Popular Pistachio Christmastime Recipes from Around the World

Friday, December 15th, 2023
Stollen with American Pistachios

Popular Pistachio Christmastime Recipes from Around the World


As the holiday season approaches, kitchens around the world come alive with the sounds of laughter, the warmth of family, and the aroma of delicious treats. Among the festive delights that make their appearance, pistachios stand out as a global favorite. Let’s embark on a journey to explore how pistachios take center stage in various Christmas traditions, adding a touch of nutty joy to the season.


German Advent Pastry: Fifteenth Century Stollen

The story:  Dating back to the fifteenth century Dresden, stollen originated as a rather plain bread, made without butter or milk, because both were forbidden during the Advent season. Five popes later, the Elector of Saxony was finally allowed to use butter without paying a fine.  Because of this special dispensation, stollen became known as the ‘food of kings’.  Even in the 21st century, Dresden is the place to go for the stollen to beat all other stollens. Only 150 Dresden bakers are permitted to put the special King Augustus II seal on their products, which are then sold at the Christmas market.

Flavor Profile: Stollen is enriched bread studded with candied fruit peel, nuts, spices and raisins soaked in booze; a sort of fruitcake/hot cross bun mix.  One important thing to keep in mind is that stollen must be baked in advance, as it needs to be stored for two to three weeks to let the flavors mellow and soften. Check out this recipe for Stollen on the American Pistachio Growers website.


Italian Panettone: A Nutty Nod to Tradition

Background: Panettone is an Italian type of sweet bread loaf with sourdough-like properties usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year’s.  Panettone comes from the city of Milan in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.  Milanese bakers have proudly been making it for centuries and Milan continues to host an annual panettone baking competition to determine who will be crowned the Panettone King.

Pistachio Presence: Many contemporary variations of Panettone include things like chocolate, pistachios, and other dried fruits like pineapple, apricots, and cherries. Traditional Panettone is a vanilla-infused batter with only raisins, candied lemon, orange peel, and some lemon zest.  Pistachios add a nice little crunch and a lovely green accent. Here is a Panettone recipe to try.


Greek Majesty: Baklava’s Pistachio Perfection

Cultural Significance: Baklava has been a symbol of Greek hospitality for centuries. During Christmas, families come together to prepare and share this sweet and flaky pastry, emphasizing the importance of togetherness and generosity.


Pistachio Perfection: Pistachios take center stage in baklava, not only providing a satisfying crunch but also infusing the dessert with a rich, nutty flavor. The layers of phyllo pastry, honey, and finely chopped pistachios create a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.  Check out this great recipe for Pistachio Baklava on your Pinterest page.


American Classics: Pistachios in Holiday Baking

Versatile Inclusion: In the United States, pistachios find their way into a myriad of holiday baked goods. From cookies to cakes and even pies, the versatility of pistachios allows them to complement a wide range of flavors and textures.


Popular Treats: Pistachio-laden treats like pistachio butter cookies, pistachio cake, and pistachio cranberry bark have become beloved staples on American holiday dessert tables. These treats add a delightful crunch and a pop of color to the festive spread.


Spanish Turron: Almond and Pistachio Confectionery

Historical Roots: Turron, a nougat-like confection, has deep historical roots in Spain. Originally brought by the Moors, it has evolved into a Christmas tradition enjoyed by families across the country.


Pistachio Inclusion: Turron varieties often feature pistachios alongside almonds and honey. The addition of pistachios not only enhances the flavor but also contributes to the festive visual appeal with its vibrant green hue.  Learn more about Turron here.


Middle Eastern Burbara: A Fruity and Nutty Porridge

Symbolism: Burbara is a porridge-like dessert that’s made by Middle Eastern Christians every year on December 4th to celebrate Saint Barbara’s day.  Saint Barbara’s day is celebrated annually by getting the family together to enjoy this delicious wheatberry dessert and to mark the countdown to Christmas.


Pistachio Infusion: This delicious porridge is topped with all kinds of yummy things such as shredded coconut, pistachios, pomegranate seeds, and fennel candy.  The toppers make the dish.  Pistachios and pomegranates give it a Christmasy feel. Check out a recipe to try here.


Indian Delicacies: Pistachios in Festive Sweets

Diverse Celebrations: In India, Christmas is celebrated with a blend of cultural diversity. The country’s rich tapestry of traditions contributes to a unique fusion of flavors during the holiday season.


Pistachios in Sweets: Pistachios find their way into traditional Indian sweets like kheer (rice pudding) and barfi (sweet confection). These desserts, adorned with chopped or ground pistachios, add a touch of elegance and nutty goodness to the festive feasts.


The global celebration of Christmas is not only a time of joy and togetherness but also a celebration of diverse culinary traditions. Pistachios, with their versatility and delightful flavor, have become a cherished ingredient, contributing to the festive tapestry of flavors enjoyed around the world. Whether in a traditional Italian panettone or a modern American cookie, pistachios bring a universal sense of delight to Christmas celebrations worldwide.


Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with three retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm-fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcase how pistachios are grown and processed, as well as a stunning Tuscany-themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties, or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.