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This pistachio ice cream is about to win your heart. Thick, creamy, and loaded with sweet, nutty flavor from homemade pistachio paste and a hint of almond extract, it’s rounded out by a smattering of dark chocolate pieces, making it a supremely crave-able dessert.
If you’re a pistachio ice cream fan, this is the recipe for you. Made with homemade pistachio paste and a thick, creamy custard base, it’s incredibly rich and creamy and bursting with the subtly sweet nutty flavor its namesake is known for. I decided to add a kick of almond extract as well to complement the pistachio and, wow, does it do the trick. For texture, I mixed in some dark chocolate pieces. Their subtle crunch and bittersweet flavor take the whole shebang to the next level. Grab a giant bowl and a spoon. You’re going to go gah gah over it.
Why You’ll Love This Pistachio Ice Cream Recipe
Wondering why you should put in the effort to make your own pistachio ice cream? Here’s why this recipe deserves your attention.
- The perfect combination of flavors. I can’t get enough of the way the mild sweetness of the pistachio paste mingles with the subtle almond flavor from the almond extract. It’s the perfect nutty combination. Then stir in some bitter, yet sweet dark chocolate pieces to round it all out. Delicious!
- So creamy. Oh goodness is this ice cream creamy. It melts over your tongue in a thick, luscious blanket of chilly sweetness. It’s 100% addicting.
- Surprisingly easy. Making ice cream from scratch may sound intimidating but it’s really not all that bad! It will only take you about 20 minutes of active time and the steps you’ll be following are quite simple. Try it! You’ll see.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make this delightful pistachio ice cream recipe. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for precise measurements.
For the pistachio paste
- Unsalted pistachios – You could use another nut here. Just note that the ice cream would no longer be “pistachio ice cream”.
- Heavy cream
For the ice cream custard base
- Half and half – Do not attempt to use a lighter dairy product here. You’ll end up with an icy ice cream.
- Granulated sugar
- Egg yolks
- Heavy cream – Again, don’t try to use a lower fat dairy product.
- Almond extract – The almond extract is optional but I love the dual-nut action it brings to this dessert. You could also use vanilla extract instead.
- Dark chocolate – I chopped up a chocolate bar but mini chocolate chips would work here too. Not a dark chocolate fan? Try milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or even white chocolate.
How to Make Pistachio Ice Cream
In just 20 minutes (give or take) of active time you’ll be on your way to some of the best homemade ice cream out there. Here’s a quick look at how to do it. You’ll find more detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
- Make the pistachio paste. Process the pistachios in a food processor until sand-like. With the food processor still running, drizzle the heavy cream into the pistachios through the feed tube. Process until paste-like.
- Dissolve the sugar. Heat the half and half and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Temper the egg yolks. Whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow and thick and then whisk a small amount of the warm heavy cream mixture into the yolks. Slowly whisk the tempered yolks into the bulk of the half and half mixture.
- Cook the custard. Cook the egg mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.
- Put it all together. Mix together the heavy cream and egg mixture in a large bowl. Whisk in the almond extract followed by the pistachio paste. Whisk until smooth.
- Chill. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
- Churn. Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Add the chocolate. Add the dark chocolate to the ice cream maker just before its finished churning.
- Freeze. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.
Tips for Success
Stop right there, ladies and gentlemen. You didn’t think I’d let you go into this recipe without some tips and tricks, did you? Here are some bits of wisdom from my kitchen to yours that will help you achieve the best results possible.
- Think ahead. Before beginning, have a good read through your ice cream machine’s instructions. You may need to take some steps (such as freezing the bowl of the machine) that you need to plan ahead for.
- Go full fat. Whatever you do, do not try to replace the half and half or the heavy cream with something lighter. Ice cream needs fat to develop a rich, creamy texture. Lower fat dairy products will end you with icy ice cream.
- Whisk, whisk, whisk. It is important to whisk the egg yolks until they have thickened substantially and have significantly lightened in color. This process incorporates air into the yolks, which will improve the texture of your ice cream and help stabilize it.
- Careful with heat. Throughout the whole process of making the custard base, you want to be very careful not to use too much heat. Cranking the heat up past medium-low can cause the eggs to curdle, leaving you with a lumpy ice cream.
- Keep it moving. When cooking the custard, be sure to stir continuously. Failing to do so will likely cause the mixture to curdle, ending you with a lumpy finished product.
- Be patience. You’ll need to cook the custard for about 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s good to go when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Failing to cook the custard for long enough will end you with a runny ice cream.
- Don’t skimp on chill time. Chill the ice cream for at least 6 hours. Anything short of that and your ice cream won’t freeze or churn properly.
- Add the mix-ins at the end. Do not add the chocolate to the ice cream until just before it has finished churning. The ice cream needs to be frozen/thick enough to suspend the mix-ins in its creamy goodness. If it is still quick liquidy (as it will be early on in the churning process), the mix-ins will sink to the bottom and clump together.
I love serving a scoop of pistachio ice cream with a warm slice of bread pudding (my Pumpkin Bread Pudding is to die for) or a slice of cake. I have especially been enjoying it with my famous Orange Pound Cake but it would be awesome with this Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake as well.
Want to make the ice cream the main character? Drizzle a scoop of pistachio ice cream with chocolate sauce and/or top it with fresh whipped cream. Grab some from the store or try the whipped cream from this Boozy Peaches and Honey Cream Shortcake Recipe.
It’s best to store homemade pistachio ice cream in a freezer-safe, airtight container that is either plastic or ceramic (storing ice cream in glass can cause the dessert to develop freezer burn). I like to lightly press a film of plastic wrap or wax paper into the top of my ice cream before I seal the container to help prevent ice crystals from forming on the top. You can store pistachio ice cream in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
More Ice Cream Recipes To Try
Is your curiosity about homemade ice cream piqued? I have a few other super yummy, surprisingly easy ice cream recipes for you to try. Some require an ice cream maker and some don’t (no churn). I hope you like them!
Pistachio Ice Cream
For the pistachio paste
- ¾ cup (92 g) unsalted pistachios, shelled
- 6 tablespoon (89 ml) heavy cream
For the ice cream custard base
- 1 ½ cups (355 ml) half and half
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 ½ cups (355 ml) heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon almond extract, optional
- ¾ cup (131 g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
- In the bowl of a food processor, process pistachio nuts until finely crushed. Drizzle in the heavy cream through the feed tube. The mixture will be paste-like. Set aside.
- Heat the half and half and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale yellow and thick, about 5 minutes. Temper the egg yolks by splashing in a very small amount of the warm half and half mixture while whisking constantly. Slowly pour the tempered egg yolks into the saucepan with the half and half and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream into a large bowl then pour in the egg mixture and stir to combine. Add the almond extract (if using) then whisk in the pistachio paste until evenly dispersed and there are no clumps remaining. Cover the bowl and let chill for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.
- Once chilled, pour the mixture into the bowl of the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add in the dark chocolate and churn until evenly dispersed throughout the ice cream.
- Scoop ice cream out into a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.
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