Although it’s technically a winter fruit, pineapple will forever be, in our eyes, a symbol of summer and of Southern hospitality. The tropical flavors of pineapple can be found in everything from frozen tiki-inspired cocktails to classic Southern desserts.
With summer in full swing, we’re using every opportunity we can to cook with it, and we highly recommend throwing a pineapple party to celebrate. Here are the best pineapple recipes we've got.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Leave the canned pineapple on the shelf the next time you make a pineapple upside-down cake. This advice comes from chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis, who tested the recipe and suggests using a fresh pineapple instead. "It's absolutely beautiful with the whole, thinly cut slices; it's a little more trouble, but worth it. Other than this one step, the cake is very simple to make." To help ensure your cake comes out light, slightly crumbly and flavorful, Willis also suggests saving time by adding eggs whole instead of separated. We can’t wait to slice into this tropical cake. And for another Southern twist? Try baking it off in a cast iron skillet.
Get the recipeHummingbird Cake with Mascarpone Frosting
This pineapple and banana cake with cream cheese frosting is traditionally served at Southern weddings and bridal showers, and its texture and flavor combinations are surprisingly complex. Sweet pineapple and banana mingle with tangy frosting while pecans lend a satisfying crunch. The hummingbird cake might have enjoyed an ‘80s heyday, but it’s a timeless dessert, especially when we replace the traditional cream cheese frosting with a decadent mascarpone for a creamier, more-grown-up cake.
Get the recipeAmbrosia Cookies
We love taking classic Southern dishes, like ambrosia, and turning them into something completely different. As part of our Saving Southern Recipes series, Southern Kitchen reader Rafa Santos helped us turn the oft-cringeworthy salad into delicious cookies. Our recipe is chock full of mix-ins — shredded coconut, chopped dates, raisins, dried cherries, dried pineapple — that make each bite exciting. This recipe is highly adaptable; feel free to alter all of the mix-ins as you see fit. However, to keep the cookies in the spirit of ambrosia itself, make leave the coconut and citrus zests as written.
Get the recipeEmerald Salad
Known variously as emerald salad, lime Jell-O salad and (at least in one family) "green squares," this tangy-sweet congealed salad is a classic Southern dish you can enjoy year-round. We've made a few improvements to really make it shine: In addition to the requisite mayonnaise and cottage cheese, we stirred in a cup of sweetened condensed milk for creamy texture. Upping the citrus flavor with fresh lime and lemon juice helps to balance the sweetness of the Jell-O and condensed milk, and blooming the Jell-O in pineapple juice also adds needed acidity. An extra packet of unflavored gelatin ensures that the whole, fat-filled salad sets up with ease. And a final sprinkle of citrus zest gives the whole thing a bit more pizzazz.
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The words bourbon and tiki aren’t usually associated with one another, but we’ll make an exception for this frozen tiki-inspired cocktail. The bright acidic flavors of orange and pineapple blend together with bourbon, bitters and almond syrup for a frozen cocktail we're sure to be drinking next to the pool. We suggest using fun glassware when serving this cocktail (think Hawaiian or tiki-inspired cups) and dressing the whole thing up with colorful garnishes, like pineapple wedges and edible flowers.
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Getting Caught in the Rain Cocktail
We wanted to create a version of a piña colada, but take it in a lighter, more fruit forward direction. To achieve this, we first caramelize the natural sugars in the pineapple in a cast iron pan. Coconut milk provides some creaminess while Coco Lopez gives the drink an extra boost of coconut flavor. Adding fresh basil and ginger not only provides lightness, but also makes the drink really pop. We’re planning on sipping this cocktail throughout the summer — rain or shine!
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Tropical Snow Cocktail from MG Road
We love drinking out of an exciting, out of the box glass and in this case, we’re using a pineapple shell as the vehicle to deliver this tropical cocktail. Pineapple, rum and curacao — some of our favorite tropical flavors — come together in this cocktail from MG Road Bar and Lounge in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Photo credit (Ambrosia Cookies): Kate Williams
Photo credit (Emerald) Salad: Kate Williams
Photo credit (Whiski Tiki): Cooper’s Craft
Photo credit (Getting Caught in the Rain): Lauren Booker
Photo credit (Tropical Snow): MG Road Bar and Lounge