Don't be intimidated by the thick skin or tall prickly crown of a pineapple. This step-by-step guide will show you how to cut a pineapple into spears, chunks or rings in just about 5 minutes. There's nothing better than a juicy, sweet, fresh cut pineapple!
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Pineapple grows well in the volcanic soil of Costa Rica and Hawaii, but it originally came from Brazil!
We are HUGE fans of this tropical fruit that tastes like sunshine and sandy beaches. Paul lived in Costa Rica for two years and we like to visit as often as we can or travel to Hawaii for family vacations.
But whenever we are hankering for sundrenched shores, we find that cutting into a pineapple brings back those great memories! It's fantastic served with our favorite easy fruit dip or as a dipping option for fondue or a chocolate fountain.
Picking a Pineapple
We visited a pineapple plantation on Maui and our guide told us there were three main ways to tell whether a pineapple is ripe: by its leaves, giving it a squeeze, and sniffing it for a sweet pineapple aroma.
- Leaves: If you tug on one of the leaves from the center of the pineapple's crown, it should come right out if the pineapple is ripe. If the leaves stick fast then the pineapple might not be quite ready to enjoy. Turns out I have had much better luck picking a deliciously ripe and sweet pineapple ever since I started employing this useful bit of advice and it's not something I saw in other tutorials.
- Squeeze: Another test you can use when you are looking for a pineapple at the store is to go ahead and give it a little squeeze around the middle. Try to pick out a pineapple that is firm with a little give. It shouldn't be rock hard or too soft.
- Scent: You can also give the pineapple a sniff. A ripe pineapple will usually smell sweet and, well, ripe, whereas an unripe pineapple might not have much scent at all and an overripe pineapple might smell sickly sweet or syrupy from fermentation.
- Color is deceiving: Although we think of a golden brown pineapple as perfectly ripe, even green pineapples can be ready to eat, so don't rely on look alone when picking out a pineapple.
How can I tell if a pineapple is ripe?
It's harder to tell ripeness just by looking at a pineapple because a pineapple can be ripe even if the shell is green on the outside. But generally speaking, you should look for leaves one the crown that are green and not wilted and skin around the pineapple that is green to yellow-ish brown without gaps between the scales where an overripe pineapple starts to wither.
How to Cut a Pineapple Into Spears and Chunks
Slice off the top crown and bottom base of the pineapple - Use a large, sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board on a flat, stable surface. Lay the pineapple on its side and slice about an inch below the crown (the leafy green part of the pineapple), then turn it around and do the same thing to cut off the bottom part of the pineapple. Stabilize the pineapple by holding it with one hand while you slice with the other.
Cut off the tough outer skin or rind - Once you have a flat, stable base, you can stand the pineapple up with the freshly cut top or bottom touching the cutting board. While holding the pineapple steady one hand, use the other to slice away strips of the spiky, hard skin that surrounds the pineapple. Follow the shape over the pineapple rather than just doing a straight vertical cut if you can. It's usually just about ½ inch of touch skin that is being sliced away.
Try not to go so deep that you are sacrificing a lot of the fruit, but deep enough to get most of the tough brown spots called eyes. If you find that there are a lot of eyes left, you can trim them away with a knife until you are left with a clean golden column of juicy fruit!
Cut the pineapple in half through the core - While the pineapple is still in the same vertical position, slice all the way through to cut the pineapple in half through the core. This is the safest approach because the pineapple still has a nice stable base so it won't roll around like it would if you turned it on its side. If you want to cut your pineapple into rings, you could turn it on its side and slice ½-inch rings at this point.
Quarter the pineapple - Lay the two pineapple halves flat on your cutting surface with the flat side down and slice each of them in half again vertically from the rounded outer edges right through the core.
Remove the core - Use your knife to slice off the triangular tip of core in the center of each quarter piece of pineapple. I have found that the safest approach is to stand the pineapple quarter on one of its flat top or bottom surfaces and slice down, removing a triangular piece of core.
The pineapple core is edible, but it's more tough, woody, and fibrous than the rest of the fruit so its best to remove it. The only exception I have found is a Maui Gold pineapple where the core is actually tender enough to enjoy. They are sold all over at grocery stores like Safeway or Costco on the Hawaiian islands, but if you live on the mainland the only way to get them is to order online and have them shipped directly to you. We've actually done that a few times as gifts because they are hands down our favorite pineapples in terms of flavor and texture and always arrive in perfect condition. But it's too expensive to do it whenever we want a pineapple.
Cut into spears - You're almost there! At this point you will have four large sections of pineapple that you can cut into spears. Depending on how thick you want your spears, you can get 2-3 of them from each pineapple quarter. These are great for making grilled pineapple!
Cut into chunks - If you want easy to serve pineapple chunks for enjoying immediately on its own, adding to a salad, freezing for smoothies, or using in a recipe like pineapple salsa, just cut the spears perpendicularly into chunks and you're done!
Voila, a big bowl of juicy, golden pineapple chunks ready to share for a delicious breakfast or afternoon snack!
How to Cut a Pineapple Into Rings Without a Pineapple Corer
If you happen to have one of those handy pineapple corer tools, you can follow the instructions above for slicing off the top crown and bottom of the pineapple, then slicing off the outer skin. Then you just stick the corer tool right down through the pineapple to pull out the core.
But since we don't have one and I don't need one more gadget or tool thing to fill my already overflowing kitchen drawers, here's how I get pineapple rings without a pineapple corer or other special tools beyond the round cookie/donut cutters I already have on hand. And if you don't have the big circle cutter, you can always just slice the skin off as shown above and then cut the pineapple into discs from there. Lots of options here to make it work!
Slice the pineapple into discs - Once you have cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple, slice it into ½-inch discs by holding the pineapple steady with one hand and using the knife with your other. Depending on the size of your pineapple and how thick you slice it, you will probably be able to get anywhere from 6-10 pineapple rings from each pineapple.
Cut the discs into circles to remove the skin - Use a large round cookie or donut cutter to punch out the pineapple ring from the tough outer skin. I have a graduated set of circular cutters and they come in handy for so many things! I usually use either the largest or second largest cutter in my set to remove the outer skin, although you could also trim it away using your knife if you don't have one of these cutters.
Remove the core - Now I just switch to my smallest circular cutter to punch out the core in each pineapple discs and ta-da! You're left with beautiful, fresh pineapple rings! These are great for making pineapple upside down cake or a pineapple baked ham.
Tips for Success
- Use a good, sharp knife. I typically use a large, sharp chef's knife to cut our pineapple, but a serrated knife will work too.
- Pick a good one. It should smell sweet and pineapple-y, have a good color, and a firm (not too hard, not to soft) feel when squeezed.
- Don't leave the eyes on. The brown eyes that you might see after cutting off the skin are technically edible, but not very good, so be sure to remove those with a paring knife.
Pineapple is definitely good for you! It's high in antioxidants, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and even helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases like stroke or type 2 diabetes.
The pineapples we get at the store are picked at the peak of ripeness, meaning they are as sweet as they will get and will not continue get any sweeter just by sitting on the counter. But it will get softer and juicier the longer it sits. You just don't want to let it get overripe and start to ferment.
Pineapples are readily available and grown year round, even in Hawaii, but the peak season is from March to July. It's when you will find the sweetest, juiciest fruit most readily available.
One pineapple usually results in about 4 cups of fruit when it is cut into chunks. It's enough for 6-8 servings.
Pineapples are typically stored standing up, so a lot of the juices naturally disperse more towards the bottom of the fruit. Some people like to slice off the crown first, then flip the pineapple over and let it stand upside down for 30 minutes before slicing off the bottom and proceeding in order to let the juices redisperse throughout the fruit for theoretically juicier pieces.
How to Store Cut Pineapple
An uncut pineapple can sit out on the counter for 2-3 days, but once you have cut your pineapple it is usually best to cover and refrigerate it for up to about 5 days, although it can sit out on the counter for a day or two.
How to Freeze Pineapple
If you want to freeze pineapple and just throw all of your fresh cut pineapple into a bag to freeze it immediately, you will end up with a frozen pineapple brick that isn't practical for daily use.
Instead, scatter the pineapple chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper so they are in a single layer. It's best if the pieces aren't touching each other either or they will freeze together.
Freeze for 2-4 hours until solidly frozen, then transfer the frozen pineapple chunks to a resealable airtight bag or container for longer term storage up to 12 months. Using this approach makes it so you can just grab a handful of pineapple chunks whenever you need them to throw in a smoothie rather than having them freeze together in a brick.
It's the same way I like to freeze bananas, strawberries, rhubarb, and raspberries and it's a great way to save fruit that you thought you might eat but didn't get around to before it starts going bad. Nobody likes food waste!
More Pineapple Recipes
- Better Than Take Out Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork
- Pineapple Poke Cake
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Tropical Pineapple Sponge Cake
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
How to Cut A Pineapple
- 1 fresh, ripe pineapple
Wedges, Spears, and Chunks
- Slice off the prickly top part of the pineapple with a large, sharp knife, about ½-inch from the top. Cut off the bottom part of the pineapple about ½-inch from the base.
- Stand the pineapple on it's freshly cut top and slice away strips of the spiky skin following the pineapple's shape. If there are a lot of brown eyes left on the fruit, you can trim them away with a sharp paring knife. If you want to cut your pineapple into rings, you could turn it on its side and slice ½-inch rings at this point.
- Slice the pineapple in half vertically through the core, then cut it in again to create 4 wedges. Cut off the triangular tip of core from each quarter piece.
- Slice each quarter into 2 or 3 spears, then into chunks. Enjoy!
- Follow step 1 from above. If you have a large circular cutter, you can then slice it into discs and use the large cutter to remove the skin from each disc. Otherwise, remove the skin following step 2 from above and slice into discs.
- Use a small circular cutter either 1-inch or 1 ½-inches in diameter or a sharp paring knife to remove the core from the center of each disc to create pineapple rings.
- Yield: One pineapple yield about 4 cups of fruit. This is typically enough for 6-8 people.
- Storage: An uncut pineapple can sit out on the counter for 2-3 days, but once you have cut your pineapple it is usually best to cover and refrigerate it for up to about 5 days, although it can sit out on the counter for a day or two.
- Freezing: Scatter the pineapple chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper so they are in a single layer. It's best if the pieces aren't touching each other either or they will freeze together. Freeze for 2-4 hours until solidly frozen, then transfer the frozen pineapple chunks to a resealable airtight bag or container for longer term storage up to 12 months.