Use this step-by-step guide and video to learn the easiest (and best) way to cut a pineapple. Plus, get tips on how to tell if a pineapple is ripe, how to store it and what to make with it.

Elizabeth Laseter
Updated June 11, 2020
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Photo: Elizabeth Laseter

Fresh, juicy pineapple is a favorite snack or treat, but it's not exactly the most welcoming fruit. To get to the sweet inner flesh, you have to cut through the tough, spiny skin. But how exactly do you do that?

Cutting a pineapple can seem intimidating (and even dangerous). Luckily, this tropical fruit is not impenetrable–and there's an easy way to cut one without losing a finger in the process. I learned this method from a chef (so you know it has to be good) while I was working as a line cook. It's fast, efficient and minimizes waste. You don't need a fancy pineapple corer or cutter; just you and your sharp chef's knife.

This helpful guide shows you the easiest and best way to cut a pineapple. Trust me, out of all the different methods I've seen, this is the best one. Watch the video below to see the method in action–but I've also broken it down for you step-by-step with photos. This technique is perfect for cutting pineapple into cubes for salads, smoothies, pizza, salsas and more.

How to Tell If a Pineapple Is Ripe

How do you know if a pineapple is ready to be cut? Due to its thick outer skin, choosing a ripe pineapple at the grocery store can feel like a guessing game. But you can tell a ripe pineapple by looking at all the parts of the pineapple and identifying three key signs.

Color: Select a pineapple that's golden yellow in color. If the spiny exterior has a greenish tint, the pineapple is probably underripe.

Firmness: Ripe pineapple will feel slightly soft when pressed. It's not going to be as soft as a ripe avocado or tomato, but the skin should give just a little. Avoid pineapples that feel rock hard to the touch.

Smell: It may look a little weird but I promise this trick works. Turn the pineapple upside down and give it a sniff. If it smells sweet and fruity, then you've chosen well. If it's funky, then it's probably overripe.

How to Cut a Pineapple

Before you cut your pineapple, make sure you have the right tools. Like I said before, you don't need much, but that's why I love this method.

  • Sharp chef's knife
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen towel
  • Medium prep bowl

Step 1: Cut Off the Top and Bottom

Photo: Elizabeth Laseter

On the cutting board, lay the pineapple on its side and slice off the top and bottom parts. Make straight, even cuts so that you create a flat, stable base on both ends. If you're using a sharp knife, this method for easily cutting through the skin will depend on how sharp your blade is, so make sure you have a sharp knife is.

Discard the bottom, but hang onto the leafy top if you'd like–you can actually grow a new pineapple plant from it. Use your knife to cut the lower leaves to expose the bottom of the stem, then place in a mason jar filled with water. It will take some time (I'm talking several weeks), but eventually, a new plant will start to grow from the bottom of the stem. But if you don't want to do that, you can just use the leaves as a garnish for a pineapple margarita and call it a day.

Step 2: Cut Off the Skin

Photo: Corey Williams

Stand the pineapple upright on your cutting board. Securing the pineapple with one hand and the knife with your other carefully cut from top to bottom to remove the skin. Follow the natural curve of the pineapple with your knife to ensure that you're not leaving any precious flesh behind.

Step 3: Remove the "Eyes"

Photo: Corey Williams

After you remove the skin, remove the brown "eyes" or holes that remain on the flesh. You can use a paring knife to carve these out, but I've found this method to be a bit awkward-and you can mangle the pineapple pretty badly if you aren't careful. Instead, I like to trim the sides of the pineapple with my chef's knife, making sure to leave as much flesh intact as possible.

Step 4: Remove the Core

Photo: Corey Williams

The core is the tough, woody part in the center of the pineapple. Eating this is an unpleasant experience, so you'll want to remove it. Simply slice the pineapple away from the core into four wide planks. Discard the core.

Note: For pineapple rings, you'll need to use a slightly different method here. Lay the pineapple on its side, slice it into rounds and use a small round cutter to remove the core from each piece. It won't give you spiral cuts, but you these rings will make great pineapple upside-down cake.

Step 5: Cut into Cubes

Photo: Corey Williams

Cut each of the four planks into long batons, then slice those into smaller cubes and place in a bowl. Congratulations! You've successfully cut up a whole pineapple.

How to Store Cut Pineapple

Photo: Elizabeth Laseter

Cut pineapple is perishable, so you'll want to store it properly. After it's cut, refrigerate the pineapple in an airtight container and use within five to seven days. Cut pineapple tends to release natural juice, but this is actually a good thing. In fact, you want to store the pineapple in this juice, as it will prevent browning and help retain flavor.

You can also freeze cut pineapple in a plastic zip-top freezer bag-but try to use it within a year for optimum quality.

What About Precut Pineapple?

I know what you're thinking. Wouldn't it be easier to buy precut pineapple? Not necessarily. You'll spend twice as much for a fraction of the quality. On top of this, precut pineapple can oxidize and turn brown if it's not stored properly. To ensure that you're getting perfectly juicy pineapple, buy it whole and cut it yourself. It's that simple.

How to Use Cut Pineapple

What can you do with your freshly cut pineapple? Where do I start ... Dice it up to make a tangy salsa for tacos, add it to smoothies, pile it over a bacon- or ham-topped pizza to balance the saltiness with a little sweetness, skewer it with shrimp and throw it on the grill, or toss it into a stir-fry with veggies. Try these easy recipes with fresh pineapple:

If you have frozen pineapple, there's no need to thaw it before use in most recipes. Simply toss it into breakfast smoothies or use it for frozen treats like Pineapple Nice Cream, ice pops or granita.

Check out all of our Healthy Pineapple Recipes for more tasty ideas.