Homemade Pistachio Almond Ice Cream

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This Homemade Pistachio Almond Ice Cream uses a custard-style base (with eggs) to make a deliciously creamy scoopable pistachio ice cream.

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Pistachio almond ice cream

If you love pistachio ice cream from one of the many brands that make it, you’re going to love this homemade version. The first time I made it, I was so surprised by how creamy it was. The pistachios soak with milk and sugar for an hour, helping them to release their own natural flavors and texture. The resulting milk mixture is heavenly.

I’ve added just a touch of almond extract to the mixture to boost the flavor profile. You can let the pistachio go it alone, but the two together is actually much more flavorful.

The final question is whether to add green food coloring or not. As you can see from my photos, in this batch I chose to add the coloring. If I know I won’t be sharing it with guests, I usually leave out the green coloring and the ice cream is naturally a bit tan or lightly brown in color. It looks a little prettier with the coloring.

We use our ice cream maker for this recipe, so be sure to put the barrel in the freezer a day ahead so it’s good and frozen by the time you want to use it.

Ingredients You Need

ingredients for Pistachio almond ice cream

This ice cream uses a custard base, so it has egg yolks in it.

  • Shelled roasted pistachios – The higher quality the nuts, the better the ice cream will be. If you’re shelling them yourself, try to make sure you’ve removed all of the tough outer shell.
  • Half and half or heavy cream – There is a debate out there about how much butterfat the best ice cream has. It can range anywhere from non-fat all the way up to 20%. Using half and half and whole milk results in the best texture and fat level for me. Use heavy whipping cream if you like your ice cream super creamy.
  • Whole milk – I always use whole milk – we’re not pretending this is a low-fat dessert.
  • Egg yolks – Set the eggs and milk out about 15 minutes before you start to get them to room temp
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar is fine in this recipe. If you’re going to replace it with a sugar substitute, I recommend using only allulose, because it doesn’t harden like erythritol and the others do. This makes a big difference.
  • Vanilla extract – Use the highest-quality vanilla you can. The flavor of the vanilla is strong and can be a little off-putting if you use a low-quality vanilla. You can also add vanilla bean to this recipe.
  • Almond extract – this stuff is really strong so you only need a small drop to flavor this ice cream. If you have a choice, I’d buy the smallest bottle available.
  • Green food coloring – If you want to give the ice cream a green tint, you’ll need a food-grade green coloring.

How to Make Pistachio Almond Ice Cream

We use the same egg-based custard ice cream base for chocolate chocolate chip ice cream, cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, and most of the other flavors of ice cream we make. It’s an easy base and it tastes great and very creamy.

The other great part about using this base for everything is that it starts to become second nature to make it. There are quite a few steps to making custard-style ice cream, but it’s not hard, and it’s very much worth the effort.

Step 1: Soak the Pistachios

In a food processor, crush one cup of pistachios with 1/4 cup of sugar. It will be a crumbly mixture.

sugar and pistachios in the food processor

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine those crushed pistachios and the whole milk. Stir the mixture constantly as you bring it just to a simmer, not a boil.

Once it’s steaming, remove the pot from the heat, cover it and let the pistachios soak for at least 1 hour. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and press the nuts with a spatula to extract as much milk and flavor from the nuts as possible.

cooking the pistachios and milk in a saucepan

Put the strained pistachio pieces into a container to store them in the refrigerator. You’ll add these to the ice cream base when you churn the ice cream, to add texture.

straining the pistachio milk

Step 2: Heat the Ice Cream Base

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar.

the ice cream base in a bowl

To temper the eggs, slowly add 1/2 cup of the pistachio milk mixture in a drizzle into the egg mixture. Do this slowly so as not to cook the eggs.

After the hour soak time is up, pour the entire egg mixture into the saucepan with the pistachio milk mixture. Simmer it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it’s slightly thickened, like custard. This will take about 5-10 minutes. Do not boil it. It should just be gently simmering.

Remove the pot from the heat. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. 

Step 3: Chill

To help the mixture cool, you can set the bowl over ice. This will help the bring the temperature of the mixture down rapidly so it can be stored in the refrigerator.

Chilling ice cream in a bowl on top of ice

Once it’s cooled, pour in the heavy cream, vanilla, and almond extract. If desired, you can add a drop of green food coloring and stir it. Add more until you’ve reached your desired color.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 hours or overnight. It needs to be fully chilled before you can churn it.

Step 4: Churn the Ice Cream

churning the ice cream

Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions until set, about 15 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, add some or all of the pistachios you saved. I usually use about 3/4 of them. Adding them all tends to be a bit too much texture for me.

Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe bowl, cover, and freeze for at least 2 hours. 

a scoop of pistachio almond ice cream

Milk vs Cream

I’m often asked if it’s possible to use milk or cream or half and half interchangeably in an ice cream recipe. It is actually okay to do that. It will, however, change the final product. The creaminess and scoopability of the ice cream is what will be affected.

If you use only milk, I would suggest only doing so with whole milk. 2% or lower fat milks don’t have enough fat to make a creamy ice cream. It will end up being a little icey and not easy to scoop.

What I do most often is use whole milk and half and half to make a creamy, yet lower fat ice cream. I find this to be the best combination for my preference. You could use whole milk and cream if you like a creamier, thicker ice cream.

So basically, you can use any combination of any of these products that you want. Maybe experiment with a few different combinations to find the one you like most.

a scoop of pistachio almond ice cream

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this ice cream have to be made in an ice cream maker?

This ice cream recipe is made in the ice cream maker. It’s an easy way to churn the ice cream mixture to make it freeze faster and make it super creamy, so we prefer it.
However you can still make it without an ice cream maker. At the end, mix in only half of the heavy cream and reserve the rest. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. When ready to eat, add the ice cream cubes to the blender with the remaining heavy cream and blend until smooth.

Do I have to add eggs to the ice cream?

Eggs add flavor, prevent ice crystallization, and create a smooth and creamy texture, so they are an important ingredient for delicious ice cream. You can make ice cream without eggs. Here is a vanilla ice cream recipe that doesn’t include eggs.

Can I add flavoring to the ice cream besides almond extract?

You can leave the almond extract out of the ice cream all together, or you can replace it with a different nut extract, if you want.

What Ice Cream Maker to Use?

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Machine, 1.5 Quart Sorbet, Frozen Yogurt Maker, Double Insulated, White, ICE-21P1
CUISINART Ice Cream Maker, Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Machine, 2-Qt. Double-Insulated Freezer Bowl, Silver, ICE30BCP1

If you’re really wanting to make great ice cream at home, you have to invest in an ice cream maker. I’ve had the same one for many years and it’s never made a bad ice cream.

The one I recommend is the Cuisinart 1.5 quart ice cream maker. It comes in a few different colors and it looks neat and tidy. You just have to keep to recipes that are small enough to fit, which shouldn’t be a problem.

The Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker is a slightly more professional model that’s 2 quarts and has an LCD screen and 3 settings plus an improved paddle with faster processing time.

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Pistachio almond ice cream

Homemade Pistachio Almond Ice Cream

This Homemade Pistachio Almond Ice Cream uses a custard-style base (with eggs) to make a deliciously creamy scoopable pistachio ice cream.
4.67 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
Calories: 311kcal
Author: Laura Lynch

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (154 g) shelled roasted pistachios divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.62 ml) almond extract
  • Green food coloring optional

Instructions

  • Be sure to chill the ice cream maker bowl at least a full day in advance so it’s cold enough to churn the ice cream.
  • In a food processor, crush one cup of pistachios with 1/4 cup of sugar.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the crushed pistachios and the milk. Stir the mixture constantly as you bring it just to a simmer (do not boil). Once steaming, remove from heat, cover and soak for at least 1 hour. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and press the nuts with a spatula to extract as much milk and flavor from the nuts as possible.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar.
  • To temper the eggs, slowly add 1/2 cup of the pistachio milk mixture in a drizzle into the egg mixture. Do this slowly so as not to cook the eggs.
  • Pour the entire egg mixture back into the saucepan with the pistachio milk mixture. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Do not boil.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and cool.
  • Once cooled, pour in the heavy cream, vanilla, and almond extract. If desired, add one very small drop of green food coloring and stir. Add more if necessary until desired color is reached.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for at least two hours until very cold.
  • Roughly chop the remaining pistachios into bite sized pieces to add at the end of the churn. You can also add the strained pistachios in at the end of the churn, if you want.
  • When ready to churn, pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 15-20 minutes, until soft-serve consistency. Add the remaining pistachios in the last 2 minutes of the churn.
  • Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.

Equipment Needed

Notes

  • This recipe makes half a gallon.

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 255mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 752IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 1mg

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