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Pistachio Gelato

Made with just 5 basic ingredients, this homemade Pistachio Gelato is rich and creamy. Such a simple, yet delicious dessert!

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Churned pistachio gelato in an ice cream maker.

Creating This Pistachio Gelato Recipe

I have always loved pistachios. They are my favorite nut (rivaled only by macadamias), but I have never really cooked or baked with them. I was happy enough to simply snack on them.

All that changed when I spotted some pistachio gelato at Sunflower Farmer’s Market. Sure, I’ve seen pistachio ice cream before, but this was the real deal. Ingredients: whole milk, pistachio paste, sugar. The end.

No pistachio “flavoring.” And it was incredible! The whole family loved it and decided it was a must buy again treat.

The problem? I haven’t seen it since. Maybe it was the whole pistachio recall. Maybe they stopped carrying that flavor.

Ground up pistachios in a bowl.

I don’t know, but that set me in mission mode. My mission — should I choose to accept it, and I did —was to create my own creamy, smooth pistachio gelato at home.

Shelling all those pistachios was a bit labor intensive in a tedious sort of way. And also because I couldn’t help but eat two out of every three that I shelled.

That said, it was a great task to keep little kid hands busy when they otherwise would be getting into trouble. Little kid hands that belong to Logan.

The flavor was great and was just what I was looking for. Rather than spend $20 plus shipping on pistachio paste, I tried to make my own. It wasn’t as silky smooth, but I didn’t mind the little bits of nuts in the gelato (though Logan didn’t quite appreciate the mixed textures).

An ice cream scoop full of pistachio gelato.

Ice Cream vs. Gelato

If you’re not sure what the difference between ice cream and gelato is, let me explain.

Ice cream typically contains more fat than gelato and is made with eggs. It’s also lighter in consistency and has an almost whipped texture.

Gelato is made with less fat and doesn’t have as much air churned into it, making for a denser, silkier consistency. Both are made with lots of sugar and dairy, though!

Pistachio Gelato Ingredients

One of my favorite things about this homemade gelato recipe is that it calls for just five simple ingredients.

  • Shelled pistachios
  • Granulated sugar
  • Milk (whole milk is best)
  • Cornstarch
  • Lemon zest

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

How to Make Pistachio Gelato

This pistachio gelato recipe requires very little prep work, besides shelling the actual pistachios. Here’s an overview of how the gelato is made:

  1. Grind the pistachios in a food processor until fine. Add half of the sugar and continue to grind until it becomes smoother and holds together.
  2. Combine half of milk, the remaining sugar, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat the milk mixture until it’s almost boiling, then whisk in the cornstarch.
  4. Continue to cook until thickened.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the remaining milk and the pistachio paste.
  6. Chill the gelato base in the refrigerator until it’s cold (this will take about 3 hours).
  7. Churn the gelato in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the free printable card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

Three scoops of homemade gelato in a white bowl, with an ice cream scoop in the background.

What Type of Pistachios Should I Use?

You’ll want to use raw pistachios for this recipe. You can likely use roasted pistachios too, just make sure that whatever type of pistachios you get are unsalted.

Can I Prep This Recipe in Advance?

Yes, you can prepare the gelato base and chill it in the fridge for up to 2 days before you plan on churning it.

Or, you can churn the batch in your ice cream maker weeks ahead of time. Homemade gelato keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer, so it’s a great make-ahead dessert.

Tools Needed for This Recipe

You’ll need a few key kitchen tools to make this easy pistachio gelato recipe. Here’s exactly what I recommend:

  • Ice cream maker: You must use an ice cream maker to prepare this recipe. I don’t know of any other method for making gelato at home.
  • Food processor: A blender might also work to grind up the pistachios, but a food processor really is best for this job.
  • Ice cream freezer containers: I use these reusable containers for freezing ice cream, soups, and more. They’re incredibly durable!
  • Ice cream scoop: Investing in a good-quality ice cream scoop makes all the difference. This is the one we use and love.

More Pistachio Dessert Recipes:

Try your hand at making homemade ice cream with this recipe for Pistachio Ice Cream. It’s dairy-free, making it a great alternative to this gelato recipe if you have a dairy allergy.

These White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies are a wonderful year-round cookie recipe that everyone loves!

Pistachio Orange Cookies are a unique take on classic Swedish crescent cookies. This is one of my favorite holiday cookies to date!

This Lemon Curd Tart with strawberry rhubarb compote and a pistachio crust is the perfect dessert when you need something special. It requires some assembly, but looks so elegant!

Don’t see what you’re looking for here? You can always head over to check out the recipe index to look for more recipes.

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Pistachio Gelato

Pistachio Gelato

Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Made with just 5 basic ingredients, this homemade pistachio gelato is rich and creamy. Such a simple, yet delicious dessert!


  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. In a food processor, grind the pistachios in a food processor until fine, almost a powder.
  2. Add 1/2 cup sugar and continue to grind until it becomes smoother and holds together – play dough like consistency, though a bit more grainy.
  3. Combine half of the milk, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Heat milk over medium heat. At almost boiling, whisk in the cornstarch. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
  5. Turn off heat and add the remaining milk and the pistachio paste.
  6. Chill in refrigerator, after which churn with your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.


adapted from David Lebovitz

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 203Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 10mgSodium 65mgCarbohydrates 42gFiber 0gSugar 33gProtein 4g offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

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Saturday 30th of May 2009

Pistachios has quickly become one of my favorite nuts and a pistachio gelato sounds amazing!


Tuesday 5th of May 2009

i really love pistachio ice cream, so i'm sure I'd love this too. I can't even explain why I like pistachio ice cream so much... ever since I was a kid.

this week for dinner - jane maynard

Sunday 3rd of May 2009

will totally have to try this- yum!!!

Mixing Bowl Mama

Thursday 30th of April 2009

This looks great. I love pistachios and haven't seen pistachio gelato before. Thank you sharing and I look forward to trying this.


Thursday 30th of April 2009

Awesome recipe!I cant wait to try this :)Hope you wont mind but I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here to this post and it's all set to go, Thanks!

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