Sweet Pistachio Butter Recipe

My fingers are a little raw from shelling pistachios for what felt like two hours at the crack of dawn this morning. Note to self, recipes that require shelling, blanching, and skinning usually take a long time...

Sweet Pistachio Butter

My fingers are a little raw from shelling pistachios for what felt like two hours at the crack of dawn this morning. Note to self, recipes that require shelling, blanching, and skinning usually take a long time.

We had our friends Merin and Rusty over for tasty crepes last night. When I surveyed the kitchen at the end of the night I saw a big bag of pistachios slumped over alongside a jar of leftover crepe batter. I thought to myself, why not make a sweet pistachio butter or paste to spread on crepes this week? I wouldn't have to go to the store for any special ingredients or anything. I could knock this out in fifteen minutes tops, no problem.

Silly me.

Have you ever shelled and skinned any significant quantity of pistachios? Wow. Who knew? My fingertips are all pink are tender to the touch and I only ended up with a single, solitary cup of the pistachio meat. Lucky for me I had almonds on hand too. They are easy to skin after a quick swim in a pot of boiling water - an assertive pinch and you are in business. So I ended up using 1 part pistachios to 1 part almonds.

Ordinarily I might skip skinning the pistachios, but I wanted my pistachio butter to have that super bright, vibrant pistachio green color. Leaving the purple/brown skins on would certainly muddle my color plan, and they might puree flaky instead of smooth. So I went the extra mile.

Taste? This butter has a nice mild pistachio flavor to it. You could opt for 100% pistachios if you want a more intense flavor. You could also split the batch in half and make one half sweet (with any sort of sweetener), and the other half savory (season with a bit of salt to get the flavors to brighten). You can also play around with the consistency of it. Less water and you are going to end up with a paste, more water and you can thin it way out.

I'm going to use it on crepes this week, but I imagine you can think of a million other ways to use it. Inside a pistachio sandwich cookie, as a colorful base layer in a sweet tart (or mini tart), in all sorts of hors d'ouvres and finger foods...have at it.

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Sweet Pistachio Butter

1 cup pistachios, shelled, blanched and skinned (instructions below)
1 cup almonds, blanched and skinned

roughly 3/4 cup granulated sugar (next time I will prob. sweeten with a mild honey or light agave nectar)

1/2 cup or so hot water
couple pinches of salt

To blanch the almonds and pistachios just drop them in a pot of boiling water for a minute or so. I use a slotted spoon to remove a couple of test nuts. Test one of the almond, the skins should puff out a bit and slide of easily with a good pinch. The pistachios are a little trickier because of their funky shapes and you might need to coax the skins off using a variety of any of the following: pinching, picking, or rubbing.

The next step is to make a nut puree. I gave my hand blender a good workout, but it worked quite well for this purpose and I ended up with a nice smooth nut butter in the end. Place the nuts, and about 1/2 cup hot water in a medium bowl. Get in there are puree it. You may need to add more water to thin things out - just ad a bit at a time, you're in trouble if you add too much. I like mine a consistency that is easily spreadable, I don't like nut butters that are so thick they tear the bread you are spreading them on.

Sweeten it up. I ended up stirring in about 3/4 of a cup of sugar to sweeten my pistachio butter. You might like a little more or a little less. Start with 1/4 cup and ad in 1/4 cup increments from there. Stir in a pinch or two of salt to pull everything together.

Makes about 2 cups.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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We have top grade all red Persian SAFFRON directly imported from Iran. Please visit our Web site at http://saffronimports.com for more info.


Another beautiful and yummy thing. I’m so glad my internet connexion is back so i can delight my eyes with your blog.
Thank you so much for adding FOOD BEAM to your favorite food sites’ list. I’m so happy of it.


I can relate to this as I shelled and skinned almonds before by hand. Took me more than an hour and my hands, too, were pink from the effort even if I used a nut cracker. All the picking off of poorly cracked shell (it was a horrid nutcracker) made for long work.


By the way — no, I do not work for KA flour! (grin) — I’m a scientist..a friend of mine was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and I found the site by trying to find low-carb flours so I could make a nice baby shower cake for all of us that was both delicious and low-carb so she wouldn’t feel left out!
.I put the link to the KA site under my name, btw.


You can buy pistachio paste/puree!
King Arthur’s flour has “The Baker’s Catalog” website where I buy things like roasted hazelnut flour for my diabetic friends cakes when I have parties. They have an all-natural and another paste already pre-made. AND…they have pistachio oil/extract as well. Their checkout is friendly towards ordering as they have a “shipping maximizer” app that lets you figure out how much more (or less) you can order per shipping cost.
Nice people in customer service, too — I recommend them. Search or pistachio.


Sounds fabulous!
Might try mixing it in w/ cannoli filling 🙂


It may come as a suprize but for years I’ve used a similar butter in two of my veal dishes. The first is a vel rolintini w/spinach and ricotta cheese, just prior to serving I place two pat s on the veal and let the heat blend the flavors. the other is a cutlet simply sautes then drizzled w/ said butter.


Amy, I’m not 100% sure how long it will keep…I’ve got mine in the refrigerator and then I leave it out for a while to bring it to room temp. before using. But it is just nuts, sugar, and a bit of water so…
I love the gift idea. How cute would a trio of tiny baby-jar sized nut butters be? One pistachio, one cashew, one almond, or something.


it makes for a lovely beverage base too. i used to make mine with pistachio and cashew. the cashew allows it to be smoother. i add cardamom and saffron and with milk, i let it simmer for a long..*long* time..until it is reduced to a thick consistency. an easier method would be to add sweetened condensed milk to the aromatic nut paste and reduce it further. yum.


We make all kinds of nut butters by sending them thru a high powered juicer. Sounds funny, I know, but it works great!

The Teapot Shoppe

Brett – http://www.saffron.com has pistachio extract. I bought myself a bottle a few months ago and am burning through it fast!


How long do you think this would keep in a cupboard? Could make for another homemade Christmas gift.


How much would I love to try your sweet pistacio butter, but the procedure sounds a little scaring… ‘can almost recall the dry and sore fingertips I had after my last pistacio snack. Then I remembered seeing something very inventive some time ago, searched the net and here it is:
Not really vital, but maybe an option?


I love anything with pistachios. Your pistachio butter sounds divine, Heidi, especially with crepes, maybe served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, too. For years I’ve been looking for pistachio extract which I saw listed in a recipe for pistachio madeleines (Joël Robuchon/Patricia Wells book). Any idea where I could find it in the Bay Area?


Those brilliant-green pistachios are Sicilian pistachios, and you can get them from pastry supply places like ‘Albert Ulster’ (although you’ll pay more for them than the others…) they are beautiful for decorating and are vivid-green within, rather than the dusky color of California or Iranian pistachios.


Hi Heidi, what a fantastic (and gorgeous) idea – it looks well worth all the hard work! I agree that shelled pistachios are worth seeking out – they’re normally quite cheap in middle eastern/persian markets. The funny thing is that I just bought several bags of shelled pistachios yesterday for something I’m planning this weekend, and I was wondering how on earth to remove all those unsightly brown skins. It seems either you’re psychic, or I’m just lucky 🙂


So, yes. Next time pre-shelled will be the way to go.
Shuna – I think I’ve seen the beautiful green pistachio oil in one place in SF. It was in an artisan looking bottle just next to the counter at Leonard’s 2001 – kitty corner from the Jug Shop. Get out a wad of cash though – something in the range of $40 dollars. I’m set on buying a bottle next time I go in. -h


I have seen bags of pre-shelled, but otherwise whole, pistachios at my local supermarket. I have never tried them, (mostly because anything that allows me to eat handfuls of pistachios at a time will only lead to me doing just that) so I don’t know how their quality is. I would assume they are not as good as normal pistachios, but for the amount of work it would save, it may be worth trying for this recipe.


I sympathize….having done the pistachio shelling myself. It certainly is a lot of work for very little reward…especially if you have “helpers” eating much of the yield.
Gorgeous looking butter though. Thanks for sharing.


Really Heidi the category for this post should be, ‘foods that require more work than thir worth’…
you are so wondrously insane! Me, I cheat by getting mine at Rainbow or Berkeley Bowl. But what I really miss is a pistachio oil that is as green and fresh tasting as a first press olive oil…any thoughts of where to find?

shuna fish

Love, love, love pistachios. You are a perfectionist. It’s great! I would love to try that butter.

Sarah Lou

but I imagine you can think of a million other ways…in all sorts of hors d’ouvres and finger foods…
hmmm, a pistachio butter cream hors d’ouvers. Thanks for the inspiration.
John Valentine

John Valentine

This sounds heavenly! Sorry to hear about your fingers. Would be neat to make this but we have nut allergies here so I can only dream 🙂


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