Gluten Free Dairy Free Pistachio Gelato Recipe

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by Carol Kicinski on September 16, 2010

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Gluten Free Dairy Free Pistachio Gelato Recipe

At the International Food Blogger Conference last month I eyed the spectacular photos and listened with half an ear to a presentation by Dr. Nathan Myhrvold on Modernist Cuisine. The reason I listened with only half an ear is that for the most part, while fascinating, Modernist Cuisine is not really applicable to me as a home cook. (Case in point, I was treated to a fabulous leg of lamb by my chef friend Darrell which was prepared in an $1,100.00 sous vide – a method of cooking vacuum sealed food at really low temperatures for a long time – for 18 hours. Yes, it was melt-in-your-mouth tender and really flavorful but that’s an awful lot of money for a contraption and a really long time to wait for dinner!)

What caught my attention however was when Dr. Myhrvold mentioned they had made dairy-free pistachio ice cream using pistachio oil that was intensely flavorful. He sited that dairy actually masks the flavor of the pistachios and commercially prepared pistachio ice cream often contains almond extract to make up for the lack of nut flavor. Hmmm, this was interesting so I started asking questions. The exchange went something like this:

Me: Where do you get pistachio oil?

Dr. M.: First you grind pistachios…

Me: With what?

Dr. M.: Oh, what ever you would grind wheat with. Then it will turn into a paste like peanut butter and you need to let the solids separate from the oil.

Me: For how long?

Dr. M.: As long as it takes. (I hate answers like that!) Then you take the oil and mix with water and emulsify it.

Me: With what?

Dr. M.: We have a machine that does that but maybe a blender or something? Then you add in a little of the pistachio paste, churn it up and voila, best tasting pistachio ice cream ever.

Me: What is the ratio of water to pistachio oil?

This is where he became a little annoyed with me and said the recipe would be in his book (I should say books. Modernist Cuisine is a multi volume set of books that will sell for somewhere between $500.00 and $650.00.) But because I am sweet and smiled really pretty at him he did start in on how I could figure that out by figuring out the percentage of fat to water in substances like cream or half and half. At this point he was talking science and to me it sounded like the teachers in those Peanuts cartoons.

Well I immediately saw a few problems with this for me. First of all, I don’t eat wheat and thus do not have a machine that grinds it. Secondly, it seems like a huge waste to use only the oil of the pistachio paste and just a little bit of the solids. Thirdly, it just seemed like too much trouble and too long to wait. So I started thinking about how I could do this at home with what I have. Actually I started obsessing about it.

I decided to employ a favorite method of raw and vegan cooks. One of the things they use in place of dairy cream is cashew cream made from ground soaked cashews. Why wouldn’t it work with pistachios?

Well, the answer is it does!

I decided to make my dairy free version a gelato instead of an ice cream. It is indeed intensely rich and pistachio flavored. The only thing I didn’t like was the color (a bit too browny/yellowy green) but a few drops of green food coloring fixed that. My husband would have preferred his gelato smoother while I like the bits of nuts. If you want a smooth gelato, strain the mixture before processing in the ice cream maker.

You can eat this straight out of the ice cream maker but if you want to make ahead and store in the freezer, take it out for 5 or 10 minutes to soften up first before serving.

Dairy Free Gluten Free Pistachio Gelato

Gluten Free Dairy Free Pistachio Gelato Recipe


2 cups roasted, unsalted whole pistachios – use divided
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Green food coloringGluten Free Dairy Free Pistachio Gelato Recipe Image – optional


Put 1½ cups pistachios in a bowl and cover completely with water, soak for 1 – 8 hours. Drain and rinse pistachios in a strainer under cold running water until the water runs clear.

Chop the remaining ½ cup pistachios with the salt in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Put the soaked pistachios in a blender with 2¼ cups of water. Process for 2 – 3 minutes or until the mixture is very smooth. It should be the consistency of very heavy cream. If too thick, add a little more water and blend.

Take ½ cup of the pistachio cream and mix with the cornstarch until completely blended. Pour the rest of the pistachio cream into a large saucepan, combine with the chopped pistachios and sugar and cook over medium-high heat until it just starts to boil. Add in the cornstarch mixture and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. The mixture should be the consistency of pudding. Take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. If you want the color a little greener, stir in some green food coloring drops, a few drops at a time, until if becomes the desired shade of green.

For a smooth gelato, push the mixture through a strainer into a bowl or for a chunkier texture just scrape the mixture into a bowl. Top with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let the mixture cool to room temperature then refrigerate for about 2 hours or until cold.

Put mixture into an ice cream machineGluten Free Dairy Free Pistachio Gelato Recipe Image and process for 20 – 25 minutes or according to the manufacturers instructions.

Can be eaten immediately or stored in the freezer in an airtight container. Take out of freezer for about 5 minutes to soften before serving.


This Gluten Free Dairy Free Pistachio Gelato recipe makes 1 quart.

Note – if you make this recipe with salted pistachios, leave the additional salt out of the recipe.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

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Categories:    Dessert

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Deanna September 16, 2010 at 8:41 am

Yum! My husband's favorite dessert at the Indian restaurant has always been pistachio ice cream. I'm going to have to try this to see how close we can come to the Indian version.


Donna September 16, 2010 at 8:41 am

Wow! I love the way you made this. Another must try!


Britt September 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

Oh my…this looks amazing! Very well done! I'm short an ice cream maker, though. You said, at one point, it is the consistency of pudding. How do you think it would be straight from the fridge pre ice cream machine?


Simply...Gluten-free September 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

Hi Britt,

I sent you an email answer but in case anyone else is interested, here is what I said:

I did taste it before putting in the ice cream maker and the only real difference (besides not being freezing cold) was the gelato was a bit creamier after being in the machine. But the consistency was right. So, should be fine.

Here is a link to David Lebovitz on how to make ice cream with out an ice cream maker



Sandy September 16, 2010 at 10:52 am

Love that technique and your dialog w/ the doc :)


WendyGK September 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

I just get this image of you flirting with the geeky scientist guy trying to charm practical and useful information out of him. That whole book, session, food kinda creeped the Luddite in me out a bit. Give me a cast iron skillet not a sous vide contraption.


SunnyB September 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Carol, this looks absolutely divine! I cannot wait to share this with my family. Thank you- Sunny


Lisa (bakebikeblog) September 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm

oh my this looks TASTY!


GF Gidget September 16, 2010 at 7:36 pm

You made this for me, didn't you?! ;-)


Stephanie September 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Genius! I'm so excited to try this one. I think I'll serve it with some of your pistachio cookies ;)


Ali September 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm

That looks absolutely amazing Carol! :)


GFree_Miel September 17, 2010 at 6:58 am

This looks and sounds amazing. I've never made my own ice cream or gelato before so this is definitely something I will have to try sometime soon!


my darling lemon thyme September 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Oh yum! Now that's something I am going to have to try!!! Gluten and dairy free, your my hero! Many thanks xx


Diane-The WHOLE Gang September 17, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Brilliant! Carol you are so smart. I listened to the same person and the teacher from Peanuts never left my ears. So glad you heard more and created this. Can't wait to give it a try. Just have to shell more pistachios than I eat.


The InTolerant Chef September 18, 2010 at 2:41 am

What a great idea! Clever thinking. It's a bit like when millions of dollars went into creating the pen that would write in space with zero gravity, when all that was really needed was a pencil!


Simply Life September 19, 2010 at 4:38 am

oh my gosh, that looks amazing!


Tasty Eats At Home September 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

Way to go on this idea. I love it. And I think I'll have to make it ASAP – before the first chilly snap!


Aubree Cherie September 21, 2010 at 11:38 am

Hey Carol,
This is so beautiful! And I love pistachios, but I've never thought to make ice cream/gelato with them. I'd love to try this! I've added this to My Favorite Recipes from Last Week post. Thanks!

~Aubree Cherie


Jess September 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Oh wow that looks so good, what great mix of flavours


Anonymous September 24, 2010 at 5:28 am

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Brittany September 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

This recipe is Brilliant! Cant Wait to try it.


Tiffany September 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Oh my…I am definitely bookmarking this recipe! The gelato looks and sounds divine! Thanks for sharing. :)


Dawn (KitchenTravels) February 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Just found your blog for the first time via Gluten Free Girl on Twitter. So glad I did! You have no idea how happy this recipe makes me. Can hardly wait to give it a try. Thank you!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 9, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Well, thanks for stopping by! I am glad you came. :)


Paulette Alm March 14, 2011 at 10:58 am



Cappy January 14, 2013 at 1:00 am

I just made this today, going for a lower-carb version by using alternative sweeteners (a blend of stevia, xylitol and erythritol). I also added 2 tablespoons of amaretto (which added back some carbs, but should keep it from freezing solid), and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. I omitted the lemon juice. It turned out beautifully. Thank you!


Carol Kicinski January 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm

I love your version, thanks for sharing!!!


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