Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Pistachio Cupcakes with Creamy Strawberry Frosting

Deliciously simple from-scratch pistachio cupcakes with creamy strawberry frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Here’s the result of my goal to create a completely new and COLORFUL cupcake this winter. Help break us out of our winter blues and deliver some PINK to our dreary days and routine weeks.  I also wanted to highlight one of my favorite frostings on the planet: strawberry. Also a frosting that now has its own blog post and video in the frosting section!

We’ll chat about what makes the strawberry frosting so *dynamite* later on in this post.

Deliciously simple from-scratch pistachio cupcakes with creamy strawberry frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pistachio! A seriously underrated flavor in the dessert world. Delicious cracked open and eaten on their own, but even better when they shine as the main flavor in ice cream. Or cake. Or cookies! Or, best of all, cupcakes. Buttery and smooth, pistachios pair perfectly with almond and vanilla flavors– both of which are present in today’s cupcakes. Btw, did you know that pistachio ice cream is usually flavored with almond extract? It complements the pistachio flavor!

For quality pistachio flavor, let’s use quality nuts. We all know Diamond of California offers the best baking nuts on the planet–> um, hello! they rule the baking aisle! We’ll grind shelled, unsalted pistachios up into fine little chips and chunks and pour directly into a vanilla almond cupcake batter. They’ll be some pistachio powder hiding in all those teeny pistachio pieces– that’s ok! Add it to the batter; it will tint it a whimsical light green!

*Why unsalted nuts?* Because you can control the salt in the cupcake that way.

Pistachios for pistachio cupcakes with strawberry frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pistachio cupcakes with strawberry frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I know what you’re thinking. Hard chunks of nuts in a soft cupcake? No no no! The pistachios pieces become ultra soft inside the cupcake when baked. Plus, the pistachio pieces are so small. You won’t taste the actual chunks– just their impeccable flavor.

Here’s the cupcake batter we’ll use: simply perfect vanilla cupcakes.

Here’s why they’re simply perfect: without a doubt, the softest vanilla cupcake I’ve ever made. So fluffy that all the puffy clouds in the sky are jealous. So light that a marshmallow feels heavy. Cake flour is behind this cupcake perfection, as well as 3 egg whites and sour cream. I promise you’ve never tasted a cupcake like this and these three power ingredients are why. If you’re curious, read here for exactly what each ingredient does and why they’re crucial! (Baking science is cool.)

This simply perfect vanilla cupcake batter + lots of teeny pistachio crumbs + almond extract = a nutty and sweet cupcake. Now let me be clear… the pistachio flavor isn’t strong. That’s because we are relying on just the actual nuts and not artificial pistachio flavor. You can certainly add artificial flavor if you’d like, but I love the light pistachio, delicious almond, and strong vanilla flavor balance in the recipe as written below.

Creamy strawberry frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Creamy strawberry frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Let’s talk strawberry frosting!! If you haven’t experienced it yet, this is the best strawberry frosting. It’s made with strawberry dust! Aka freeze-dried strawberries ground up into a powder– which is perfect for the pistachio cupcakes because you need a food processor anyway for the nuts!

The reason we’ll use freeze-dried strawberries in this strawberry frosting is because they deliver the most intense (and natural) strawberry flavor while, at the same time, do not mess up the texture of the actual frosting. Real strawberries, as you can read here, can end up curdling your pretty frosting. And let’s avoid the artificial flavor route. Where to buy freeze-dried strawberries? I always find them at my regular grocery stores in the dried fruit section. Also at Target and Trader Joe’s too– or online here and here.

I love the specks of *real* strawberries in the frosting.

I encourage you to use this piping tip from now on: Ateco #849 closed star tip. First of all, you need absolutely zero skill for using this piping tip. That’s why I love it. Virtually impossible to mess up. All I do is start in the center of the cupcake, apply pressure to squeeze the frosting out, and slowly lift straight up. No swirling around the cupcake– just start on the center and squeeze frosting out while lifting the tip off the cupcake. Takes 2 seconds per cupcake. Voila:

Deliciously simple from-scratch pistachio cupcakes with creamy strawberry frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Deliciously simple from-scratch pistachio cupcakes with creamy strawberry frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These fresh flavors! These happy colors! 🙂

Cupcake inspiration for you: 

Pistachio Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Diamond of California unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour1
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream at room temperature2
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk at room temperature2
  • optional: 1 tiny drop green food coloring3

Strawberry Frosting

  • 1 cup (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries
  • 1 cup (235g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (480g) confectioners' sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • optional for garnish: fresh strawberry slices

Directions:

  1. Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until ground up into fine crumbs. See photo above for a visual. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 4 liners - this recipe makes about 16 cupcakes. Set aside.
  3. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 cup of pistachio crumbs together. Reserve the rest of the pistachio crumbs for decoration.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  5. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, strawberry powder, cream, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  7. Frost cooled cupcakes and decorate with remaining pistachio crumbs and strawberry slices. I used the Ateco #849 closed star tip.

Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

  1. If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  2. Whole milk and sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cupcakes may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.
  3. While the pistachio crumbs do tint the batter light green, I added 1 *very teeny* drop of green food coloring to help brighten the green color. This is completely optional!

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Kitchenaid Stand Mixer |5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Mixing BowlKitchenaid Hand Mixer | Ninja Master Prep Professional Blender | Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Strawberries | Mother Earth Freeze Dried StrawberriesHeart + Arrows Spatula | Cupcake PanPaper Cupcake Liners | 16-inch Frosting Bags | Closed Star Frosting Tip

This post is in partnership with Diamond of California. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

85 comments

  1. I love pistachio & strawberry combination! And your cupcakes look both beautiful and delicious!

  2. These cupcakes look fantastic! If I weren’t allergic to pistachios, I might have tried them. However, the strawberry buttercream recipe looks like a really tasty recipe to make regular cupcakes even better, so I think I’ll be using that recipe sometime. 🙂

    I hope you don’t mind my asking a completely unrelated question, but is it possible to use your Death by Chocolate Brownies recipe from your cookbook (my favourite) and turn them into bite-sized brownies? Maybe by reducing the bake time and using a two-bite brownie pan? I’m just wondering if you have tried this before or if it would be successful, since I would be a bit cautious attempting without an expert opinion. Thanks! 🙂

    • Don’t mind the question at all! I haven’t tried it before, but honestly any brownie recipe would be fine to use in that pan– especially the death by chocolate brownies from my book!

  3. Hi Sally! 
    I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day.  These cupcakes look amazing!! I completely agree about the underuse of pistachios in baking.  I once had THE most delightful pistachio cupcake from a little bakery in NY that is sadly no longer there.  And my husband is not much into sweets but an avid fan of pistachio gelato! 
    I made the lava cakes last night because chocolate is a must on Valentine’s Day.  They turned out SO yummy (topped with vanilla ice cream & sliced strawberries)!!! I think I need smaller ramekins though cause mine were a little flat, just really gooey (in the most delicious way) in the center rather than lava-y.  Will have to try the peanut butter ones next time! 

    • I think you’d LOVE the peanut butter ones. I secretly love them more than the chocolate lava cakes! (Pistachio gelato is the best, by the way!)

  4. Hi Sally! This looks gorgeous and yummy as usual! Quick question: if I were to use stabilized whipped cream (gelatin and all) as the topping to cake, would I still have to crumb coat it? Do you think it would also be okay to store it overnight 1 day in advanced even after I’ve frosted it? Thanks!

    • I wouldn’t think a crumb coat would be necessary. I’d store it in the fridge overnight– don’t think that would be an issue!

  5. Sally I hope you had a nice valentines with your hubby! Did you make him anything sweet?

  6. I agree 100% Sally pistachio I hugely underrated in desserts. I love pistachios an I adore your strawberry frosting. I can’t wait to try these they look stunning as always

  7. I love pistachio in desserts! You’re right, it’s totally underrated. These look amazing and I can’t wait to try. I’ve been trying to get better at frosting and the frosting tip you suggest sounds perfect and easy to use. Thanks for sharing as always 🙂

  8. These are so beautiful!!  Wowsas!    I just added pistachios to a cheesecake crust today – so, I totally agree: Pistachios are underrated.  My husband loves pistachio gelato… so would certainly agree;) 

  9. how many day’s in advance can they be made and kept fresh ? (stored properly of course) also, how much do you normally fill liners with this batter so that it rises nicely and doesn’t overflow? thank you so much! 

  10. I really want to try these!!
    The only problem is that my partner has a milk allergy… Is it possible to use soy yoghurt instead of the sour cream and milk/full fat yoghurt?

  11. Hi Sally,
    New reader and baker! I made these cupcakes for my fiance on Valentine’s Day and they turned out beautifully! I’m in shock that my first turn at baking from-scratch cupcakes was a success! It’s a testament to your recipes, I’m sure. My fiance (and I) loved them so much, I am planning on making these (or some variation) for a groom’s cake for our rehearsal dinner in September. I’ll be keeping an eye out on the blog for other ideas along the way!
    Thanks for sharing !

  12. I’ve never tried pistachio cupcakes before, mostly because I thought they didn’t taste good. But after seeing these photos I just had to try and… suprise: it was incredibly delicious! Thank you so much!

  13. Hi sally

    Pistachios are quiet expensive in my country can I substitute with anything else?

  14. Hi Sally,
    Can this be made into a cake?? I would love to make it this weekend for my sister’s going away party.
    Thank you!!

    • Hi Julia! To make into a cake– this batter will fit into an 11×7 pan to make a single layer cake. I’m unsure of the exact bake time!

  15. Hi Sally,
    I’m a complete beginner in baking and am quite overwhelmed with the variety of piping nozzles out there. Could you give any advice on the type/ size I could get to decorate both cakes and cupcakes?
    Thanks a mil!

  16. Hi Sally,
    I just made these this weekend and the cupcakes were absolutely delish! The frosting on the other hand was super sweet and it kind of tasted like I was eating strawberry flavored confectioner’s sugar. Do you think that if next time I put less confectioner’s sugar in, the recipe will turn out ok just less sweet? I really want to try this again because the cupcake itself was really just so good.Thanks so much!

  17. Hi Sally- I know you kind of answered this one a few posts up but– If you wanted to make this into a round layer cake (2 layers) in 9 inch pans… any suggestions?? Congrats again on your big news this week. I am beyond thrilled for you <3

    • Thanks Angela! And I’m unsure about a 2 layer cake. You can make this batter twice (do not double) and fill the pans halfway. Use any leftover batter for cupcakes.

  18. Tried this over the easter weekend and loved it…I left out the green color but the pista itself gave beautiful green tinge. It was very flavourful. Thank you for the awesome recipe :-*

  19. Hi Sally! 

    Do the the pistachios have to be shelled or can I just buy the nut meats? 

    Thanks!

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