Real deal Homemade Pistachio Pudding is one of the most simple, delicious, and underrated desserts out there. Made without any packaged mix, this from-scratch pudding has a nutty and creamy taste and can be utilized in many ways, including digging in with a spoon!
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Have you ever had Pistachio Pudding? As in, the real deal pistachio pudding; the stuff from the little package doesn't hold a candle to homemade! It's so creamy, with a uniquely nutty and earthy flavor. I'm definitely a pro-pudding kind of girl and I'm nuts about pistachios (pun intended), but up until recently, I had never made pistachio pudding from scratch.
I feel like this is the point I must confess I used to love pistachio pudding mix from a box when I was a kid, and similarly loved any dessert made with it. But my adult taste buds can't handle all that artificial flavor. However, that nostalgic craving for that flavor I remember through rose-colored glasses still gets me every once in a while. So this recipe really was just a long time coming.
This recipe uses real pistachios, real milk, eggs, and a touch of almond extract to get that characteristic "pistachio" flavor. The recipe is easy to make, with the most time-intensive part making the pistachio paste.
But don't be fooled by its simplicity, it's so darn good.
So, let's get to making it, shall we? The text below offers tons of tips and helpful notes, or you can scroll to the bottom to grab the recipe and get started!
Pistachio Pudding Ingredients
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe is listed below in greater detail.
- shelled raw unsalted pistachios (don't use roasted or salted because it will dull the color, change the flavor, and upset the balance of salt)
- unsalted butter
- granulated sugar
- whole milk (because of the added fat in the form of pistachios I tried to keep this lighter by just using just whole milk instead of a combination of milk and cream that is more typical for pudding, but if you want a more "rich" pudding feel free to substitute some of the whole milk for heavy cream...I would recommend about ½ cup)
- kosher salt
- almond extract (this is essential for the flavor as it is almost always paired with pistachio-flavored food)
Useful Tools to Make This Recipe
Here is a list of some of the primary tools I use in this recipe. You won't necessarily choose to use them all, but they are exactly what I used. Any links may contain affiliate links.
- food processor or high-speed blender (to make the pistachio paste...see more below)
- medium pot
- fine-mesh strainer
- whisk + rubber spatula
- kitchen essentials: baking scale, bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc.
Let's Start with the Pistachio Paste
Going in, I knew this recipe required smooth ground pistachios, also known as pistachio butter.
During the development of this recipe, I did some preliminary research about whether it made the most sense to buy pistachio butter or make it at home, knowing that making it was likely going to be the most cost-effective option. Plus, it's always nice to start a dessert off with a whole raw product, such as whole raw pistachios. While raw pistachios can be pricey, real pistachio butter and paste can be even pricier. So it is definitely more economical to make it at home.
I tested a couple of different approaches to making it. I even tried blanching the pistachios and then taking the brown/purple skin off of them to produce a "clean" colored pudding. In the end, I found that a waste of time, as raw pistachios, even with their skin still produced a beautiful color pudding. And to be clear, I mean the skin, not the shell.
The result that culminated in the best pudding was to make pistachio butter in a food processor using just shelled raw pistachios. It produced the smoothest pudding with a lovely light green color.
However, it is a small time investment to turn nuts into "butter". It takes about 10 minutes or so. Sometimes less if you have a high-speed food processor or sometimes more if you don't.
How to Make Pistachio Butter
It's a relatively straightforward process to turn the pistachios into a paste. A high-speed blender or a food processor are the two best tools for the job. Here are the steps in making it:
- Process the pistachios to a fine powder. This should happen fairly quickly. At this point scrape down the sides. If your machine is very hot, let it rest for 30 seconds.
- Continue processing until the pistachios start to clump together. Scrape down the sides, and continue to process.
- The pistachios may at some point clump around the blade but keep going.
- Continue to process until the pistachios release their oil and turn into a smooth thick paste! There will likely be some tiny pieces of pistachio remaining. You can keep processing it to get it smooth, but for the pudding, I think some small pieces are desirable so I stop processing it as soon as it turns to an oily paste.
The only issue that comes up is the number of pistachios needed for this recipe. This pudding only needs 1 cup of pistachios. If you have a small food processor or a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, this likely won't be an issue and you can make the pistachio butter. But if you only have a large capacity food processor it may be tricky to be able to grind only 1 cup of pistachios.
If this is the case, I'd recommend increasing the number of pistachios used to make the butter. Yes, that means you'll have more pistachio butter than you need, but it can be used in other cooking and baking projects in your kitchen. Use any excess as you would any other nut butter.
I found that I could easily grind 2 cups of pistachios in my large-capacity food processor. And this produced the best-tasting, smoothest pistachio butter for the pudding. Just be sure to only use half of the butter produced for the pudding.
Troubleshooting Pistachio Butter
Making a nut butter should be simple enough: grind raw nuts until they release their oil and become a smooth creamy paste.
Yet like most simple things in life, there can be some pitfalls when it comes to making it.
The biggest hurdle one may encounter when making nut butter is the expectation that it will never come together. Depending on the strength of the machine used to grind the nuts, it can take about 10 minutes, or maybe even more! Keep going, it will eventually turn into butter.
...That is unless an additional ingredient has been introduced to it. That can make it "seize" up. So be sure not to add anything like water to try to make it smooth out.
If that happens, or you have any other issues with the pistachios coming together you can do a few things so you can still use those pistachios for pudding. The first would be to add a touch of neutral oil to the mixture to try to help it along. About 1-2 teaspoons should do the trick.
Or, if you really think it got messed up you could add about 1 cup of the milk from the recipe to help bring it together. The end result may not be exactly as intended, maybe slightly thicker, but it will still be tasty!
Could you buy pistachio butter and use that? Yep! So long as it's just raw pistachios and salt in the ingredients.
Preparing the Pudding
Once the pistachio butter is made, it's a breeze to put together the pudding.
The pudding is made in one pot and doesn’t require the tempering of the eggs. You start by whisking together the sugar and cornstarch, then the eggs, pistachio butter, and finally the milk.
The whole mixture is cooked over medium heat, while you alternate between whisking and using a rubber spatula to scrape up any thickened bits from the bottom.
The trick with this pudding recipe is to slowly heat the eggs with all of the ingredients at once so they don’t scramble. The added cornstarch helps stabilize the egg mixture so that doesn’t happen. The cornstarch also is responsible for thickening the pudding. In order for the pudding to thicken, it needs to be brought up to a full boil. It is the high temperature from the rapid boil that activates the thickening ability of the cornstarch.
Once the pudding is cooked it needs to be strained through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out any bits of egg or large chunks of pistachio, though hopefully, neither is present. And finally, the butter and almond extract is added in for flavor and texture improvement.
Tips for Successfully Making Pudding
- Make sure to have a rubber spatula and a whisk handy. I use both to make sure the mixture cooks evenly. I swap between using them while cooking the pudding to ensure I’m getting all the mixture out of the crevices of the pot while whisking to ensure a consistent, overall cook.
- Don’t walk away from the pudding. It takes no more than 10 minutes to cook. Also, it’s incredibly important to stir almost constantly at the beginning when you are cooking it to be sure no egg yolks get stuck to the bottom of the pot and scramble.
- Strain the pudding. This step eliminates any small bits of chalazae (stringy egg white) or accidentally cooked eggs. It makes for a smoother pudding.
- Pudding is best eaten within one to two days after it has been made. But, it will last up to five. As the days go on, the pudding might release some moisture. This is fine to consume, just stir it back up.
After the Pudding is Made
The pudding needs about 3 hours to chill and finish setting up. Though if you want to eat it warm, go for it!
Know that this pudding is on the thinner side. If you want to use it to make a pie, add an additional tablespoon of cornstarch to the recipe. Or, follow this recipe for a full guide on making Pistachio Pudding Pie.
If you aren't making a pie, you have a few choices for what to do with the pudding depending on what you want. The pudding can be placed into individual serving dishes
Also note, to avoid the "skin" that forms on top of the pudding, lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding while it's still warm to prevent it.
Serve this pudding warm or chilled. Do note: pudding tastes sweeter when it's served warm.
Go ahead and put the biggest dollop of whipped cream on it. You won't regret it. I also like to add a bit of texture to this with additional chopped pistachios or crumbled cookies on top. I bet Italian Amaretti cookies would be delicious with this.
More Pudding Recipes:
- Homemade Butterscotch Pudding
- Homemade Chocolate Pudding
- Homemade Vanilla Pudding
- Strawberry Pretzel Dessert Jars (this dessert has a Fresh Strawberry Pudding)
I am so honored when you make a recipe from my site! If you make this Pistachio Pudding, please leave a comment and a star rating with your experience! If you have any questions about this recipe, feel free to comment here, too!Print
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