Pistachio gelato













In the matter of ice cream flavours I am not, never have been a strawberry-vanilla-chocolate kind of person but a faithful pistachio lover. Ever since the day I could make my own gelato choice from the sleek, shiny case behind the espresso machine and food elevator at the end of the central bar in the restaurant. The prospect of the delicious after-dinner treat made me forget my toddler timidity and march alone through the dining room to choose amongst the flavours (classic Italian gelato varieties and special ones like Stracciatella and Pistacchio– we are talking 1970s!) and always choosing the one.

There were always many things I was looking forward to each Easter holidays: the Dolomites, skiing, the distinctive scent and silence of the Stone pine forests, the glittering snow and deep blue sky, the whirring sound of the lifts, the triumphant, elated feeling of the perfect Wedel, the smell of the bed linen, the embroidered napkin pockets, our favourite foods at the different skiing lodges, cappuccino and Williams pear Schnapps, dinner in the same restaurant most evenings, phoning my grandparents from a telephone in a tiny booth and pistachio gelato.

Like skiing pistachio ice gelato has been a life long passion (needless to say that I don’t have a problem with eating ice cream in winter at all) though it is not an unconditional love, it has to be the good stuff! It is my lickmus test for the quality of ice cream in gelaterie. Do they pride themselves in making proper ice cream in house or do the buy in, do they spend the money on ingredients or use powders, artificial flavours & colours etc. and declare it? Is theirs a mostly almond and artificial pistachio-fied thing or the rare treat of pure beige-olive-emerald-green pistachio gelato with little pieces of the prized nut in it? Being a creature of habit and collecting empirical data, I always sample the pistachio, chocolate and fior di latte in a cone. The winner hasn’t been beaten in about 15 years: the gelateria opposite of the Capella del Corporale of Orivieto’s Duomo Santa Maria with all the flavours done to perfection. Note to self: retesting necessary, it has been way too long since we have been there. Until then, here’s my recipe for the real thing:



pistachio gelato

Gelato al pistacchio – pistachio ice cream:

Yield: about 0.5l / 1 pint


a small jar (190g / 6.7oz) pistachio paste or spread*
250g / 8.8oz milk
4 egg yolks
50-100g / ¼ cup – ½ cup / 1.8 – 3.5oz sugar (depending on the sweetness of your pistachio paste)
100g / 3.5oz cream
100g / 3.5oz pistachios, coarsely ground (chopped in the food processor)


Dilute the nut paste with a little milk to a smooth cream and scald the milk (heat until shortly before boiling). Beat egg yolks with sugar in a bain marie and while whisking add a little milk. Continue whisking and add some more milk before decanting the rest of the milk into the bowl and whisk until it thickens slightly. Take the cream off the heat and incorporate pistachio paste, cream and ground nuts. Leave to cool before moving to chill in the fridge. Churn (in an ice cream machine), put into a container and cover the top with cling film (to avoid the formation of water ice crystals) and freeze.


* There are many different pistachio pastes around ranging from pure pistachio puree to pistachio spreads. Choose the one with the highest pistachio content, no artificial colours and the least amount of added sugars and adjust the sugar in the recipe accordingly: 50g if you are using a spread, 100g if you have found a pure pistachio paste. I’ve had fabulous results with ones from Sicily, made with the famous local Bronte pistachios. Of course, wonderful vivid green Iranian pistachios and when added coarsely ground to the smooth gelato deliver a more interesting texture and slightly more green to the rather olive-beige colour.


More ice cream, sorbet, gelato recipes here so far: Pedro Ximinéz Sherry raisin ice cream, black sesame ice cream, Lemon sorbet, Mascarpone ice cream with sweet woodruff syrup,

Gelato – ice cream, what’s the difference?




Deutsches Rezept:




Ergibt ca. 0,5l


190g Pistazienpaste oder -creme*
250g Milch
4 Eigelb
50-100g Zucker (je nach Süße der verwendeten Pistaziencreme)
100g Sahne
100g grob gemahlene Pistazien (in der Küchenmaschine)


Nußpaste mit etwas Milch zu einer glatten Creme verdünnen und die Milch erhitzen bis sie kurz vorm Kochen ist. Eigelbe mit Zucker im Wasserbad aufschlagen und ein wenig heiße Milch zufügen. Weiter mit etwas mehr Milch rühren, schließlich restliche Milch hinzugeben und rühren bis die Eiermilch leicht dicklich wird (Holzlöffelprobe: mit einem Finger durch die am Löffel verbliebene Flüssigkeit streichen, Custard ist optimal wenn der Strich bestehen bleibt und die Flüssigkeit nicht sofort wieder verläuft). Vom Feuer nehmen und Pistazienpaste, Sahne sowie gemahlene Nüsse unterrühren. Eisbasis abkühlen lassen, dann im Kühlschrank weiter kühlen und schließlich in der Eismaschine zu Pistazieneis verarbeiten. In ein verschließbares Gefäß umfüllen und die Oberfläche mit Frischhaltefolie abdecken (um Formung von Wassereiskristallen zu vermeiden) und einfrieren.


* Es gibt viele verschiedene Pistaziencremes von einer reinen Pistazienpaste ohne Zucker bis hin zu Pistaziencremes. Hier sollte man eine mit dem höchsten Pistazienanteil und ohne künstliche Farbstoffe auswählen. Beide Varianten können hier verwendet werden, man sollte nur die Zuckermenge angleichen: 50g oder weniger falls gesüßte Pistaziencreme verwendet wird, 100g für reine Pistazienpaste. Ich hatte ganz fabelhaftes Eis mit verschiedenen Cremes aus Sizilien, die aus den dortigen Bronte Pistazien hergestellt werden. Sehr schön sind auch leuchtend grüne Iranische Pistazien, welche, grob in der Küchenmaschine gemahlen, dem cremigen Eis mehr (Pistazien-) Textur und der oliv-beigefarbenen Masse ein wenig mehr (Pistazien-)Grün verleihen.



15 thoughts on “Pistachio gelato

  1. I love that you’re making your favorite gelato at home. Pistachio was always my dad’s favorite, but I’ve now come around. I love the memories it evokes for you. It looks so good I just want to dive in! And we could use some here in NYC, it’s a heat wave like none other.

    • Your dad obviously had great taste, hope it brings back lots of memories for you, too. There is no better excuse for eating lots of ice cream than a proper heat wave, though I would not go so far wishing for another one here again. Hope it is bearable. N xx

  2. Now THAT´s ice cream! I absolutely adore it, Nicole. Oh là là! Totally agree on the gelateria testing purpose when it comes to pistachio ice cream. Example: Last monday at Montmartre, kids with wonderfully chocolatey boules de chocolate, me with completely artificially tasting so called pistachio with one or two little chunks of pistachio hidden somewhere in there. :-(( bet there wasn´t any yolk in there either. Will definitely make your recipe!
    PS: the only pistachio cream I´ve so far seen at my local supermarket cost over 10 Euros for a little jar. Normal prize (I´m afraid so), or should I go check somewhere else for cheaper ones?

    • Terrible isn’t it, this will definitely cure you off all the pistachio ice cream heartbreak! Afraid, that’s about the price of a jar. I’ve bought one in an Italian deli, others like from dealers on Amazon. All being around 9 to 12 Euros. The pure pistacchio paste is by Viani, also bought via the German Amazon. Good hunting. N xx

      • If that´s the price everywhere, I´m fine with it. Just recently heard “my” supermarket on the next corner was leading the list of most expensive supermarkets in France, which made me a little less careless when it comes to things that seem pricy ! thanks Nicole!

    • Hi Gerlinde, I see no problem to change this into a hazelnut version! There must be hazelnut paste available (Wholefoods?) or fine grind some yourself and add some hazelnut oil for smoothness. Just to take the edge off until your next visit. Let me know when you are back in the area, ok?

      • That’s a good idea, I just got a Vitamix ( Costco had them on sale) and they will grind anything. They are amazing machines . It would be great for baby food.

      • Oh, I miss going to Costco! Vitamix on sale would be really tempting, although I like my very ancient Braun food processor and Kitchenaid blender. I’ve got a French machine for the baby food that steams food with two shelves (for different cooking times and momentarily heats and sterilizes everything – very well thought out) and a tiny blender attachment. Can’t wait to get to that point… N

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.