Pistachio Cream Filling (French Buttercream)

5 from 10 votes

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This pistachio cream filling is silky smooth and luxurious! It’s subtly sweet and ultra-creamy. It’s a perfect filling for French macarons but pipes beautifully on cupcakes and cakes too.

close up of pistachio buttercream.


Why you’ll love this recipe:

French buttercream is American buttercream’s custardy, ultra-creamy cousin!

It’s light and silky yet rich with a subtle sweetness. Pistachio paste gives it a nutty flavor that’s downright addicting.

Pistachio cream filling tastes fabulous in French macarons, but it’s sturdy enough to pipe onto vanilla cupcakes or frost a layer cake.

It’s a bit trickier than traditional buttercream because it requires a hot sugar syrup. Don’t let this intimidate you! It’s easy once you get the hang of it and totally worth it in the end.

What is the difference between French buttercream and Swiss buttercream?

Swiss (and Italian) meringue buttercream recipes are both made with whipped egg whites, while French buttercream is made with whipped egg yolks.

In Swiss meringue buttercream, the whites are cooked with the sugar, then whipped until light and fluffy.

In French buttercream, the hot sugar syrup is cooked separately and then drizzled into the whipped egg yolks.

French buttercream is slightly richer with a custardy flavor and light yellow color from the egg yolks.

Key Ingredient Notes:

  • Sugar – French buttercream isn’t excessively sweet like American buttercream. It’s subtle, which is what makes it so delicious! One third cup of regular sugar is not a typo! It doesn’t need powdered sugar.
  • Water – First, we need to make a hot sugar syrup which is why we need water. It hydrates the sugar so it doesn’t just turn into caramel.
  • Egg yolks – The base of French buttercream is beaten egg yolks. This is what makes it so luxurious and creamy.
  • Unsalted butter – It’s crucial to use softened butter. Melted butter will create frosting soup, and cold butter will curdle.
  • Pistachio paste – I highly recommend homemade pistachio paste, but you can also find it on Amazon or at specialty food stores.

How to make this recipe:

Pistachio cream is rich, luxuriously creamy, and worth the added effort! Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sugar syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Use a candy thermometer to temp the sugar syrup and continue to cook until it reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Beat egg yolks: Simultaneously, beat the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until doubled in size and pale in color. You want to beat the yolks while the sugar syrup cooks!
sugar syrup in pan, egg yolks in mixer.
  • Add sugar syrup: With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the beating egg yolks. Pour the syrup towards the edge of the bowl so it doesn’t hit the whisk and splatter.
  • Beat the frosting: Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture cools down to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It should look silky smooth and white.
egg yolks in mixer, whipped egg yolks in mixer.
  • Stir in butter: Stir in the soft butter, one tablespoon at a time. Don’t add it all at once.
  • Add pistachio paste: Add the pistachio paste and beat until smooth. Add food coloring now, if desired.

Tips for Success:

  • This is a small batch recipe for macaron filling. It only makes one cup total so if you plan to use it for cupcakes, double the recipe.
  • You must temp the sugar syrup! If you don’t cook it long enough, the pistachio buttercream won’t set properly. Cook it too long, and you’ll get rock sugar instead of frosting! The sugar syrup should reach the firm ball stage, 245-250 degrees F, and no higher.
  • Position your stand mixer near the stove. It makes things easier since you’ll cook the sugar syrup and whip the egg yolks simultaneously.
  • Avoid a hand mixer this time. It’s easier to work with a stand mixer because we need to pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg yolks very slowly while the mixer is running!
  • It’s important to pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream. If poured generously, the sugar syrup hardens as it hits the bowl and turns into rock candy.
  • Make sure the butter is room temperature, not so soft it’s melting. If it’s too soft, the frosting won’t set up properly.
  • Let the whipped yolks cool down before you add the butter, otherwise, the butter will melt and you won’t have frosting, but soup!
a bowl of pistachio cream filling.

Storing Tips:

  • To store – Store pistachio buttercream at room temperature for up to 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Transfer the frosting to an airtight container first.
  • To freeze – Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Rewhip to a soft and pipeable consistency if needed.


What is French buttercream made of?

French buttercream is a meringue-style frosting made of whipped egg yolks, butter, and sugar. The egg yolks are whipped with a hot sugar syrup until light and fluffy, then butter is added to create a silky smooth texture.

What does pistachio paste taste like?

Pistachio paste has a naturally sweet and nutty flavor. It’s smooth and creamy with a light green hue. It’s made of just ground pistachios, while pistachio cream has sugar added to it.

What do you use pistachio paste for?

Pistachio paste adds a nutty flavor to cakes, fillings, frostings, and treats. Try it in ice cream, macarons, chocolate cake, cookies, and tarts. It can also be used as a spread for toast, crepes, or pancakes.

close up of pistachio buttercream.
5 from 10 votes

Pistachio Cream Filling

This pistachio cream filling is silky smooth and luxurious! It's subtly sweet and ultra-creamy. It's a perfect filling for French macarons but pipes beautifully on cupcakes and cakes too.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 cup


  • 1/3 cup (65g) granuated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) water
  • 2 egg yolks at room tempeature
  • 2 oz (55g) unsalted butter softened, Note 1
  • 3 teaspoons (20g) pure pistachio paste (I used my homemade version)


  • stand mixer with the paddle attachment


  • In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring it constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then continue to cook until the syrup reaches 250°F (120°C), about 5 minutes.
  • Simultaneously, start beating the egg yolks in a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment until it's doubled in size and becomes pale in color, about 2 minutes.
  • While the mixer is running on low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks. Pour the syrup into the side of the bowl, instead of the whisk, so that it doesn't splatter.
  • Increase the speed to medium high, and beat the mixture until it cools down to 104°F (40°C). The mixture will become smooth and white.
  • Stir in butter one tablespoon at a time.
  • Then add the pistachio paste and food coloring, if desired. Continue to beat the cream until nice and smooth.

Tips & Notes

Note 1: The butter should be soft, but NOT melting. If it’s melty, it’s too soft and the frosting won’t set up properly. 
Storing Tips:
To store – Store pistachio buttercream at room temperature for up to 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Transfer the frosting to an airtight container first.
– To freeze – Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Rewhip to a soft and pipeable consistency if needed.


Calories: 1299kcal
Carbohydrates: 74g
Protein: 11g
Fat: 111g
Sugar: 68g
Sodium: 829mg
Course: filling
Cuisine: American

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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  1. 5 stars

    I made this and it was amazing. Just wanted to double check – you wrote 4 oz of butter but 55g, but isn’t 4 oz butter around 110g? I used 110g.


    1. Hi AT. OMG, good catch!!! Thank you so much for letting know. I use 55g of butter, so 2oz. But I’m sure your turned out just fine with a little more butter. Ugh, I feel so bad for my mistake and I can’t thank you enough for your comment.

  2. 5 stars
    If you are making Macarons then you must make this filling – the perfect way to use up those left over egg yolks and makes the Macarons twice a good!! (And even more all the effort😅😅)

  3. Please include in the ingredients list that the eggs have to be room temperature. I didn’t see that until reading the troubleshoot part and am now unsure if my cream is safe to eat as my eggs were cold. My syrup didn’t turn into rock candy though… please help

    1. Hi, Valeriya. Your buttercream is safe to eat. Egg yolks would have come to room temperature while it’s beating. And especially since your syrup didn’t turn into rock candy, it indicates that there was no big temperature shock.

  4. 5 stars
    Wow this recipe was phenomenal. Thank you! Perfect for my pistachio macs. Instructions were spot on and clear and I got the result in the picture. I always use salted butter though. Preference. I think it was room temp by the time I incorporated and it was still perfect.

  5. Hi Shinee,

    Thank so much for this delicious recipe! What is the correct consistency for the resulting cream? I piped this onto a few macarons but even after putting them in the freezer overnight, the filling never solidified. And if I brought them out to room temp, the filling would likely melt. I suspect my pistachio cream filling is more liquid than yours.


    1. Hi, Mel. I’d say this buttercream is slightly on the softer side, but it definitely hardens when frozen. Did you bring your sugar syrup to 250°F?

      1. Hi Shinee. I’ve made this recipe twice. The first time I did not reach 250°F, and so I figured I didn’t evaporate enough of the water in the sugar syrup. The 2nd time, I made sure to reach 250°F (I used my thermoworks mk4 to measure) before pouring into the bowl with the whipped egg yolks. This time I got a thicker consistency but it still didn’t solidify in the freezer. Do you recommend using a special kind of butter? I’m using regular unsalted butter.

        1. Hi, Mel. I don’t use any special butter. Land O Lake’s unsalted butter is my go-to.

  6. Hi, 

    I was wondering if I can make the pistachio fillings the day before I use it in my macaroons. And if so, do I need to take out of the fridge the next day and let it get to room temp before filling. 

    Thank you for all your helpful tips and recipes. 


    1. Hi, Jana. Yes, you will need to bring it to room temperature, otherwise it’ll be on a firm side. And you may also need to give it a quick whip to make it fluffy. Hope you’ll love them. Let me know how they turn out.

  7. Hi!

    Wondering what commercial brands you’d recommend for pistachio paste? I’m sure home made has just as good a flavor, but I’m worried about any graininess in the buttercream.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi, Sarah. Unfortunately, I haven’t tested commercial brands of pistachio paste, and I have no recommendations.

  8. 5 stars
    THIS WAS AMAZING! I didn’t have paste so I used finely ground pistachios. Audience favorite. I plan on applying this dreamy French buttercream base to other flavors.