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Pistachio Gelato (Easy and Only 5 Ingredients!)

Made with just 5 basic ingredients, this homemade Pistachio Gelato is rich and creamy. Such a simple, yet delicious Italian dessert! Recipe includes instructions for making your own pistachio paste plus tips and tricks for the best homemade gelato.

photo of pistachio gelato in a container being scooped into waffle cones

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! I don’t know, but that set me in mission mode. My mission 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.

Ice Cream vs. Gelato

If you’re not sure what the difference between ice cream and Italian 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.

Traditional gelato recipes are 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!

photo of pistachios in a food processor to make pistachio paste for gelato

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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 machine to prepare this recipe. I don’t know of any other method for making gelato at home that will give you the same smooth and creamy results.
  • 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.
photo of ingredients to make pistachio gelato

Pistachio Gelato Ingredients

One of my favorite things about this homemade gelato recipe is that it only calls for a few simple ingredients.

For the Pistachio Gelato

  • Pistachio Paste
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Whole Milk
  • Cornstarch
  • Lemon Zest

For the Homemade Pistachio Paste

  • Sicilian Pistachio Nuts
  • Granulated Sugar

What Type of Pistachios Should I Use?

Raw shelled pistachios work best for this recipe. You also want to make sure that the pistachios are unsalted. If you can purchase pre-shelled pistachios, then you’ll save yourself some extra work.

This recipe could probably be prepared using shelled, roasted pistachios too, but I haven’t tested it that way.

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:

step by step photos of how to make pistachio paste for pistachio gelato

Make the Homemade Pistachio Paste for the Gelato:

Rather than spend $20 plus shipping on pistachio paste, decided to make my own pistachio paste. It wasn’t as silky smooth, but I didn’t mind the little bits of real pistachios in the gelato.

Here’s how to make homemade pistachio paste:

  1. Blanche the pistachios to remove the skins.
  2. Grind the pistachios in a food processor until fine.
  3. Scrape the sides of the food processor
  4. Add half of the sugar to the ground pistachios and continue to process in the food processor until it becomes a smooth paste and holds together.
  5. Set the pistachio mixture aside.

Make the Pistachio Gelato Base:

  1. Combine half of milk, the remaining sugar, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Heat the milk mixture until it’s almost boiling, then whisk in the cornstarch.
  3. Continue to cook until thickened.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the remaining milk and the pistachio paste.

Prepare the Pistachio Gelato:

  1. Chill the gelato base in the refrigerator until it’s cold (this will take about 4 hours).
  2. Churn the gelato in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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

step by step photos of how to make pistachio gelato

Important Tips for Making the Best Pistachio Gelato

The pistachios should be measured after you remove and discard the shells. Measuring with the shells on would yield an inaccurate measurement, and your gelato won’t have as strong of a pistachio flavor.

If you don’t want small flecks of ground pistachios in your final product, then you can pour the cooked base through a fine mesh sieve into the ice cream maker’s bowl before churning. Then, discard the solids.

The gelato base should be chilled at least 4 hours before churning, but overnight is even better. You’ll get a thick, smooth and creamy pistachio gelato if you churn a cold base. Churning while warm will result in thin gelato that becomes icy and hard when stored in the freezer.

To speed up the chilling process, you can place the ice cream base in a medium bowl over a large bowl filled with ice and cold water before transferring it to the refrigerator. The ice bath + refrigerator will chill the base the fastest.

photo of blanched pistachios to make gelato

How to Blanch Pistachios for Pistachio Gelato

For a more vibrantly colored pistachio gelato, remove the skins on the pistachio. Without the skins, the pistachio paste will be a much brighter green color. Here’s a tip to easily remove the skins:

  • Bring a pot of water to boil.
  • Then, turn the heat off and add the pistachios.
  • Blanche the pistachios in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.
  • Then, drain, rinse with cold water, and rub the skins off the pistachios using a paper towel. Discard the skins.
  • Proceed with preparing the pistachio paste as the recipe instructs.

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.

What Is the Best Way to Store Pistachio Gelato?

This recipe for homemade pistachio gelato is best stored in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed on the surface of the gelato. Covering the surface of the gelato, and then placing the lid for the container on top helps prevent ice crystals from forming on the gelato.

This pistachio gelato recipe will stay fresh for up to 4 weeks when stored properly in the freezer.

photo of pistachio gelato in an ice cream cone

How to Serve Pistachio Gelato

This pistachio gelato tastes great as is when served in a bowl with a spoon. Other options include serving it in a waffle cone or a sugar cone.

For something different, try placing pistachio gelato between thin cookies or graham crackers to make ice cream sandwiches.

Pistachios pair well with chocolate, so you can serve it with these Easy Homemade Brownies as well.

Try this Homemade Pistachio Gelato at Home!

Next time you’re looking for a reason to use the ice cream maker that is collecting dust in your cabinet, give this recipe for Pistachio Gelato a try! Did you think it was the perfect way to enjoy pistachios? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought of this delicious gelato recipe.

On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this easy pistachio gelato!

photo of pistachio gelato in a storage container

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!

Ingredients

For the Pistachio Paste

  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Shelled, Raw Pistachios

For the Pistachio Gelato

  • Prepared Pistachio Paste
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 cups Whole Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest

Instructions

For the Pistachio Paste

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Then, turn the heat off and add the pistachios.
  2. Blanche the pistachios in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Then, drain, rinse with cold water, and rub the skins off the pistachios using a paper towel. Discard the skins.
  4. After blanching the pistachios and removing the skins, add the pistachios to a food processor. Grind the pistachios in a food processor until fine.
  5. Scrape the sides of the food processor. Add 1/2 cup sugar and continue to grind until it begins to hold together – play dough like consistency, though a bit more grainy.
  6. Scrape the sides again, as needed, and continue to process in the food processor until it becomes a smooth paste and holds together.
  7. Set the pistachio mixture aside.

To Make the Pistachio Gelato Base

  1. Combine half of the milk, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Heat milk over medium heat. At almost boiling, whisk in the cornstarch. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
  3. Turn off heat and add the remaining milk and the pistachio paste.
  4. Chill in an airtight container in the refrigerator until completely cold, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Churning the Pistachio Gelato

  1. Prepare your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
  2. Add the cold gelato base and church according to the ice cream maker's instruction manual.

Notes

If you don’t want small flecks of ground pistachios in your final product, then you can pour the cooked base through a fine mesh sieve into the ice cream maker’s bowl before churning. Then, discard the solids.

adapted from David Lebovitz

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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

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

Kevin

Saturday 30th of May 2009

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

Justin

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.

Alisa@Foodista

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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