The weather is getting warmer! I was hoping today would be one of those sunny, warm spring days that makes you crave barbecues, or at least a day that hints that you might consider grilling soon. Instead, I got a dreary, gray, slightly chilly and damp rainy day. But no matter, because these grilled pineapple skewers can be made any time of year (though I do think they’d be especially good for dessert at a summer BBQ).
When I lived in Paraguay, one of my favorite restaurants to go to for a fancy night out was the Paulista Grill Churrasquería in Asunción. This giant restaurant has an all-you-can-eat option that includes a hot buffet, salad bar, dessert, and endless cuts of meat fresh off the grill. Servers walk around carrying giant metal skewers of meat and will slice you off a piece of whatever you want, as much as you want.
One of their most memorable offerings was the grilled pineapple. They roast an entire pineapple on a rotisserie spit, glazed with brown sugar and cinnamon, and slice it right off the metal skewer at your table. YUM. It was my favorite part of the whole experience. And today, I’m going to learn a version for the home cook – especially if you do not have a rotisserie or even a grill, just a trusty stovetop grill pan like me. Keep in mind that if you do have a grill, you can certainly use this recipe but you’ll need to use your discretion to determine when it’s done.
Before we dive into the recipe, some history of pineapples. What do you imagine when you think of a pineapple? Is it Hawaii? Somewhere in Central America like Costa Rica? A Caribbean island? Wrong. The pineapple is actually native to landlocked Paraguay and southern Brazil, a fact I did not learn in my time in Paraguay but at the Dole Pineapple Plantation in Hawaii. While pineapples are still grown in Paraguay (my host mom even grew them in her backyard garden, and I was so surprised to see that they come from a spiky bush and not a tree!) and Hawaii used to be a major producer, Costa Rica is now the world’s largest exporter of pineapples. This also makes sense because when I lived in Costa Rica, there were huge pineapple plantations.
So it seems that Brazilians, who are home to both the pineapple and churrasco-style grilling, really know what they are doing when it comes to grilling a pineapple. This technique has been replicated in kitchens around the world because:
- It’s absolutely delicious
- It only requires 3 ingredients and a grill of some sort
- You can grill a whole pineapple in a short amount of time
- It’s a great vegan option for a barbecue, or a great fruit dessert
- This is only the beginning – you can mix and match flavors or throw the grilled pineapple onto ice cream, a salad, you name it. It opens a door to a lot of creative options!
Let’s make it! And if you do try this recipe, let me know how it went here or on Instagram.
Stovetop Grilled Pineapple Skewers
30 minutes, approximately 12 skewers from one pineapple
- 1 ripe pineapple
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Canola oil, for greasing the pan
It’s important that your pineapple is ripe for this recipe. The more yellow your pineapple is, the riper and sweeter it is. You can also tell by pulling out one of the green leaves. If it comes out easily, the pineapple is ripe! If the pineapple you buy at the grocery store is mostly green, you’ll need to let it sit out to ripen. However, it might not ripen a lot once picked, so best to get a more ripe pineapple when you select your fruit.
There is also the opportunity to experiment with flavors. Some people only sprinkle cinnamon, others mix honey with cinnamon, and others add a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper for some pop. Try out what you like and get creative!
- Large bowl
- Grill pan
- Skewers (alternatively, use tongs)
I live in a studio apartment in NYC. A few years ago I got a second-hand Le Creuset grill pan for cheap and I love it! Otherwise, I’d have no way to grill at all. You can certainly make pineapple skewers on an actual grill, but this recipe covers in particular how to do it on a stovetop grill pan. If you don’t have either, I’m sure there are other options but I won’t be covering those today. I also recommend cooking the pineapple on skewers which makes it easier to flip, serve, and eat the pineapple.
Slice the pineapple. Start by slicing off the top and the bottom so that they are both flat (photo 1). Then, cut off the thick outer skin by slicing downwards along the brown “eyes” of the pineapple (photo 2). Next, cut the pineapple into wedges by slicing up to the core on the length of the pineapple (3), then slicing it away from the core (4). Remember that you will be putting a skewer through them, so don’t cut it too thin.
If you like to get maximum use out of your produce, save the skin, core, top, and any bits you cut off. Next post, I’ll show you how to repurpose the skin to make pineapple tea!
Skewer the pineapple wedges. Carefully skewer the pineapple wedges. I found it safest to stand them up tall and slowly skewer the thicker corner from the top down. This way, you don’t risk running a skewer into your hand. Skewering takes a bit of practice, but the good news with the pineapple is that even if you mess up, it’s pretty sturdy so you can usually try again. Go slowly with it and be patient.
Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon. Combine the brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl, preferably one that is big enough to dip the skewers in.
Get ready to grill. Use canola oil to grease your grill pan. Heat the pan over medium-high on a stove and turn on your vent fan. When water dropped on the pan sizzles, it’s ready. Cover each skewer on all sides with the cinnamon sugar mixture before placing on the grill. This is not the time to be skimpy with the cinnamon sugar, you will have plenty.
Grill the pineapple. Cook each side of the pineapple for 2-3 minutes, then use the skewers or tongs to turn to the next side. Continue until you are satisfied with the level of char on your pineapple. I cooked each slice for approximately 6-8 minutes total. Since you can fit up to six in the pan at once, you can cook the whole pineapple relatively quickly.
A note about sugar on a grill pan – yes, it may start to smoke a bit. Make sure to turn on your vent fan before you get started. If it does get quite smoky, you will have better results if you clean some of the melted sugar off the pan before grilling the next batch of pineapple.
Serve immediately! But if you can’t eat it all at once, you can eat them cold (preferable with vanilla or coconut ice cream), or reheat in the microwave or on the grill. If you make this, I’d love to know your experience in the comments 🙂