All the ways to use this delicious, decorative nut from whole and slivered varieties to pistachio flours, pastes, butters, and more!  

When it comes to baking during the holiday season, nuts are top of the list for festive treats. From traditional pecan pies and delicate almond macarons to homemade confections like peanut brittle or peanut butter buckeyes, not to mention candied and spiced mixed nuts for snacking, the world is your nutty oyster during the celebration season. And for me, there is no nut I'd rather cook or bake with than the pistachio.

Why pistachios are so great for holiday baking

I mean let's be real: It's like they were designed for the holidays! That fantastic green color makes pistachios a natural for keeping things bright and fun, and the mild sweet flavor is a winner in all sorts of desserts. Even better? Pistachios come in all kinds of exciting products that go well beyond just whole or slivered nuts. Here are my favorite pistachio products and how I use them!

Whole pistachios

Classic and easy to source, whole pistachios are perfect to use in everything from a new take on brittle to baking into cookies. Anywhere you want serious crunch and larger pops of color, whole pistachios will be your best bet. For super Yuletide flair, try adding them to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.

Slivered pistachios

These bright green shards can garnish almost any dish with a dash of holiday fun and flavor. Here are some things I love to do with slivered pistachios:

  • Swap for chopped walnuts or pecans in carrot cake and banana bread
  • Sprinkle on top of muffins
  • Add to the batter of sweet loaf breads
  • Use as a mix-in for ice cream
  • Roll truffles in them

Pistachio flour or meal

This is finely ground pistachios—think of almond meal (but green)! Here's where I love to use pistachio flour and meal:

  • Coating on dipped chocolates
  • To roll truffles
  • Substitute for chopped almonds atop English toffee
  • Swap for almond meal in tortes, macarons, and financiers
  • Add to cheesecake crust (replace 1/3-1/2 of the graham cracker crumbs with pistachio flour for amazing color and flavor, especially in pumpkin cheesecake!)
Credit: Getty / Dorin Musat / 500px

Pistachio paste

This deep green paste is a combination of ground pistachios, sugar, and emulsifiers, often boosted with pistachio extract and food coloring. It is great for adding deep flavor and color to things like custards, frostings, icings, and ice creams. Win Christmas this year with a chocolate cake with pistachio buttercream and sugared cranberries for decoration!

Pistachio butter

Like almond butter, pistachio butter is a great ingredient to keep on hand. Consider the possibilities: 

  • Elevated nut butter sandwiches
  • A swirl in ice cream or yogurt
  • Spread a thin layer on top of a tart shell before filling with fruit or pastry cream
  • Dollop on top of brownie or blondie batter and swirl it in before baking

Pistachio cream

Who knew these wonders existed? This is a sweetened processed spread similar to a Nutella. While there is no shame in just eating it right out of the jar with a spoon, if you can resist, use it as a filling for sandwich style cookies. You can also blend it with whipped cream for a light pistachio mousse.