Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream

I don’t trust my own food judgment sometimes. As you might imagine, this can be problematic for someone who makes their living working with food. The problem is, I reeeeaaaally like desserts. As in, fourth grade style, write-a-MASH-note-to-a-piece-of-cake like-like desserts. And I also enjoy less popular ingredients and flavor combinations. So when I come up with a dessert that I think is great, I’m never 100% sure if it’s really great, or if I’ve created something that appeals to my weird-o tastebuds alone. #foodbloggerproblems, am I right?

Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream | From SugarHero.com

Last week I made a peanut butter pie for a friend, and as I was making it, I was thinking about how it’s an incredibly simple recipe that could probably be tweaked in all sorts of interesting ways. Swap out the peanut butter for another nut butter, and the chocolate crumbs for other cookie crumbs, and you have a nearly infinite variety of interesting desserts. Almond pie with a gingersnap crust! Hazelnut pie with a coffee crust! Pistachio pie with a lemon crust! Are you smelling what I’m baking over here?

Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream | From SugarHero.com


So this past weekend, I put my theory to the test and made this riff on traditional peanut butter pie–pistachio pie with a lemon cookie crust and lemon whipped cream. Rather than trying to track down elusive pistachio butter (which apparently exists, but which I must assume is made in single-serving batches by hand using solid gold equipment, since it costs a million dollars), I made pistachio butter myself in the food processor with pistachios and a little vegetable oil.

Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream | From SugarHero.com

Once the pistachio butter is made, it’s blended with powdered sugar, mascarpone cheese, and whipped cream, to create a light and fluffy, almost mousse-like filling. After chilling in the refrigerator, it firms up and develops a creamy texture that’s one part mousse, one part cheesecake, one part fluffy clouds and one part mermaid song. By which I mean, it’s pretty dreamy.

Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream | From SugarHero.com

And the flavor! Can we talk about how pistachios should be our national nut, because they are (in the words of founding father George Washington) freaking delicious?* They’re mild and have a mellow sweetness and an almost floral flavor. They’re perfect when paired with the lemon cookie crust and the slightly sweet lemon whipped cream, and their subtle flavor means that eating a whole slice of pie isn’t overwhelming.

I also added just a few drops of pistachio oil flavoring to mine, which intensified the taste. The oil is absolutely not necessary, and I didn’t include it in the recipe because I don’t think it’s worth buying a whole bottle for the 1/8 tsp you’d be using here. But if you happen to have some lying around, or if you are a pistachio lover who thinks you’d get good use out of this flavoring, give it a try! Used sparingly, it adds a wonderful pistachio flavor to desserts.

*I think I saw that quote on Pinterest somewhere so it must be true

Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream | From SugarHero.com

I finished the top of the pie with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios, lemon zest, and crushed lavender buds. Why? Because I have those aforementioned weird tastebuds, because I thought the pop of purple would look beautiful, and because I’m shamelessly courting the powerful lavender industry to sponsor my blog. Obvi.

Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream | From SugarHero.com

The result was a pistachio pie that I thought was incredible. Crunchy, creamy, bold, subtle, nutty, zesty, floral…pick an adjective, it probably describes this pie. I was worried that it was a Liz-specific pie, rather than one the wider world would enjoy, but when I (apprehensively) took it to a barbecue, it got rave reviews and really nice feedback, so I’m giving this a G rating, as in Good for everyone. Try it—you just might want to write it a MASH note yourself.

Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
For the Lemon Crust:
  • 12 ounces lemon shortbread cookies (about 26 Oreo-sized cookies)
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest (from 1 large or 2 small lemons)
For the Pistachio Pie Filling:
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) shelled pistachios
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (4 oz) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese (can substitute cream cheese)
  • Green food coloring, optional (I used Americolor Leaf Green)
For the Lemon Whipped Cream:
  • 1¼ cup (10 oz) heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest (from 1 large or 2 small lemons)
To Make the Lemon Crust:
  1. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray, and preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the lemon cookies in a food processor and process them until they are fine crumbs. Alternately, you can place them in a zip-top plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
  2. Place the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20-30 seconds, until melted. Add the lemon cookie crumbs and lemon zest to the butter and mix them together until it is the texture of wet sand. Press the cookie crumbs in the bottom of the pan and up the sides about 2 inches. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until it starts to puff and looks set but is not burned. Let it cool completely.
To Make the Pistachio Pie Filling:
  1. Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor and turn the processor on. When they have turned to powder, gradually stream in 1 tbsp of oil and continue processing the nuts. Stop the processor periodically to scrape down the bottom and sides. Continue to process the nuts until they have turned into a very fluid butter with a smooth texture, adding a bit of additional oil if necessary to help thin out the nut butter. Depending on your processor, this could take 3-8 minutes. If the nut butter has become warm, let it cool to room temperature before proceeding.
  2. In a large mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then transfer the whipped cream from the mixing bowl to another bowl. In the same mixing bowl, combine the pistachio butter and the powdered sugar and mix on medium speed until well-incorporated. (It will be quite stiff.) Add the vanilla extract, salt, and mascarpone cheese. Beat on medium speed until everything is well-combined. Mascarpone breaks easily, so don’t overwhip the mousse or leave the mixer running unattended.
  3. Fold in ⅓ of the whipped cream to lighten the pistachio mixture, then add the rest and gently fold everything together. If desired, add just 1 or 2 drops of green food coloring, to give the filling a slight green color. Scrape the filling into the baked and cooled crust, and smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate the pie overnight to set the filling, or for at least 6 hours.
To Make the Lemon Whipped Cream:
  1. Combine the cream, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in the and large bowl and whip them together until stiff peaks form. Pipe a layer of shells or rosettes around the outside of the pie, and garnish them with chopped pistachios, lemon zest, and/or lavender buds. Keep the cake refrigerated until shortly before serving time—the filling will get soft if left at warm room temperatures for extended periods of time. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.


28 Responses to Pistachio Pie with Lemon Whipped Cream
  1. Baby June says:

    Oooh that sounds awesome! I love the idea of making nut butter / cookie flavor combos, this one was just brilliant. Methinks George Washington would approve. :)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Right? He’s probably pissed that he died back when they only had lame desserts. I wonder if he even tasted chocolate? Poor ole GW.

  2. Welp, this looks phenomenal. Pistachios really are the best nut. Plus they’re green which is cool and weird.

    Anyway, I want to shove like 7 pieces of this in my face at once because these are some of my fave flavors, ever.

    • Elizabeth says:

      You totally nailed my thoughts about pistachios: awesome taste + weird color = the full package. I’m all about weirdo nuts and sketchy green pies. ;) Thanks Rachael!

  3. I’ve never had a pistachio pie but now I really want to! Loving the combo of pistachio and lemon. Gah this is beautiful.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Erin! Pistachios and lemon are such a classic match–I love pistachios and orange, too. Maybe I need to make a second pie to test that combo. ;)

  4. This looks sensational. Pistachio mousse, oh my!

  5. Medeja says:

    Wow! It looks beautiful and filling sounds amazing!

  6. Johlene says:

    Forgive me for being so quiet friend but I´ve been busy with a big project and the kids are still on school holidays. This pie is gorgeous, love the colours and flavors! xoxo

    • Elizabeth says:

      No worries, Johlene! I know you’ve had a big family party to work on. :) Hope it went well! And thanks for the sweet note.

  7. Danguole says:

    Um. This is incredible! I recently thought long and hard about making a pistachio mousse filling for a cake, and it never occurred to me to make my own pistachio buttah. I looked for pistachio paste but it mostly appears to be almond paste with… Green food coloring? Wha? Anyway. I chickened out and just candied pistachios for the outside.

    Anywhosies. This is gorgeous–I can’t believe how green it turned out! And lemon and lavender? Shu up. Brilliant.

    ALSO, I think I’m maybe giving up trying to decide whether my creations would actually appeal to anybody. The right people (i.e. weirdos) will find ‘em if they’re into it!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Pistachio mousse?? This is why we’re besties. (I’m planning on making a spumoni cake with pistachio mousse in the future–I’m a little obsessed.) Candied pistachios sound legit too! Did you post that cake?

      And I agree with you in theory. The problem is when I share my desserts with other people, it moves from a theoretical “will blog readers like this?” to the very real “will my friends actually like it or only pretend to like it and then secretly spit it into their napkins and flush it down the toilet when I’m not looking?” Fortunately I think the first is a little more common than the second…I hope…

      • Danguole says:

        Brain twin powers activate! Because I definitely remember seeing your gorgeous raspberry mousse cake and thinking spumoni thoughts. That is way over my head though–which is why I’m so glad you exist!

        Also, I’m posting that cake next week!

        As for the second thing–this is why I’m so selective about whom I peddle treats to. Sometimes I really don’t think anybody else would like them, and they’re doomed to freezerdom. Or breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And even so, I’m always like “you don’t have to like it I won’t be hurt I promise it’s totally okay my self esteem is totally indomitable I swear.”

        P.S. I know it’s weird to go back and read your responses to my comments, but I am who I am and I like you. DEAL WITH IT.

        • Elizabeth says:

          Haha, I do the same thing with comments. (OF COURSE I do!) When I first started blogging, I was like, “People always talk about making blogging friends, but that must be a lie. How can you develop a relationship when a blog is such a one-sided thing?” and then I figured out how to be a comment stalker, and BAM. A friendship was born.

          I’m excited to see your cake! I already know I’ll love it, you had me at “candied pistachios.”

  8. GiGi Eats says:

    I wouldn’t mind if someone threw that pie in my face! lol

  9. I heard that Pistachio butter is actually made from baby unicorn tears.

  10. I love pistachios, and it would’ve never occurred to me to put them in a pie. And yet, I see it there, and my mouth waters. With a description like that (Crunchy, creamy, bold, subtle, nutty, zesty, floral) how could it not be Heavenly?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Kristi! I figure, if it’s good enough for the peanut, it’s got to be good enough for the pistachio, right?

  11. Brent says:

    Wow! This was absolutely delicious!! I live in Roswell, NM not too far from Pistachio heaven; so this will be on the dessert menu from now on!! Can’t wait to take this to the next holiday gathering!I added a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon and it turned out divine.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Brent, I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the pie! I love the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg–sounds like the perfect pairing with pistachios and lemon. Cheers!

  12. Jessica says:

    Most definitely making this a part of my Thanksgiving meal. LOVE PISTACHIOS. I certainly hope the rest of the clan will like it!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Jessica! How did it turn out?

      • Jessica says:

        It turned out great! However, i was so tired of cooking on Thanksgiving that I skipped out on the lemon whipped cream! I shouldn’t have done that because I think, without it, it was a little rich! I will know better next time! No matter what, though, my family LOVED it.

        • Elizabeth says:

          Awesome, I am so glad! And I hear you on the Thanksgiving exhaustion for sure. :) Thanks for the update, I’m happy to hear the family loved it!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Oh Hello There
Don't Be A Stranger
Take Me Home Tonight
Hey sugar heroes!
My candy cookbook is available now from:

Barnes & Noble
Easter Desserts