Best Italian Pistachio Cream

4.9 from 11 reviews

Jump to RecipeLeave a Comment

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Calling all pistachio lovers! This BEST Italian Pistachio Cream is smooth, decadent, and rich. You can enjoy it with a few simple ingredients and 30 minutes!

Pistachio Pastry Cream makes a creamy and custardy filling for Traditional Italian Cream Horns (Cannoncini), Puff Pastry filled with Italian Cream, and Italian Crumb Cake with Pistachio filling. This cream is also used to make Italian Pistachio Gelato!

prepared pistachio cream in a sercing bowl
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Smooth and creamy with a real pistachio flavor- once you make this version of pastry cream with a pistachio twist, you will be hooked! Another filling recipe that you will love is this 5-Ingredients Lemon Curd Recipe!

You can even use it to fill the BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli, Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian), and Bomboloni Recipe (Italian Donuts with Cream Filling).

What Is Italian Pistachio Cream?

Crema pasticcera, pastry cream, is one of the basic ingredients used in many Italian pastries and cakes. It’s the creamy, custardy filling in tarts, layer cakes, or pastries such as millefoglie; it’s also the cream filling you find in morning pastries such as cannoncini (Italian-style croissants). And, no, before you ask, it’s not like ice cream – that’s gelato!

Crema pasticcera is not difficult to make, though it does require care and attention so that it doesn’t curdle. I will always choose homemade pistachio cream over store bought!

pastry cream in pan

Simple Ingredients

  • Egg yolks
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Pistachio Paste (blended, shelled, and blanched pistachios)
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract

Leftover egg whites? Make Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies (Sardinian Recipe)!

How To Make Pistachio Cream

The process is fairly simple with a little technique. We are making an Italian pastry cream (similar to custard) and adding fresh puréed pistachios.

Photos 1-3. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil and add the shelled pistachios. Let them boil for 4 minutes then drain them and place them on a clean kitchen towel.

Fold the towel over and rub the pistachios in the towel to loosen the skins. Separate the pistachios for the skins and discard them.

Shelling the pistachios

Photos 3-4. In a medium mixing bowl whip the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Creaming the egg yolks

Photos 5-7. Add the pistachios to a food processor (or high power blender) with only ¼ cup (60ml) of the milk. Keep pulsing on high on and off for 5 minutes until the pistachios turn into a smooth paste. Stop the food processor 3-4 times to scrape down the sides. 

Add the egg and cornstarch mixture to the blender with the blended pistachios. Mix until combined and smooth- this is your pistachio mixture. Set aside. 

Photos 8-11. In a sauce pan heat the milk. Turn heat to medium and warm milk until a soft boil (little bubbles on the sides and steam starts to form). When the milk is hot, remove from heat.

Using a whisk- start adding the pistachio mixture, a little at a time into the milk. It’s very important to stir constantly until you achieve a unified mixture.

Put the saucepan back on low heat and continue whisking. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes until the cream begins to thicken. It’s very important that the cream NEVER BOILS. I

Keep cooking on low medium heat until cream is thickened.

Steps to make the pistachio pastry cream

Photo 12. When the cream is well thickened (it will stick to the back of a spoon and not drip off), remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

pastry cream in pan

Variations

You can make this pistachio version, or the original vanilla recipe with a hint of lemon- Italian Pastry Cream. Even more decadent is the Italian Chocolate Pastry Cream (Crema Pasticcera)

Pro Tips for Pistachio Cream

For the Cream

  • Room temperature eggs
  • High quality eggs and only use the egg yolk
  • Whip egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy using electric mixer
  • Whole Milk (I recommend you do not use milk powder as it can change the taste or texture)
  • Corn starch instead of flour (makes it even lighter!)
  • Stir the cream constantly while it is cooking
  • Follow the instruction in the recipe exactly and you will achieve a great cream!

For the Pistachios

  • Make sure the outer shell of the pistachios is removed well for a smooth pistachio cream (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP)
    • Peel the skins – you’ll notice that shelled pistachios have brown skin over all of part of the outside. If you don’t peel the pistachios the skins will cause the cream to be slightly gritty with black/brown flecks.
  • Boiling the pistachios – boiling makes it super easy to remove the skins but also soften the pistachios slightly making it really quick and easy to get a smooth consistency.
  • Use a blender or food processor to achieve the extra smooth and creamy consistency.

The result must be a smooth, shiny pistachio cream, with a balanced firmness.

What kind of pistachios are best?

It all starts with the right kind of pistachios! If you want bright green pistachio cream, you need raw pistachios.

Raw pistachios = unsalted and not roasted.

You can buy either shelled or unshelled. If you’re like me, you will appreciate the time saving shelled raw pistachios! I bought a bag from Amazon that I like this brand.

How to Serve Pistachio Cream

You can use it pretty much how you would Nutella, spread it on toast or bread, fold it into cream to fill desserts, cakes or pastries or simply grab a spoon and dig in!

Here are some delicious ways to use it in my recipes:

Storage

It’ll keep well (covered) in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The top will become darker but just give it a mix. If it’s thickened too much you can add it back to the blender with a splash of milk to loosen.

From my Table to your Cucina. Made with Amore, Elena

More sweet recipes for you:

Creme Caramel Custard Flan Italian Recipe

Italian Olive Oil Cake Orange Honey (easy)

Italian Olive Oil Cake Orange Honey (easy)

Traditional Italian Tiramisù Recipe

More Pistachio Recipes for you:

Arugula, Apple, and Pistachio Salad in Parmigiano Cups

Roasted Rack of Lamb Pistachio Crust

Have you checked out my NEW CBE PRODUCTS? Take a look at the 2-in-1 cutting and charcuterie board, gorgeous apron, and unique pasta server that you that you absolutely need. The wood products are all handmade in Salt Lake City, Utah. They make great gifts as well!

Enjoy a taste of Italy in your home with this Italian Pistachio Cream! If you love this recipe make sure to try Italian Pistachio Gelato!

💙 MADE THIS RECIPE AND LOVED IT? 💙 Please leave a ⭐️STAR rating and COMMENT below- I love connecting with you! Tag me with your creations on Instagram and find me on Pinterest.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
prepared pistachio cream in a sercing bowl

Italian Pistachio Cream Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.9 from 11 reviews

Crema pasticcera al pistachio, pistachio Italian pastry cream, is one of the standard and most common ingredients used in Italian pastries and cakes. It’s the creamy, custardy filling in common Italian tarts, layer cakes, and pastries. Once you make this version with a pistachio twist you will be hooked!

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 medium egg yolks, discard whites
  • 80 g (2/3 Cup) of granulated sugar
  • 45 g (1/3 Cup+ 1 tablespoon) of cornstarch
  • 3.5 oz (100 gr) blanched pistachios
  • 1/2 liter (2 Cups) of whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Pistachios

  1. Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil and add the shelled pistachios. Let them boil for 4 minutes then drain them and place them on a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Fold the towel over and rub the pistachios in the towel to loosen the skins. Separate the pistachios from the skins and discard the skins.
  3. Add the pistachios to a food processor (or high power blender) with only ¼ cup (60ml) of the milk. Keep pulsing on high on and off for 5 minutes until the pistachios turn into a smooth paste. Stop the food processor 3-4 times to scrape down the sides. 
  4.  Leave pistachio mixture in the blender. Cover and set aside. Start making the cream. 

For the Cream

  1. In a medium mixing bowl whip the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2.  Add the egg and cornstarch mixture to the blender with the pistachio cream. Mix until combined and smooth- this is your pistachio mixture. Set aside. 
  3.  In a sauce pan heat the milk. Turn heat to medium and warm milk until a soft boil (little bubbles on the sides and steam starts to form).
  4. When the milk is hot, remove from heat. Using a whisk- start adding the pistachio mixture, a little at a time into the milk. It’s very important to stir constantly until you achieve a unified mixture.
  5. Put the saucepan back on low heat and continue whisking. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes until the cream begins to thicken. It’s very important that the cream NEVER BOILS. In this way you have a smooth cream without lumps and without chunks of cooked egg.
  6. If you have a cooking thermometer you can check that the temperature never exceeds 85°C (185 F). Otherwise, as soon as you see that bubbles begin to form in the cream, lower the heat. You can even remove it from the heat for a few seconds and put it back. 
  7. Keep cooking on low medium heat until cream is thickened. When the cream is well thickened (it will stick to the back of a spoon and not drip off), remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Immediately pour it into a cold glass container. Important to remove the pistachio cream immediately from hot saucepan to prevent it from cooking longer.
  8. While cooling, cover the cream with plastic wrap. Keep it in contact with the cream. This step is to avoid forming a skin on the cream surface. Refrigerate at least 3 hours for it to set.

Notes

The pistachio pastry cream will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks in an air tight container. Use the pistachio cream as a pastry, crostata, cake, or no bake pie filling. 

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Sweet
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

You May Also Like

About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

30 Comments

    1. Yes! Cook the cream a little longer to make it thicker to your liking then look up my cannoli recipe for the cannoli shells.

    1. You can start with 90 grams and stir until desired consistency. The premade is thicker and denser so keep an eye on how it comes together as you stir. Enjoy!

  1. I made it using the metric measurements, and it came out very thick. I like the way it’s’ not too sweet.

    It’s eventually going to to become gelato (machine arrives this week), so I will continue onto the gelato recipe when it arrives.

    I used pistachio paste (basically ground pistachios, nothing else) made it much easier to do.

    I also mixed the milk into the eggs, not the way mentioned in the recipe since it’s the way I always made creme patissiere for the past 4 decades, and never do my eggs scramble (and easier to handle).

    Looking forward to the gelato.






    1. Hi Steve, It is supposed to be fairly thick, but not too thick. Again, if you didn’t follow my recipe for the Italian method for the crema that could play into it? Either way, I hope you love the gelato. It sounds so yummy right now!

    1. I am not sure what you mean- you do freeze the cream after it is churned in the ice cream maker. Please let me know if I can help further. Thanks!

  2. Follow this easy to make recipe for authentic pistachio cream! Anyone can make this delicious recipe.