; we’ll get those in the next step.) Try not to cut away too much of the flesh. You can always trim away spots of rind you missed later.
Step 5: Trim the eyes
Lay the pineapple on its side. Notice how the eyes form lines around the pineapple in a spiral pattern. With a paring knife, make shallow V-shaped cuts following those spirals, then pull out the flesh with the eyes. You can skip this step if you want, but it gives your pineapple slices or chunks a cleaner look.
Step 6: Cut the pineapple into rings or chunks
Whether you have a recipe in mind that calls for specific size cuts of pineapple or you're just ready to snack on freshly cut pineapple, here are the simplest ways to cut pineapple into rings or chunks.
How to cut a pineapple into rings:
With the pineapple on its side, cut crosswise slices the thickness you want. Then take a round cutter and cut the hard core out of the center.
How to cut a pineapple into chunks:
To make chunks or spears, stand the pineapple up and quarter it lengthwise. Lay the quarters on their sides. You’ll notice the hard central core running down the edge of each quarter. Make a diagonal cut to free the core. Then cut the flesh into chunks.
Delicious recipes for pineapples
Now that cutting a pineapple is no problem, try these recipes for fresh, juicy ripe pineapple from desserts to entrees
The classic pineapple upside down cake is made with canned pineapple rings, but now that your knife skills are up to spec, why not give it an upgrade with fresh pineapple? Spread a rum-spiked butter and brown sugar topping in the bottom of a cake pan and top with slices of fresh pineapple. Then make a rich yellow cake batter and bake everything until the topping caramelizes into gooey brown sugar bliss.
Colorful and tangy pineapple salsa makes an irresistible topper for tortilla chips, tacos, grilled chicken, pork, or fish. This recipe calls for a fiery habanero pepper, but a jalapeño would work just as well. Taste a tiny bit of the minced chile before adding it to the salsa so you can adjust for your preferred heat level.
Here’s a rare intersection of a kid friendly meal with adult appeal. And it’s fast, too: Total time is an hour, including marinating. Thread boneless chicken on skewers with multicolored bell peppers and fresh pineapple chunks. The chicken gets a flavor boost from a marinade with pineapple juice, sriracha, and soy sauce. Make a quick lemon yogurt sauce for drizzling and serve with couscous or rice.
This summery taco recipe is friendly for all seasons: Slow cook a pork loin roast with spices and apple juices. Then make a quick salsa from pineapple, cucumber, and onion. Serve with shredded cabbage for a fresh-tasting dinner. Looking for a side? Try some fancied up canned black beans.
Spears of fresh tropical fruit entice with spice and salt, just like the refreshing street food favorite you’ll find all over Mexico. This rendition combines pineapple, watermelon, mango, and jicama. Top it with Tajin and add a little something special with tangy chamoy sauce, a syrupy, salty sauce that’s made from pickled fruit. Look for it in the Latin section at your grocery store or make your own.
Grilling pineapple adds caramelization and reduces acidity, rendering it into a quick, simple, and crave-worthy dessert. This one gets a kick from a cinnamon sugar sprinkle. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if you like.
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