All About Pistachios: Here's What You Need to Know About These Popular Nuts
Learn about their health benefits and our favorite ways to cook with them.
Their bright green color, mild nutty flavor, and versatility in sweet and savory recipes are just a few of the reasons why we love pistachios. Originally from the Middle East and western Asia, pistachios give appealing texture and color to everything from salads, pastas, and side dishes, but they can also be used as a garnish (think on a cheese-log appetizer or chicken or fish main course). Pistachios are also divine in desserts, adding a little something sophisticated to cakes, cookies, and ice cream. Ahead, we're sharing how to store pistachios, their health benefits, and our favorite ways to cook with them.
Shelled Versus Unshelled Pistachios
Shelled pistachios should easily crack open when a little pressure is applied, pulling the shells away from each other. "Sometimes I like to use a leftover pistachio shell to slide into the opening of my next pistachio—I give it a twist and it opens right up," says Maggie Moon, MS, RD, senior nutrition director for Wonderful Pistachios. While no-shell pistachios are a convenient on-the-go snack and can save time when prepping a recipe in the kitchen, Moon says that empty pistachio shells may serve as a visual cue reminding snackers to eat mindfully.
How to Store Pistachios
When shopping for pistachios, choose nuts with partially opened pale-beige shells and check whether they're salted or unsalted, depending on your preference. Pistachios can last for up to one year if stored properly: Store the nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator or another cool, dry place to keep them fresh for up to three months. You can also store pistachios in the freezer in a zip-top bag for up to one year. Most bags of pistachios have a "best by" date on them, so check the date before eating or cooking with them.
The Health Benefits of Pistachios
Pistachios have six grams of protein per serving, which is the equivalent of about 49 pistachios or one ounce, and they also contain healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. They're also a good source of fiber—one cup of pistachios contains about 13 grams of dietary fiber—and have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease among adults that consume pistachios frequently. And that green color that everyone knows and loves so much? That's all thanks to a healthy boost of antioxidants in pistachios.
Recipes That Use Pistachios
As much as we love snacking on pistachios, we also like to use them in cooking for everything from simple weeknight meals to decadent desserts. Ahead, we're sharing several of our favorite ideas.
Mini Pistachio Bundts
How adorable are these individual Bundt cakes? They're made with a combination of all-purpose flour and ground pistachios and flavored with pistachio (or almond!) extract. Then, the cakes are garnished with even more chopped pistachios for a trio of sweet, nutty flavor in every bite.
Creamy Lemon Pasta with Pistachios
Here's one of our favorite uses of pistachios in a savory culinary application: pasta! While pine nuts are a popular nut in pesto sauce, green pistachios are a unique nutty garnish alongside toasted breadcrumbs atop this light and comforting dish.
A full cup of pistachios are used in these thumbprint cookies, which feature maple syrup in the dough and a rich, homemade maple cream in the center. When you're looking for a new cookie recipe to try, this is it.
Roasted Carrots with Oat Dukkah
This healthy side dish takes basic roasted carrots to the next level with a superstar garnish made from pistachios, sesame seeds, rolled oats, honey, and spices. Once you taste the nutty, flavorful dukkah, you'll want to sprinkle it on anything and everything.
Pistachio Cannoli Cake
Made with a combination of sour cream, fresh ricotta, and heavy cream, this multi-layered pistachio cake is nothing short of spectacular. Ground pistachios are added to both the cake batter and the ricotta-whipped cream filling; an additional sprinkle of ground pistachios on top adds the final finishing touch.
Frisée Salad with Pistachios and Dijon Vinaigrette
The sweet, nutty nature of pistachios is a fabulous contrast to wild frisée and bitter radicchio in this 15-minute, crowd-friendly winter salad. The nuts serve as a garnish along with tarragon.