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Pistachio Ice Cream



Two glass dishes of pistachio ice cream.
Photo by Travis Rainey, Food Styling by Emilie Fosnocht

If the last time you tasted pistachio ice cream was in a frostbitten grocery store spumoni, it’s time you upgraded. Homemade pistachio ice cream has none of the cloying sweetness or garish green food coloring of many commercial iterations. The two-ingredient pistachio paste—just sugar and raw pistachio nuts—is easy to make in the food processor and creates deeper pistachio flavors than prefabricated syrups or extracts. We like the nuttiness that almond extract brings to the ice cream base, but you can swap in vanilla extract if you prefer. Use whole milk and heavy cream: Low-fat dairy will not produce equally luscious results.

Customize your pistachio ice cream recipe by adding a handful of dark chocolate chips along with the roasted pistachios before churning it in an ice cream machine. Dig in immediately or transfer to a freezer-safe container for up to three days. Press a layer of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Pistachio ice cream is a lovely accompaniment to warm chocolate soufflés and a stellar replacement for store-bought vanilla ice cream in your next hot fudge sundae.

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    2 hours 15 minutes plus churning

  • Yield

    Makes about 3½ cups


1¾ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, divided
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar, divided
1 pinch salt (preferably kosher)
2 cups whole milk
½ tsp. almond extract
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream


  1. Step 1

    Place rack in the center of oven; preheat oven to 350°F. Spread ¾ cup unsalted shelled pistachios in an even layer on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and slightly darker in color, 8–10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then coarsely chop.

    Step 2

    Meanwhile, finely grind remaining 1 cup pistachios, ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt (preferably kosher) in food processor. Bring 2 cups whole milk and ground pistachio mixture to boil in heavy large saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in ½ tsp. almond extract.

    Step 3

    Whisk 4 large egg yolks and remaining ½ cup sugar (100 g) in medium bowl until no streaks remain and color has lightened slightly. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and leaves trail on back of spoon when a finger is drawn across, about 10 minutes (do not boil). Pour custard through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

    Step 4

    Stir 1 cup heavy cream and chopped pistachios into ice cream mixture and process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container and freeze.

    Do Ahead: Ice cream can be prepared 3 days ahead; keep frozen.

    Photo by Travis Rainey, Food Styling by Emilie Fosnocht

    Editor’s note: This pistachio ice cream recipe was first printed in the August 1999 issue of ‘Bon Appétit’ and on Epicurious in August 2004. Head this way for more of our favorite ice cream recipes

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  • Yum! I've made this twice already and everyone loves it. Great flavor though I did add a splash more almond extract and a Tbl more sugar. A definite keeper in my recipe box.

    • Anonymous

    • San Francisco, CA

    • 5/20/2000

  • Yum! I've made this twice already and everyone loves it. Great flavor though I did add a splash more almond extract and a Tbl more sugar. A definite keeper in my recipe box.

    • Anonymous

    • San Francisco, CA

    • 5/20/2000

  • This is some damn fine ice cream!

    • cossy hough

    • austin, tx

    • 6/16/2000

  • Wonderful stuff, worth shelling all of those nuts. We just got an ice cream maker, and this is the best flavor we have made. Because we had it on hand, we used extra cream- next time I will stick to the recipe because our variation was too rich.

    • Cielsie

    • Tallahassee, FL

    • 7/5/2000

  • Lots of work, but worth it! Fantastic flavor. Our guests were floored.

    • Bob H.

    • Milwaukee, Wis.

    • 7/7/2000

  • Haven't made this but would like to. I am a little confused, however. Why does it only make 3 1/2 cups?

    • Anonymous

    • Yakima, Wa

    • 7/30/2000

  • Great ice cream! I also added a bit more almond extract. This recipe is a lot of work but definitely worth it.

    • Anonymous

    • Austin, TX

    • 8/1/2000

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