This pistachio hot chocolate is an absolute delight. The unique and delicious blend of pistachios and white chocolate makes for a memorable cold-weather beverage.
There's a very subtle presence of cinnamon and vanilla, just enough to sneak in an extra layer of deliciousness.
Creamy. Comforting. Impressive.
Why you'll love this recipe
This is nothing like your typical hot cocoa. Not in appearance. And certainly not in its taste.
But you're in for a delightful surprise.
The marriage of white chocolate and pistachio flavors will have you wondering why isn't this talked about more. Every sip is silky and creamy and tastes of luxury.
Whether you're unwinding on a chilly evening, celebrating a special occasion or simply craving a cozy treat – this is the beverage to impress.
Here are some helpful notes on ingredients you'll need. See the recipe card below for exact quantities.
- Pistachios – Use shelled, raw, unsalted and unflavored pistachios. If you can find pistachios with peels removed, that's even better. Roasted pistachios will work too as long as they aren't seasoned or salted. If your regular grocery stores don't stock these, head to your nearest Middle Eastern or Indian stores.
- Milk – Whole milk creates a creamy and rich base. You can use lower-fat options, but your drink won't be as creamy. When feeling extra indulgent, use half and half.
- White chocolate chips – These usually come sweetened so taste before adding any extra sugar to your beverage. You can also use a white chocolate baking bar (break it up into small pieces and measure by the weight).
- Vanilla extract – brings out the pistachio flavor more. Real extract is the best, but artificial extract or essence will work too.
- Salt and ground cinnamon – to complement and elevate the overall flavor.
- Sugar (optional) – only if you're using unsweetened chocolate or you feel the need after having tasted the final result.
- Whipped cream (also optional) – For a creamy, luxurious finish.
How to make pistachio hot chocolate
Follow these simple, photo-assisted instructions to prepare this comforting beverage. Check out recipe card below for a printable version that has quantities, instructions and notes in one place.
Step 1: To soften pistachios, soak in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and rinse. Place on a clean tea towel or cloth. Fold the towel over the pistachios and gently rub to release the peels. Continue until all peels get removed. Crush 4 to 5 peeled pistachios using pestle and mortar or rolling pin. Set aside to use as topping.
Step 2: Transfer the remaining pistachios to a food processor or blender. Add a few tablespoons milk and blend to make a coarse mixture. Then add the remaining milk and blend until smooth. If it looks grainy, strain it before proceeding to next step.
Step 3: Transfer this milk into a saucepan and heat on medium-low, stirring until hot but not boiling. Add white chocolate chips, vanilla extract, salt and ground cinnamon. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Taste for sugar (be cautious, it'll be hot) and adjust.
Step 4: If the consistency looks too thick, add some milk and stir. Allow to simmer for a few seconds. Remove from heat, pour into a cup and top with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of the reserved crushed pistachios. Enjoy!
- Gritty texture: Always blend the pistachios in two stages – first coarsely with a bit of milk, then add remaining milk. Use a high-speed blender. If you still get a grainy texture, strain the milk before transferring to the saucepan.
- Very thick consistency: Add some milk, but do so gradually so you don't thin out too much.
- Chocolate clumps: When you add chocolate, stir continuously until its completely melted. Consider using a heat resistant whisk for easier mixing.
- Too sweet or not sweet enough: The sweetness can vary based on the sugar content in the white chocolate you're using. Taste the hot chocolate before pouring into cups. If too sweet for your liking, add some milk, if it's less sweet, put sugar.
- Burnt taste: Heating the milk at high temperature can scorch it. So heat over medium-low heat, stirring continuously.
- Some pistachios not getting peeled: Don't worry about peeling every single pistachio. While peels may change texture and color, the taste will still be great. Just strain the pistachio milk before you start the cooking process.
Substitutions and variations
- Mix in other nuts: You can mix in small portions of other raw, peeled and unsalted nuts like almonds, cashews or hazelnuts to create fusion-style nutty flavors. Blend with pistachios. Oh and keep a 3:1 ratio of pistachios to other nuts.
- Milk alternatives: You can substitute milk with alternatives such as almond milk, oat milk or soy milk. But these may affect the creaminess and overall flavor.
- Pistachio or almond extract: Add a few drops for a more intense nutty flavor.
- Pistachio paste or butter: You can use these as substitutes for whole pistachios. Be wary of other ingredients in these products (like added sugar) as it may affect the outcome.
- Chocolate choices: You can also use dark or milk chocolate instead. The taste will be different, but still good.
- Cardamom: A pinch of ground cardamom adds some lovely flavor.
- Sweeteners: You can opt for alternative sweeteners like honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. These will alter the drink's taste though.
- Alcoholic variations: Add a splash of your favorite liqueur, such as amaretto, Irish cream or hazelnut liqueur for an adults-only version. Remember to enjoy responsibly.
What to serve with pistachio hot chocolate
- Biscotti: Dip these Italian cookies into your hot beverage for a delightful combo.
- Mini marshmallows: Add a few on top as a final touch.
- Shortbread cookies: These offer a buttery, crumbly contrast that I love.
- Croissants: Nothing better than a warm, flaky croissant to accompany your hot drink.
- Savory pastries: The contrast between sweet and savory can be surprisingly delightful.
- Muffins: Chocolate or blueberry ones pair so well.
Making ahead, storage and reheating
- Making ahead: Follow the recipe up to the point of completion, but leave out the toppings. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Storage: Cool your hot chocolate to room temperature. Then transfer to an airtight container (or cover the cup with plastic wrap) and store in fridge for up to 2 days. Don't worry if it separates during refrigeration. It will be fine again when reheated.
- Reheating: Use a microwave-safe cup and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring well after each spurt. Keep a close eye as overheating can cause the liquid to boil over. You can also reheat on stovetop, using a saucepan over low heat and stirring constantly. Add a little milk (in both methods) to get back the right consistency.
Just so you know
- You can also prepare a single cup serving of this treat in the microwave as well. First make the pistachio milk in a blender as per recipe. Then microwave this milk for 90 seconds, split into three 30-second spurts, stirring between each. Add white chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and salt to the warm milk. Stir until the chocolate almost dissolves. Then microwave again for 30 seconds, stir, taste and adjust the sugar if needed. Be cautious when tasting, it will be hot. Keep a close eye when you use microwave to prevent spills.
- Making more than the default quantity of this recipe? Use the "+" sign on the recipe card below to increase the servings. The ingredient quantities will adjust automatically.
- ½ cup (60 g) pistachios - shelled, raw, unsalted and unflavored (Note A)
- 1.5 cups (355 ml) whole milk
- ¼ cup (50 g) white chocolate chips
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- sugar - to taste, optional (Note B)
- whipped cream - optional, for topping
- Soften pistachios by pouring boiling hot water over them. Leave for 10 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
- Place them on a clean tea towel or cloth. Fold the towel over the pistachios and gently rub to remove the peels. Continue until all peels come off.
- Crush 4 to 5 peeled pistachios using pestle and mortar or rolling pin. Set aside to use as topping.
- Transfer the remaining pistachios to a food processor or blender. Add 3 tablespoons milk and blend to a coarse mixture.
- Then add the remaining milk and blend until smooth. If it looks grainy, strain it before proceeding.
- Transfer this milk into a saucepan and heat on medium-low, stirring until it gets hot (not boiling).
- Add in white chocolate chips, vanilla extract, salt and ground cinnamon. Stir continuously until the chocolate gets melted and the mixture looks smooth.
- Taste for sugar (be cautious, it'll be hot), and add some if needed.
- If the consistency looks too thick, add some milk and stir. Allow to simmer for a few seconds. Keep stirring.
- Remove from heat and pour into a cup. Top with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of the reserved crushed pistachios. Enjoy!
- Step-by-step photo instructions
- Recipe troubleshooting
- Substitutions and variations (full list)
- Serving ideas
The nutritional information provided here is calculated using a third-party nutrition calculator. These values are estimates, and we cannot guarantee the correctness of the displayed numbers. Please see our disclaimer page.