Pistachio Crunch Muffins

published May 18, 2024
Pistachio Crunch Muffins Recipe

These nutty, pistachio-filled, streusel-topped muffins will make you forget all about those other muffins.

Serves12 muffins

Prep40 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 55 minutes

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angled shot of a pistachio crunch muffin with a bite taken from it, surrounded by other pistachio crunch muffins
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

I’ve always loved cracking open a handful of salted pistachios here and there, but it hasn’t always been my flavor of choice. However, after tasting the most life-changing pistachio gelato at I Gelati del Bondi on my family vacation in Florence last autumn, I’m now an official member of the pistachio-flavored-everything fan club (you have to try this pistachio cake and these pistachio raspberry croissants if you are too!). 

What made that gelato so memorable (aside from being incredibly creamy) was that the pistachio flavor was strong and undeniable, coming purely from the pistachio nuts. Just like that gelato, these pistachio crunch muffins get all their nutty, floral flavor from a generous helping of toasted pistachios. Incorporating the nuts into every component of the muffins in thoughtful ways ensures they come out unmistakably nutty while also perfectly plush and tender. Topping with a pistachio streusel that gets crisp-crunchy when baked to contrast the softness of the muffin only makes these muffins that much better. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Why You’ll Love It

  • The flavor in these muffins comes solely from toasted pistachios. I skip the pudding mix and almond extract that some pistachio muffin recipes call for to mimic nuttiness.
  • Thanks to the food processor, which does all the heavy lifting, these muffins are much easier to make than meets the eye.
  • Although recipes made with nut flours can easily become dense, these muffins come out tender and plush, thanks to the oil and sour cream in the batter. 
  • The crunchy contrast the soft muffins get from the brown sugar-laced pistachio topping makes for the most delicious combination of textures. 

Key Ingredients in Pistachio Crunch Muffins

  • Pistachios are incorporated in three ways throughout the recipe: coarsely chopped for the topping, finely ground into a “flour,” and processed with the butter and oil because fat carries flavor through every bite. 
  • Butter provides flavor while oil yields long-lasting moistness along with a plush texture.
  • Sour cream adds a bit of tang to round out the nutty, floral flavor of the pistachios as well as helps to yield a tender texture. 
  • Brown sugar also provides an extra bit of moisture and helps accentuate the flavor of the pistachios.
  • Vanilla extract brings the pistachio flavor to the forefront as well as keeps the muffin’s flavor from falling flat. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Pistachio Crunch Muffins Recipe

These nutty, pistachio-filled, streusel-topped muffins will make you forget all about those other muffins.

Prep time 40 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 55 minutes

Serves 12 muffins

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the topping:

  • 2/3 cup

    unsalted, raw, shelled pistachios

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons

    cold unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

For the muffins:

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2/3 cup

    sour cream

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 1/3 cups

    unsalted, raw, shelled pistachios, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 2/3 cup

    neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable

  • 3/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 to 2 drops

    green food coloring (optional)

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 2 large eggs and 2/3 cup sour cream on the counter and let sit until room temperature.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line every other well of 2 (12-well) standard muffin tins (12 lined wells total), making sure no two wells that are next to each other are both lined. (See Recipe Notes for instructions if you only have one muffin tin.)

  3. Spread 2 cups unsalted, raw, shelled pistachios (for the topping and muffins) into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and just starting to turn golden, 3 to 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make the topping:

  1. Place 2/3 cup of the pistachios in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until coarsely chopped, 7 to 10 (1-second) pulses. Transfer to a medium bowl (reserve the food processor; no need to clean).

  2. Add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Combine by hand or with a fork until the brown sugar is no longer clumpy.

  3. Dice 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter. Add the butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract to the flour mixture. Use your hands to rub the butter into the flour mixture until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is evenly moistened and crumbly, but clumps when squeezed. Refrigerate while you make the muffin batter.

Make the muffins:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add 1 cup of the pistachios to the food processor and process until finely ground. Add 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Pulse 1 to 2 times to combine. Transfer to a bowl.

  2. Place the butter, remaining 1/3 cup pistachios, and 2/3 cup neutral oil in the food processor. Process until the pistachios are broken down (some fine bits are OK) and the mixture is fragrant and tinted green, about 25 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.

  3. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until combined. Add the sour cream and 1 to 2 drops green food coloring if desired, and whisk until combined and no streaks of sour cream remain.

  4. Add the flour mixture and fold until just combined. Do not overmix. Scoop 1/3 cup of the batter into each lined well of the muffin tins. Top evenly with the topping (about 2 generous tablespoons per well) and very lightly press the topping into the batter to stick.

  5. Bake for 7 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake until the muffins are golden-brown, risen, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 10 to 18 minutes more, rotating the pans halfway as needed.

  6. Place the muffin tins on a wire rack and let the muffins cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer the muffins directly on the rack and let cool completely. Lightly dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Recipe Notes

General tips: You will need about 9 ounces shelled pistachios in total.

Substitutions: Substitute the sour cream with full-fat, plain yogurt.

Ingredient/equipment variations: Using every other well of the muffin tins helps the muffins to rise more evenly while also preventing the tops from baking into each other, and using 2 muffin tins allows you to bake the entire batch at once. However, you can bake the muffins in two batches using 1 muffin tin if needed. Increase the oven temperature back up to 400ºF before baking the second batch — no need to cool off the tin before reusing.

Make ahead: The pistachios can be toasted up to 1 day ahead, cooled, and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The topping can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: The muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.