Learn about their health benefits and our favorite ways to cook with them.

By Kelly Vaughan
January 04, 2021
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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.

Credit: Emily K Roemer

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.

Credit: Marcus Nilsson

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.

Credit: Johnny Miller

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.

Credit: JOHN DOLAN

Maple-Pistachio Thumbprints

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.

Credit: Sidney Bensimon

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.

Credit: NGOC MINH NGO

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.

Credit: Linda Pugliese

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.

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