These bakery style pistachio muffins are everything you could want in a muffin! Fluffy, flavorful, and made with real pistachios - topped with unbelievably delicious pistachio crumble for tasty crunch in every bite.
My family joke that I am trying to put pistachio in everything (and they're not wrong), but when they tried these delicious pistachio muffins they realized why it's such a worthy mission! I have made Pistachio Cupcakes and Pistachio Cake on the blog before and they were a huge hit, but I wanted to make something a little more substantial that was all about the pistachios and could be enjoyed at any time of day - especially breakfast. (Not that I'd ever object. to eating a cake for breakfast...)
These are, hands down, the best pistachio muffins you have ever tried. Every bite is filled with a good pistachio punch and crunchy sweet and salty muffin top. This is definitely one of my favorite pistachio recipes and if you are a pistachio lover like me, I guarantee you'll feel the same!
NO instant pudding mix
On researching what pistachio muffins are already out there, I was sorely disappointed to find that the majority of them contained Jello instant pistachio pudding mix on the ingredients list. I have two problems with this... okay, I have several problems with it, but I'll narrow them down.
Firstly, I strongly object to using these baking shortcuts and putting things like pudding and cake mix on the ingredients list - and it's not about being a baking snob (though I clearly am), it's that those things are not real ingredients, they're just full of chemicals, and you really can taste the difference between a cake baked from scratch with natural ingredients and one full of mass produced chemicals. I think home baking should be more authentic than that.
Secondly, I try to make my recipes as accessible as possible, so I try to only use ingredients people will always be able to find at their local supermarket. For these two reasons, I always try my best to make recipes using REAL ingredients - e.g. Raspberry Cupcakes made with real raspberries instead of a raspberry extract which many people would have to order online or go to a specialty store for. That's not to say there is anything wrong with using extracts if you can get your hands on them easily - I use vanilla extract and almond extract regularly as they are available at most stores - but I want to make sure people can still make my recipes with a quick run to the grocery store.
So for this pistachio muffin recipe, I wanted to make sure to get that great pistachio flavor by using real pistachios. Okay, rant over - onto the recipe!
Butter - The butter is to make the pistachio crumble topping. It's going to be melted so there is no need to bring to room temperature beforehand. You can use salted or unsalted, though we will be adding salt to the crumble so keep that in mind.
Flour - All-purpose flour is best for this recipe, it will create a sturdy muffin that is still beautifully light and fluffy.
Pistachios - Try to get unsalted pistachios if you can, but it's not the end of the world if you can only find salted ones - you won't really taste it in the muffins. It will make your life a lot easier if you can find pistachios that have already been shelled so you don't have to take them out of their shells one by one.
Sugar - We'll use a mixture of white sugar and light brown sugar (golden sugar) in this muffin recipe. The light brown sugar adds a little more depth of flavor which I feel compliments the nuts nicely.
Eggs - Use large eggs and always free range if you can.
Pistachio Paste - Also known as pistachio butter. Pistachio paste is relatively easy to find, it should be just 100% blended up pistachios with no added ingredients. If you can't find any, you can make your own in a blender or food processor. See my blog post all about how to make pistachio paste.
Oil - I use vegetable oil in most of my muffin recipes, but any flavorless oil will do.
Sour Cream - The addition of sour cream is the secret ingredient to the softness of these muffins. It also gives some extra moisture and a slight tang, which I love.
Sea Salt - The sea salt goes in the crumble topping - I think it really adds to the pistachio flavor as we often enjoy pistachios salted and it gives a nod to that. However, if you are not a fan of salt with your desserts then you can leave this out.
Almond Extract - Almond is often used in pistachio desserts as it really helps to make the pistachio flavor shine. Almond extract should be available in most grocery stores - right next to the vanilla.
Vanilla - Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste will work great in this recipe - just try to avoid vanilla essence.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Pistachio Crumble Topping
In my opinion, every muffin should have a delicious crunchy muffin top. But this one is extra special because it's a PISTACHIO crumble topping. I invented this original recipe while daydreaming about all things pistachio, and I was so pleased that it turned out SO GOOD! It's also super easy to put together.
- Put roughly two-thirds (½ cup) of your pistachios in a blender and blitz until they are a fine powder. Don't go too far or they will start to turn to pistachio butter!
- Pour the ground pistachios into a medium bowl and combine with the flour, sugars and sea salt, mix everything together.
- Melt your butter in the microwave and pour about ¾ of it into the mix. Use a fork or your fingers to mix the butter into the dry ingredients.
- Add more melted butter as needed so the crumble can form into little clumps. You may not need all the butter, so don't add it all in one go.
- Once you are able to pinch some of the crumble together and it holds its shape - it's ready.
- Chop the reserved pistachios roughly and mix through the crumble for some extra crunch.
- Set aside until the muffin batter is ready.
How to Make Pistachio Muffins
This is such an easy muffin recipe. It uses the same base recipe as my Blueberry Crumble Muffins, but I've adjusted it to show off the pistachios better. The best thing about this recipe is you don't need any stand mixers or fancy equipment, you can just use a bowl and a regular whisk.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F / 220°C and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- To a large bowl add the eggs, white sugar and light brown sugar and whisk until combined.
- Add the wet ingredients, including sour cream, vegetable oil, pistachio paste, vanilla extract and almond extract and whisk until combined.
- Add flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until there are no more lumps of flour mixture.
- Add the chopped pistachios to the muffin batter and mix until evenly distributed.
- Scoop pistachio muffin batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling almost to the top of the muffin cups, leaving about ⅛ inch space at the top.
- Sprinkle tops of the muffins generously with pistachio crumble streusel topping.
- Bake at 425°F / 220 °C for 5 minutes, then without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 350°F / 180°C. This will help to get a high rise and domed tops.
- Once the muffins are baked, remove them from the oven and let them sit in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
- You can enjoy your tasty pistachio muffins while they are still warm, or let them cool and store them for later (see storage instructions below).
Note: If you want to make green pistachio muffins for something like st. patrick’s day, you can add some green color to the batter before adding the chopped pistachio nuts at the end. Just a tiny amount of gel green food coloring on a toothpick will be enough to create nice bright green muffins.
How to Make Your Own Pistachio Butter
I always have pistachio butter/paste on hand as I use it in so many recipes. But if you can't find it you can easily make your own using one ingredient - pistachios! I have an entire blog post about how to make your own pistachio butter, but here's a summary.
Take your shelled, unsalted pistachios and put them in a food processor or blender. Blitz them for about 1 minute. You will see a fine powder start to form, if you keep going it will eventually turn into pistachio paste. If you have been blending for two minutes and it's still not a paste, add a small drizzle of oil and try again.
Note: If your pistachios came unroasted, you want to prepare them by roasting them first - this will just help to release the oils. But them on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F / 180°C for about 8 minutes, then continue the recipe as normal.
How to Get a Nice Dome On Your Muffins
The secret to getting those nice high, domed muffin tops is all in the baking. You want to bake your muffins at two different temperatures. Start the muffins off on a high oven temperature (425°F / 220°C) for the first five minutes to shock the muffin, release steam and help them to rise quickly.
After five minutes, your muffins should have risen a bit above the top of the muffin liners a little bit. Then you want to turn the temperature back down to 350°F / 180°C for the remainder of the baking time to make sure they stay nice and fluffy and moist and don't overbake or burn.
It's also important to fill the muffin liners high enough to begin with, they should almost reach the top, leaving just about ⅛ inch space at the top.
Sour Cream - If you don't have sour cream, greek yogurt will work as a great substitution. You can use it in the same quantities.
Pistachio Paste - If you can't find pistachio butter or paste, you can make your own, see section above on how to make your own pistachio butter.
Crumble Topping - I'm not sure why you would ever want to skip the great flavor of the easy pistachio crumble topping (it's literally my new favorite thing), but if you don't want to make it, you can just sprinkle a little bit of coarse sugar on top of the muffins instead to still get a crunchy top.
Chocolate Chip Muffins - I think there are few combinations as luxurious as pistachio and dark chocolate. Try adding some dark chocolate chunks through the pistachio muffins for a decadent twist.
Citrus Muffins - PIstachio is often paired with lemon, try adding some lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice to the muffins for a zingy citrus twist.
Glazed Muffins - If you want to go one step further, you could drizzle a little glaze over the top of each muffin for some added sweetness. Just add powdered sugar with a little water to a small bowl and mix together with a spoon.
The nice thing about this recipe is you can make it without a mixer. It's super easy to bring the muffin batter together with just a bowl and a whisk.
You will need a blender or food processor to make the ground pistachios for the crumble topping though.
If just keeping the muffins for a day or so before they are all devoured, you can store them in a bowl or basket with a teatowel draped over them, this will help to maintain the crunchy muffin tops. (Think Little Red Riding Hood).
After the first day, transfer them to an airtight container with paper towel on the bottom to absorb any condensation. They will be good like this for 3-5 days.
More Pistachio Recipes
If you love baking with pistachios as much as I do, check out some of these other pistachio dessert recipes!
Pistachio Muffins with Pistachio Crumble Topping
For the Pistachio Crumble
- 1 stick Butter 112g
- ½ cup All-purpose Flour 60g
- ¾ cup Pistachios 90g
- ⅓ cup White Sugar 67g
- ⅓ cup Light Brown Sugar 70g
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
For the Pistachio Muffins
Make the Pistachio Crumble
- Melt butter in the microwave.1 stick Butter
- Blitz two thirds of the pistachios (½ cup) in a blender until a fine powder forms.¾ cup Pistachios
- Mix together the pistachio powder, flour, sugars and sea salt in a bowl.½ cup All-purpose Flour, ⅓ cup White Sugar, ⅓ cup Light Brown Sugar, 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- Add ¾ of the melted butter and mix with a fork or your hands. Add butter a little at a time until the crumble can be pinched together and hold its shape. You may not need all the butter.
- Roughly chop the remaining pistachios and mix them through the crumble. Set aside until muffin batter is ready.
Make the Pistachio Muffins
- Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
- Whisk together egg, white sugar and brown sugar, just until combined.¾ cup White Sugar, 3 Eggs, ¾ cup Light Brown Sugar
- Add sour cream, vegetable oil, pistachio paste, vanilla and almond extract and whisk together.1 ½ cups Sour Cream, 1 cup Vegetable Oil, 2 tablespoon Pistachio Paste, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, 2 tablespoon Almond Extract
- Add flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until lump free.3 cups All-purpose Flour, 4 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon Salt
- Add chopped pistachios to the muffin batter and mix through until evenly distributed.1 cup Pistachios
- Scoop batter into prepared muffin pans and fill almost to the top, leaving about ⅛ inch space at the top.
- Generously cover the top of each muffin with the pistachio crumble.
- Bake at 425°F / 220°C for 5 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350°F / 180°C for a further 13 minutes. Do not open the oven when you lower the temperature.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Pistachio paste is just another name for pistachio butter. They are made from 100% pistachios which have been roasted and blended to make a smooth paste or 'butter'. Not to be confused with pistachio cream which is a sweet pistachio spread made with multiple ingredients.
The trick is to start baking the muffins on a very high temperature (425°F / 220°C), the initial heat will release steam and help the muffins to rise. Then after 5 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 350°F / 180°C and bake as normal for the remaining time.
It's best to use unsalted pistachios if you can find them, but salted pistachios will still work and you won't really taste the salt. It's much easier if you buy shelled pistachios so you don't have to individually remove each shell.