All Things Pistachio/ Cookies/ Desserts/ Diwali

Pistachio Kulfi Cookies

pistachio kulfi cookies

Buttery pistachio kulfi cookies infused with fragrant cardamom and saffron. Flavours reminiscent of the traditional pistachio kulfi ice cream.

Everyone loves a good cookie. There’s something so nostalgic about a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. It was a classic childhood routine.

Although traditionally it was always chocolate chip cookies that we wanted. But even to this day the thought of a cookie is immediately enough to lift my mood. It’s a great treat to share.

Frankly I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone who wasn’t a fan of some form of biscuits.

It was perhaps a love of cookies as well as traditional Indian dessert flavours that created these pistachio kulfi cookies.

Pistachio Kulfi Cookies

These cookies remind me of the buttery ones that I grew up on. My late grandmother (Nani) used to bake cardamom cookies, often infused with various nuts.

These cookies were a real treat for us. Just the aroma alone was enough to have us running down the stairs in sheer excitement. Her cardamom cookies were regularly enjoyed with masala chai (Indian spiced tea) or milk.

Her version was much shorter in texture, more similar to a shortbread. But just so incredibly fragrant with cardamom.

I decided to make my grandmother’s cardamom biscuits whilst I was competing on MasterChef UK 2022. The response was overwhelming, it was thoroughly enjoyed by both John and Gregg.

My grandmother’s influence runs heavily through these pistachio kulfi cookies. Just the smell of these alone immediately brings back so much nostalgia.

These cookies are buttery, chewy, and crumbly. They’re also incredibly fragrant with cardamom, saffron, and vanilla. The inspiration comes from the famous pistachio kulfi.

This is a traditional ice cream that will resonate with most South Asians. This ice cream is often flavoured with cardamom, saffron and occasionally rose. Hence pairing the pistachio with cardamom and saffron made complete sense for these cookies.

Not to mention these will literally fill your kitchen with the most wonderful aroma as they bake. That should be enough to convince you!

If these cookies are right up your street, you will love my Almond and Pistachio Kulfi Shortbread.

What is kulfi?

Kulfi is a traditional ice cream originating from South Asia that’s commonly made with milk, sugar, and nuts. There are also fruit versions of kulfi which exist, the most popular being mango.

It’s a hugely popular dessert within India, Pakistan and the Middle East. It’s almost always served up at weddings and in restaurants. The origins of kulfi actually point towards the Mughal Empire from around the 16th century.

And the word ‘Kulfi’ itself stems from the Persian word meaning ‘covered up’.

There are various types of kulfi which exist. For example malai kulfi, pistachio kulfi, mango kulfi and more. They all often have additions of cardamom, saffron and rose.

These flavours provide fragrant and floral notes which are synonymous with the dessert.

The process of making kulfi differs in comparison to regular ice cream. For kulfi the milk is slowly simmered allowing it to reduce, thus evaporating the liquid. This in turn increases the ratio of fat solids.

As the milk is simmering these solids are essentially caramelising. That caramelisation imparts a very unique and deep flavour within the kulfi. There’s nuttiness and a wonderful caramel note.

The remaining mixture is then traditionally poured into a metal kulfi cone and frozen. The higher quantity of fat solids creates a more creamy, rich and dense result.

Traditional ice cream is usually made by whipping ingredients prior to freezing. This creates a very light result. Kulfi is served in the shape of a cone, either on a stick or placed directly on a plate. In comparison the traditional method of serving ice cream is a scoop.

These Pistachio Kulfi Cookies are:

  • Buttery
  • Chewy but with a slight crispness
  • Eggless
  • Perfect for gifting
  • Easily adapted for vegan and gluten free diets (see below)

What you’ll need

To make these pistachio kulfi cookies you’ll require:

  • Unsalted butter, vegan butter works perfectly
  • White granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar – either light brown or dark brown will work, I’ll cover the differences below
  • Plain flour
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Ground cardamom
  • Roasted unsalted pistachios
  • Saffron
  • Milk

White sugar vs Brown sugar

Both types of sugar come from the same sugar cane plant. However both differ in the process by which they’re made.

In simplified terms, the juice from the sugar cane is first simmered down into a syrup. This syrup is a mix of sucrose and molasses. The molasses are then removed and the leftover syrup is dried until it forms the crystals we know as white sugar.

Brown sugar undergoes the same process however molasses are then added back in. The more molasses added back in, the darker the sugar. Hence light brown sugar will contain less molasses than dark brown sugar.

Molasses increase the moisture within the sugar and therefore can lead to clumping. White sugar won’t clump together as it contains no moisture. Molasses however provide far more than just moisture, they provide flavour.

They add a deep, rich, caramel flavour with an almost spiced note to it. Furthermore the darker the brown sugar the deeper the flavour.

Both light and dark brown sugar work for these cookies. I prefer the deep richness that comes from the dark brown sugar and hence I’d recommend using that. The higher quantity of molasses also makes the cookie more chewy.

If a crisp, less-chewy cookie is desired then opt for light brown sugar instead. These brown sugars differ from demerara and turbinado sugar and are not interchangeable her.

Turbinado and demerara contain far less molasses and will not provide the moisture or flavour needed. Demerara is also a larger sugar crystal that will not dissolve during the short bake time for this cookie.

You cannot use all white sugar or all brown sugar here. The combination of both is crucial for structure, browning, texture, and spread.

How to make these pistachio kulfi cookies

1) Toast a good pinch of saffron on a low heat for around 1-2 minutes. Ensure the heat is kept very low and gently move the saffron around to prevent burning
2) Place the milk in the microwave and heat until steaming. This will only require 10-20s, keep an eye on it as it can splatter easily. Coarsely grind the saffron between your fingertips and infuse it within the milk for at least 30 minutes

3) Lightly cream your softened butter with a spoon, this will only take 1 minute
4) Add the two types of sugar to the butter

5) Lightly cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together for around another minute. Avoid over-beating the butter and sugar as this incorporates too much air. That’s great for cakes, not for cookies
6) Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, i.e. the plain flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cardamom. Continue to mix

7+8) Add the saffron infused milk as well as the pistachios. Continue to mix until just incorporated. Do not overmix otherwise you risk having a dense and tough cookie

9) Your final dough will look like this and it will smell AMAZING
10) Form 30g doughballs from this cookie dough and roll into even balls. Then roll into extra ground pistachios (for a special finish). This last step is optional but it truly is the ‘icing on the cake’

11) Place the cookie dough balls on a tray lined with baking paper. Space each one out as they will spread
12) Bake till golden perfection and there you have it. Pistachio kulfi cookies and an incredible smelling kitchen


Can I make these cookies vegan?

Absolutely, use a vegan butter block e.g. Flora. It will work perfectly. Substitute the milk for a plant based alternative like oat milk or soy milk.

Can I make these cookies gluten free?

Many followers have had great success using the Dove’s Farm gluten free flour for these cookies with perfect results.

Can we refrigerate the cookie dough?

The dough/dough balls can be prepared in advance. However do not bake these directly out of the fridge. If the fat in the cookies is too cold it will prevent the cookies from spreading out during the bake. Remove the dough balls from the fridge and allow to stand at room temperature for 1-2 hours before baking.

Why did my cookies spread out too much or not spread out at all?

The most common reasons for this is issues with the butter or oven temperature.

If the cookies spread out too much:

  • Your butter was over softened or melted. In baking the term ‘softened butter’ refers to a state where you can press into the butter with a finger or the back of a spoon to leave an indentation. However the block of butter does not lose shape. The presence of any melted butter means it is over softened. To soften butter perfectly cut it into small cubes and leave to stand at room temperature for 30-40 minutes
  • Your oven may also be running at a higher temperature which can cause the fat to melt more quickly. This in turn causes cookies to spread out more. Try reducing the temperature for the next batch

If the cookies didn’t spread out:

  • Your butter was likely too cold as this will prevent spreading. If you refrigerated your cookie dough then ensure to leave it to stand at room temperature for 1-2 hours before baking
  • Your oven temperature may have been too low. Allow it to pre-heat for 30-60 minutes before baking to ensure it has reached the right temperature
pistachio kulfi cookies

Pistachio Kulfi Cookies

Buttery pistachio kulfi cookies infused with fragrant cardamom and saffron. Flavours reminiscent of the traditional pistachio kulfi ice cream.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 34 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Servings 18 cookies



  • 180 g plain flour
  • 150 g unsalted butter softened
  • 65 g white granulated sugar
  • 65 g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp milk of choice
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 60 g pistachios roughly chopped


  • 30 g ground pistachios for rolling the cookie dough balls



  • Pre heat your oven to 160'C (fan) or 180'C (conventional)
  • First toast the saffron on a low heat for 1-2 minutes. Move the saffron around to prevent burning
  • Place the milk in the microwave and heat until steaming. This will only require 10-20s, keep an eye on it as it can splatter easily. Coarsely grind the saffron between your fingertips and infuse it within the milk for at least 30 minutes
  • Next lightly cream the butter for 1 minute. Don't over do it as we don't want to incorporate too much air
  • Then add the sugars and vanilla, and cream for another minute
  • Add your dry ingredients, to the bowl. I.e. the plain flour, baking powder, salt and ground cardamom. Mix until everything is incorporated
  • Then add the saffron milk and chopped pistachios. Continue to mix
  • Take 30g portions of dough and roll into a ball. Then roll the cookie dough ball in the ground pistachios until evenly coated
  • Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Allow for 2 inches of space between each cookie as they will spread out. Bake for 14 minutes for chewy cookies or 18 minutes for more crumbly cookies.
  • Once cool enough to touch, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will continue to firm up.
Keyword biscuits, cardamom, cookies, dessert, kulfi, pistachio, pistachio kulfi cookies, saffron

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  • Reply
    May 28, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Are these on the sweet side or savoury

    • Reply
      June 2, 2021 at 2:58 pm

      Sweet as they’re cookies. Can’t have a salty or savoury cookie!

  • Reply
    Jack Halai
    June 27, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    5 stars
    ONE WORD AMAZING!! Kulfi flavoured cookies totally genius, perfect for the Indian household where everyone has a major sweet tooth for all things delicious!

    • Reply
      July 3, 2021 at 12:48 pm

      Thank you so much for the lovely review!

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  • Reply
    February 18, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    5 stars
    These are the best cookies I have ever had

    • Reply
      February 19, 2022 at 12:01 am

      Thank you so much, that’s very high praise!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Harsh Patel
    December 10, 2022 at 3:21 am

    5 stars
    Rish !

    I’ve always been afraid to bake but viola , I made my first batch of these cookies. BAAAM. I’m so impressed by the taste (think I need to reduce the butter a little) but it tastes PHENOMENAL! I also made your Malai Kofta and that was amazing as well.

    Good job on making this resource , next stop is the the Mango Cake !

    • Reply
      December 12, 2022 at 1:27 am

      Thank you so much for your lovely words Harsh! I’m so glad you loved them! With regards to the butter, if your butter was over softened or melted it can cause it to seep out and lend towards a more greasy cookie. If the butter texture is spot on this won’t happen and you’ll be left with a perfectly non-greasy cookie! 🙂 I’m chuffed you loved the malai kofta as well, means the world to have feedback like this so I appreciate it a lot! You’re going to love the mango lassi cake!

  • Reply
    December 23, 2022 at 3:04 am

    5 stars
    These were delicious and easy to make!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2023 at 2:07 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed these Urvi!

  • Reply
    Shweta Suresh
    February 13, 2023 at 6:54 pm

    Can we use plantbased milk? Which one would you suggest

    • Reply
      February 18, 2023 at 11:43 am

      As it’s such a small amount any will do. I personally always use oat milk or soya milk for baking

  • Reply
    April 28, 2023 at 11:07 pm

    5 stars
    Have made these cookies multiple times and I have always gotten compliments! Such soft, flavorful cookies! Followed the recipe exactly.

    • Reply
      May 6, 2023 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you so much for such a lovely review! 😀

  • Reply
    July 16, 2023 at 10:26 pm

    5 stars
    I made these for a luncheon and everyone loved them! Thanks for the recipe and it was easy to make.

    • Reply
      July 19, 2023 at 2:43 pm

      I’m so glad you guys enjoyed them! Thank you for leaving such a great review and for your feedback. It is much appreciated Rekha

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