How to Make Italian Pistachio Gelato (Recipe)

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Have you ever wondered how to make Italian pistachio gelato? Here is an authentic step by step recipe for you! Learn how to make homemade Italian pistachio gelato and transport yourself to the streets of Italy!

Treat yourself to pistachio gelato with my favorite Italian Ladyfinger Cookies (savoiardi)! Cookie and gelato heaven! Or, pair pistachio ice cream with a One Crust Rhubarb Pie Recipe (galette)!

pistachio ice cream in ice cream cones
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If you want to make it an Italian ‘affogato” you can pour Homemade Chocolate Syrup over the top for an extra special treat.

Why I love this gelato recipe

Every summer when I am in Italy with my family- we eat gelato at least once a day! We general walk to a gelato shop in the afternoon or late evening. Homemade gelato makes a delicious treat any time of day!

I must admit that pistachio gelato is my absolute favorite gelato flavor. Okay, I have a few others: fior di late, lemon, and dark chocolate gelato are among my favorite flavors too. I love the intense flavor of pistachio in this super creamy cool treat.

Craving a frozen lemony treat? This taste just like lemon gelato! Creamy Frozen Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust!

Recipe Inspiration

This gelato recipe was inspired by my love for pistachios! More pistachio recipes for you: Italian Pistachio Cream Cake (Sbriciolata), Best Roasted Rack of Lamb with Dijon Pistachio Crust, and Arugula, Apple, and Pistachio Salad in Parmigiano Cups.

I miss authentic Italian gelato so much when I am in America. I thought it was take my own gelato at home the real Italian way! When I crave gelato and want the easy of a store bought variety- I enjoy Talenti Gelato Brand .

Ingredients for Italian pistachio gelato

Ingredients for the pistachio pastry cream

This Italian gelato recipe contains a few basic ingredients. I use all natural ingredients to keep this authentic gelato recipe.

  • 1 recipe for Best Italian Pistachio Cream (ingredients seen in photo)
  • Whole milk (you can also use heavy cream or half and half if desired)
  • Sugar
  • Pistachios, chopped, for serving

See recipe card for quantities.

Notes on homemade gelato ingredients

Use the best quality ingredients for the most flavorful gelato. There aren’t many ingredients in gelato, so if you are going to go through the effort of making it from scratch it is important to use high quality ingredients!

Use super-fresh eggs, whole milk, and cream as well as top-quality flavorings, such as vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. If you’re making fruit varieties, use seasonally fresh, perfectly ripe fruits or top-quality fruit purees. I don’t recommend using skim or partially skimmed milk the texture will be more icy than creamy.

Natural color of pistachio gelato

You will notice this pistachio gelato isn’t bright florescent green. The reason for that is there are no artificial food dyes in this recipe. The beautiful natural green color comes from the shelled and blended pistachio cream. This is the way I prefer it!

If you want to make your pistachio gelato very green you can add a couple of drops of green food coloring to the milk mixture.

How to make Italian Pistachio Gelato Recipe

How to make pistachio gelato at home

This is a basic recipe for how to make authentic Italian pistachio gelato. You will see it is easier than you think to make this creamy gelato recipe!

Make the pistachio paste or pistachio cream

This is the magic part to create smooth and delicious pistachio gelato. The extra effort will deliver a great gelato.

Shelling the pistachios

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.

Creaming the egg yolks

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.

making pistachio cream in blender

Blend the egg yolk and corn starch mixture with the pistachios and some of the milk.

Steps to make the pistachio pastry cream

Heat the milk and slowly add the egg yolk and pistachio cream mixture. At the end add the vanilla extract. Optional: add vanilla bean by scraping the inside of a vanilla bean pod.

Pistachio paste for gelato

The key to a super smooth and creamy pistachio gelato is making this pistachio cream! This pistachio custard serves as the perfect base for gelato.

Pistachio paste or pistachio cream

This is the pistachio cream for the base of your pistachio gelato. Once you learn how to make pistachio paste from scratch and taste how incredibly delicious it is compared to store-bought products, you’ll want to use it in everything, or eat it plain!

Other uses for pistachio cream: 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.

pastry cream in pan

You will know when your pistachio creamy custard or pistachio cream is done when it sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, or spatula.

How to make pistachio gelato in an ice cream maker

Now, for the final step to create the smoothest and dreamiest pistachio gelato of your dreams.

Process: make milk and sugar mixture

Heat milk and sugar until warm and the sugar dissolves into the milk.

process Italian pistachio gelato : adding the milk and sugar to pistachio paste

Make the pistachio gelato mixture: Whisk the pistachio cream base into the milk mixture. Mix until combined and let cool (covered) in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. 

Italian pistachio gelato cream ready to freeze.

Let it cool! This part is so important. You want to cool the mixture for at least 3 hours overnight before putting it in the ice cream maker.

Italian pistachio gelato freezing in ice cream maker

Let it churn! Poor mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacture’s instructions. When it is thick and ready transfer to a freezer container and freeze at least 2 hours before enjoying. The hardest part is waiting for it to freeze!

Italian pistachio gelato in glass container with ice cream scoop.

How is gelato different than ice cream?

A post by, Food Nouveau, describes the difference perfectly with these points:

Gelato is not just the Italian word for ice cream. Here’s what makes gelato unique:

  • Gelato contains less fat than regular ice cream. Ice cream’s main ingredient is heavy cream, whereas gelato is made mainly from milk. Some gelato recipes use a small quantity of cream, and some use only whole milk.
  • Gelato is denser than ice cream. Gelato is churned at a lower speed than ice cream. Overall, the finished product contains less air than ice cream. This is why gelato is known for its dense texture. It is super creamy and luxurious.
  • Gelato is served at warmer temperatures than ice cream. Storing gelato at warmer temperatures makes it softer, providing its signature silky texture. This creates a softer silkier feel to the taste and tongue even though it is lower in fat.

Dairy Free Gelato

If you’re lactose intolerant, you can substitute lactose-free milk and cream. Depending on the variety it may change the texture slightly.

Variations for pistachio gelato

I prefer pistachio gelato pure and simple. You can make it like this the first time and try another variety the next time you make it.

  • Fresh – add lemon extract or fresh lemon zest for a delicious lemon and pistachio combo.
  • Deluxe – add chocolate chips or chocolate chunk to the pistachio mixture before placing it in the ice cream maker.
bowl of Italian pistachio gelato with ice cream scoop.

Recommended gelato maker

There are many ice cream makers on the market and almost any will do. Some are faster than others and this is my personal favorite ice cream maker.

Cuisinart ice cream maker photo with link

It is also the absolute best quality for the price. If you are looking for an affordable ice cream machine to make ice cream at home that will do the job this is the one for you.

Best freezer-safe storage containers

You will need a good quality freezer-safe container to store your frozen treat. There are many types of storage containers for homemade ice cream. Here are three of my favorites. Either of these will work great for storing homemade ice cream or gelato.

4 (6 oz) gelato freezer containers
small ice cream/gelato containers

*contains affilate amazon links

Ice cream or gelato scoop recommendations

Here are my two favorite ice cream scoops I use at home. It is really a matter of preference and what kind of “scoop” you are looking to achieve.

  • THE LAST ICE CREAM SCOOP YOU’LL EVER NEED – Genuine heavy duty tool that is strong and sturdy. It comes in lots of fun colors too!
  • If you prefer an efficient SPRING CLIP and lever for the perfect round scoop this is the one for you.
Italian pistachio gelato in glass container with ice cream scoop.

How to serve homemade gelato

An important tip to keep in mind when swerving gelato is to remember to take your gelato out of the freezer 10 to 15 minutes before serving it. Your freezer at home is much colder than the temperature they store gelato at most gelato shops.

Gelato’s lower fat content means it freezes to a rock-hard consistency! In order to achieve the texture of the gelato shop, you need to leave it out, and trust me, it is worth the wait! The texture softens and turns into the creamy dreamy gelato you know and love.

Italian pistachio gelato in a cup with a spoon.

FAQ’s

What’s the difference between gelato and American ice cream?

There are a few main differences between gelato and ice cream. 1)Gelato contains less fat than regular ice cream. 2) Gelato is denser than ice cream. 3)Gelato is served at warmer temperatures than ice cream. Read the post for more explanations and details!

How long does homemade gelato keep?

Homemade gelato will keep, frozen, for up to two weeks. Store in proper air tight containers in the freezer. Always take the gelato out to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving to soften it and make it easier to scoop.

Pro TIPS

  • Peel the pistachios—it makes a difference: Most shelled pistachios come partly peeled. If you look closely, the nuts still have a thin skin over them. Removing those skins makes for an extra-smooth pistachio cream. It also creates a more vibrant color. 
  • Use a blender to achieve an extra smooth and creamy consistency.
  • Refrigerate that pistachio gelato custard for hours—preferably overnight—before you churn it: A cold custard is a key to creating the smoothest, creamiest gelato. Refrigerating the custard for at least 3 hours is good, but overnight is even better. Plan ahead for optimal results.
  • Use quality ingredients. Since there aren’t many ingredients use the best to produce the best taste and texture.

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

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pistachio ice cream in metal bowl with spoon.

How to Make Italian Pistachio Gelato (Recipe)

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4 from 3 reviews

Have you ever wondered: How to Make Italian Pistachio Gelato? Here is a detailed recipe for you! Learn how to make homemade Italian pistachio gelato and transport yourself to the streets of Italy! 

  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 recipe for pistachio cream (click for link)
  • 3 cups whole milk (you can also use heavy cream or half and half if desired)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios for topping

Instructions

  1. Make the pistachio cream according to the recipe. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk and sugar over medium heat until it just starts to bubble around the edge (no need to bring it to a boil). Whisk a few minutes until the sugar dissolves. 
  3. Make the pistachio gelato: Whisk the pistachio cream base into the cream mixture. Mix until combined and let cool (covered) in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. 
  4. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Stop the machine when the gelato is icy but still soft.
  5. Transfer the gelato to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about two hours. The gelato will keep, frozen, for up to two weeks. Always take the gelato out to room temperature 10 to 15 minutes before serving to soften it and make it easier to scoop.
  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes + freezing time
  • Category: Sweet
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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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.

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6 Comments

    1. start with a 1/4 cup since it is already thick and dense. Add more if needed. It also depends on the brand you are using so start small and keep adding.

  1. Tried your recipe today and the result is amazing!!! I love the fact that it’s based on milk only (I use lactose free milk since I’m lactose intolerant). This is by far the best pistachio home made ice cream I ever had and it is exactly like the one I had at a high end creameries. Thank you!






  2. The results of the pasty cream was better than the gelato, to be honest. The ratio of pistachio to milk was much lower than the other recipes that I saw. Whereas the flavor of the pasty cream was rich, adding another 3 cups of dairy really washed out the flavor.

    The resulting gelato while having an excellent texture, had a very bland flavor. The pistachio pieces were the only thing to give it real flavor.

    There are many other recipes that are fewer steps, and probably give better results.






  3. If you love pistachios + gelato this is the recipe for you! Authentic and pure Italian gelato just like they serve in Italy.