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Although each year it’s getting harder and harder to remember that far back, I still recall when I was younger, during the summer in New England, we’d head to the dairy store for ice cream. Often I’d order pistachio; the vivid green color and the crunchy bits of pistachio were somewhat exotic to a timid little David growing up in pre-Martha Connecticut.

As I grew up, I learned the truth about pistachio ice cream (amongst other things). Mainly that it was usually made with artificial colors and flavors—not the real thing. So when I wrote Le Perfect Scoop, I thought long and hard about including a pistachio ice cream recipe. But I couldn’t in good conscience include a recipe that costs 20 bucks to make, which is similar to what I call the ‘Quarter-Cup of Squab Stock Syndrome’.

The QCSS Syndrome occurs when a recipe calls for some bizarre, outrageously-expensive, or extraordinarily unusual ingredient. And to make it even more maddening, it’s something used in such a minuscule quantity that it doesn’t really make a difference. But like the things that people do online that they wouldn’t dream of doing or saying in real life (and boy…do I have some emails to prove that) I figured I could do it here—so voilà!

Some of the best pistachios you’ll ever taste are the Bronte pistachios from Sicily. Unless you live in Italy, they can be hard to find, but they’re worth seeking out since I know of few things more colorful than these iridescent green little nuts. Pastry chefs love Sicilian pistachios for decorating and such in spite of their astronomical price, thankfully, a few scattered over the top make quite an impact. Unfortunately when I went to get a few to garnish mine this afternoon, everyone in Paris was out.

Pistachio Paste

Last year I was the non-European European host for Menu For Hope III, which featured amazing prizes donated by food bloggers from around the globe. Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy donated a box of goodies from…where else?…Italy. (Now that was a no-brainer…) Her gift box included some fabulous things from our friends in ‘the boot’, including a jar of Bronte Pistachio paste made from the verdant-green pistachios from Sicily. While I wanted to bid on it myself, I didn’t think it was kosher to bid on items I was hosting, so I consoled myself with being happy that someone else would get this great gift. Not.

I moped for months and months until Sara kindly offered to send me a jar. When the pistachio paste arrived, along with a jar of pistachio pesto, which looks equally beautiful, I uncapped the jar and took a sniff. Wow! I wasn’t prepared for that—it was the dense, nutty, rich scent of sublime pistachios and when I dug in my spoon, the slightly-sweetened mixtures were like manna from heaven…although I have never tasted manna, I would imagine it tastes as good as this.

I love pistachio gelato and finally I can present a top-notch recipe. I opted to make it truly Sicilian-style, enriching the base with cornstarch, which is common for gelato in southern Italy. I included a recipe for Fleur de Lait ice cream in The Perfect Scoop with a cornstarch base and Mark Bittman subsequently wrote one up as well. It’s simple to make, but the main advantage is that not using eggs means the flavor’s focused squarely on the pistachio with nothing to distract from those perfect scoops of it. Except for your spoon.

Authentic Pistachio Gelato

Pistachio Gelato

  • 2 cups (500ml) whole milk
  • 1/3 cup (65g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch, also known as corn flour
  • 7 ounces (200g) pistachio paste, (see Note)
  • a few drops of lemon or orange juice
  • Make a slurry by mixing the 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
  • Heat the rest of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar.
  • When it almost starts to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl, and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
  • Once chilled, whisk in the pistachio paste and just a few drops of citrus juice until smooth.
  • Freeze the gelato in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Note: I used Bronte Crema di Pistacchio (sometimes called pistachio paste) which is made in Sicily and you can read more about their pistachio harvesting here. Normally pistachio creams and pastes contain a certain percentage of pistachios, around 40-50%, as well as sugar, oil or another fat. Some are available here, here, and here.
When buying pistachio cream (or paste), look for one that’s at least 40% pistachios. Pistachio paste is not the same as pure pistachio paste, which I haven't tried in this recipe.
And if ordering online, don’t confuse it with a liquore called Crema di Pistacchio di Bronte, which is a drink.

Related Links and Posts

Sicilian Pistachio Cream (Amazon)

Sicilian pistachios are sometimes available in Paris at G. Detou.

Making Ice Cream Without A Machine

My Tips on Buying an Ice Cream Machine

Heidi’s recipe for pistachio butter

Ice Cream FAQs



    • Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

    Ah! Now I want my crema di pistacchio back! Or…I’ll settle for the gelato YUM! I guess I know to include TWO jars in this year’s basket!

    • sognatrice

    Mmmm…lucky for me I’m just a hop, skip, and jump away from Sicilia (OK, a ferry ride). Now all I need is an ice cream machine (and if your book/recipes don’t inspire me to finally get one, nothing will)….

    • Jessica

    Oh David, don’t hate me… I won that wonderful box of treats! Coincidentally, pistachio gelato is my absolute favorite ice cream. And I’ve been hording away that crema di pistacchio in that “it’s too good to open,” kind of way. Now I know exactly what is going to happen to it. Very, very soon. Thank you!

    • Jessica

    P.S. Thank you again, Sara!

    • daniela

    Not Bronte pistachios, but you can also get 100% pistachio paste here for about $14 US: L’

    • Henriette

    Pistachio ice cream. Chocolate ice cream. Together! One of my favourite things…I think I’m now out of excuses for not getting a darn ice cream machine! ;-)

    • Nelle Gretzinger

    So do you think the pistachio gelato I tried at Pozzetto in Paris was made from Bronte pistachios? Pozzetto said the ingredients were Italian and the pistachio flavor was unlike any I’d tried before: milky-nutty (for lack of a better description) and vaguely floral.

    • DrBehavior

    What a 40th anniversary weekend! David’s Pistachio Gelato and Dorie Greenspan’s Rugelach. Thank’s D for another fabulous recipe.

    • flavia

    ohhhh that’ s not fair!!!! I’m gonna have to harass my very good friend in Siena to buy me some Bronte Pistachio Paste… There is no hope for me here in Brazil!

    • Melissa

    My favorite, favorite flavor. Oh yum!

    • Terrie

    David, your pistachio gelato is such a gorgeous color that I felt compelled to go to the Zingerman’s site and buy the pistachio paste so I could give it a try. (I also had to buy a bunch of other things to justify the shipping charge to myself, oh my. :) )Thank you for the inspiration.
    Thanks also to daniela for the L’Epicerie link. Nice site.

    • deb

    We had the most amazing pistachio ice cream at a restaurant where a friend of mine is a pastry chef and she swore by imported pistachio paste (well, and 18 egg yolks, though she was cooking for a crowd). I never understood why one couldn’t make this at home–a la almond paste–in the food processor. I mean, obviously the quality of pistachios available to me are nothing like those in Sicily, but shouldn’t a good quality nut be close? That said, I work ohsoveryclose to Kalustyans, and need little convincing to make yet another shopping trip there.

    • David

    Jessica: Well, if it couldn’t be me, I’m glad it was you!

    deb: A few blocks from Kalustyans? I’d be broke!

    And yes, you could make your own. But click the link to Heidi’s recipe; I don’t think her shucking fingers (or vice versa) have recovered…

    Terrie: Zingerman’s site is really good, with lots of great info…and things to buy. I would love to go there and visit the shop someday. Maybe we can all organize a field trip?

    Enjoy the pistachio paste; just don’t eat it all right from the jar, as…gulp…I started doing.

    daniela: Thanks for that link—they carry some great stuff too!

    Sara: Two jars? Be still, my heart…

    Nelle: Lucky you! Pozzetto uses Bronte pistachio paste in their gelato. So good, isn’t it?

    For those of you in NYC, GROM uses them in their gelato as well, if you want a taste.

    • NM


    I wonder if the cornstarch in Italian gelato isn’t something they started using more recently as a cheaper substitute for sahlab.

    Sahlab is a starch that comes from dried orchid roots, and is used to give a chewy texture to Arabic ice cream. Sicily and the Arab world share a lot of food history, so it would make sense, especially since fior di latte and pistachio ice creams have very close relatives in Arabic ice cream shops. The texture of sahlab is superior (in my opinion) as it doesn’t get grainy — might be worth trying!

    • krysalia

    I did not know that pistachios were really good in sicily, but the picture of the cream makes undoubtly raise my appetite :)

    one of my uncles in law is from syria, and he explained to us that in Damas there’s a great tradition about pistachios ( grown around the town ). They have special oriental pastries with HUGE quantities of pistachios in it, that you would probably love ( Semiramis is the best brand, you can find them on, they ship from Los Angeles too ) .
    I tried once the pistachio gelato of Damas, which is beaten a lot to give it this slightly elastic texture and this amazing taste, but now i crave to taste that one too ! :)

    • Vicky

    Aiieee….looks soooo good!!!!

    As my year in France is over, and I’ve had to move back to Canada, it’s not easy to find pistachio paste from online Canadian sources. But it’s not difficult to buy shelled pistachios in Middle Eastern food markets (not Italian pistachios, of course, but Iranian ones are still pretty good!!!), and if you’re interested in comparing recipes for home-made pistachio paste – and can read French – then it’s interesting to compare Heidi’s recipe with one that comes originally from French pastry chef Pierre Herme: here
    …I was particularly interested to note that both recipes include almonds!!

    • Deb Schiff

    Thanks so much for the recipe, David. I’m going to try it using Heidi’s pistachio butter (with agave nectar). I hadn’t tried Bittman’s recipe yet — it’s on the list — but all the recipes I’ve tried from his “How to Cook Everything” book have been successful so far.

    • Casey

    A wonderfully informative post but my favorite part was the immortal phrase: “pre-Martha Connecticut.” Can’t stop chuckling over that.

    • David

    Casey: Thanks…and just remember, I was there first!

    • mary

    I love pistachio ice cream. I’m exactly five block from Zingerman’s deli right now. I’m packing up the laptop and heading over there immediately and putting this recipe to the head of the list. Do you think some toasted chopped pistachios would be a good addition? I think I want the little bit of crunch.

    • Sheila

    Eeegads, I haven’t had breakfast yet, but am ready to eat up that pistachio gelato. Here in Tucson, Trader Joe’s sells bags of pistachios which are shelled and unsalted. So it would save your fingernails from wearing down to make the pis paste. Granted anything in a bag or box is not as fresh but it’s a try anyhow. Will look at more of your site tonight. Gotta eat my breakfast.

    • VeggieGirl

    I have never even heard of pistachio paste – I always thought that pistachio ice creams and gelatos were simply made with ground pistachios. The color of your gelato is such a stunning shade of pale green!! It certainly captures the essence of an actual pistachio nut :0)

    • Terrie

    David, a field trip sounds like so much fun! I’ve only heard great things about Zingerman’s (I’m anxiously awaiting my BIG box of goodies). It’s probably easier for me to get to Paris than to Zingerman’s but if you ever find yourself planning a trip there, I’m sure lots of us would certainly make an effort to join you.

    • Chris

    I wanted to make your fig ice cream, but the figs would have cost $14! Are they cheaper in France?

    • David

    Chris: In the fall, in both California and Europe, fresh figs are abundant & pretty cheap (right now they’re about 3€ per kilo, $2/lb here). Although I don’t have one, a lot of people are lucky to have a fig tree and they’re always looking for things to do with them. Hopefully you can find a friend like that!

    NM: That’s probably pretty accurate since Italy was a port for many Arabic items, like coffee. Never heard of the lily bud powder but have had them in Chinese food. Some Sicilians make their gelato without eggs since it’s so hot, and use wheat starch as well.

    krysalia: I know what you mean. My grandfather was Arabic and I grew up eating Zenobia pistachios, the red ones, and I’m still trying to get that red stain off my hands. : )

    mary: 5 blocks from Zingerman’s?

    Make up the guest bed…I’m on my way!

    (Can Terrie come too?)

    • kel @ Green Olive Tree

    I wonder if I can get this Bronte paste in venice where i’ll be spending my vacation soon. Been reading about pistachio paste… sounds amazing. Is the Bronte paste made of almonds as well? I’ve seen some recipes that call for that. Found this recipe here..but looks pretty exhaustive to make

    • David

    kel: That was an interesting link, thanks! Usually you can get Bronte pistachio paste at any good food shop in Italy. The higher percentage of pistachios, the better. Mine was 40%.

    I agree with that it’s very hard to make your own pistachio paste at home. When I was in pastry school at Lenôtre, we used a heated rolling press which some pastry shops have as well (I’m sure they have one at Pierre Hermé), which is the best and maybe only way to get it very, very smooth—you can do it at home but it’s going to be quite coarse as shown in those pics.

    But it looks fun to try!

    • elarael

    Thank you so much for all the very helpful pistachio links. And the best way to make a nut paste at home is with a Champion juicer and the blank plate. For silky smoothness, just run the nut paste through two or three times, resting it between runs so it cools down a bit. It’ll be just like buttah…

    • faustianbargain

    to “NM” who commented about sahlah:

    The orchids are close to extinction because the Turks can’t get enough of it for their ice cream. Indeed, it makes ice cream special and the last I read, the Turks wanted to keep it for themselves.

    Export of true sahlab from Turkey is illegal. The stuff that you get outside Turkey is probably made with artificial ingredients.

    • faustianbargain

    ok…bbc article here…thanks to wikipedia >

    Sahlab drinks are popular in Egypt too. They are sometimes used in Persian ice creams for that indescribable texture..wait! It can be described..”gorgeous”

    also found this..

    “In Egypt, salep powder is kept and used for years. However, in Turkey, it is seasonal, and consumption of last year’s crop after the new year’s crop is out is frowned upon, much like the kastana (Marron glace).”

    • Hillary

    I’ve been eating a lot of gelato lately but haven’t had any pistachio lately – I’ll have to add this to the list…(gears up stomach)

    • Mercedes

    Oh, just when I thought it was safe to put my ice cream maker away for a while, you go and give me this.
    I’ve quested after a good pistachio or almond ice cream recipe for such a long time. Nothing compares to some of the delicious versions I’ve had in my travels. I tried once using almond paste and it was not at all successful- the paste left a, well, pasty after-taste to the ice cream. The best version I’ve made involves infusing lots of ground nuts in the milk, then straining them out and discarding them, and adding few more fresh nuts to the ice cream for crunch.
    The only thing preventing from making this is the cost of the pistachio paste!

    I was going to weigh in on the debate about sahlap, but seems like you’ve got quite a fracas on your hands! Suffice it to say, I can buy it at my local market in Damascus easily, but it’s nearly impossible to find in the U.S. (only imitation or mixes). I did write a bit about it here, for anyone who’s interested at: Desert Candy

    • PhilD

    Can you do the same for a recipe for a liquorice ice-cream?

    Already had great success with the book with Chocolate, Rum Raisin and Roquefort-Honey ice creams going down very well.

    One disaster the Lemon Ice Brick (sorry Sorbet) didn’t seem to turn out as advertised, first it didn’t freeze even after 90 mins in the Cuisinart and then it froze harder than pack ice in the freezer. Suspect it was a sugar density problem so may invest in a saccharometer so I can rebalance it back to 14 degrees.

    • Tisha

    Mmm. This recipe reminds me of kulfi. I like the idea of the milk and cornstarch base, mostly because I can pretty easily make it lactose-free.

    Maybe the next time I’m at my parents house, I can try to make pistachio paste using my mother’s electric stone grinder.

    • Lil

    oh merci merci merci merci! i love pistachio ice cream and this has just made my day… now, if only i can find the pistachio paste anywhere…

    • Pastrymann

    Hi David,
    What’s to prevent someone from making their own pistachio paste? I have a nut grinder in which I make almond, peanut and other assorted butters. If I was to toast the pistachios and then grind them with a light addition of salt, sugar and perhaps almond oil to keep it smooth do you think that would work well enough?

    • Laura

    I used pistachio paste, of the baking sort, in a batch of pistachio cream cheese frosting I made last summer for a friend’s birthday. I didn’t know there was a difference, and it worked well in both later batch of cookies and in the frosting (a beautiful shade of green. With raspberries, it made fitting hats for some excellent chocolate cupcakes).

    • David

    Hi All: Several folks have commented on making their own pistachio paste and there’s a link to Heidi’s post about making her own, as well as several links that you’ve all kindly left in the comments which I’ve really enjoyed reading.

    As mentioned in the post, I used Sicilian Bronte pistachios, which are known for their brilliant green color. (Iranian pistachios are similarly lovely.) It’s what gives this ice cream that fabulous green hue.

    If you want to make your own pistachio paste, there’s two factors to consider:

    1. The color.

    California pistachios, while tasty, are a pale-green color and have a papery, dark husk that will give the paste a muted, brownish color unless it’s removed. (Which I’ve done, and it’s not all that fun.)

    2. The flavor. As much as I’ve mentioned California pistachios are great for snacking, they’re not as tasty as the Italian or Iranian varieties.

    3. The texture. ‘Kel’ posted a great link with photos of someone who’d made their own pistachio paste. It looks great, but as shown, it’s very coarse, since very hard to get it smooth like the stuff you buy. So if you don’t mind ‘chunky-style’ ice cream, go for it!

    (Hey, that was three things!)

    If I was to attempt this at home, I would try some pistachio paste that was store-bought perhaps from American Almond Products which I linked to, or the idea that ‘elareal’ posted about using a Champion juicer. It’s very hard to get the nuts fine enough to a paste in a food processor or nut mill.

    Another thing I might try would be to simply infuse good, chopped pistachios in your ice cream custard and strain them out, squeezing very firmly. Then add some pistachios to your ice cream after it comes out of the churning machine. I don’t recommend toasting pistachios since they lose their lovely color so easily.

    And on the ‘salep’ question, I’ve asked someone from Turkey to weigh in and hope he will.

    Thanks for all your great comments and am glad so many of you are interested in pistachios! Wish I could have you over for some gelato but I’ve got friends coming this weekend and they’re dying to try it. Sorry! : )

    • Cate O’Malley

    Admittedly not a huge fan of sweet and pistachios, but your picture has me rethinking that stance – gorgeous colors!

    • Cenk

    Salep (powder of dried orchid tubers) is used in thickening the delicious Turkish ice-cream that originated in Kahramanmaraş (city in southeastern Turkey), which is called Maraş Ice Cream. The orchids contain a nutritious starch-like polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate) called bassorin, which accounts for the thick consistency. The resulting ice cream is extremely elastic and chewy and stays solid for quite a long time. Salep also refers to a winter drink, which is prepared by mixing salep powder with milk, sugar and cinnamon (instant cure for sore throats and coughs).

    To add my two cents to the discussion above: It may be true that “we Turks” can’t get enough salep for our ice cream. Those who had a chance to taste Turkish ice cream wouldn’t blame us. But that is not the only reason. The orchids (mainly Cephalanthera Kotschyana and Dactylorhiza Osmanica among 38 others) from which salep is extracted are becoming extinct (now you can blame us).

    Apparently, 1000 orchids are needed for 1 kilogram of salep powder. I read an article about a local factory which uses up to 12 million orchids per year. Because of this serious threat, it is forbidden to export. I called the largest producer of Maraş ice cream to learn more about the regulations and whether the government imposes a quota or not, but they declined to comment.

    I’ll think twice the next time I come across an ice cream shop.

    • David


    Thanks Cenk for that enlightenment. I remember drinking salep on the streets of Istanbul about twenty years ago, served from a brass samovar.

    I’m surprised they don’t cultivate the orchids specifically for that purpose, although maybe it’s because orchids are notoriously fussy little devils.

    I guess I’ll stick with egg yolks, and cornstarch once in a while.

    Now get back to that beautiful brioche.

    Tesekkür ederim!

    • faustianbargain

    It’s not the starch from sahlab that makes turkish ice cream special, it’s the mucilage* that makes the ice cream all bendy. starch component and that which makes it chewy is usually from the addition of gum mastic.

    Moghat from Egypt/Iran/Iraq is a drink given to women after childbirth is also said to be highly mucilaginous. It has about 20-24% mucilage while sahlab is almost 50% mucilage!! But here is the twist..moghat contains equal amounts of starch and mucilage. the starch content (yes..mucilage is also part starch, but its a different kind) in sahlab is less than %5. of course, both probably have equal amounts of pectin, about 5%.

    *this is characteristic of many plants from that region because the mucilage is a result of the plant’s need to retain water. another example is melokhiya used for soups. to a lesser degree even okra or file in southern/creole cooking as thickeners.

    • faustianbargain

    that’s very interesting, cenk. thanks a lot! we have to thank turkey for the ice cream first before hoisting blame!

    the orchids are probably becoming extinct because the mucilage content decreases with age…so the sahlab powder is better from younger plants. which means they are harvested earlier. and so it follows…

    • Cenk

    Thanks for the in-depth information faustianbargain.

    David – I inquired further about the cultivation of these orchids and it turns out that a couple of the major producers already started projects on their own. I have been told that it takes a great deal of money and time to develop such a project so it is evolving more slowly than anticipated. They included me in their email list; I’ll update you guys when I have more information.

    • ted

    help! i much enjoyed the pistachio gelato discussion, and wondering if you think Wild Concord Grape Gelato might be possible to make? i have a grape arbor behind my house. if i don’t do something with the grapes PRONTO, they’ll be either smashed on the ground, or gobbled up by squirrels & birds. i once used a Chez Panisse recipe to make a terrific sorbet, but captivated by the idea of grape gelato. any suggestions?! thank you–

    • Gamze

    David, I just received your book The Perfect Scoop to go with my recently purchased ice-cream maker, and reading the recipes with your wonderful little stories is a pleasure in itself. However I’m having a problem with my machine. It is one of those ones where you freeze the bowl, which I’ve been keeping in my freezer all the time. Problem is that after running for 5-10 minutes, the machine stops, even though there is still a lot of liquid left. I think what is happening is the paddle is getting stuck in the ice-cream that has frozen, so to prevent it breaking or the motor burning out, it turns itself off. Is the mixture supposed to freeze evenly? Can you think what I might be doing wrong?

    • David

    Gamze: Some machines you need to turn on, get the dasher moving, then pour in the mixture. Usually in the ‘pre-freeze the canister machines’, as soon as the custard hits the sides, it starts freezing. But I’ve never had it happenn 5-10 mins after it’s churning.

    You didn’t specify the brand but I would call the manufacturer and ask them what’s up.

    • Gamze

    The brand is Ariete. Is it better if the ice-cream freezes as quickly as possible, or is the churning for half an hour important. The paddle is plastic. Can I ask whether the machine you use has a plastic paddle? I would have thought since it needs to churn something so thick they would make really strong metal paddles. I’m thinking to buy one of the more expensive types that don’t require pre-freezing, but I’m a bit hesitant since I don’t have much counter space, and I’ve heard you are not supposed to move them without subsequently letting them settle for 24 hours.

    • David

    Yes, if using a machine that requires no pre-freezing, if tipped, it should set upright for 24 hrs before using to settle the coolant.

    I haven’t heard of your brand, but most machines have plastic dashers. The Cuisinart ICE-50 is a good deal and I’m very happy with mine.

    You can read my recommendations and a full write-up and tips about ice cream makers here:

    Meet Your Maker

    • Jessica

    David, yes, I finally got a chance to make this gelato! It is absolutely luscious, creamy and incredibly delicious. I’m glad I’d thought the pistachio creme “too good to open,” until you posted about it. Lucky me! Now, however, I’ll have to wait until I travel to Sicely or am lucky enough to find a place to purchase another jar of the creme before I can make this treat again. Thank you again for the recipe!

    • Gamze

    I’ve decided not to let my machines’ deficiencies hold me back!! I’ve since made the coconut chocolate sorbet, and after eating some of it straight away, I froze the rest. It was absolutely delicious. I’m looking forward to working my way through your book.

    • Robyn

    I just made this recipe (with pistachio paste I brought back from Bologna)! As in just a minute ago I was licking residual pistachio gelato goo off my spoon! And HOLY CRAP, that was some damn buttery pistachio gelato. So good. So much…pistachio. I might go into a pistachio coma later.

    Thanks for the recipe! I wouldn’t have thought of getting the pistachio paste if I hadn’t seen your entry.

    • Robyn

    Oh dear, after having eaten more of the gelato, I found some problems…

    It’s so rich that I can only eat a spoonful at a time, pretty much. Yikes! Maybe it’s my pistachio paste? It also tastes like it needs more sugar…the flavor is intense, like I’m eating the paste straight or something. And it’s verrry pistachio-y. Hm. Maybe I just need to alter the recipe for my kind of paste (more sugar, more milk). Wuuuh!

    I’ll have to buy more paste online and try a second batch.

    • Robyn

    Sorry, it’s me again….

    I found out what was “wrong” with my recipe. My pistachio paste was 100% pistachio. That’s like…a lot of percent. I think that means I should’ve halved the amount you specified in your recipe. And that would explain why my gelato is so intensely pistachio-y…

    HAHA, LIFE IS FUNNY, oh dear god. -__-

    • Deb Schiff

    I made your pistachio gelato (with agave nectar instead of the white sugar) using Heidi’s sweet pistachio butter. Posted about it here.

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    • ozge


    My name is Ozge and Cenk introduced your book to me in his blog and I am very thankful to him and to you :) I am the most famous member of my family but
    my father’s favorite ice cream recipe (Pistachio Gelato) was not in the “Holy Book Of Ice Cream” So yesterday I decided to replace the hazelnuts from the Gianduja Gelato recipe with pistachio. They were both nuts and I thougt that was a good idea.
    I just did not roast the pistachios and I tried to get rid of the skins as possible (next time I will purchase without skins on it). For time being my custard is full of pistachio flavour but the color is light brown because of the chocolate, but before I add the pistachio infused milk to chocolate-heavy cream mixture, it was light green…Maybe next time I will discard the chocolate
    I already discussed with cenk to add discarded pistachios to churned ice cream or not. Right now I think I am going to blend them all and make a pistachio puree and will try :)
    Just to let you know…

    • ozge

    The result is absolutely AMAZING!!!!
    next time i will try to find totally skinned green pistachios and will discard the chocolate. Then I assume it will be nicely green ice cream – ticket to pistachio heaven :)))
    Thank you David!!!

    • Mari

    I stumbled upon this when I was googling.
    What I was googling? Grainy Pistachio Gelato. Because that is what I experienced this weekend when trying gelato for the very first time in my life. I bought something called Ciao Bella Gelato from my grocery store. I had never had it before and figured the pricey $5 almost $6 sticker was supposed to be worth it. When I got home I dug into this little pint of cream that I believed would be just as you said the pistachio paste was- manna from heaven. Ahh… but no. That is NOT what I experienced when that little scoop hit my palette. What I experienced was a nasty, bitter, grainy texture that tasted like beach sand and cream. Literally. That is what I tasted. I was so disgusted. I sat there and scratched my head for about ten minutes wondering why in the world ANYONE likes to eat this crap. Why I had just spent too much money on a pint of creamy sand, and would I ever be brave enough to try gelato again.
    So I googled tonight. Because 3 whole days later. I am still traumatized by that gelato. I found your page, and realized, it must taste like manna from heaven. So I guess I will give it another try. Just not that particular brand. Maybe I will make it this time.
    Thanks… Maritza Cander

    • alzenir santos

    Como fazer o meu próprio Pistache. Mande o link da receita, por favor

    Você pode encontrar uma receita para a pasta do pistachio aqui. -dl

    • Wibeke


    • SydneyCider

    Hi David
    Thanks for the recipe. It is fantastic. I made a soy and honey version of this one and made my own pistachio paste. It tastes amazing. Also, I love your salted butter caramel. Mine was a bit runny and I think it might be a bit salt heavy hehe. Keep up the good work.


    • petra

    I just purchased a pistachio creme at a trade show in Chicago this weekend and was looking for another way to use it. A spoon has worked well so far, but my guilt level is rising considerably.
    The creme I have is quite sweet and is 30% pistachio. Will this work in the gelato?
    How do I adjust the sugar ratio?
    I would hate to waste the jar on something that doesn’t turn out well.

    Petra: Without seeing it, and checking the quantity and all that stuff, it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly how to use it to make gelato. So keep eating! -dl

    • alison

    I was in Italy last year, and actually was in Bronte where i bought 2 jars of Pesto di Pistaccio di Bronte with the intention of making pizza sauce out of them. When i searched for pistachio gelato recipes today and found this one, i knew that second what one of the jars was going to be used for!

    The pesto i had was 50% pistachio, so i cut back to about 150g, and this turned out to be the best tasting, creamiest gelato i’ve made, and can’t wait to try more of David’s recipes!

    One question though, what is the lemon juice for?

    • David

    Hi alison: The citrus juice is used to balance the flavors. It also augments them, too. Next time you make the gelato, taste the mixture before adding some lemon juice, then after. You’ll notice a big difference!

    • adele

    does it freeze well? I know that you’re a big proponent of adding some type of alcohol to keep the ice cream smooth, but there’s no alcohol in this recipe.

    Also, in terms of adding alcohol, what do you think of adding dry white wine to ice cream? Its the only alcoholic item i have in my house (besides for vanilla extract, but i didn’t want to add vanilla flavor to this). Any advice for using wine?

    • Gasparzinha

    I’ve made this recipe, but also made the pistachio paste at home, following a Pierre Hermé recipe.
    The paste was divine and the ice cream… Oh my god: the best i’ve ever done!
    And without cream or eggs.
    Congratulations for this fantastic blog and, of course, for your delicious book, The Perfect Scoop.
    If you’d like to take a look to my ice cream, i’ve published it in my blog, english version here:|en


    • Nina


    Have you by any chance tried this recipe with hazelnut paste? If so, what proportions did you use? Many thanks!

    • mohugh

    thank you for this fabulous recipe. i just made the gelato and it was wonderful! i used to live in italy and it is my favorite gusti. i used to order a cone with pistacchio e coco (coconut).

    • charlotte

    I was so excited when I saw your recipe for pistachio gelato. I wanted to eat one that was not flavored with all the almond extract that they use. So I sent for the paste from L’Epicerie 100% bronte pistachio and followed the recipe. It came out looking like a pair of army fatigues and was so strong it was almost bitter. I am now waiting for yhe second batch of milk and constarch to cool and I am going to wisk them together to lighten up the gelato and I’ let you know. What did I do wrong?

    • charlotte

    Hi, me again,
    I read that other readers had some of the same problems I did but I remember you said at least 40% pistachio I did that have that. Is there a maximum % ? Sorry for not understanding. And thanks so much for being there and all the gooood advice and recipes.

    • David

    charlotte: I used ‘crema di pistachio’, which has sugar and milk solids added. I made a note of that in the recipe, but will add further clarification in the post. So if using a different product, like pure pistachio paste, you’d have to make adjustments. I’ve never been able to find pure Bronte pistachio paste here, so can’t advise how to do so. You could likely add some more sugar and milk or cream to thin it out, to taste.

    • pepovst

    I cannot find pistachio paste as described anywhere on the net – any ideas? I’d love to be able to make some real pistachio ice cream!!! Surely there must be some way of buying it over the internet? I live in London – is there perhaps someone / someplace here that anyone knows of it or even better has it?
    Likewise, several recipes I have read call for liquid glucose – that which I see in my local supermarket cannot be the item in question: it is in tiny pots, and the recipes call for amounts that would mean buying multiples of the tiny pots… that cannot be right.

    • Edward

    Having no access to Bronte pistachio (paste), I decided to make my own paste in a liquidiser. In order to make it really smooth, one needs a very powerful one (think Vitamix and the likes), in my case 2.25 horsepower.

    Add the following three ingredients in the liquidiser and let it run for about 3 minutes:
    80g raw shelled Iranian pistachio nuts
    40g sweetened condensed milk (adjust to taste)
    150ml full cream milk

    The resulting paste was very silky and smooth. It looks thicker than David’s paste from the jar.

    Finally some remarks. The liquidiser makes the paste go hot, so I decided not to run it longer than 3 minutes, in order to preserve flavour and colour of the pistachio nuts. I used condensed milk to reduce ice crystals in the gelato. Initially I tried to remove the brown skins from the nuts, but 20 minutes and 16 nuts later, I decided that brown-green coloured gelato tastes the same as bright green gelato.

    David, thanks for the delicious recipes. This one really makes me wonder what I have been eating whenever I ordered pistachio ice cream for the last 30-odd years.

    • Francesca

    Sounds delicious! One general question – what is the “freezer” life of homemade gelato and ice cream?

    • Berta

    David, I feel like i have just hit the jackpot. I’m in Sydney Australia and just got my hands on Bronte Pistachio Paste! Now, “The Perfect Scoop” is in one hand, the Paste in another and all I need is the ice cream machine! That’s the hard part! The Cuisinart ICE50 sells for $A450 her in Oz! This is my chance to thank you for all the info you provide and making me seem so knowlegeable amongst my foodie friends! I always look forward to your blog. You recently mentioned you would love to come to Australia if we could find someone who would like to have you here…how about the folks at Cuisinart? I will email them for you and plead the need to have you here if you like.

    • Marlies bugmann

    Hello everyone
    I’m also trying to get pistacchio ice cream happening in Tasmania (just for me) … and have found this post (via my American friend in Italy … long story :-)

    Hello Berta
    I just read your post on the Bronte Pistachio Paste. I’m in Tassie and don’t have much hope in finding ‘real’ Bronte Pistachio Paste down here. If you like to email me the place where you got yours – I’ll also be able to satisfy my craving for real pistacchio ice cream at last … :-)

    Hello David (you made my mouth water)
    I can get the French product ‘Sevarome’ which has 30% pistacchio, 52% Sugar, 6% flavour, the rest is saccharose and flavour/colourings. I’m told ‘all the chefs use it’ here.
    Do you know this product? (the ‘flavouring/colouring’ puts me off slightly).

    • noell

    I just drooled on my keyboard… I wonder if I can find pistachio paste in Richmond, Virginia…

    • Crystal

    I just made pistachio gelato for the first time using your recipe. Thanks a million! I used a paste that I found at Chesea Market in NYC (I was visitng from California). Given the cost of the paste it is the most expensive gelato I have made but so worth it! I am soooo glad I bought two jars!!! Thanks again!!!

    • Leek

    Just made Pistachio Gelato using, more or less, the recipe from Saveur, which is pretty similar to the one from Chocolate and Zucchini. I let it sit in the fridge, steeping the pistachios, for 36 hours (meant to get to it the next day, but didn’t). I strained it, but stirred back some of the ground bits for a little texture, and also added to the recipe a pinch of salt, some saffron, Grand Marnier, and Cardamom. It turned out kulfi-esque. And really very tasty! Not as bright green as yours, but green enough. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    • Caitlin

    looks like this post gave the L’Epicere site enough buzz about Bronte Pistachios because now they too are selling Bronte Pistachio paste!

    • Ai Leen

    Hi David,

    I am using this gelato recipe, sans pistachios, arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch. The gelato came out of the machine well, nice textured, solid enough to scoop. After freezing it overnight, the mixture turned too hard, so I had to thaw it a while in the refrigerator (non-freezer) rite? Then I discovered the mixture turned powdery, some sort like ricotta cheese, and it doesn’t melt into liquid like normal gelato. It stays in the same shape after sitting in the refrigerator for 6hours.

    What went wrong?

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Well, I think if you’re going to make the Pistachio Gelato without the pistachios, and change the other ingredients, you won’t be satisfied with the results.

    • Michelle

    Hi David,

    I just wanted to say, what an amazing blog!! You’ve really been my inspiration. Just bought your books ‘The Perfect Scoop’ and ‘Ready for Dessert’, and my family has been going nuts about all the delicious icecreams and desserts.

    I tried this recipe, with a few variations, as I am based in Canada, and I am working on a fairly limited budget :-) It turned out amazing, and I’ve written it up for my blog. I do take your instructions to write up in our own words seriously. Thanks again for this wonderful resource, and keep blogging.

    • Gregory Hart

    I’ve made three batches of this recipe, the only change being the Pistachio Paste. All were wonderful, but the 2nd version was my favorite.

    Batch 1 was made with Fiasconaro Oro Verde Bronte Pistachio Cream which is available on for $11 a jar. It wasn’t until I received the jar that I discovered it only contains 20 % pistachio nuts.

    Batch 2 was made with PISTACCHIELLA (40 % Pistachios), shipped directly from Italy! It sells for $10 a jar, but shipping was about $50. It’s from a family run business and their website has many interesting facts!

    Batch 3 was made with Love’n Bake Pistachio paste, selling for $7 a can on This paste is made using California Pistachios and contains 60% Pistacios.

    • Berta

    For all the pistachio gelato lovers in Australia who have been unable to find the Bronte Pistachio Paste anywhere, I have found an importer in WA who is happy to post it to you. I’ve been quoted $A80 a kilo, so it wont be the cheapest ice cream you ever make, but from what David tells us, it must be well worth it. The contact details are as follows: Telephone (08) 9249 1310. I spoke to a gentleman named Luca who sounds as enthusiastic about pistachio gelato as we are.

    David: I’ve purchased the Cuisinart ICE-50. Do you get better and faster results if the machine is turned on and the bowl allowed to get icy before churning? I made a batch of banana ice cream and it took about an hour which was painful to watch and boy does that paddle turn slowly..oh well i guess as they say..a watched kettle never boils.

    Marlies: I followed your link to give you details on where to purchase the pistachio paste but couldn’t find an email so I’ve provided the info for all. Good luck with it.


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