Pistachio Eclairs

Love eclairs and pistachios? This pistachio eclair recipe marries both in a simple way that’s perfect for beginners but still impressive enough for any guest.

Pistachio eclairs topped with ganache

Recipe At a Glance

This recipe is a relatively simple option for making pistachio eclairs. The whole project shouldn’t take you more than one and a half hours, and you can do everything in one go.

These eclairs combine choux pastry as the body, pistachio pastry cream as the filling, dark chocolate ganache as the topping, and finely chopped pistachios for added crunch and visual appeal.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to make pistachio eclairs. Later in the article, I cover some ways to simplify and elevate the recipe, depending on your experience and how much time you want to spend in the kitchen.

Making these pistachio eclairs for the first time? Read the ingredients notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If you’re familiar with the recipe, feel free to jump to the recipe card.

Pistachio eclair anatomy
Pistachio eclair anatomy

Ingredients Notes and Substitutes

Choux Pastry

Modern choux pastry ingredients
  • Water and milk. Full-fat milk works best, but skim should work in a pinch. I wouldn’t experiment with vegan milk, as it might alter the flavor of the choux. It’s better to use just water instead.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Unsalted butter.
  • Eggs.
  • Salt and sugar. Sugar alternatives are perfectly fine.

Pistachio Pastry Cream

Pistachio pastry cream ingredients
  • Milk: Whole fat works best.
  • Pistachio Paste: The main source of flavor in the pastry cream. For best results, choose a single-ingredient one made from roasted pistachios. If yours is made from raw pistachios, it might need a bit of salt to bring out the nutty flavor.
  • White Chocolate: White chocolate pairs spectacularly with pistachios, and the pastry cream doesn’t taste nearly as good without it.
  • Cornstarch: You can sub in potato starch, though you need to halve the amount. Check out my article on cornstarch versus potato starch for more details.
  • Sugar: Regular white sugar works well, but feel free to use any sweetener you like.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract helps improve the flavor but isn’t necessary.
  • Egg Yolks.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • Heavy Cream: Any heavy or heavy whipping cream will do.
  • Dark Chocolate: My go to is a fairly cheap one with 64 percent cocoa solids and I wouldn’t recommend going higher than 75 percent unless you’re a fan. If the ganache turns out too bitter, you can always add sugar to counteract some of that.
  • Pistachios: The nuts add a lovely crunch to the top layer, make the eclairs visually stunning, and give a little hint about what’s inside. Optional, but highly recommended.

How to Make Pistachio Eclairs

Here’s our high-level game plan:

  1. Make choux pastry and bake eclairs.
  2. Prepare pastry cream and ganache while the eclairs bake.
  3. Fill and top the eclairs after they cool a bit.

Let’s jump into details.

Step 1: Make Choux Pastry

(Read my article on choux pastry for a more detailed description and tips on working with choux pastry!)

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 390°F (200°C).
  2. Melt Butter and Bring to a Boil: In a pot, combine butter, milk, water, salt, and sugar, then bring the mixture to a boil, ensuring the butter is fully melted.
  1. Add Flour: Take the pot off the heat, add all the flour to the mixture at once, and stir until it roughly combines. Bring the pot back to the stove and continue stirring with a spoon over low heat. The dough will thicken and clump quickly, but you should continue stirring the mixture for 2-3 minutes, ensuring all the flour is incorporated and no white floury spots are inside. While stirring, scrape the dough from the sides and bottom to prevent sticking. After 2-3 minutes, the dough should be glossy and easy to detach from the pot, and a thin layer, or film, should form on the bottom.
  1. Transfer: Move the dough to a mixing bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Spreading it across the bowl can speed up cooling.
Spread choux pastry in bowl to cool
Spread choux pastry in bowl to cool
  1. Prepare Eggs: Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk them.
Whisk the eggs
Whisk the eggs
  1. Make Dough: Once the dough has cooled slightly, start mixing it with a hand mixer at medium speed. After 20-30 seconds of mixing, add half the eggs to the dough and mix until incorporated. Repeat by adding half of the leftover egg mixture. Now it’s time to get the dough to the right consistency: you want it thick enough to hold its shape but still pipeable. The V-Shape test is the best way to check for that: Dip your mixer whisks or spatula into the dough and lift it. The dough should slowly fall off, eventually leaving a piece of dough hanging that forms a characteristic ‘V’ shape or a triangle at the end of the whisk or spatula. If the dough is not there yet, continue adding the eggs bit by bit and checking the consistency.
Adding the whisked eggs
Mix at medium speed then add the whisked eggs

Step 2: Pipe and Bake Eclairs

(Check out my eclairs article for more info on making these.)

  1. Prepare Baking Tray: Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat. If you could use a guide for piping, draw straight 4- to 5-inch long lines (or 2- to 3-inch ones for mini eclairs) on the underside of the parchment paper as a guide, spaced about 2 inches apart. That will help you make the eclairs straight and of uniform length. Some baking mats already have the eclair shape on them, so consider buying one if you often bake eclairs.
  2. Piping Prep: Transfer the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large tip. I use a Wilton 6B, which has an opening of approximately 15mm in diameter (a bit more than half an inch). Alternatively, use a plastic food bag with a corner cut off.
  3. Pipe: Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking tray, forming strips about an inch wide and 4-5 inches long, leaving a little more than an inch of space between each strip to allow for expansion. Hold the piping bag at a 45-degree angle and pipe the eclair in one slow and smooth action. If the end of the eclair has an irregular shape that bothers you, you can smooth it out using wet fingers.
  1. Bake: Place the tray in the preheated oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 356°F (180°C). Bake for 40 minutes. Open the door a tiny bit (and leave them open) for the last 5 minutes for any buildup steam to escape. If the eclairs start to brown before the 35-minute mark, lower the temperature to 320°F (or 160°C).
Baked eclairs
Bake the eclairs for 40-45 minutes
  1. Cool: Remove the eclairs from the oven, let them cool for 10 minutes, then carefully detach them from the parchment paper or silicone mat and let them cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes before piping and filling.
Transfer eclairs to a wire rack and allow them to cool before piping

Step 3: Make Pistachio Pastry Cream

While the eclairs bake, we can make the pistachio pastry cream. Here’s how we’re going to do this:

(Read my pistachio pastry cream article for more info on this pastry cream.)

  1. Season: Measure out your pistachio paste and give it a taste. If needed, add a pinch of salt. Pistachio paste from unroasted pistachios might taste bland, so about 1/8 teaspoon of salt for every 1/4 cup of paste should do the trick. Keep adding salt until you get a nice, strong pistachio flavor without making it too salty.
  2. Prep Pot: Set aside 1/4 cup of milk, then pour the rest into a saucepan along with the pistachio paste, egg yolks, vanilla extract (if using), and sugar. Whisk these together until they’re nicely blended.
  3. Cook: Place the saucepan over medium heat and warm the mixture until it’s just about to boil, stirring regularly to avoid cooking the egg. Frequent whisking is crucial here—every 30 seconds, increasing to more frequent stirring as it heats up.
  1. Prepare Starch Slurry: While the mixture is cooking, mix the reserved milk with cornstarch in a separate bowl, ensuring there are no lumps.
Mixing the starch slurry
Mix cornstarch and reserved milk to make starch slurry
  1. Add Starch Slurry: As soon as bubbles form in the saucepan, remove it from the heat and swiftly stir in the starch slurry. If the slurry has settled, give it a quick stir to redistribute the starch before adding.
Adding the starch slurry
Add the starch slurry and stir until it thickens
  1. Cook Until Thick and Bubbly: Return the pot to low or medium heat and keep stirring until the mixture thickens significantly and begins to bubble. This should take between 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your stove and pot. Don’t rush this step to prevent the yolks from curdling.
  2. Take Off the Heat and Whisk: Once thickened, pull the pot off the heat and whisk vigorously for another minute to ensure it’s smoothly thickened.
Remove from the heat and whisk
Whisk vigorously off heat
  1. Stir in White Chocolate: Drop the chopped white chocolate in the pot, wait 30 seconds for it to warm, and then stir it in.

  1. Taste Test: Carefully taste the cream—it’ll be hot! Adjust with more sugar or vanilla if needed.
  2. (Optional) Strain: If you notice any lumps or cooked egg bits in your pastry cream, pour it through a strainer into a bowl to achieve a uniform texture.
  3. Cover: Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming and let it cool at room temperature. If you’re running a bit late and your eclairs have already finished baking, submerge the bowl with the pastry cream in a cold water bath to speed up cooling. Refrigerate the pastry cream if you’re making it in advance (e.g., the day before you need it).
Cover and chill
Cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin forming then chill

Step 4: Make Dark Chocolate Ganache

  1. Prep: Begin by chopping the chocolate into small pieces and placing them in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Cook Heavy Cream: In a saucepan, pour the heavy cream and heat it over medium heat. Watch for tiny bubbles to form around the edges—this indicates the cream is adequately warmed without boiling.
  3. Pour Over Chocolate: Gently pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for about a minute to warm and soften it.
  4. Stir: Stir until the chocolate and cream are thoroughly combined and smooth. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as you stir. If small chocolate pieces remain, you have two options: strain the ganache for a few unmelted bits, or if there are lots of them, return it to the saucepan and gently heat while stirring until completely melted.
  5. Cool: Set the bowl aside to cool. To speed up the cooling, place the bowl in a cold water bath and stir every one to two minutes.

Dark chocolate ganache for coating
Cooled chocolate ganache for coating

Step 5: Assemble Pistachio Eclairs

  1. Pipe Filling: Fit a piping bag or syringe with a small round or Bismarck nozzle (a long, thin piping tip) and fill it with the pistachio pastry cream. The cream can be warm but shouldn’t be steaming hot. Insert the nozzle into one end of the eclair shell and gently fill it with cream, stopping if it begins to overflow (observe the sides and the bottom, too). If necessary, fill from the opposite end to ensure the eclair is completely stuffed. Fill all eclairs in this manner.
Piping the pistachio pastry cream
Pistachio pastry cream piped into the eclair
  1. Top with Ganache: The ganache should be thick yet fluid, like syrup or honey, for optimal coating. If it’s too runny, speed up thickening in a cold water bath. If it is too stiff, gently warm it while stirring until it reaches a barely pourable consistency. Dip the top of each eclair into the ganache, smoothing any excess with your fingers.
  1. Finishing Touches: Immediately after topping, sprinkle the eclairs with chopped pistachios to ensure they stick to the soft ganache.
  1. Serve or Refrigerate.
Eclairs with pistachio cream and dark chocolate ganache
Pistachio eclairs served

Variations

Here are some ideas for modifying this recipe according to your needs and time constraints.

Simplify

  • Skip Ganache: For a simpler decoration, omit the chocolate ganache and dust the eclairs with powdered sugar. Or make a simple glaze by combining a cup of powdered sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk or lemon juice. After a minute or two of whisking and adjusting the ingredients to get the consistency right, you’re ready for drizzling.
  • Simplify Filling: Substitute the pistachio pastry cream with whipped cream (you’ll need about 2 cups of heavy cream) and top the eclairs with pistachio ganache. To make pistachio ganache, you’ll need 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream, 5.5 oz white chocolate (~160g), and 1.5 oz (42g) pistachio paste. Follow the steps for the ganache outlined above, and stir in the pistachio paste only after the white chocolate is melted.
Eclairs filled with pistachio cream and covered with ganache
Eclairs filled with pistachio cream and covered with ganache

Elevate

  • Make Pistachio Diplomat: Diplomat cream is a lighter version of pastry cream, ideal for warmer months or when you don’t want the dessert to be overly rich. Halve the amount of pistachio pastry cream, stir in bloomed gelatin after cooking the pastry cream, and let it cool until it’s warm but not hot anymore. At that stage, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold it in. Use the diplomat right away to fill the eclairs. As proportions go, use 2 tsp gelatin and 1 cup heavy cream per 1 cup of milk used for the pastry cream.
  • Add Crumb Topping: You can make streusel topping for your eclairs the same way I do for cream puffs in my Choux au Craquelin recipe. Cut the streusel into rectangles that match the size of your eclairs and place them on top before baking.
Ganache-dipped pistachio eclairs

Storage

You can store these pistachio eclairs in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Make sure the container is sealed tightly so they don’t absorb any smells.

Pistachio eclairs topped with ganache

Pistachio Eclairs

Love eclairs and pistachios? This pistachio eclair recipe marries both in a simple way that’s perfect for beginners but still impressive enough for any guest.
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Choux Pastry, Cream Patisserie, Eclairs, Pastry Cream
Servings: 12 large pistachio eclairs

Equipment

  • whisk
  • Stand mixer

Ingredients

Choux Pastry:

  • ¼ cup water ~60 ml
  • ¼ cup milk ~60 ml
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter ~45 g
  • oz all-purpose flour ~70 g
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • tsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs ~95g after cracking

Pistachio Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups milk ~480 ml
  • 4 egg yolks medium or large about 60-70g
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch 40g
  • 7 tablespoons sugar ~87g
  • 2 oz pistachio paste 1/4 cup or ~60g
  • 2 oz white chocolate ~60g
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  • 3 oz dark chocolate ~85 g
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream ~80 ml
  • 1.5 oz pistachios ~42g, optional

Instructions

Make Choux Pastry:

  • Preheat Oven: Heat oven to 390°F (200°C).
  • Boil Butter Mixture: In a pot, mix butter, milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil, ensuring the butter melts completely.
  • Add Flour: Off the heat, add flour and cocoa powder (mixed) all at once and stir. Return to low heat, stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes until the dough is thick, glossy, and leaves a thin film on the pot bottom.
  • Cool Dough: Transfer dough to a bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes, spreading it out to cool faster.
  • Whisk Eggs: Beat eggs in a separate bowl.
  • Mix Dough: With the dough slightly cooled, mix with a hand mixer. Gradually add half the eggs, mix, then add the remaining eggs bit by bit until the dough forms a 'V' shape when lifted with a whisk or spatula.

Pipe and Bake Eclairs:

  • Prepare Tray: Line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat. Optionally, draw 4- to 5-inch lines with 2 inches in between on the parchment as a guide for piping.
  • Piping Prep: Fill a piping bag with a large tip with the eclair dough.
  • Pipe: Pipe the dough into strips on the tray, spaced an inch apart. Smooth any irregular ends with wet fingers.
  • Bake: Bake in a preheated oven at 356°F (180°C) for 40 minutes, reducing the temperature if the eclairs start to brown prematurely, and open the oven door slightly for the last 5 minutes to release steam.
  • Cool: Let eclairs cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

Make Pistachio Pastry Cream:

  • Season Paste: If your pistachio paste is from raw pistachios, taste it and add a pinch of salt to bring out the pistachio flavor if needed.
  • Prep Pot: Combine the majority of the milk (reserving 1/4 cup), pistachio paste, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and sugar in a saucepan. Whisk until well blended.
  • Cook: Heat the mixture on medium until it almost boils, stirring regularly to prevent the egg from cooking.
  • Prepare Starch Slurry: In a separate bowl, mix the reserved milk with cornstarch to form a smooth slurry.
  • Add Starch Slurry: Once bubbles appear in the saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in the starch slurry.
  • Thicken: Return the saucepan to the stove, cook on low to medium heat while stirring until the mixture thickens and bubbles (about 2-4 minutes).
  • Finish Cooking: Remove from heat and whisk for another minute to ensure a smooth consistency.
  • Add White Chocolate: Add chopped white chocolate, wait 30 seconds, then stir until melted and mixed in.
  • Taste Test: Adjust the flavor with additional sugar or vanilla if needed.
  • Strain (Optional): Strain through a sieve to remove any lumps or cooked egg bits.
  • Cover: Cover with plastic wrap touching the cream's surface, cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate if not using right away.

Make Ganache:

  • Prep Chocolate: Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl.
  • Heat Cream: Warm the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles form at the edges.
  • Combine: Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, wait a minute, then stir until smooth.
  • Smooth Out: If there are unmelted bits, either strain the ganache or gently reheat and stir until fully melted.
  • Cool Down: Allow the ganache to cool, optionally speeding this up with a cold water bath and stirring occasionally.

Assembly:

  • Fill Eclairs: Equip a piping bag or syringe with a small nozzle, fill it with pistachio cream, and inject into the eclair shells, filling from both ends if needed to ensure they're fully stuffed.
  • Top with Ganache: Ensure ganache is syrupy; thicken in a cold water bath if runny, or warm up if stiff. Dip eclair tops into the ganache, smoothing excess with fingers.
  • Add Pistachios: Sprinkle chopped pistachios over the freshly coated tops.
  • Finish: Serve immediately or refrigerate.
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