Pineapples — with their sunshine color; irresistible juicy, sweet, tropical fruit flavor; and fantastic exotic appearance — have captivated our senses. During the 16th through 18th centuries, pineapples were a status symbol in Europe: Transporting this tantalizing tropical fruit back to Europe by boat was nigh impossible due to spoilage, with only the wealthiest able to afford shipping from the Caribbean.

MORE: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pineapples

Besides their storied history and being symbols of warmth and hospitality, pineapples are treasured in the kitchen for their exciting versatility. Not so exciting may be cutting a pineapple, but we can help you with that. 

From cocktails to savory and sweet dishes, and at every meal, the pineapple’s sweetness, tang, and gentle acidity (which is great for tenderizing meat!) make it a star, no matter how you choose to slice and dice it!

MORE: A Not-So-Short Guide to Pineapples

In a drink

Sparking Pineapple Cocktail

This Cuban-inspired libation begins with muddling fresh pineapple, mint, lime, and sugar, just like a classic mojito. (Just saying “mojito” makes me start dancing!) If you don’t have a muddler, use the end of a wooden spoon. The pineapple pairs beautifully with rum, and the addition of sparkling wine gives it a bright, refreshing lift.

Pineapple recipes with a cocktail with pineapple and lime on a table.

In baked goods

Pineapple Muffins

Keep this customizable muffin recipe handy and use it as a base, tossing in whatever seasonal fruit you have. The secret to the tender, light muffin crumb is buttermilk, which reacts with the baking soda, causing the muffins to rise higher in the pan. Blitz a half to three-fourths cup of chopped, fresh pineapple in a blender, and add to the batter for moisture. And if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, stir in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the same amount of whole milk, and you’re good to go!

Muffins on a platter.

At breakfast

Pineapple Smoothie

The easiest way to get in on the sunshine-y goodness and immune-boosting benefits of vitamin C-rich pineapple is to eat it fresh out of hand – remember to peel it first, of course – but blending chunks of fresh pineapple in a smoothie is a close second. Add fresh ginger, banana, spinach, and protein-rich cashews for this tropical smoothie that also packs up to 8 grams of fiber per serving.

Pineapple recipes with a green smoothie in a glass.

In a taco

Al Pastor Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Traditional al pastor tacos comprise thinly sliced pork, pineapples, and jalapeños for a sweet and spicy flavor profile. Use chicken breasts instead of pork for these juicy al pastor-style tacos that include fresh pineapple juice in the sauce. Pineapple salsa as a topper adds terrific texture and a burst of sweetness to offset the jalapeños. We love to pair these tacos with a pineapple margarita.

Al pastor chicken tacos with pineapple salsa.

As a marinade

Pineapple Juice Marinade for Chicken and Steak Kebabs

An enzyme in pineapple called bromelain fights inflammation in our bodies and aids in digestion. It also softens the fibers in cuts of meat, making pineapple juice a terrific tenderizer that imparts a sweet, tangy flavor to kebabs. Combine 1 cup of pineapple juice with a half cup of packed brown sugar and a half cup of soy sauce. Pour over the meat and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for one hour before grilling.

Pineapple recipes with a platter of kebabs on a table.

On the grill

Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Relish

Sweet and spicy Harry & David Charred Pineapple Relish is an irresistible pantry staple you’ll relish year-round. Adding dollops to a rich, buttery fillet of salmon elevates an easy dinner. But don’t stop there; add it to tuna steaks for a Hawaiian-inspired dinner, swirl spoonfuls into mayo or yogurt for a dip, or set it on a cheeseboard beside a salty, sharp cheddar.

Pineapple recipes with a plate of grilled salmon and rice.

Getting your kids to eat fruit

Pineapple Fried Rice

Our favorite kid-friendly rice is a winner for its salty and sweet ham and fruit combo, and easy prep. Use leftover or cooked rice that you have allowed to chill thoroughly; if your rice is not cold enough, it will not fry and wind up soggy. The same is true of using freshly diced pineapple versus the canned fruit (the juices and syrup of the canned versions add too much liquid).

Pineapple fried rice.

Going retro

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This retro pineapple cake became famous in the 1920s when canned pineapple and Maraschino cherries were all the rage. What’s old is new again, right? 

It’s also a cinch to make. You’ll create a layer of butter and sugar caramel for fresh pineapple rounds and cover them with mouthwatering fluffy vanilla cake. Once baked, flip the cake over so the rounds are right side up for their show-stopping presentation — Harry & David cherries in the center are the finishing touch. And the best part is you can use other seasonal fruit, such as apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, and apricots.

Pineapple upside down cake on a platter.

As a dessert

Pineapple Nice Cream

Pineapple “nice cream” is a dairy-free, vegan alternative to ice cream that begins with blending frozen bananas and pineapple with coconut milk for a creamy tropical treat that doesn’t require an ice cream maker. Add shredded coconut, crushed nuts, or whipped coconut topping if you wish. Variations on nice cream abound: Swap the pineapple for one-third cup of cocoa powder for a chocolate treat or 2 cups of frozen fruit, such as peaches, strawberries, or mango, for a fruity twist.

A bowl of pineapple nice cream with pineapple wedges.

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Theresa Gambacorta is a freelance food writer, a veteran of New York City restaurants, and cookbook co-author to chef Joey Campanaro's Big Love Cooking (Chronicle) and James Beard-nominated chef Nasim Alikhani's Sofreh: A Contemporary Approach to Classic Persian Cuisine (Knopf). She is currently working on a forthcoming vegan cookbook to be published by Simon Element.

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