This homemade pistachio ice cream is full of toasty roasty pistachio flavor and pretty green color that's totally natural and actually tastes like pistachios.
This Italian pistachio ice cream is made Sicilian-style with tapioca starch (or cornstarch) instead of eggs. Sometimes also called Philadelphia style, this type of ice cream allows all the glorious flavors of the pistachios to shine.
Recipe tips and frequently asked questions
Why is pistachio ice cream green?
In theory it's because of the green color of pistachio nuts. In reality the bright green color many of us associate with pistachio flavor is often because of green food coloring.
Why? Because pistachios are expensive, the better quality ones even more so. Good quality pistachios can range in color from green to yellow and brown.
So most of the pistachio ice cream you see is made with a combination of pistachios, green food color and almond flavoring to give the approximate taste of pistachio without the high price tag. This also explains why some pistachio ice cream does not taste pistachios. Because it's mostly not.
Yet another reason to make it yourself at home, then you know exactly what's going into it and can make an ice cream that actually tastes like pistachio.
Can you make this without pistachio paste?
Yes, but with some caveats. When developing this recipe I tried making it a number of ways. By infusing the pistachios into warmed dairy. By making my own pistachio paste and finally with commercially brought pistachio paste.
Infusing the dairy with pistachios only produced a weak pistachio flavor. When I make flavored ice cream I like it to really taste like that flavor.
Then I tried making my own pistachio paste. I even painstakingly shelled and removed the skins from the pistachios in order to get that lovely green color. The flavor was OK, but even after a lot of blending and subsequently straining the ice cream it still had an unpleasant gritty texture.
Finally I tried it commercially brought pistachio paste. This was hands down the best in terms of flavor and texture. Commercially brought pistachio paste is made with industrial equipment to produce a very fine, smooth paste that hard to replicate at home.
So for the best, smoothest, flavor-packed ice cream I recommend hunting down and shelling out (ha!) for commercially produced 100% pure pistachio paste. Failing that I recommend replacing it with the same amount of homemade pistachio paste. Using the best food processor you can, blitz the heck out of it and then strain.
What goes with pistachio ice cream?
This nutty green ice cream is fabulous on its own or try it with one of the following toppings or flavor combinations:
- Top it with some roasted pistachio or almond pieces
- Pair it with chocolate sauce and whipped cream in an epic ice cream sundae
- With a scoop of decadent no churn chocolate ice cream or tangy lemon ice cream
Pistachio paste: look for one made from 100% pistachios. Buy the best quality you can find and afford, it will make your ice cream taste better. Sicilian pistachios from Italy are generally considered to be the best but can be eye-wateringly expensive. There are a lot of imposters out there so try to only buy from reputable sources.
Vanilla extract: sometimes also called vanilla essence, depending on where you live. You can use either, or imitation vanilla essence, depending on your preference and budget. A little dash helps enhance the flavors and take the edge off some of the bitter after notes of the pistachios.
Thickened cream: I use thickened cream which has a fat content of about 34%. You could also use heavy cream or heavy whipping or whipping cream which is similar.
Milk: this recipe uses full-fat milk with a fat content of about 3.5%.
White sugar: white sugar is best in this recipe. You could use castor sugar if you prefer or experiment with brown sugar to give the ice cream some caramel notes.
Tapioca starch: is a natural and accessible way of both thickening and stabilizing the ice cream. If you can't get tapioca starch you can use arrowroot powder or cornflour in the same volume.
Glucose syrup: also called confectioner’s glucose. You can get in from specialty baking shops, online and some supermarkets. A small amount of glucose syrup helps lower the freezer point of ice cream and improves the texture and scoopability of the ice cream.
You can substitute with the same amount of light corn syrup or powdered dextrose. Measure carefully, preferably using a digital kitchen scale, and don't add too much or your ice cream will melt in a red hot minute!
How to make pistachio ice cream
See the full recipe card at the end of the post for ingredient amounts and instructions.
Measure the tapioca starch into a small bowl. Measure out the milk, then add a couple of tablespoons of the milk into the bowl with the tapioca starch. Mix well to form a slurry and get out all the lumps.
Add the milk, cream, sugar and glucose syrup to a small pot on the stove. When measuring the glucose syrup ideally use a digital kitchen scale, otherwise make sure it's a flat half a tablespoon. Heat on medium and stir well until all the sugar and syrup is fully dissolved.
Add tapioca starch slurry and stir well for a few minutes on medium-low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about few minutes. Add the pistachio paste and vanilla essence and blend well until smooth. Chill in the fridge for at least four hours, ideally overnight.
Put your ice cream storage container into the freezer to chill. If you are using a self-chilling churner turn it on ten mins before to chill. Churn the ice cream. It will be the consistency of soft-serve when done. Transfer to the chilled ice cream container, cover and freeze for at least four hours, or until firm.
How to serve
To serve remove from the freezer, scoop and enjoy. Fabulous on its own or with some extra chopped roasted pistachios sprinkled over the top. Delicious!
How to store
You can store this ice cream in an air-tight container in the freezer for two up to weeks for the best texture. It will still taste good after this but may become icier over time.
Have you made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below and tag me on instagram so I can see your delicious creations! @keep_calm_and_eat_icecream
Looking for more yummy dessert recipes?
Why not try making
Pistachio Ice Cream
- ice cream machine
- ½ cup (140gms) pure pistachio paste
- 2 cups (500mls) milk
- 1 cup (250mls) thickened cream
- ½ cup (110gms) white sugar
- ½ tablespoon (15gms) glucose syrup
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 pinch salt
- Measure the tapioca starch into a small bowl. Measure out the milk, then add a couple of tablespoons of the milk into the bowl with the tapioca starch. Mix well to form a slurry and get out all the lumps.
- Add the milk, cream, sugar and glucose syrup to a small pot on the stove. Heat on medium and stir well until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Add tapioca starch slurry and stir well for a few minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about few minutes.
- Add the pistachio paste and vanilla essence and blend well until smooth. Chill in the fridge for at least four hours, ideally overnight.
- Put your ice cream storage container into the freezer to chill. If you are using a self-chilling churner turn it on ten mins before to chill. Churn the ice cream. It will be the consistency of soft-serve when done.
- Transfer to the chilled ice cream container, cover and freeze for at least four hours, or until firm.
- To serve remove from the freezer, scoop and enjoy. Fabulous on its own or with some extra chopped roasted pistachios sprinkled over the top. Delicious!
- Pistachio paste is available from some specialty baking stores and online. Look for pure pistachio paste with minimal other, if any, ingredients and one that is suitable for baking. Regular pistachio butter may not be ground fine enough and may make your ice cream grainy.
- If you don't use glucose syrup your ice cream may freeze a little firm. Put it in the fridge for about ten minutes to make it soft enough to scoop (this is better than leaving it on the bench because it will soften uniformly).
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