How To Cut A Pineapple

Finding the best way to cut a pineapple is the key to a good summer, says food blogger and photographer Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table. Who doesn't love the fresh, bright taste of a beautifully ripe pineapple?

But who loves to cut it? This large, prickly fruit may seem intimidating at first glance, which is why people often reach for the canned stuff first. But trust us — the main ingredient in a piña colada, teriyaki pineapple chicken, and most delicious fruit salads tastes so much better fresh than canned!

Fresh pineapple has a firmer texture and a much more mellow, acidic taste than its canned counterpart. Not to mention that fresh pineapple is devoid of the added sugars and preservatives that canned pineapple is often swimming in. The resulting product is fresher, tastier, cheaper, and more nuanced. So why not learn the best way to cut a pineapple now and save yourself years of inferior pineapple eating experiences? You may be surprised to learn that, with a bit of planning, it's easier than you think.

What knife should I use to cut a pineapple?

To cut a pineapple, first, be sure to use a sharp chef's knife of as high a quality as you can find. This sort of knife has more heft and weight than its cheaper cousins. That will allow you to execute sharp, fluid motions like cutting through the pineapple's core or removing the peel in one fell swoop. 

Plus, a well-kept and properly sharpened knife can be much, much safer than dull ones. Unsharpened knives could potentially skid and skip while cutting, putting your fingers in serious danger. So, sharpening and honing your knives is a smart move both here and for many other tasks in your kitchen.

When should you cut a pineapple?

A pineapple is ripe for cutting when the leaves on top are still green and fresh and the skin below is a mix of green and yellow eyelets. If your pineapple skin is still mostly green, then wait a day as it's not perfectly ripe yet. Pineapple sweetens as it matures, so you'll probably want to wait a bit anyway. That said, if you're looking for more acidic pineapple, you can also cut it when it's less ripe. A properly ripe pineapple will also be mostly firm, though it should yield slightly to pressure.

If the fruit is turning a deep orange, smells very sweet, or the bottom of your pineapple is getting moldy, then it's getting overripe. If that's the case, cut it immediately and get rid of any brown spots in the flesh.

Cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple

To begin cutting a pineapple, take your sharp chef's knife and first cut off the top and bottom parts of the pineapple. You'll cut off about an inch on each end, leaving yourself with a cylinder of fruit. You can discard the top and bottom of the pineapple.

Cut off the peel around the pineapple

Next, make sure that the cylinder of pineapple is standing on one cut end. To remove the peel, run your knife in a fluid, curving motion along the length of the pineapple on the inside, about ½ inch from the peel. Repeat this as you turn your pineapple until you remove all the peel in a series of strips.

If you are unsure of your knife skills and are worried about running your knife in a curved line, you can just cut straight down along the length of the pineapple in thinner strips. You'll lose a bit more of the pineapple flesh this way, but the motion is a little easier to execute. Whatever method you use, set the peel to the side for a few minutes and continue on with the fruit to core it.

Remove the pineapple core

You can use a pineapple corer for the next step if you happen to have one, but never fear if you don't have such a dedicated tool. There are multiple ways to core pineapple, depending on what you've got at the ready in your kitchen.

If you have a pineapple corer, simply dig it into the middle of the pineapple, then remove the core in one fluid motion. Cut the remaining pineapple widthwise into rings. You may also cut it lengthwise into four large, uneven chunks.

If you do not have a pineapple corer, run your knife lengthwise alongside the core of the pineapple on all four sides. This will cut off the sides of the pineapple, leaving you with the core and eight slightly unequal strips. Whatever method you use, you can discard the core afterward or keep it and the peels to make pineapple water. You can also keep pineapple cores to eat separately if you so choose. We'll explain how to do that shortly.

How to cut a pineapple for grilling

To cut a pineapple into pieces best suited for grilling, your best bet is to remove the core with a pineapple corer. If you'd like to cut a pineapple for grilling, at this stage you'll just need to slice the pineapple widthwise into rings of about ¾-inch thickness.

If you do not have a pineapple corer, then cut the pineapple widthwise into rings of about ¾-inch thickness first, and only then use a comfortable and sharp paring knife to carve out the core from each ring. Once they're ready, you can go ahead and grill the pineapple. And if pineapple tends to make your mouth feel tender, cooking the pieces can break down the enzyme that's the culprit behind the effect.

How to cut a pineapple into chunks

To cut a pineapple into chunks, you can start with rings or with the large pieces of the sides of the pineapple. If cutting from rings, simply stack a few rings on top of each other and run your knife through them, cutting them into chunks.

If cutting from the large strips, then cut each wider strip into 2 long strips (depending on how wide your starting chunks are — usually, four pieces are wider while four are more narrow). Then cut each strip into chunks.

What to do with the pineapple core and peel

To cut down on the waste associated with cutting a fresh pineapple, we like to use the core and peel to make pineapple water! It's a light, refreshing treat that's perfect for summer.

To make pineapple water, first, wash your core and peel, then transfer the pieces to a large pot. Add enough fresh water to cover the pieces, plus a bit extra. Bring the water to a boil, and as soon as it's boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the pineapple peel and core in water for 20 minutes. Strain the pineapple water, cool it in the refrigerator, and serve with more ice. Even better, serve the chilled pineapple water with some of those freshly cut pineapple chunks!