Pistachio Pinwheels Recipe (2024)

By Claire Saffitz

Updated Feb. 29, 2024

Pistachio Pinwheels Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 40 minutes, plus chilling
Rating
4(1,447)
Notes
Read community notes

This recipe, from “Dessert Person” (Clarkson Potter, 2020) is one of those ace-up-your-sleeve, slice-and-bake cookie recipes every baker needs. The pinwheels are super tasty, need no decoration and require no major assembly. These buttery, nutty, shortbready cookies achieve the highest calling for any recipe: They look and taste as if they are harder to make than they are. (Watch Claire make them here.)

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Ingredients

Yield:32 cookies

  • cup/85 grams shelled raw unsalted pistachios
  • ¾cup/170 grams unsalted butter (1½ sticks), cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • ¾cup plus 2 tablespoons/105 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 2large egg yolks
  • ½teaspoon almond extract
  • 1cup/130 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⅓cups/150 grams almond flour
  • ½cup/105 grams demerara sugar, for rolling

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (32 servings)

135 calories; 8 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 2 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 10 grams sugars; 2 grams protein; 32 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Pistachio Pinwheels Recipe (2)

Preparation

Make the recipe with us

  1. Step

    1

    In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until they’re very finely ground but not yet forming a paste, about 25 second-long pulses. Transfer the ground pistachios to a small bowl and set aside.

  2. Step

    2

    To the same food processor (no need to wash after grinding the pistachios), add the butter and confectioners’ sugar, and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the yolks and almond extract, and process until the mixture is smooth and light. Add the flour and salt, and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until you have a stiff, uniform dough.

  3. Transfer two-thirds of the dough (about 10 ounces/240 grams) to a medium bowl and add the almond flour to the bowl. Use a flexible spatula to work the almond flour into the dough until you have a uniform mixture.

  4. Step

    4

    Scrape the almond dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Pat it down with your hands into a thinner layer, then place a piece of parchment paper on top. Roll out the dough between the sheets of parchment into a slab measuring about 12-by-8 inches and ¼-inch thick. (Uncover the dough and use a small offset spatula to shape the dough into a rectangle if necessary.) Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet and refrigerate the slab until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. Step

    5

    Meanwhile, add the ground pistachios to the food processor with the remaining dough and pulse until the mixture is thoroughly blended and the dough has taken on a green color, about 7 pulses. Set aside at room temperature while the almond dough chills.

  6. Step

    6

    Remove the almond dough from the refrigerator and plop tablespoon-size pieces of the pistachio dough across the surface of the slab. Use the offset spatula to spread the pistachio dough across the length of the slab in an even layer, leaving a ½-inch border along the longer sides. Starting at one of the longer sides and using the parchment paper to help you, roll the dough into a tight spiraled log. Wrap the log in parchment paper and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill until the dough is very firm, at least 1 hour.

  7. Step

    7

    When ready to bake, arrange two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  8. Step

    8

    Sprinkle the demerara sugar across a cutting board. Remove the log from the refrigerator, unwrap, and roll across the board in the sugar, pressing down very firmly as you roll so the sugar adheres. Continue to roll and press until the entire log is coated. Using a sharp knife, shave a thin crosswise slice off of each end so you have straight sides with the full spiral exposed. Cut the log in half crosswise, then cut each half in half again to make quarters, and cut each quarter in half again for eighths. (This ensures even, equal slices.) As you cut, roll the pieces on the cutting board to prevent the pinwheels from gaining a flat side and losing their round shape. Cut each piece into 4 equal slices to make 32 cookies.

  9. Step

    9

    Divide the cookies between the two prepared baking sheets and space them evenly. Bake the cookies on the upper and lower racks until they are golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes, switching racks and rotating the sheets front to back halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheets.

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1,447

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Cooking Notes

Moxie Moo

I made these this weekend out of the Dessert Person cookbook! So delicious! (They're already gone.) Since I was going for the Christmas vibe, I made the pistachio dough more vibrant green by adding two drops of green coloring gel. And instead of rolling in Demerara sugar, I used red sanding sugar. Very festive.

Jules M.

If you want the spiral to look like Claire's, the green dough needs to be thinner toward the edges along the length of the slab. I didn't do that so mine had blunt ends without those nice points. I added green gel coloring to my green dough to make them more festive for Christmas. Delicious.

Rae

After reading the reviews it appears I’m the only one who made this critical mistake. In step 2 it says to “add the flour.” I had already measured out the all purpose and almond flour so in the bowl they both went. Imagine my dismay when I got to the part about dividing the dough and adding the almond flour! Ooops! This recipe could benefit from simply adding the words “all purpose” to the flour description in step 2.

Jason

My dough turned out very sticky, but still manageable when rolled between parchment. I baked mine for 15 minutes, and several cookies around the perimeter of the cookie sheet were overdone. I'd advise watching them closely. While the end result was beautiful and delicious, the name of the cookie seems to be a misnomer. Because of the larger portion on almond dough and the use of almond extract these taste like almond cookies. I could discern no pistachio flavor. Maybe omit the almond extract?

Tanya

I can confirm that these cookies can be done without a food processor and they still turn out amazing! I used a mortar and pestle to crush the pistachios into a powder, then I passed the powder through a mesh sieve to make sure there weren't any big chunks of pistachio left. I used my stand mixer for mixing the dough. It's definitely a bit more work without the food processor, but these cookies are worth it!

Courtney Linder

I read the comments before trying my hand, so saw that many complained of crumbly, dry dough. I added a third egg yolk and 1/4 stick more butter and my dough was just sticky enough! I would also recommend using a hand mixer if you don’t have a food processor—I don’t! Turned out beautifully.

Alexandra

I used roasted pistachios! Definitely a toastier flavor, plus they're more brown than green (but I adjusted that with a little bit of food coloring!). Tasted lovely, and baked up well.

Sarah

I followed this recipe exactly and the cookies came out very crumbly and dry. Also, the primary flavor is almond, not pistachio. If I were to make these again, I’d add more butter or another source of fat.

charlie

These came out great. For my green layer, instead of pistachio, I ground about three tablespoons of loose jasmine green tea in a spice grinder and added that to some of the almond dough. The color was almost identical to the pistachio and created a nice floral sweetness.

Cathy

I tried this recipes with two kinds of almond flour (yes, there are different kinds!). With natural almond flour made from whole almonds, I needed more fat (+1 tablespoon butter and +1 egg yolk) to make the dough hold together; the almond dough was brownish so the spiral barely showed. When I made the cookies again using blanched whole almond flour, Claire's recipe as-is was perfect and the spiral was distinct. Both versions were delicious!

Dawn-Others Comments

This recipe, from “Dessert Person” (Clarkson Potter, 2020) is one of those ace-up-your-sleeve, slice-and-bake cookie recipes every baker needs. The pinwheels are super tasty, need no decoration and require no major assembly. These buttery, nutty, shortbready cookies achieve the highest calling for any recipe: They look and taste as if they are harder to make than they are. (Watch Claire make them here.)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nshlz1FL-E

Elle H

I may need to try again but after first effort I am not a fan. Foe spiral cookies the contrast isn’t very impressive, and the dough is crumbly and hard to work with. For me the effort to result ratio was off.

bethany H

I just received Claire’s book which I’m very happy with but I’m not super in love with this one. I think the pistachios need to be not roasted and blanched only. Roasted pistachios are not as green and they are almost always salted. Like others I added a small bit of green gel coloring to make it a little more green and really it ended up looking a bit like thanksgiving sage stuffing. Flavor was okay but very filling. I would also cut the baking time to 10 mins.

Tracy

yes. just make sure they are fully wrapped. I roll the log in wax paper, then plastic film, then put into a gallon freezer bag and suck out the air.

Erika

Ugh the dough just crumbles under my hands and I can’t get it to roll or bond. My pistachio dough didn’t come together as a dough really just a lot of sandy grit. This became a disappointing mess. Frustrated and out of ingredients to start over.

Joyce Thatcher

Bake at 350. takes an hour at the very least!!

Beth Ann

I made my own almond flour but the skins on the almonds made my flour a bit more brown so the definition between the two swirls was almost lost. It was very disappointing without that visual the cookies tasted ok but were not worth the work that goes into them. If I make them again, I will buy some white almond flower. I think the recipe should note that if you choose to “make your own” you lose the swirl effect.

Nancy

I agree with another reviewer in that the almond extract taste, which I don’t mind, overpowered any possible taste of pistachio. The cookies looked festive and beautiful and tasted good but needed to call them almond cookies when I offered them to guests. I wonder if reducing the amount of almond extract to 1/4 tsp and/or adding some pistachio paste to the pistachio would amp the pistachio flavor. May try that next time.

Polish Kristin C.

I loved these cookies. These are the type of cookie that if you really enjoy baking, and don't have to do it with the kids, and you just really want to enjoy baking, make this cookie. The process was very cathartic, there were multiple steps, and I have to say, being a novice baker, it had a big pay off. And, it's pretty, without frosting. I really enjoy these cookies and like making them every year.

Marissa

The cookies baked towards the bottom of the oven were completely burnt, even after only 10 or 11 minutes. Also, they don’t taste that great (the non-burnt ones) - not a ton of flavor and mostly dry and boring. Not worth your time or money.

holden

The amount of work this recipe requires isn’t worth the payoff. It’s a decent cookie at best.

Jay

I’ve made these several times, and, unlike many of the other commenters, I did not find the dough difficult to assemble. Great cookie for people who don’t like very sweet desserts. I added a bit of lemon zest to the almond mixture and cardamom to the pistachio mixture. I also agree that a bit of food coloring in the pistachio mixture makes a big difference.

Anne

Lovely cookie. Not too sweet. Nice flavors of pistachio and almond. Worth the extra effort for the end result.

Benedicte

Somebody did not read the instructions really well and plopped ground pistachios onto one fine rectangle of almond dough. Messy, but not bad. Made me think it would be a nice dough for thumbprint cookies. Trying again. I wish for perfect pinwheels, isn’t it the loveliest pattern? So, I started by writing the recipe down to make sure I was paying attention this time. Will add a drop of green food coloring (which I almost never ever do!); I’m baking for kids and this is Christmas!

Kate

I found that ground up pistachios are more brown than green, so I also added a couple drops of green food color and used the red sugar. I had tasted the dough and it seemed almost savory, but kept to the recipe this first time and really, these are very tasty! The pistachios add a wonderful, complex flavor.

Just Another Cook

These Pistachio Pinwheels tasted great and is easy enough to make even for novice bakers!The only thing I would change is to put less almond extract as I tasted mostly almonds and the pistachio flavor becomes muted.

Emilia Lew

Pretty good. Added gel food coloring per comments section, mixed with a small portion of pistachio dough and added that in gradually for better color control. Rolling the dough spiral was the hardest part, as the almond dough is prone to cracking. Agree that almond flavoring overpowers pistachio, I would add only a small amount of almond extract to almond dough or skip altogether.

Kristy

Terrible texture, flavor, and recipe overall. I was looking for a pistachio recipe to round out my holiday baking; I followed the directions/measurements 100%, watched Claire's video, and my dough crumbled and fell apart entirely before I could bake them. I got maybe 8 vaguely pinwheel-esque shapes by piecing together sad fragments of the dough, and these barely had any pistachio flavor. Had to threw the rest out–a total waste of time and money on beautiful pistachios and expensive butter.

Jen in Baltimore

I took the 2 trimmed ends and stuck them together so I got 33 cookies. You are welcome!

Sydney

Can the dough log be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer (for about a week) until ready to bake?

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Pistachio Pinwheels Recipe (2024)

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