Pistachio Ice Cream Recipe

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 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 is to accompany

The recipe uses 2/3 of a pot of pure pistachio paste - leaving a little extra to use in the filling of pistachio macarons, or just as a guilty snack by itself with some white chocolate. 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.

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 stabilizer to the recipe. The stabilizer is optional, but it is helpful to understand why you might like to use one. 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.

We've added ice cream stabilizer to the recipe. The stabilizer is optional, but it is helpful to understand why you might like to use one.

Stabilisers tend to contain glucose, which helps prevent crystallisation of the sugar crystals, along with a number of natural vegetable or seaweed-based thickeners, also known as hydrocolloids. The hydrocolloids, such as carob gum and sodium alginate, help to improve smoothness and give a more unctuous mouth feel, and increase the stability of the ice-cream - preventing large water crystals from developing, and separating from the milk proteins and fat. The number of different ingredients in a stabilizer just mean it is multi-purpose - some will work better in higher calcium environments, some better in more acidic environments - so whether making lemon sorbet, or clotted cream ice cream, you may well still be able to use the same stabilizer.

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 stabilizers 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.

When using an ice cream stabiliser, it is very important to make sure it is well incorporated into the mix. Mix with the dry sugar first and then continue as usual.

When using an ice cream stabiliser, it is very important to make sure it is well incorporated into the mix. The best way to do this is to mix well with the sugar, before beating both together into the eggs. Then continue as normal. Never add direct to cold liquid, unless you have a powerful blender on hand to try to disperse the lumpy powder!

Ingredients Serves: 6

To garnish


  1. Mix together the ice cream stabilizer and sugar, and add to the egg yolks. Whisk until pale and fluffy.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 paste. Taste, and adjust salt as necessary.
  4. 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.  

1 comment

  • I loved this ice cream. I used the stabilizer when making and what a difference it makes. Extremely smooth and so moreish. Its now my wife’s favourite ice cream. Thanks!

    Jon on

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