Do you like pistachios? Well, who doesn’t! These little nuts are many people’s favourite and they have a wonderful flavour all of their own. Pistachios are actually a member of the cashew family, although the taste and texture are quite different. They are great to use in holiday baking – especially cookies! These vegan gluten free pistachio cookies are going to be a staple Christmas cookie for all your Christmas baking lists.
These pistachio cookies are made with rice flour, maple syrup, cashew butter, almond extract and a pinch of salt. As well as the pistachios of course! These ingredients mean they are both gluten free and vegan. They are crunchy on the outside and moist and crumbly on the inside.
The cookies are pressed into chopped pistachios, and the easiest way to do this is to use a food processor. You don’t want to grind them into powder, but just make the pieces small enough to stick to the cookies. You will need shelled raw pistachios to do this, not the salted kind in their shells which are better as a snack.
The flavour of these is similar to pistachio baklava, a famous Turkish pastry made with pistachios and honey. If you love baklava, you are going to really love these pistachio cookies! So get ready for some Christmas baking!
These parchment paper sheets are perfect for baking Christmas cookies! No sticking and (hopefully) no burning, plus easy clean up.
Why Everyone Loves Pistachios
Ask people what their favourite nut is, and you can be sure many will say pistachios. With no hesitation! These wonderful little nuts are so versatile. They can be added to Middle Eastern dishes, sprinkled over a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or enjoyed any time you crave something crunchy. This nut is often chopped up and used as a coating. Not only for holiday baking recipes like cakes and Christmas cookies, but also savoury foods like salmon or pork.
Pistachios aren’t just yummy though – they are also healthy! Pistachios can improve heart health and they’re also a nice source of healthy fats. These nuts are higher in fibre than oatmeal. They are high in carotenoids, like carrots, and also antioxidants and protein. In fact, one serving of pistachios has as much protein as an egg. So when you’re getting ready for some Christmas baking, you can rest assured these are good for you, as well as delicious!
Pistachios don’t taste quite like anything else! They’re a wonderful nut in a league of their own. They might be small but the flavour is all there, and they’re healthy to boot. In China they are known as the ‘happy nut’ because they look like they are smiling when they are in the shell. They symbolise health, good luck and happiness to the Chinese, and are often gifted during the Chinese New Year. In Iran they’re known as the ‘happy nut’ where pistachio cookies are also a staple snack.
History of Pistachios
Pistachios were first cultivated thousands of years ago in the Middle East. Way before Christmas cookies (or Christmas) were a thing. These days however, more than 550 million pounds of them are grown in California. In the first century AD, Emperor Vitellius brought these nuts to Rome. There is a Roman 5th century AD cookbook called Apicus, which included pistachios in some recipes. Fast forward a few thousand years and that’s when the Italians came up with pistachio gelato!
When pistachios ripen, the kernel gets big enough to split the shell open. Then you know they’re ready to eat. A simple crack with the fingernails breaks the shell open and reveals the delicious little greenish purple nut hidden inside! Enjoy them like this or make some pistachio cookies!
Although these pistachio cookies are perfect the way they are, you might like to change them up. Do you prefer cashews or even peanuts in your holiday baking? You could make the coating with one of those nuts instead. Another idea would be to use chopped mixed nuts, and those save time because you can buy them ready-chopped. The flavour of the cookies would of course change, but any of these would taste amazing too!
Brown rice flour would also work in the recipe. Of course, that would also affect the taste of the cookies. As for the cashew butter, peanut butter and almond butter are other options. These butters do vary in consistency, so you might find you have to add a little more rice flour to the recipe. This is to stop the dough from being overly sticky. The almond extract could also be switched for vanilla extract. If you like to be creative, you can have fun trying new versions of this Christmas cookies recipe.
Vegan Gluten Free Pistachio Cookies Recipe
Vegan Gluten Free Pistachio Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- Chop the pistachios either with a knife or a food processor. Place the chopped pistachios in a shallow bowl or plate and then set aside.
- Add all of the other ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture begins to form a ball.
- Wet hands slightly. Remove the cookie dough from the processor and shape into a ball with your hands.
- Divide the cookie dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten with your fingers or the palm of your hand to form a flat cookie shape.
- Press and roll each cookie piece into the chopped pistachio nuts to coat.
- Place the pistachio cookies onto the prepared baking tray.
- Bake the pistachio cookies for about 8 to 9 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
After you finish making your Christmas cookies, enjoy one or two of these pistachio cookies with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. This kind of Christmas baking makes a wonderful treat during the festive season.
Let me know if you include these pistachio christmas cookies in your holiday baking this year.
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Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.