Pistachio paste that is smooth, sweet, and deliciously nutty! Fantastic on its own as a spread, or as an addition to any dessert. So simple to make and vibrantly flavored!
Sweet, nutty and easy homemade pistachio paste. Cheaper than store-bought, and pairs well with many types of dessert!
Pistachio paste / pistachio butter is one of my long time favorites. I tasted pistachio paste for the first time at a tapas restaurant back in 2010, and was obsessed. I found out that the restaurant was making it in-house, and I couldn’t find a place to buy it anywhere. So I taught myself to make homemade pistachio paste, and it’s a doozy! After many years of making this pistachio paste, it’s always the first thing I make when I get my hands on raw pistachios.
I can find pistachio butter fairly easily now, but it’s so freaking expensive and never tastes as good as homemade! That’s because store-bought pistachio butter or paste is usually mixed with almonds to lower the cost. Making homemade pistachio paste (or pistachio butter) on the other hand offers many benefits.
Making pistachio paste
Obviously the most important ingredient. So it’s crucial that you find the right type of pistachio. Find pistachios that,
- Are raw and unsalted. Not roasted, nor salted.
- Have a vibrant green color. Older and roasted pistachios might have a dull color, which will result in a brownish pistachio paste.
- Are preferably shelled, so that you don’t spend time removing shells.
White sugar and water
Obviously adds sweetness, which actually enhances the flavor. The sugar and water will be used together as we will be making a sugar syrup here. This ensures a smoother pistachio butter! If you use confectioner’s sugar, there will be a starchy texture in the paste.
Pinch of salt
Salt is magic! The salt balances the sweetness, so don’t skip it.
I try to use pistachio oil to stay consistent with the pistachio flavor, but vegetable oil is fine too. If it’s not pistachio oil, only use an unflavored oil. This helps the paste get the consistency you prefer. Use more for a thinner paste, and less for a thicker paste.
Step by step method
Prepare the pistachios
The pistachios have a skin, which you may notice as a green and brown surface. So the first step is to remove this skin.
You DO have the option of not removing the skin, but then the pistachio paste may not be as smooth. I always skin the pistachios for a better green color and a more smooth butter.
To remove the skin, you need to blanch the pistachios. This will soften and loosen the skin, and you can use your hands to just pop the skin right off. This is by far the most time-consuming part of the recipe.
Another easier option is to place the blanched pistachios on a dish towel and fold the towel over the pistachios (so that the nuts are inside the towel). Then roll and rub the pistachios around using the dish towel (same method as for hazelnuts). This loosens and removes most of the skin. But there will still be some pistachios with skin that you will need to remove manually.
When the pistachios are ready, leave them to air dry until the sugar syrup is ready. Do NOT roast the pistachios in the oven. Place the pistachios in a large bowl.
Making the sugared pitachios
Make a sugar syrup by boiling the sugar and water together in a pot. Dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat. Be careful not to stir the water, and instead just swirl the pot to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar syrup reaches 245 F / 118 C, remove the syrup from the heat.
Pour the syrup over the pistachios and stir the pistachios in the sugar syrup until they are all coated in the syrup. The syrup will also crystalize over the pistachios. Once the pistachios are coated in the syrup, and the syrup has cooled down, you can make the pistachio paste.
Making the pistachio paste
To make the pistachio paste, you do need a good food processor or a powerful blender. If you don’t have one, you can still make a pistachio paste in a food processor, but it might not be as smooth. I didn’t have a good food processor for several years, so my pistachio paste used to come out a little chunky at the time. It was still just as delicious though!
Place the pistachios in the food processor and blend the nuts. There are a few stages in this process.
- The pistachio nuts will be chopped during the first stage,
- Pistachio nuts will be very finely chopped (like sand),
- The blended nuts will start to clump in the food processor,
- The nuts will start to form a thick paste,
- Keep mixing and the paste will start to loosen a little bit,
- At the stage when the pistachio paste is smooth, but it won’t get any thinner – you could add some oil to get a thinner consistency if you prefer.
You may have to process the pistachios for about 10 – 15 minutes, so make sure to give your food processor a break in between if needed.
The pistachio paste will be very warm straight out of the food processor. The paste will also thicken as it cools down.
Storing the pistachio paste
I store the pistachio paste in jars. This recipe will make about 2 cups. If you add more sugar or oil, you may end up with more than 2 cups.
I haven’t tried to can this, so I’m not sure if that is even possible. I usually store my pistachio paste in the freezer if I’m not using it right away. It should last in the fridge for about 1 – 2 weeks. And about 3 months in the freezer. Just make sure it’s stored in an air-tight jar, so that it doesn’t absorb any other smells.
Why you should make homemade pistachio paste
- It’s so easy.
- Tastes much better.
- And less expensive, since you’re only paying for the nuts.
- You can also either make it with 100% pistachios, or add some almonds if you’d like to.
Yes, pistachios are expensive in most places. But if you like pistachios, this pistachio paste is so worth it. It’s perfectly sweet and packed with pistachio flavor. I can honestly eat spoonfuls of this butter.
You can also use this pistachio butter for many different things,
- Spread it on toast,
- Filling for pastries, including choux puffs, eclairs, tarts etc.,
- Mix it in with custards to make pastry cream, fillings, ice cream,
- Use it as a topping for desserts.
This pistachio paste also makes for an EXCELLENT gift idea! Especially during the holiday season, if you like making homemade gifts for Christmas.
How to ensure a vibrant green color in the paste
Make sure to use good quality pistachios. I buy mine from Bulk Barn (in Canada). They always taste so fresh and are vibrantly green colored, and I can buy however much I want!
When I used to live in the US, I used to buy this particular brand of pistachios through Amazon. This was the brand that I loved for any type of nuts that I purchased online, which I couldn’t find locally.
Also make sure to remove the skins of the pistachios well. The brown-tinged pistachio skins will make the butter dull in color, and it also won’t be as smooth.
Also make sure you do NOT use roasted pistachios! Roasted pistachios will make the pistachio butter brown, AND the flavor won’t be as good either.
Yes! You can replace about 25% of the pistachios (by weight) with almonds (raw blanched almonds or almond flour), and proceed with the recipe. If you’re using almond flour, you can add it straight into the food processor, rather than with the sugar.
Yes, you can use confectioner’s sugar. However, I don’t personally like the powdery texture that you’d get from confectioner’s sugar. The cornstarch doesn’t “cook out”, and I find the slight starchiness off-putting.
Yes you can. You can add up to 150 g of sugar (50% of the weight of nuts). Technically you could add even more, but I don’t want the sweetness to overpower the flavor of the nuts.
I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s possible. The sugar does add texture to the paste, so without sugar the paste will be thicker, and it might take longer to process the nuts into a smooth paste, so you may need more oil.
I have tried this and it is possible. The only issue is that the sugar can harden in the food processor, and may not mix in well. Adding hot sugar syrup also makes the food processor hot, which can’t be good for the long processing time.
You can also simply place the pistachios on a parchment paper and pour the sugar over the pistachios and let it cool. Then you can just separate the pistachios after it has cooled down. But this can result in chunks of nuts clumped together which is harder to break down in the food processor.
I have done this in the past. Honestly, it’s not worth making this paste with roasted pistachios. The color of the pistachios becomes dull when you roast them, and the resulting pistachio paste will be almost brown in color. And I don’t like the flavor as much either.
Pistachio Paste (Sweet Pistachio Butter)
- 300 g raw pistachios without the shells (see recipe notes)
- 100 g white sugar ½ cup (see recipe notes)
- 45 g water 3 tbsp
- Pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup of pistachio oil or unflavored oil (use up to ½ cup for a thinner consistency)
Blanching the pistachios
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Carefully add the pistachios into the boiling water and stir for 1 – 2 minutes in the boiling water to blanch the nuts.300 g raw pistachios
- Immediately strain the water and place the pistachios in cold or ice water to cool down.
- When the pistachios have cooled down, proceed to remove the outer skin of the nuts.
- To remove the skin, place the pistachios on a clean kitchen towel / dish cloth and rub the pistachios with the towel. If there are any nuts remaining with the skin on at the end, then remove their skin manually. The skin should pop right off when you squeeze the pistachios between your fingers.
- Then place the pistachios on a paper towel until you’re ready for the next step. You do not need to dry the pistachios in the oven.
Making the sugared pistachios
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan. Dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat, but be careful not to stir the mixture. Instead, gently swirl the pan to dissolve the sugar in the water.100 g white sugar, 45 g water
- Once the sugar is dissolved, keep cooking the sugar syrup until it reaches 245°F / 118°C (on a candy thermometer).
- When the sugar has reached this temperature, remove it from the heat.
- Place the pistachio nuts in a large bowl, and pour the sugar syrup over the nuts. Mix well using a spatula to coat the pistachios in the sugar syrup.
- Keep mixing until the sugar syrup cools down, and crystallizes around the nuts. When the sugar has crystallized, you're ready for the next step.
Making pistachio paste
- Place the sugared pistachios in the food processor. Do use a good food processor, since you may need to run it for about 10 minutes to make the paste (or even longer).Pinch of sea salt
- Add the salt to the pistachios.
- Now start processing the nuts. The pistachios will first get chopped, and then turn into a chunky paste, and as you keep processing, they will turn into a thick and very smooth paste.
- Add the oil, a few tablespoons at a time, until you get the paste consistency you prefer. If you want a thick pistachio paste, then only add ¼ cup of oil. For a thinner consistency, add more.¼ cup of pistachio oil
- Once the pistachio paste is made, transfer it to jars with air-tight lids. The pistachios paste will thicken as it cools down.
- Keep the paste in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or longer in the freezer.
Tips & Tricks
- If you’d like a sweeter pistachio paste, increase the sugar to 150 g (3/4 cup) per one batch of this recipe.
- You can also replace 25% of the pistachios with almonds (by weight) if you like.
- I prefer to measure the pistachios by weight, since cup measurements can vary significantly depending on the size of the pistachios.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”