How to Cut a Pineapple

When I was little, one of our favorite treats was fresh pineapple. We kids would gather around the table with wide-eyed fascination as our father would carefully prep the pineapple. First he would cut off the green spiky top. Then he would carefully cut the skin off the sides, as close to the edge of the pineapple skin as he could, knowing that the sweetest and juiciest parts of the pineapple were usually right at the very edge. This of course would leave exposed a bunch of brown, scraggly dots, called eyes, that needed to be removed. You couldn’t eat them, they were too prickly. Fortunately if you looked carefully you could tell that the eyes lined up in a spiral. So dad would carefully cut away at them, forming V-shaped trenches as he moved around the pineapple to remove them. When the pineapple was all ready to go, he would slice it rounds, and give us each forks to spear our own round in the tough center. Then we would run outside, holding the pineapple round on our fork, and eat that pineapple ring all around the sweet juicy edges (taking our drippy mess outside). If all the rounds were accounted for (there were six of us kids), and we were still desperate for more pineapple, we would nibble on the tough core until everything was eaten.

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My father with a pineapple that is still a little too green for his taste, a sweeter one would be more golden.

These days most people (sometimes me included) don’t bother with the spiral cuts, they just make deeper cuts initially to cut off the pineapple skin and the eyes together. If you are rushed for time you can easily do that. But the far edges are the best part, especially if the pineapple is still a little green. So here’s my dad’s way of cutting a pineapple, if you want to take a couple extra minutes to extract more of the juicy bits.

How to Cut a Pineapple

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: One pineapple yields about 4 cups of cut pineapple chunks.

First make sure your pineapple is ripe. The best way to tell is to smell the bottom of it. If it smells of pineapple, it's ripe. If it smells fermented, it's overripe. It should still be rather firm, with just a little give. If it is soft at all, it is too ripe. The pineapple may have some green on the sides, but shouldn't be completely green. At a minimum it should be turning golden at the bottom and around the eyes on the sides. Where it is golden it is sweetest and most ripe.

Ingredients

  • One ripe pineapple

Method

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1 Place the pineapple on its side on a cutting board. With a sharp chef's knife, slice off the top green crown and about a half inch of the top of the pineapple. Stand the pineapple upright on the cutting board.

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2 Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away the the skin, from top to bottom, following the contours of the pineapple. Do not cut so deep as to cut away the eyes. The outer edge of the pineapple has the sweetest flesh, so you want to retain that if you can. Cut off the bottom half inch or so of the pineapple.

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3 Now you have a pineapple dotted with eyes which must be removed. You can use a small paring knife to carefully carve out each one, but there is an easier way. Notice that the eyes all line up on a diagonal. You can make a diagonal cut across the side of the pineapple, like a V-shaped trench, and more easily cut out all of the eyes that are on that diagonal. Just continue to work your way around the pineapple. You do waste a little bit of good pineapple this way, but not much, and it is a lot faster than trying to carefully cut out each eye.

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4 Now the pineapple is ready to cut further. There are several ways to make the final cuts of the pineapple, depending how you are serving it. If you want rounds, just lay the pineapple on its side and cut it into 3/4 inch rounds. For rings, cut out the tough core. When we were kids we preferred to keep the core in. We liked to spear the core in a solid pineapple round with our fork, and then hold up the pineapple round to eat the ripe edges.

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If you just want chunks, cut the pineapple lengthwise into quarters. Cut out the tough core, then cut each quarter lengthwise again. Then cut crosswise into chunks.

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It's a pineapple pop!

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A perfectly ripe pineapple

62 Comments

  1. Annemarie

    I have been obsessed with pineapple this year.

    I found out (purely by accident) that you can twist off the green leaves. It makes it a little easier to cut off the top. I think I’ll give this a try on my next pineapple. :)

  2. Laura

    I never realized a pineapple that’s more ripe will be golden and not as green. Duh, makes sense! Now I’m craving pineapple!!

  3. Anonymous

    I enjoyed your recipe & the pics; thanks for the spiral-cutting tip. I enjoyed your story and the forks and your Dad even more :)

  4. Judith

    This is how my mother taught me to peel a pineapple! Elise, your dad is the only other person I’ve met that does it this way. Everyone else looks at me as though I’m some kind of compulsive nut. Although, I have to admit that one friend’s mother watched me for a while and said, “You look as though you’ve done this before.” That was the closest thing I ever got to a compliment while cutting a pineapple.

  5. Chungwan

    We never really know any other way to skin pineapple except this way. Also, you could trim the prickly leaves a bit and use the top as “handle” while you remove the eyes, then cut it off last.

    Great suggestion, thanks! ~Elise

  6. Charlene

    How clever! I use a 1/4″ measuring spoon to scoop out the eyes but then I do slice farther away from the skin. I will give your Dad’s way a try so I can keep more of the sweeter edges.

  7. tthomas

    I can’t believe the good timing of this tip for me. We’re making 200 portions of grilled pineapple and mango salsa tonight, and I was thinking bout how best to skin a dozen pineapples. Thanks to you, problem solved.

    Now, about those two dozen mangos …

    Cheers,

    T.

    If I were prepping a dozen pineapples for a large event I think I would just skin them the easy way, skinning them deeper. Our method takes a bit more finesse and time, and is great when you are trying to extract the most out of one pineapple, but probably not the best way if you are in a big hurry or have a lot of them to do. That said, if you do it this way, all power to you! ~Elise

  8. Susan

    I learned this method of cutting pineapple when I lived in the Philippines. It is tedious to trench out the eyes but it’s so pretty once it’s done! I never buy a pineapple that has a mostly green shell. They do sweeten somewhat if you grill slices of them as it concentrates the sugars but I still prefer to buy them when golden. It takes all my restraint not to grab people in the grocery store who pick up the green ones so I can tell them how to choose. I am glad you are educating people here.

  9. Renée

    My mother taught me that the best way to pick a ripe pineapple is to pull its leaves off. If you can pull off 4 or more leaves, then it is pretty ripe. This method hasn’t failed me yet!

  10. mary beth

    I never realized the spikes were in spirals and will NEVER look at a pineapple the same way again – and it was soooooooooo nice to “meet” your dad . . . .
    I do love the way the slices look when the pineapple is peeled this way
    thanks

  11. Sandra

    Another easy way to tell if the pineapple is ripe is to pull out a leaf – it comes out, it’s ripe, if it sticks, it isn’t.

    I’ve been cutting a pineapple by cutting off all the skin then find that the eyes run up and down so just make a cut straight down to remove. I can’t wait to try your dad’s “spiral” method, I always wondered how they did that!

  12. Angela Hill

    Wonderful information. I love fresh pineapple and now I know how to cut it with a flair.Your dad looks like a sweetheart! Thanks for the tip. I enjoy reading about your family stories.

  13. Ronster

    An efficient and easy way to determine if a pineapple is ripe is find the small center most leaf and give a gentle tug. If this leave doesn’t budge it’s not ripe, if it comes out, it’s ripe.

  14. Grace

    I felt like crying when I saw your dad’s sweet smile. He could have been my papa’s twin. ( Died last year.)
    He used to peel pineapples for us too after mass usually as a treat.

    Oh Grace, I’m so sorry for your loss. Big hugs to you. ~Elise

  15. tempy

    I remember my own father doing this when I was younger. He would get a fresh pineapple, stuff it in the freezer alongside hotdog packs and ice cream boxes and peel it later on that day, when it was nice and chilled. It is one of those childhood memories that only gets stronger with time.

  16. Frank Woelke

    Now I have to go open a can of Pineapple. I like the fresh but I can’t wait that long after reading the article above. LOL I have a can of chunks in the frig and I will open that up and drink the cold sweet juice down and then take my toothpick and spear them right in the can. MMMMmmmmm :O)

  17. Audrey

    Once you have twisted off the leaves, plant them in a pot. When they root you can plant them outside and maybe get a pineapple or two. They do need a warm spot and I am sure they won’t manage snow and frost.

  18. Unk Wes

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned the pineapple cutters they sell on Amazon for under $10. They cut the pineapple into slices and core it at the same time, all in under a minute. Takes 10 seconds to wash tool !

    I’m guessing that these cutters aren’t able to extract as much pineapple as this method, but I bet they’re faster. ~Elise

  19. red sweater

    I’m quite late to this post, but I wanted to second the using of the top as a handle. Cut it off last.

    I work with a man who, as a teenager, spent a summer in Hawaii picking pineapples. Throughout our conversation about it, he always referred to the top as a “handle.”

  20. kmack

    I love the story of you watching the process. My friend’s family emigrated from Thailand. His dad is a doctor (surgeon). I watch him cut a pineapple this way with amazing precision. His cuts are perfect and the final result is literally picture perfect. My friend tries but can’t seem to reach the same level of perfection when he cuts one.

    Thanks for sharing the story. I thought I was the only one who was obsessed with watching that process. I LOVE fresh pineapple!

  21. Ray

    Regarding how to pick a ripe pineapple: When I visited a pineapple plantation in Costa Rica we were told that every pineapple picked is ripe, and that once picked a pineapple will never ripen any further. Looking for color, scent or tender leaves were all meaningless. Their advice: take the greenest pineapple on display; it likely has been squeezed and handled the least.

    Well that is strange. What they told you flies in the face my own experience. I often let green pineapples sit for a few days to get less green and more ripe. I have one sitting on my counter doing just that, and it is much less green than a few days ago, and much more golden. Green pineapples are not as sweet and not as ripe. Update: I stand corrected. Apparently the pineapples will change color if you let them sit around, but they will not get more sweet (source). So they do not get more ripe after they are picked. ~Elise

  22. Art Hahn

    I am diabetic. Dr. told me to always carry a 6 oz can of pinapple juice in case I bottom out with low blood sugar. I have a can in each car, golf bag, lunchpale, frig, etc. Gives one a sense of security.

  23. Sylvia G.

    I was told that if you want a ripe pineapple just press on the bottom and it should be just a “BIT” soft and it always worked for me!

  24. Paul

    I never noticed the barber-pole arrangement of the eyes but now I see it. Great carving tip.

    Ever wonder about the name pineapple? The British first discovered them in the 17th century while exploring Honduras. They knew it was edible and it looked like a pine cone so they called it a pineapple.

    Your useless bit of food trivia for the day.

    Cool, thank you! ~Elise

  25. Doris

    This is how my mother taught me to prepare a pineapple when I was a young! I loved the spiral effect by trimming out the eyes while retaining as much of the fruit. Gorgeous!

  26. Linda

    I think it wonderful your Poppi learned the spiral way of cutting pineapple,I fell upon this website by accident glad I did. I have a pineapple cutter but most time it’s misplaced will try the spiral method I pick up pineapple yesterday. Thanks again.

  27. Gabby

    This is FANTASTIC! I never even realized the eyes were on diagonal lines and it’s the step I’ve missed. I’ve always thought it was such an annoying fruit to cut yet so delicious anyway.

  28. Shaz

    Coming from Australia ( the home of the “Big Pineapple”) we always cut our apples this way….time consuming, but rewarding with so much more fruit….My tip for ensuring you are buying a “ripe” apple….pull the center leaf. It should pop out easily, and when you bite the end (the white bit) it should taste crispy & a little sweet…a sure thing every time! If the leaf feels like you need to “tug” it…it’s not ripe! It should just “pop” out. Never fails. BTW. Yes people are going to look side-ways at you in the market,as you are chowing down on pineapple leaves, but “hey” I just got the pick of the crop in the pineapple bin :-)

  29. The Omnivore

    What a wonderful story and SUCH helpful instructions! I admit I’ve never even attempted cutting up a whole pineapple: too daunting for me and I never had ANY idea how to do it. I always resorted to buying the overpriced pre-cut chunks from the supermarket. But never again! Next time I want some pineapple, I’ll take out my knife and butcher it myself. Thanks!

  30. Tish

    I’ve been cutting pineapple your dad’s way for the last 30 years. Learned it while working for a fruit and veg auction house and importers. You get a lot more pineapple this way and it is sweeter.

  31. Brandon

    I second that a pineapple will not ripen after picked. In fact after being picked, the pineapple starts to go downhill. I received this information from the Maui Gold pineapple tour. So picking the ripest one (yellow, not green) and eating it soon is the best bet.

    I stand corrected. From the Hawaiian Crown, “Pineapples are individually hand-picked when they are fully ripened. Once pineapples are harvested they do not continue to increase the sugar content internally but the shell color will turn more yellow or golden.” This explains why they continue to change color, but they do not get more sweet. ~Elise

  32. Alicia

    And now for something completely different… I give the pineapple handle to the dog. He thinks it’s a demon monster and it keeps him entertained and out of the kitchen for several minutes and out from under my feet. It gives me time to try the “barber pole” technique to remove those eyes. Great tip! I always hated cutting up pineapple as I felt I was wasting too much of the outer goodness. Now I know I was right.

  33. Carolyn

    It is always so refreshing to learn something new. I love pineapple and always cry a little when I peel the eyes and throw away all that great fruit. I can’t wait to go buy one and try the spiral method. And I also learned how to choose the best one. YAY! I am going to have so much fun picking one out. Thanks, Elise, and everyone else, for all the great info.

  34. ~Nancy

    I was lucky enough to travel and live abroad for almost 4-years in my mid twenties. I spent a good chunk of that time in Thailand where they had the most wonderful, luscious fruit. I learned how to cut pineapples by watching the Thai fruit sellers and loved that they managed to preserve much of the coveted flesh. It’s nice to see you passing the information on. Makes for a much prettier presentation too!

  35. Fey

    this is how we peel pineapples in the philippines, but when i am lazy i just do it the quick and easy way. one thing i always do though is to rub the whole pineapple with salt then rinse it. it helps get rid of that slimy thing that causes itch.

  36. Rosemary

    This is impressive, and looking at the picture has given me a craving for some fresh pineapple. I never realized that the eyes were lined up diagonally. Thanks for the tip!

  37. JUM

    Planting the pineapple top is one of the best ways to gain an immediate new plant in your garden (have done it with success in Florida). Even if it does not bare fruit, it is a nice bromeliad garden addition that requires little care. Another suggestion I learned when in Peru: boil the pineapple skin and all the eyes, basically all the trimmings that you would discard in a pot with water that covers all by one inch, once boiled for about 10 minutes, strain, sweeten with sugar to your liking, cool and you have a delicious pineapple flavored beverage that extracts all the flavor of the fruit (agua de piña). No waste.

  38. Alice Paige

    Just a couple of weeks ago I read to store the pineapple upside down, a bit difficult to do, and it turns golden. Works. We buy fresh pineapple often.

  39. Quirky Mon

    Watch the movie “Only Yesterday” by Studio Ghibli…the pineapple scene will strike a chord :)

    What? A Studio Ghibli movie I haven’t seen? Yikes, will put it on my must see list! ~Elise

  40. HuanYa

    This is the correct way! Everyone in Thailand & China knows this, everywhere you go to buy a pineapple they will cut it this way for you. It is common knowledge, but I have never seen it in the west.

  41. Brenda

    Will definitely try this method for cutting pineapple. I find if I buy green pineapple, it will eventually ripen if left on the counter. Pineapple is very high in digestive enzymes. Most of those are in the core. The core becomes very edible the riper the pineapple gets so don’t throw it away!

    Hello Brenda, as mentioned in previous comments, a green pineapple left to sit will eventually change color and get more soft, but it will not get any more sweet than it was when it was picked. ~Elise

  42. Andrew

    My sister does not like pineapple, so that is more for me! Mom peels it, and cuts out each eye and she is fast at it. She also saves the peel of many fruits to flavor baked goods. Right now there are strips of lemon out on a rack to dry. She chops them, or lets them get really dry and put in spice grinder. Yummy to the tummy!

  43. Monica

    This is how we cut pineapple in Southeast Asia. We rub the pineapple with salt then rinse it clean before eating, to get rid of “bromelain” (pineapple enzyme) that cause itching on the tongue.

  44. Anna Frederiksen

    I LOVE my fresh pinapple from the local farmers market here in Atenas, Costa Rics. I try to use the WHOLE thing – I cut off the top, peel away some of the leaves at the bottom, then plant it; I cut out the center, hard part and puree it in my blender then make fruit leather from it – yum and easy to do in an oven!; AND i will now use your spiral method to cut out the eyes – even though the goats here on my finca (ranch) will not be as happy (they get all the left over stuff!)

  45. Bob B

    I just bought a pineapple to add to my smoothie. I’ve never cut a fresh one before. Thanks for the tips on how to cut a pineapple. It worked great!

  46. Suzanne Gosney

    Thank you very much – the story and photos made me want pineapple so badly I’m headed for the grocery store!!!

  47. Angela Pender

    I worked over in China several years back. When we would buy pineapple from a street vendor, they would shave it right there, then pull out a V-shaped knife and cut the eyes out in this spiral fashion. My coworkers and I would just take the big chunks of pineapple and eat them as we walked home. I really wish I could find one of those knives over here! Those spiral corers don’t get to the really sweet part very well.

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