Heart-healthy pistachios make a delicious, spreadable butter

Pistachio Butter: Homemade Recipes

By: Caitlin Fontana

The best foods are not only good, but good for you. Take pistachios, which deliver a lightly sweet flavor in every crunch, as well as vitamin B6, heart-healthy CoQ10, and other nutrients. Those are good reasons to chow down!

If you're not a nut-eater, you can get pistachio's health benefits a smoother way. This two-ingredient pistachio butter recipe is an easy and healthy snack that can be used to top your favorite toast or to add more staying power to your morning oatmeal. You only need pistachios and salt—although a small amount of cinnamon or vanilla bean can give this nut butter some extra flavor.

What is pistachio butter?

Pistachio butter is a nut butter made from shelled pistachios. They are ground until a thick paste is produced, and then you add salt. You can easily make pistachio butter using a food processor, and the longer you mix it, the more smooth and liquid the pistachio butter becomes.

Why do pistachios taste so good?

Pistachios, nuts native to western Asia (Iran, Syria) and Greece, have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. Pistachios are included in some of the Mediterranean region's staples, including pesto and the honey-drenched baklava dessert. The nuts have a light, sweet flavor, and are often enjoyed raw.

Is pistachio butter good for you?

Like pistachios, the butter made from this nut has plenty of fiber, protein and vitamins, plus copper, manganese and potassium. It also contains powerful antioxidants, CoQ10, and omega-3 fatty acids.

You might not know it, but the humble pistachio is a big deal in the nut world. Studies have found pistachios have the highest content (among nuts) of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for eye health. Pistachios also contain polyphenols, which help maintain already-healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and tocopherols that help protect against oxidative stress. In fact, they have the third-highest amount of antioxidants among nuts. (Only walnuts and pecans contain more.)

Other health benefits of pistachios

Pistachio nuts (and pistachio butter) are a rich source of B vitamins like B6 and B1. These vitamins help your body turn carbs into energy, are important for brain health, and help maintain a healthy nervous system and healthy immune system.

Pistachios also contain the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to the "happy hormone" serotonin. That means pistachios may help you feel the happiness, focus, and calmness that serotonin delivers, as well as all its other health benefits.

Don't forget, these nuts are also a source of coenzyme Q10, which helps fuel every cell in your body. CoQ10 is especially important for heart health. And thanks to the fiber in this nut (3 grams per serving!), pistachios are great for your gut and maintaining a healthy microbiome.

Pistachio butter vs. pistachio paste

Pistachio butter and paste are made from the same nut, so what makes them different?

  • Pistachio paste

    is a soft and creamy mixture made with pistachio nuts and added sugar. Chocolate, white chocolate, maple syrup, or honey are often mixed into a pistachio paste. Pistachio oil can be used to thin the mixture.
  • Pistachio butter

    is made with pistachio nuts and a small amount of salt for flavor. It usually has a thicker texture that the paste (more akin to other nut butters, like almond or cashew.)

How to eat pistachio butter

Pistachio butter is a versatile dish. It can be used for breakfast, an appetizer, or a snack! Just like other nut butters, pistachio nut butter can be spread on your morning toast or with fresh berry jam for a new take on the "PB&J" (that's "P" for pistachio, not peanut, in this case!). You can also use pistachio butter to make pistachio ice cream, a pistachio filling, or a frosting. Some even add it to coffee! Try drizzling it over ice cream or a smoothie for a fun topping.

How to make homemade pistachio butter

Homemade nut butter is simple to make. You only need a few ingredients and a food processor. Shelled pistachios are recommended to save you the work of breaking open all those shells.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsalted raw, shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Then roast the unsalted pistachios in the oven at for 20 minutes, turning them halfway.
  2. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring the roasted pistachios to a food processor. Processing is best done in intervals, to prevent your machine from overheating. Process until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, about 6-12 minutes.
  3. At first you will have something that looks like almond meal. Then it will form a thick mass and eventually break down into liquid.
  4. Once you've reached your desired consistency, add the salt to the butter. After that, blend for another minute so it is easily pourable. If you want to add some seasoning or sweetener, add 1 tablespoon, then blend and taste. Add as much or as little as you like!
  5. Cool and refrigerate in an airtight container.

Nutritional value

A 1-ounce serving of raw pistachios has:

  • 159 calories

  • 5.7 grams of protein

  • 7.7 grams of carbs

  • 12.8 grams of fat

  • 3 grams of fiber

The nutritional value of your nut butter will change depending on the amount of salt, seasonings and sweetness you choose to add.

Best pistachio butter: Tips for success

  • One of the most important tips for making this homemade pistachio butter is to start with pre-shelled raw pistachios. Shelling pistachios is a time-consuming process that can pinch fingers with repeated movement, so buy your nuts shelled.
  • Do NOT use roasted and salted nuts. Pre-roasted nuts are generally too dry to process without added oil, and you want to avoid the excess sodium of salted nuts.
  • If you want a brighter green color for your butter, you can remove the brownish-red skins from the nuts before roasting. Blanch them in hot water for a minute, then rub with a towel to remove the skins.
  • Remember to give your food processor or high-speed blender several breaks during processing. You don't want to burn it out while making this treat.
  • If you want a sweeter taste, you can add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey to the pot to make a pistachio paste. Cinnamon, vanilla paste or extract, and orange zest are excellent flavors to add. Chocolate, white chocolate and coconut oil also complement these nuts.

Do you refrigerate pistachio butter?

This butter can be refrigerated in an airtight container or jar for up to 1 month or frozen for up to 3 months to enjoy later.

How to make vegan pistachio butter

Homemade pistachio butter, being only pistachio nuts and salt, is naturally vegan—and gluten-free! Only adding a non-vegan ingredient, such as honey or most store-bought chocolate, would remove the vegan classification. But then, adding a sweetener would make your recipe a homemade pistachio paste rather than a butter.

Can you get enough CoQ10 from your pistachios?

It's true that pistachios are a food source of CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, which is essential for cellular energy production to power your heart and other major organs. You produce CoQ10 naturally, but as you age, your levels decline.

A full cup of pistachios (which is more than most people would eat at once) provides less than 3 milligrams of CoQ10, so you don't want to rely on this recipe for all your CoQ10 needs. That being said, it's a good heart-friendly food to add to your diet.

Research has shown that CoQ10 helps your body in many ways, including:

  • It inhibits inflammatory factors to support a healthy heart
  • It has been associated with nitric oxide support to keep your cardiovascular system functioning optimally
  • It helps with exercise-related fatigue and performance

Supplementing your diet with a Ubiquinol CoQ10 formula to support cellular energy for your heart and mind may be beneficial. Of course, a supplement is just one of many ways to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle!

About the Author: Caitlin Fontana is a graduate of the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY with a Bachelor of Science in Communications & Marketing. She is a content and social media expert with experience in social media, digital marketing, blogging, content managing & so much more! Her passion for nutrition, cooking, wellness and fitness is what inspired her to start her health & wellness blog, Caitlin's Table. https://www.caitlinstable.com

References

Scientifically Reviewed By: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N

By: Caitlin Fontana