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Pineapple is one of those fruits that is truly beautiful from the inside out. The vibrant fruit that lies beneath the interesting geometric exterior is what makes desserts like pineapple upside-down cake and drinks like the classic Puerto Rican piña colada possible. Not to mention, pineapple adds the perfect amount of sweetness to foods like tacos al pastor and salsa. While canned pineapple is a delicious pantry staple (try adding a splash of the juice to a citrusy marinade or some chunks to your pancake batter), working with fresh pineapple can be game-changing.
Staring down a prickly pineapple can be a little daunting, but there are lots of different ways to get from a whole fruit to those delicious slices or rings — and that’s where this test comes in. To figure out the best method, we tried six different techniques, including various tried-and-true approaches and a few hacks. At the end of the day, we had a very sticky countertop, enough leftovers to start our own tropical fruit stand, and a winning method that’s quick, efficient, and wastes very little fruit.
A Few Notes About Methodology
Pineapple prep: For the tests, I used pineapples that were all relatively the same size and level of ripeness. All of the tests were performed on the same day, using the same cutting board and knife.
Timing: I timed all of the methods from start to finish. The start time began with the whole pineapple and a sharp knife on a cutting board. I stopped the timer as soon as I was able to get the desired shape and size of pineapple pieces.
Rating: Methods were judged based on ease, messiness, time, presentation, and how much of the pineapple was wasted.
Pineapple Slicing Method: Boats
- Timing: 6 to 8 minutes (for two “boats”)
- Rating: 5/10 for efficiency; 8/10 for presentation
About this method: This method, as seen on sources including eHow Food, is largely about presentation. For this method, you first quarter the pineapple lengthwise, keeping the stem intact. Then you carefully slice the flesh away from the peel, creating four “boats” from the skin. Next, you slice the four large pieces of fruit crosswise, then place the slices back into the “boats,” pushing every other slice in the opposite direction of the one before.
Result: This method gives you pineapple with a wow factor, but the only time I could see the effort being worthwhile is if I were serving fresh fruit for a party. The method is too fussy if you’re just cutting up a pineapple to cook with.
Pineapple Slicing Method: Spiral Cut
- Timing: 15 to 20 minutes
- Rating: 6/10
About this method: This spiral method is popular online, with sites like Simply Recipes offering their take on it. While it seemed involved, I was very much invested in recreating the pretty spiral design. To do it, you start by slicing off the top and bottom and, very carefully, cutting off the skin as thinly as possible. What should remain are the eyes (the brown spots on the pineapple). You’ll notice the eyes sort of line up in a spiral pattern around the fruit. Using a knife, you cut in a spiral pattern to remove the eyes, while leaving as much of the flesh around the eyes as possible. At this point, you can cut the pineapple into rounds, slabs, chunks, or any other shape.
Result: While this method is by far the most photogenic way to slice a pineapple — and wastes very little fruit — it also takes the most time and precision to get just right. Once I got the spiral design down, I felt quite accomplished, and would happily have served the rings, semicircles, or wedges on a platter for a party. However, for anything beyond a platter or simple salad, I worry the design would get lost.
Pineapple Slicing Method: Rings with a Biscuit Cutter
- Timing: 9 to 10 minutes
- Rating: 6/10
About this method: Many sources, including Fine Cooking, demonstrate methods for cutting your own rings from fresh pineapple. Canned rings are a quick, reliable option for a classic pineapple upside-down cake, but I wanted to see if it was worth making my own rings from fresh fruit. This technique involves the usual cutting off of the top and bottom, then cutting deeply around the sides of the pineapple to remove the skin and eyes. After cutting off the peel, you put the pineapple on its side, slice it into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and remove the core from the slices using a 1 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter.
Result: This method was relatively quick and easy — until it came time to remove the core. On my first attempt, I started with rounds that were too thick and struggled to cut through the flesh. With thinner cuts, the cores were much easier to remove, but I still found this method a bit difficult and fussy. That said, I’d definitely recommend this method for someone who prefers fresh pineapple to canned and is in the market for some sort of pineapple upside-down cake–adjacent dessert. Just be sure to cut your pineapple into rounds of no more than 1/4-inch before trying to remove the core.
Pineapple Slicing Method: Rings with Coring Tool
- Timing: 5 minutes
- Rating: 7.5/10
About this method: Various companies make a tool specifically designed to core and cut a pineapple into rings, leaving behind a hollowed-out pineapple that’s perfect for serving fruity drinks. I love any excuse to use a kitchen gadget, so I was excited to give this method a try — especially after watching this demo from Williams Sonoma. For my test, I used the OXO Good Grips Pineapple Corer, which has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon. The method involves cutting off the top of the pineapple, and twisting the tool into the fruit.
Result: While it was easy to get the corer going on my first attempt, I found it difficult to guide it straight down, which resulted in the tool poking a large hole near the bottom of the pineapple. This breach caused juice to spill out from the sides and bottom of the pineapple and off the sides of the cutting board. Other people (including a fellow Kitchn editor and some online reviewers) had the same trouble using the tool, although quite a few people — including our food stylist — reported no issues at all, as long as you are very careful to guide it straight down. Despite the pitfalls, this method did create uniform rings perfect for making desserts. And if you want to serve a fun, summery drink in the hollowed-out pineapple, this tool is definitely the way to go (as long as you don’t cut a hole in the fruit).
Pineapple Slicing Method: Slice Around the Core
- Timing: 5 minutes
- Rating: 8/10
About this method: This technique, which is one of many demonstrated by Steve Cusato of Not Another Cooking Show, starts with slicing off the top and bottom of the pineapple and then cutting off the skin, including a good amount of excess pineapple flesh to ensure that the eyes are completely removed. At this point, with the skinned pineapple standing upright, you cut off four slabs — you will be left with a fifth skinny rectangle (this is the intact core with a good amount of flesh around it). I sliced the remaining slabs into long spears and then into uniform cubes, although you can definitely leave them as spears if you wish.
Result: The biggest plus for this method is that it was one of the fastest. The main downside is how much of the pineapple goes to waste — between cutting off the peel and around the core, I still wonder how much perfectly edible pineapple was left to be enjoyed! But if I were in a pinch to get some fresh pineapple into a fruit salad, this would probably be my go-to method.
Pineapple Slicing Method: Slice Through the Core
- Timing: 9 to 10 minutes
- Rating: 10/10
About this method: This method, explained further in our how to cut up a whole pineapple article, is one of the most common methods for cutting fresh pineapple. You begin by cutting off the top and bottom of the pineapple and then slicing off the skin. Then you cut the pineapple lengthwise into quarters, cutting through the core. At this point, you slice the core away from each wedge. The wedges can then be cut into slabs or chunks.
Result: This technique was not only relatively quick, but also resulted in a good amount of pineapple flesh. When you cut through the middle of the pineapple you can more easily see exactly where the core is, which really cuts down on the amount of wasted pineapple. I also liked how versatile this method was. It’s a quick way of getting either spears or uniform chunks that could be good for salad, platters, fun grilled kebabs or — dare I say — pizza.
When it comes to deciding which method for cutting fresh pineapple is the best one for you, it’s largely dependent on what shape you’re after. If you want rings of fresh pineapple and don’t like expending too much time or energy, you should opt for the corer tool. If you want a cool fruit spectacle for a party that is intricate but impressive, the “boats” and “spiralized” options are both good choices (although I’m partial to the “boats”). Lastly, my all-purpose method would definitely be “through the core” — it’s a fast and easy way to remove the core and get spears, wedges, chunks, and cubes.
Associate Food Editor
Cory is the Associate Food Editor at Kitchn. Previously an editor at Food Network Magazine, Cory loves making cold brew at home, trying out new soup recipes, zhuzhing up Trader Joe’s finds, and putting everything seasoning on something. When he’s not in the kitchen, you can find him looking for a new crime doc to watch with a glass of Invivo X, SJP’s sauvignon blanc nearby.