Pistachio Muffins

Yesterday we talked about underrated foods, à la walnuts. Today I’m thinking about later-in-life foods. As in, stuff you just didn’t eat until you were adult-like. But now that you’re older and much, much wiser, you enjoy your new culinary discoveries all the time!

A lot of people tell me that avocados are their LIL foods. Also fava beans.

One poor soul told me that Jolly Ranchers were his LIL food. I gave him a hug and we cried together.

Pistachios are my later-in-life food. I honestly can’t remember eating them at all until I met A., who is a true pistachiophile. He taught me proper cracking technique.

I really grew to appreciate the unique flavor of pistachios, but it wasn’t until I started reading about working them into cakes, cookies, flans and even moles that I was truly hooked.

Today we’re making little, green pistachio muffins. For breakfast!

I have this idea that muffins can be quite boring, which is why I like to play with their texture when I make them.

These pistachio muffins involve the nuts two ways:  ground into a pistachio ‘pesto’ and chopped whole kernels.

If you’re lucky enough to find a sack of shelled pistachios, you’re money. If not, pull up a chair, throw on a good movie, and prepare to crack your face off:  we need 1 1/2 cups of pistachio kernels for these muffins.

But it’s so, SO worth the effort, you know?

I generally don’t care for nut extracts -they taste alcoholic and medicinal to me- and I’ve tried pistachio puddings and the like. Nothing really matches the flavor of the actual nut.

We’re going for true, unadulterated pistachio here.

I made these muffins for A. to take to work so I had to use my manliners, which are simply squares of parchment paper that hold the batter. Words were never exchanged to this effect, but let’s just say that a lot more of my muffins began finding their way into A.’s lunchbox when I switched from pink hearts and rainbow liners to these manliners.

Apparently a grown man eating a muffin out of a pink hearts and rainbow liner doesn’t play around the watercooler.

Dignity, people.

Look at that! Gah, do I love pistachios. If only I had met them sooner. Must have been distracted by the Jolly Ranchers…

Pistachio Muffins

2 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
3/4 c. pistachio kernels (see below for instructions on grinding)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare the pistachio ‘pesto’, place 3/4 cup of pistachio kernels in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process the nuts for 30 seconds and scrape down the side of the bowl. Process for another 30 seconds. Finished pesto will be the consistency of a dry, coarse paste. If you need to process for an additional 30 seconds you can. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cream the sugar and oil in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, beating until incorporated.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and beating until just incorporated. Beat in the pistachio pesto and fold in the chopped nuts.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin – you will want to fill each cavity to just below the top lip of the liner.

Bake the muffins for 24-28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool slightly before unmolding.

YIELD:  24 muffins


  1. 28


    I love a good pistachio dessert or sweet treat, but they’re so hard to find! I tried my first one in this French pistachio crumble/cake creation at this French bakery in Sarasota, FL, and now I’m addicted. I’m definitely bookmarking this!

  2. 27

    LisaS says

    I’m drooling over this recipe right now! Justing wondering if you have tried using whole wheat or white wheat flour in combination with the all purpose.

    • Meagan says

      You know, I haven’t, only because I personally don’t care for the taste of whole wheat flour in quick breads. That said, I think it would likely work here, mainly because pistachios are naturally so oily and flavorful. I say give it a try, and if you’re nervous, start your first batch with a blend of half AP + half whole wheat. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. 26

    Li says

    Hey! First time visiting your site, spotted these muffins and knew I had to make these right away. Pistachios are my all time favorite nuts, and I love that these muffins come out with a natural tinge of green! I halved the recipe and dialed down the sugar by 1/4 cup which gave me 9 muffins; they came out perfect. Would definitely make this again. Thanks for the great recipe!

  4. 25

    Julia says

    Just made these for my husband for fathers day. He had a store bought pistachio muffin and he won’t stop raving about it. Unfortunately they are ridiculously priced and I know home made would be better anyways. I found that by pushing the “man liner” into the tin with a cup helped it to hold its shape slightly better than doing it solely with my hands and it was slightly easier to fill with batter then. p.s. these are delicious!

  5. 24


    Asparagus was served to me as a kid. Overcooked mushy asparagus; learning to prepare it correctly made all the difference so it was a LIL dish for me too.

    I just baked with pistachios for the first time a couple of weeks ago; I’ve typically thought of them more as a snack or salad topping. That was a mistake; they were great in a savory cracker and now I so want this muffin!

    • Meagan says

      Great question, Regina! I used parchment squares that were approximately 4″ x 4″ in my standard-sized muffin tin. You have to kind of jam the paper into the cavities and then hold it in place with the batter, but I think the simple squares make for a lovely presentation.

  6. 20


    Hehe, manliners….I adore pistachios, but they are a pain to open. It really pisses me off when I get one that has no slit. I am always determined to open it anyway. Usually with my teeth until I realize I am going to lose or chip a tooth…

  7. 17

    Charlie says

    Too funny about the liners!

    Sounds like a great recipe. Will give them a try.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. 10


    I absolutely adore pistachios – I’ve been putting them ground up into salad dressing which is absolutely delicious, but eating them in sweet stuff is still my number one love. These muffins look heavenly – bet they’d be gorgeous with a sticky pistachio nut glaze on top too :-)

  9. 8

    Bdby800 says

    Great idea – Manliners
    I’m trying both the pistachio muffin recipe which attracted me first
    and of course the “manliners” :-) lol

  10. 7


    I don’t like most of the later-in-life foods mentioned (except Jolly Ranchers). No avocado, asparagus or lentils for me, thank you — and I’m plenty old enough to have tried them all many times. Pistachios I do like. Someone gave me some pistachio oil for Christmas. I haven’t used it yet, but perhaps I could use it in some muffins like these.

  11. 3


    My LIL food would have to be fresh asparagus. Always had canned as a kid. But I did however love Pistachios even as a kid and they are still my favorite nut, my husband notwithstanding. These look delicious! I love the impromptu liners. I’d have put them in something flowery and pink just to be mean hehehe

  12. 2


    I started loving avocados in college and have always loved pistachios! I guess my LIL food is lentils. These sound fabulous, Meagan!

  13. 1


    I love pistachios too. I sometimes throw them in my caramel mix and the chewy roastiness is awesome! As a man speaking here…manliners sound like some kind of incontinence device for the male species.
    Jusy sayin’ ;)


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