Pistachio Nut Ice Cream

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In the interest of full disclosure, I am sharing the whole story about how this pistachio ice cream came to be. Developing this ice cream recipe has been a couple months in the making. Back when I made the pistachio gelato that kicked off National Ice Cream Month in July my Chief Culinary Consultant tasted it and wasn’t really blown away. And since he is always 100% honest in his reviews of my concoctions (which I totally love since I know when something is REALLY good or still needs work), I know if he tells me my pistachio gelato needs an overhaul to become great pistachio ice cream, I need to head back to the kitchen with my mad scientist cap on. Since pistachio is one of his favorite ice cream flavors, I set out to perfect homemade pistachio ice cream.

I should note that some other people did try the pistachio gelato and liked it. It doesn’t have the same consistency as ice cream and is chock full of finely chopped pistachios so it is different than store-bought pistachio ice cream, so you can use your own judgment based on your personal preferences to determine which you’d like to try. Or try both and come back and let me know what you thought!

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Now the problem that I ran into is that I couldn’t actually find many recipes for pistachio ice cream that were what I was looking for. So I set out on creating my own. I knew a few things from the start:

#1: Lots of little chunks of nuts = no good. I needed to get the pistachio flavor in the ice cream without all the ground up nuts in order to preserve a creamy ice cream consistency.

#2: Egg yolks. I knew that using egg yolks as the base of my custard would greatly enhance the texture of the ice cream.

#3: But where are the nuts? Even though I wanted to get rid of the ground nuts we still needed nuts in the recipe because, well, it’s pistachio nut ice cream.

Okay, so here’s how it all came together. I started reading cookbooks and looking at recipes online, even though I knew I wouldn’t use any of them in their entirety. I was looking for how the flavor was developed, and how ingredients and methods were used. I remembered back when I made vanilla ice cream, that the vanilla bean and seeds were steeped in the milk and cream to extract a lot of the flavor. Bingo! I still ground up the pistachios, but then steeped them in the hot milk/cream mixture, and then strained them out so that all of the flavor remained, but the ice cream wasn’t full of ground pistachio chunks. I basically proceeded with the rest of the recipe has I had with the vanilla, adjusting the flavors slightly and then folding in coarsely chopped pistachios at the end.

I am happy to report that I developed a winner. I used this ice cream as the pistachio layer in my Italian spumoni, which also got rave reviews from everyone who tasted it.

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Don’t forget! If you’re dying to make homemade ice cream and cursing yourself for not having an ice cream maker, head straight to this tutorial on how to make homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker!

Pistachio Nut Ice Cream

Yield: Makes about 1½ quarts

Prep Time: 30 minutes (active) 8 hours (inactive)

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups shelled pistachio nuts
¾ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped

Directions:

1. Grind the 1 1/3 cups of pistachios in a food processor until finely ground, but not to a paste. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the ground nuts. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep for at least 30 minutes.

3. Strain the warm nut mixture, pressing on the nuts to extract as much liquid as possible, and discard the solids. Return the milk and cream mixture to the saucepan. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla extract and almond extract and stir until combined.

5. Refrigerate until cold. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Once finished churning, fold in the ¾ cup pistachios with a rubber spatula.

**You’ll notice this pistachio isn’t bright green like you find in stores. I didn’t use any food coloring, so this is all natural, but you can add a couple drops of green food coloring if you’re looking for a deeper green shade.

(Ingredients and methods/techniques adapted from a combination of The Joy of Cooking, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, and Epicurious)

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71 Responses to “Pistachio Nut Ice Cream”

  1. Jen @ MaplenCornbread on August 12, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I think you did an amazing job recreating the gelato into a winner of an icecream!!! Its sounds amazing to me, Ive not had this kind before!!! BEAUTIFUL pictures!

    Reply

  2. Tracey on August 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Great photos! Your ice cream looks terrific and I enjoyed hearing how you developed the recipe :)

    Reply

  3. Danielle on August 13, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Oh wow! I think I’m going to pick out the pistachios first and savor them one at time and then chow down on the ice cream!

    Reply

  4. Debi (Table Talk) on August 13, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Looks like you have come up with a winning recipe! Pistachio is one of my favorite gelato flavors…the problem is we have an amazing gelato shop down the street, which led to my decision to donate my ice cream maker.

    Reply

  5. Alta on August 13, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I have been craving pistachios this week…and then you share this delicious-sounding (and looking) ice cream! Great idea, to steep the pistachios in order get the nut flavor in the cream. And yes, egg yolks are a must to create that super-creamy texture in ice cream. Yum!

    Reply

  6. ABowlOfMush on August 13, 2009 at 11:09 am

    My fav ice cream! Wow this looks so good!

    Reply

  7. Kendra on August 13, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I’m so making this! I have some pistachio nuts so I’m set! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  8. Maria on August 13, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I love the photos! I rarely eat ice cream in a cone. I need to and soon! This looks so yummy!

    Reply

  9. Gaby on August 13, 2009 at 11:44 am

    is it wrong that I want to eat a pint of this for breakfast?

    Reply

    • Mary Anne on August 12th, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Nope it’s not! Consider it a basic breakast with eggs and dairy and nut protein…LOL

      Reply

  10. ashley on August 13, 2009 at 11:48 am

    your blog is making me really want to buy an ice cream maker!

    Reply

  11. Michelle on August 13, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Gaby – That’s not wrong at all, it’s all kinds of right! :)

    Ashley – I just got one for Christmas last year, and I’m so thrilled to have one now!

    Reply

  12. karen on August 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    THANK YOU!!! I picked up pistachios last week because I was going to take a stab at your gelato recipe but now i think im going for the ice cream! Great recipe & photos!

    Reply

  13. sherri on August 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Looks and sounds delicious- and I am just blown away by your photos!

    Reply

  14. oz on August 13, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Am I missing the milk quantity somewhere???
    Otherwise, love the idea and your site.

    Reply

  15. Michelle on August 13, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Oz – You are so right! My apologies! The milk quantity is 1 cup of whole milk; I have edited the recipe so it’s included now. Thanks for catching that for me!

    Reply

  16. Pam on August 13, 2009 at 8:03 pm
  17. Elin on August 14, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Hi,
    This is a winner alright. Love this pistachio ice cream. thanks for sharing this with me.

    Reply

  18. Kevin on August 15, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Pistachio ice cream would be so good!

    Reply

  19. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) on August 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Love how you’ve developed the recipe!! I love pistachios, I’m going to try this soon!

    Reply

  20. Kendra/Cooking Mama on August 16, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Oh! I made this today and it is oh so yummy! I’m in heaven . . . . .

    Reply

  21. Michelle on August 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Elin and Kendra – Thanks so much for the reviews, and so happy that you both enjoyed the ice cream! :)

    Reply

  22. soundslikefox on March 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    oh my goodness… my friend made this for us and we’re still daydreaming about it the next day… you are genius!!

    Reply

  23. Jenn on April 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Wow! I made this for a dinner party tonight, it’s gonna be a hit. I replaced the chopped pistachios with pieces of pistachio brittle. Now I just need to guard the freezer till dinner!

    Reply

  24. Chris on May 20, 2010 at 4:39 am

    Thank you for this recipe, I have just finished making it and it is delicious, although I think I was a little heavy-handed with the almond essence and so it has a bit more marzipaniness than pistachioness about it – luckily not a problem for me! It’s 9.30 am and I have just finished churning it, and have scraped out the ice cream machine for breakfast!

    I thought I would pass on a little tip for the leftover ground and marinated pistachios. They can be used in a bakewell tart, replacing some of the almonds in the filling. My favourite recipe here:

    http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/272952/Hairy-Bakers—Bakewell-tart

    I’ve just made a fabulous caramel ice cream in the last few days. It took 8 egg yolks, 250g of very caramelised sugar, 250ml cream and 350ml milk, and some vanilla essence – that’s all, no butter, although I added a pinch of salt. The recipe came from the Bibendum restaurant cookbook and it is truly great – a strong, grown-up caramel flavour, like creme brulee. Method was, melt and caramelise the sugar, until almost burnt, mix in cream. Warm milk, mix into eggs, add this to caramel and heat til thickened, then strain, cool and freeze.

    Luckily I have hens so this ice cream splurge has helped to use up a backlog of eggs! The whites are batched in the freezer for pavlovas, meringues, or Raymond Blanc’s chocolate mousse:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/basicchocolatemousse_93648

    Thank yo for all the great recipes. Your soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies were a big hit.

    Reply

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  26. Eileen Tragert on August 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I have enjoyed Spumoni Ice Cream since I was a child in Brooklyn NY Italian Restaurants. Safeway Select Brand carried a fairly tasty replica, but delivery is spotty and think it is somewhat seasonal. I can’t wait to gather up ingredients for your Spumoni Without an Ice Maker recipe and gorge away. At 80 yrs old, I’m allowed to gorge, you know and still love to cook.
    I asked a friend traveling to Italy to see if she could find a recipe for Spumoni during her travels and she returned with only an imported can of Rollands French Roasted Pistachio Oil but alas, no recipe
    I used some on mashed potatoes and some on grilled vegetables and it is very tasty
    Wonder if I could intensify the ice cream flavor with it?
    Thank you for your excellent site.

    Reply

  27. melinda on May 12, 2011 at 1:24 am

    my friend & i just inherited an ice cream maker & used your pistachio recipe as a test run…success! absolutely delicious! i will be making it again soon (but i will need to triple it :) thank you

    Reply

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  30. Mary Anne on August 12, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Your receipe is so much like the one my family has always used for pistachio gelato my favorite! I’m glad you didn’t add food coloring to it either. King Arthur Flour carries a pistachio flavor in it’s essential oils great in cookies and cakes very delicate.

    Reply

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  32. Kim on September 3, 2011 at 6:42 am

    My husband stated that this is the best ice cream that he has ever had!!! Thank you! Do you have a recipe for re-using the soaked pistacio nuts? I hate throwing them away…

    Reply

  33. melinda on September 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    ummmmm i thought you were supposed to eat those :)

    Reply

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  35. Adeline on January 3, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I tried this 2 days and it turned out brilliantly! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Cheers.

    Reply

  36. Betsy Kim on February 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I had some leftover cream and thought of ice cream and happened upon this recipe. YUM! Although I didn’t have pistachios on hand, I made it anyway. It was so creamy and delicious. Will definitely make it again! Thank you!

    Reply

  37. Julia Shew on April 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Yum! I am excited to make this! What type of pistachios did you use? Roasted and unsalted or??

    THANKS!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 4th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Julia, I believe they were roasted and unsalted.

      Reply

  38. Sprigs of Rosemary on June 6, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Mr. Rosemary and I both love, love, love pistachio ice cream and since I just got the Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment, I’m anxious to make this. Thanks so much for doing all this experimenting and legwork. Hope I don’t screw it up!

    Reply

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  40. DD on July 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    thank u for the recipe my friend made it for me but i couldn’t because of the ice-cream maker part but still its deli-sh

    Reply

  41. The Captain on August 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I made your “Vanilla Bean Ice Cream” recipe and it turned out great! Now off to try this one! Just picked up a big bag of Pistachios on sale.. just gotta go pick up some almond extract because I have none.

    Reply

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  45. It's a Male on December 19, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    The B&J Pistachio ice cream is my girlfriend’s favorite. My belief is that homemade food (and desserts) are always better tasting and better for you. So I am doing what any great boyfriend would do. I decided to make her some Homemade Pistachio ice cream for her birthday. After searching through a number of recipes and due to your due diligence with doing your homework and purposely creating the taste you wanted, your recipe is my first choice. Will let you know how it turns out!

    Reply

    • It's a Male's birthday girl on December 21st, 2012 at 8:07 am

      My bf made me this pistachio ice cream for my b-day! I loved it! He made me close my eyes so I couldn’t see whether it was homemade or not, and when I did taste it, I couldn’t tell! In fact, it taste even better than B&J’s! Thanks for the recipe, it made my b-day even sweeter!!!

      Reply

      • Michelle on December 21st, 2012 at 8:37 am

        I’m so glad you enjoyed the ice cream! Happy birthday to you!

        Reply

  46. Jen on January 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    this was a seriously amazing recipe! I just made it and it was better than any gelato I had in Italy!

    Reply

  47. Chel on April 29, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    OMG! I think this will also be a winner in my book! I love pistachio ice cream. I rarely find it here in our area. Did you really grind the shell of the pistachios as well? It’s a bit odd for me but maybe I have to trust you for that :) And another question, as much as possible I don’t want to use eggs in my ice creams, is it ok to leave it out or do I have to replace it with anything or do I really have to use it just for the texture? Thank you so much for this!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 30th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      Chel, No, you don’t grind the shells in the food processor. You’ll see that the recipe calls for shelled pistachios, not in the shell. You really do need to use the eggs in this particular recipes and there are not any substitutes for them. It’s what gives ice cream that thick, creamy custard-like texture. There are ice cream recipes known as “Philadelphia-style” that do not use eggs, however they are generally not as creamy as ice creams made with a custard base.

      Reply

  48. Paige on May 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Can anyone tell me how long this ice cream will keep? :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 10th, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      Hi Paige, It should keep for a good couple of months in the freezer before it would develop any ice crystals.

      Reply

  49. Robin Bailey on June 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    This was my first try making any kind of ice cream and because I’d had homemade pistachio before, I wanted to give it a shot. I found your site yesterday and just the photos alone had me hooked. I just started my blog and included your recipe…of course providing your link and giving you 100% credit. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply

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  51. Lauren on July 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! My bf and I are big fans of pistachio and this one takes the cake!

    Reply

  52. Cindy on July 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Pistachio is my all time favorite ice cream/gelato. I searched lots of recipes & finally settled on yours. The steeping part really infuses the pistachio flavor into the base perfectly. Along with the nuts added at the end, it is wonderful. I do add a bit of amaretto to the base to keep the texture softer, but otherwise the recipe is spot on. I look forward to trying the same infusion method for dates and also for figs (separately). Thanks!

    Reply

  53. Jay on August 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    My parents don’t eat eggs, would this recipe still work well if I skipped the eggs step?
    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 19th, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Jay, This would not work if you just skip the eggs. You’ll need to look for a non-custard ice cream recipe (sometimes referred to as “Philadelphia-style”). Simply omitting the eggs here wouldn’t give you the desired result.

      Reply

  54. Sybil on August 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Is it ok to use pistachio paste? If it so how do I substitute?

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 23rd, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Sybil, I have never worked with pistachio paste; I’m not sure where you would use it in this recipe. The first part is infusing the milk, then you do want actual chopped nuts in the finished product. I would probably forego the paste and use regular nuts.

      Reply

      • Sybil on August 25th, 2013 at 6:42 pm

        Thanks, Michelle!!

        Reply

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  56. Mags on December 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    What to do with the discarded pistachio., hate to waste a pretty expensive nuts. Any recipe suggestion? Thanks!

    Reply

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  58. Regina on May 21, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Just made the pistachio ice cream for my husband. I’ve never had pistachio ice cream, although I love eating pistachio nuts. I can honestly say I love this ice cream. My husband just asked for seconds and said, “now this is pistachio ice cream”. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply

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  61. Cathy on July 2, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I recently bought an ice cream maker and have been trying different recipes. This was wonderful and creamy with an excellent rich pistachio flavour. Like a previous poster I was loathe to discard the ground pistachios. I found a good recipe for pistachio muffins on http://scarlettabakes.com/pistachio-muffins/ and used 3/4C of the leftover ground pistachios as well I used one cup each of brown and white sugar rather than 2C white. Thanks for all the research to develop such a great ice cream recipe.

    Reply

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