Ask grown-ups what their favourite flavour of ice cream is, and if they've spent a little time in Italy or even visited an Italian Gelateria, pistachio ice cream is likely to be high on the list. We love this pistachio ice cream recipe, delicious alone, or for dessert as an accompaniment to a very very dark chocolate tart.
Adjust the saltiness of the ice cream depending on what it is to accompany - if eating with fruit or by itself, err on the side of less salt; whereas if the pistachio ice cream is to be eaten with very dark chocolate, the chocolate will stand up to a slightly salty tasting ice cream. Remember however strong the ice cream custard tastes when warm, it will seem much milder when frozen.
Adjust the saltiness depending on what it will accompany
Should you use real pistachio nuts or pistachio paste?
The recipe uses pure pistachio paste. Pistachio paste gives the ice cream a smooth consistency and intense flavour. If you have any left over, use it in the filling of pistachio macarons, or just as a guilty snack by itself with some white chocolate. And if serving 8-10 people instead of 6, just scale the recipe up by 50% to make the recipe with 6 egg yolks, and the full container. You can use less for a milder flavour. Again, taste as you add it, and then decide for yourself.
We love to use chopped pistachio nuts on top for added crunch and pop of colour.
Top tips for making pistachio ice cream
- Most recipes will heat the milk and double cream together. However, heating the milk first, and adding the cream at the end, rather than heating both together is a good short-cut. If you add cold cream once the custard has thickened, it helps the mixture cool quicker so you can get it into a refrigerator or churned in an ice-cream maker faster.
- Keep a close eye on the custard whilst it heats, and stir continuously. If it overheats, the mixture will curdle and it's time to start again. For this reason, we stir in the pistachio paste once the custard is ready - no chance of wasting it!
- We've also added ice cream stabiliser to the recipe. The stabiliser is optional, but it is helpful to understand why you might like to use one. An ice cream stabiliser changes the crystal structure of the ice cream, which means that far smaller ice crystals form and the sugars don't crystallised, leading to a far smoother mouthfeel. It can also make the ice cream freeze a little less solid and slow the ice cream melting, particulary useful if you're serving a larger group of people.
- For anything that is added in such small quantities, it is best to weigh out using very small high accuracy scales, as standard kitchen scales can be less accurate for such tiny amounts
Do I need an ice cream machine to make it?
The pistachio ice cream recipe was also tested without using an ice cream machine, instead just mixing the ice cream with a fork every hour or so, and putting it back in the freezer - and yet the mouth feel and creaminess was still pretty good. Even when using an ice cream machine, the stabilisers can still make a big difference to both mouth feel, and - helpful particularly if you're serving up a good number of portions - will delay melting.
Pistachio ice-cream ingredients Serves: 6
- Coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios or green slivered pistachios
Pistachio ice-cream method
- Mix together the ice cream stabilizer and sugar, and add to the egg yolks. Whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Heat the milk until just boiling. Leave to cool briefly, and then slowly pour over the sugar and egg yolk mixture, whilst the whisk is still running. Pouring slowly is important, so that the surface of the eggs don't overheat and scramble.
- Return the egg yolk, sugar, and milk mixture back to the pan, and heat gently whilst stirring until the temperature reaches around 70°C, or the liquid coats the back of spoon. Remove from heat, and whisk in the cream, salt and pistachio and vanilla pastes. Taste, and adjust salt as necessary.
- Leave to cool, and then refrigerate until cold. Churn in an ice-cream maker, or freeze, stirring every hour for until it solidifies - around 4-6 hours. Garnish with pistachio nuts to serve.
Browse more unusual and delicious ice-cream recipes here. Alternatively try other fabulous nuts, including bright green pistachios, toasted DOP Italian hazelnuts and rich pistachio cream in our collection of nuts & nut pastes here.
Nicola is co-founder and CEO at Sous Chef. She has worked in food for over ten years.
Nicola first explored cooking as a career when training at Leiths, before spending the next decade in Finance. However... after a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant, Nicola saw the incredible ingredients available only to chefs. And wanted access to them herself. So Sous Chef was born.
Today, Nicola is ingredients buyer and a recipe writer at Sous Chef. She frequently travels internationally to food fairs, and to meet producers. Her cookbook library is vast, and her knowledge of the storecupboard is unrivalled. She tastes thousands of ingredients every year, to select only the best to stock at Sous Chef.
Nicola shares her knowledge of ingredients and writes recipes to showcase those products. Learning from Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola writes many of the recipes on the Sous Chef website. Nicola's recipes are big on flavour, where the ingredients truly shine (although that's from someone who cooks for hours each day - so they're rarely tray-bakes!).