Pistachio Cupcakes with 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: vanilla cupcakes.

Here’s why they’re simply perfect: They are 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 and if you can’t find it, use this easy cake flour substitute. 3 egg whites and sour cream also add to its deliciously fluffy texture. 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. If you’re not into strawberry, cream cheese frosting would be great too!

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: 

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pistachio cupcake topped with strawberry frosting and a slice of strawberry

Pistachio Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 15-16 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These soft and fluffy pistachio cupcakes with creamy strawberry frosting have the most wonderful sweet, fresh, and nutty flavors!


  • 1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios (out of shell)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 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 temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk at room temperature*
  • 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 pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • optional for garnish: fresh strawberry slices


  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.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: 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 StrawberriesSpatula | Cupcake PanPaper Cupcake Liners | 16-inch Frosting Bags | Closed Star Frosting Tip
  3. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can make this homemade cake flour substitute. 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.
  4. Whole Milk and Sour Cream: 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.
  5. Food Coloring: 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!
  6. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: pistachio cupcakes, strawberry frosting, cupcakes

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


  1. hi Sally! i just love all of your recipes. so drooling making me wanted to try and turns out to be delish every time. now its about time i try this cupcake but i couldn’t find freeze dried strawberries here in my country. What can I substitute it with? is fresh strawberry okay? or mixture of fresh strawberry + cornstarch. another option that i have is to dice the fresh strawberries and freeze it for a long time. what do you think?

    1. Frozen strawberries are very different from freeze-dried. You can use any leftover of the reduced strawberry puree in the frosting, just keep in mind it will make the frosting much thinner. If you want extra strawberry taste without adding too much liquid you can add a bit of strawberry extract.

  2. Hi Sally!! I am obsessed with all your recipes, especially the pistachio flavored ones (the secret weapon is truly the almond extract) Just looking for some advice, would this recipe go weel with a white chocolate buttercream? Or, do you think that may be to sweet?

    1. Thank you, Brittney! I think they would go well together. Enjoy!

  3. Hello,
    this sounds so good. I really want to make this for new years, and was wondering if the one cup of pistachios was before or after grinding them up.

    thanks again

  4. Hi Sally, I absolutely loved loved this recipe! I’ve tried other Pistachio Cake recipes and by far this one is a keeper I did alter the recipe a bit, instead of almond extract I used rose water and instead of milk I used buttermilk (made it at home). I also used the cake flour recipe and made my own, sifted twice just like you said. Also, I made a Rose water glaze instead of frosting.. Rose water, Confectioners Sugar and a bit of milk. Then garnished with the remaining pistachio crumbs! The cake was amazing!!!!

  5. Hi Sally-
    My 11-year old daughter and I made these cupcakes today with your strawberry icing recipe, and they are fantastic–the whole family loves them. Hands down the best strawberry icing recipe I’ve ever had. I will definitely be making this strawberry icing recipe again in the future.

  6. love love love this recipe!
    was looking at using a new different flavour to add to a 3 tiered engagement cake I made over the weekend.
    I used this recipe for my 6′ top tier, included the strawberry buttercream to fill in between my 2 layers.
    this was by far the most popular flavour out of the 3 on Saturday.
    My soon to be bride has said that this flavour MUST be part of the wedding cake!
    I am so thankful that you are providing such delicious and easy to use recipes.
    This recipe will be added to my cake recipe repertoire x

  7. Oh Sally, I just ant to bake these right now, but all I have are salted pistachios!! If I leave out additional salt might that work? Thank you for always inspiring !

    1. Yes, you can try it that way. I hope you love them!

      1. Thank you so much! Baking them now!
        I’ve never had one of your recipes fail!!

  8. I was looking for a pistachio cake/cupcake recipe that didn’t use the typical pudding mix, so I’m glad I found your website. I’m planning on making this for a St. Patrick’s Day potluck at work with a pistachio butter filling and regular cream cheese frosting instead, maybe work in blackberries somehow if they taste sweet enough by then. Will check back in to see how it goes, but thanks for the recipe!

  9. Sammi Harasymchuk says:

    Hi Sally, would using a pistachio extract be better than an almond extract for this? I was planning on filling the cupcakes with a pistachio pudding and topping with simple whipped cream frosting. I want to make sure the pistachio flavour comes through.

    1. I’ve never tried pistachio extract! (Nor seen it anywhere!) You can certainly try it here though.

  10. Patsy L McDonough says:

    When I read over this recipe, I had no idea that shelled, unsalted pistachios would be so difficult to find on the coast of Georgia. Finally after 4 groceries, I found a bag of unsalted, but I spent an hour shelling them. The cupcakes were well worth all the trouble. Super delicious.
    My next issue was the strawberry icing. I had just ordered an icing kit from Wilton, but the instructions were not made for this wimp. I finally pulled up a U tube video done by Wilton to help me with the icing. I still had trouble finding the couplet, (still not sure if I even used it)screwing it on, and finding the right tip. Needless to say, my cupcakes DO NOT look like yours. How about a tutorial on using a decorating kit! I need lots of help!

  11. I love all things pistachio and these were absolutely amazing! I only had oatmilk on hand and it still tasted great and was incredibly moist. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed them so much, Sital!

  12. I want to make for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow but the instacart shopper brought me mccromick concentrated vanilla flavor instead of vanilla extract. With quarantine we can’t go back out and get extract. Would you use it or try almond extract instead?

    1. Hi Andrea! I would still use it– I haven’t tested these cupcakes with that product before, so I would start by reducing the quantity. Try using only 1 teaspoon. And still use the almond extract as instructed.

  13. Hi Sally! Love your site, this is going to be my first recipe of yours and I have many more of them bookmarked.

    I have a bottle of Watkins natural Pistachio Extract that I’ve been dying to use. What ratio do you think I should use for each – vanilla, almond and the pistachio? I def want to use all three.

    Thank you, Meegan

    1. Hi Meegan! I haven’t tested these cupcakes with that product, but you could try using 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon almond extract, and 1/2 teaspoon pistachio extract. Let me know how they turn out!

  14. Hi Sally! Wanted to make this for mothers day! Could it be made into a 6 inch layer cake?

    1. Yes! See my post on 6 Inch Cakes for baking instructions.

  15. Hey Sally,
    Your’s is the only blog I follow for all my baking. Now I’m planning to make this but I don’t have Almond extract handy and I dont think I will be able to buy. So is it ok if I just avoid almond extract???

    1. Hi Sabana, you can skip the almond extract but you will lose that flavor. No need to replace with anything unless you want a stronger vanilla flavor or use another extract you have/love.

  16. Sinthu Navaretnam says:

    Hi Sally,
    I don’t have sour cream or whole milk on hand… I do however have buttermilk. Can I sub the 1/2 cup of whole milk and 1/3 cup sour cream with 1 cup of buttermilk?


    1. Hi Sinthu, you can use 1 cup (240ml) of buttermilk to replace the 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of sour cream.

  17. Hi Sally, can I replace the almond extract with rose water? Id also like to add a pinch of cardamom. Please advise if I should. Thanks

    1. Hi Mona, I haven’t tested this recipe with rose water but feel free to make that substitution. (I actually have never baked with it before!) A little cardamom would be delicious.

  18. Made this recipe as a 6in cake for My father in law for Father’s Day. It was a huge hit. I couldn’t find freeze dried strawberries, so I did have to use a different buttercream recipe using fresh strawberries, but it was still perfect! Thanks for another awesome recipe!

  19. Hi Sally!
    I’m about to make these but apparently those pistachios are not easy to find. I just wanted to know if they have to be roasted or raw.


    1. You can use either one, Sandra!

  20. Hi Sally!

    I’ll be making these today for a friends birthday and I wanted to know if I could use heavy whipping cream (have some on hand) versus heavy cream in the frosting? Thanks so much!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can!

  21. This recipe is delicious! My husband loves pistachio desserts and I made these for his birthday. I was a little hesitant with the strawberry frosting but it was a great combination! I will definitely make these again 🙂

  22. Hi Sally,
    I read this recipe three times to make sure you are actually grinding shelled pistachios. I tried 6 inch cake using shelled pistachios wondering how they are going to be soft once baked. And my fear came true, entire cake is full of shells. Tastes amazing but because of this I’ve to throw this away.
    Did I miss something here??

    1. Hi Neelima, shelled pistachios mean they have been shelled, meaning removed from their shell. If you try the recipe again, you only need to grind the shelled nut.

  23. Alexandra Larosa says:

    Hi sally,

    I love all of your recipes! Do you think full fat yogurt would be a good substitute for the sour cream?


    1. Absolutely! A 1:1 substitution.

  24. HI Sally! I am looking forward to making this. I only have lightly salted pistachios will that work?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tiffany, You can certainly try them. Feel free to leave out the added 1/4 tsp of salt if you wish. Enjoy!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally