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How to Select and Grill the Perfect Pineapple

picture of grilled pineapples on a cutting board with a honey drizzler
zi3000/Shutterstock

Are you looking for ways to jazz up your grilling? Why not add a vibrant and sweet slice of pineapple to the mix. Here’s how to pick a perfectly ripe pineapple and grill it to perfection.

Many people steer clear of buying a pineapple whole, due to the tough-looking exterior of the fruit. It seems overly difficult to pick a ripe one and even more daunting to get all that delicious fruit out of it. But selecting and prepping pineapple isn’t as difficult as it might appear!

How to Select a Ripe Pineapple

Pulling the center leaf of a pineapple out to check for ripeness.
Emilee Unterkoefler

While most fruits only need a firm squeeze to check for ripeness, pineapple doesn’t quite work that way. Whether it was just picked or has been sitting around for a while, if you try to give it a squeeze it’ll feel about the same one way or the other.

This trick, however, won’t ever fail you: Take your pineapple, and find a center leaf. Tug on one of the center leaves. If it comes out relatively easily, you’ve got yourself a ripe pineapple. If you have to give it a good tug before it comes out, your pineapple isn’t quite there yet.

How to Prepare a Pineapple

Pineapple can be prepped using a few different methods, depending on what tools you have. While a sharp chef knife does the trick, you can skip a few extra steps by using a handy pineapple corer. Here’s how to use both.

Use a Chef Knife

The chef knife is a fantastic tool to have in your kitchen, and cutting large fruits and vegetables is only one way you can use it. Learn how to use this tool to prepare your pineapple for the grill.

  • Lay the fruit on its side and cut off the top of your pineapple using your knife. Make sure to slice about a half-inch down from the base of the leaves.
  • Stand your pineapple upright. Using your sharp knife, carefully slice off the skin of the fruit from top to bottom. Make sure your slices aren’t too thick because you want to preserve as much pineapple as possible. You might see brown eyes appear, but no worries—you can easily slice those off later.
  • After you peel it, lay the pineapple back on its side and cut it into quarter-inch thick rings. You can remove the center using a small round cookie cutter or a paring knife.

Use a Pineapple Corer

With so many kitchen gadgets to choose from, knowing which ones are worth purchasing is often difficult. While there are a thousand and one “uni-tasker” tools you can buy for your kitchen that aren’t worth the expense (or the space they take up) a pineapple corer is a convenient tool if you love this tropical fruit.

  • Lay your pineapple on its side and cut off the top using a sharp chef knife. Make sure to slice about a half-inch down from the base of the leaves.
  • Place the corer over the top of your fruit, where you’ve made your cut. Press down and twist the handle of your tool in a clockwise rotation.
  • Continue to press down and twist the handle until you’ve reached the base, and pull upwards. The entire center of your pineapple should come up with ease, and the core will remain as part of your pineapple.

Don’t throw away your hollowed-out fruit; you can use it to serve delicious fruit or turn it into a yummy cup for a tropical drink!

Marinate Your Pineapple

Marinating your pineapple is an optional step, but one we recommend. No doubt about it, you can throw fresh pineapple right on the grill and it’ll taste pretty yummy. Even without a marinade, you’ll get really tasty caramelization of the sugars and a little smokey flavor from the grilling process.  However, having a marinade will provide an even greater abundance of flavor by using ingredients that accompany your meal nicely.

The easiest way to take advantage of a marinade is to simply select a recipe for the main dish you’re grilling that already includes a marinade. Just purchase or prep the marinade as indicated and use a little extra for the pineapple.

Place the plastic bag filled with fruit and marinade into the refrigerator. For the best outcome, marinate your fruit for at least few hours, so the pineapple becomes infused with all the flavors.

How to Grill Pineapple

Grilling pineapple and using a fish spatula to flip the delicate fruit rings.
Emilee Unterkoefler

When it comes to grilling pineapple almost all the effort is in the prep work—selecting it, coring it, and marinading it. The grilling part is easy so long as you keep an eye on your pineapple slice so they don’t become hockey pucks.

Make sure your grill is clean and ready to use, and turn it on to medium heat. Use tongs to carefully remove the rings from the bag and spread them on the grill. Be careful not to let the pineapple rings slip through the cracks of the grill grate. (If you like to grill pineapple and other thinly sliced food directly on the grates but they’re a bit widely spaced, a grill topper is a handy way everything from slipping through.)

OXO Stainless Steel Fish Turner

This thin and flexible fish spatula isn't just perfect for delicate fish, but grilled fruit and vegetable slices too.

Grill each side for about two or three minutes or until char marks appear. For darker char lines, grill for at least another minute or so. Once you’ve grilled each side, remove the pineapple and place them on a dish. A fish spatula (also called a “fish turner”) works great for flipping the delicate rings without damaging them.


Now all you need is a little bit of time in the kitchen to test out different flavors that work well with your grilled fruit!

Try making shrimp or chicken kabobs with pineapple added to your skewers. Maybe toss some spinach in a fresh pineapple vinaigrette and add colorful toppings. The possibilities are endless, so pull out your apron and get grilling!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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