Shamrock Green Pistachio Muffins (with ricotta!) for St. Patrick's Day by Cleo Coyle

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These pistachio muffins are outstanding. The batter tastes like pistachio ice cream, but I use a secret ingredient to bring nutrition to the muffin: ricotta cheese. Ricotta adds substance without heaviness and moistness without the high calories of extra butter or oil.

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe now. Or read my entire post with step-by-step photos by scrolling down or clicking here... 

Try these babies warm, right out of the oven, split open and slathered with butter or cream cheese, ahh.

These Pistachio Muffins and a hot cup of coffee make a delicious breakfast for me and my husband when we line up on chilly March mornings to watch the annual St. Patrick's Day parade, one of the biggest parades of the year here in New York City. And now today's recipe...

Cleo Coyle, who likes to wear
and eat green on March 17 is
author of The Coffeehouse
. To learn more, 

click here.

Cleo Coyle’s
Shamrock Green
Pistachio Muffins

(with Ricotta)

Our readers may recall these muffins from a scene in our new Coffeehouse Mystery, Brewed Awakening, a culinary murder mystery where a batch of these fresh, warm muffins played a role in helping our amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, flee a frightening situation. Her baristas used these tasty treats, along with a hot pot of Kona, to lure away an entire floor of witnesses, allowing Clare to escape to safety. To learn more click here.

Click the cover to learn more about
Cleo's new Coffeehouse Mystery:
Brewed Awakening 
As for today's recipe...

If this muffin were a book, I would title it A Tale of Two Pistachios. The finely ground pistachios give the batter its pale green color. They also distribute the pistachio flavor through the batter (like an almond or chestnut flour), so there’s no need to add artificial pistachio flavoring. 

At the same time, the roughly chopped pistachios give your mouth a contrasting experience, providing bursts of crunchy nut flavor like a good pistachio ice cream. In fact, that's exactly what this batter tastes like, so if you like pistachio ice cream, I think you'll enjoy these muffins immensely. And there's no guilt involved because the ricotta cheese brings nutrition and incredible moistness to these muffins without adding high calories that would come from using more butter or oil.

May you bake them with joy! ~ Cleo

Shamrock Green
Pistachio Muffins
(with ricotta)

Makes 12 muffins 


10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
1-1/2 cups sugar 
2 large eggs 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1/3 cup milk (whole or reduced fat) 
1 cup ricotta (whole milk or part-skim) 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (measure after sifting)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whole pistachios (measure after removing shells)
1 teaspoon green food coloring (optional for shamrock shade) 


Step 1 – Prepare pistachios: Remove the shells by hand and measure out 1 cup of whole pistachios. (I use natural, dry roasted California pistachios, available in most grocery stores.) 

A - ½ cup should be roughly chopped. You can pulse them once with a food processor or grinder or simply place them in plastic bag and bang away with a meat hammer or another fun smashing device. 

B - The remaining ½ cup of whole pistachios must be ground finely using a food processor or blade grinder. *See my tips at the end of this recipe for getting the best results on this. 

Step 2 – Make batter: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the eggs, vanilla, milk, ricotta, and salt. Add sifted flour, baking powder, and the finely ground and roughly chopped pistachios from Step 1. (See note below on optional addition of food coloring.) Blend all ingredients only enough to make a smooth batter. 

Optional: To make your muffins "wear the green" for St. Patrick’s Day, add 1 full teaspoon of green food coloring when adding the final ingredients to your batter. This will turn the batter an emerald green shamrock shade. 

IMPORTANT: Resist the urge to continue adding food coloring and playing with the dough’s shade. Every time you work that batter, you are developing the gluten in the flour and ruining the muffin's texture. Add the food coloring once and let it go or your muffins will be tough instead of tender.

(See photo below) The batter on the left was made a shamrock shade with green food coloring. The batter on the right is au naturel.

Step 3 – Prepare muffin pan and fill cups: Preheat oven to 375° F. Line muffin cups with paper holders. Fill each muffin cup to the very top with batter. This will give you a nice, rounded muffin top. You can bake the muffins naked or add a sprinkling of some roughly chopped pistachios.

Step 4 - Bake and cool: Bake the muffins about 25 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (with no batter on it). Allow pan to cool for a few minutes and transfer the muffins to a cooling rack. Do not allow muffins to stay in the hot pan or the bottoms may steam and become tough. 

(See photo below) I topped this batch of muffins with a sprinkling of roughly chopped pistachios, but these muffins are just as good with plain tops. If you want to try something deliciously decadent, finish the baked and cooled pistachio muffins with cream cheese frosting...oh, baby!


When a recipe asks you to finely grind nuts, you are creating a "nut flour," which can give a lovely flavor to any dough or batter. But be careful not to ruin that wonderful flavor by over grinding. Make sure to pulse the grinder or food processor, running it in short bursts. And be sure to stop the grinder as soon as the nuts are pulverized. Why do this? Grinding without pause will create a high RPM on the blades and the friction will overheat the nuts and burn them, imparting a scorched taste to your finished product. If you over-grind, you’re facing the same issue. So pulse, baby, pulse. Do not over grind, with joy!

Now that we're all set for
the Eating of the Green,
how about wearing it?

New York's St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of my favorites. Both the New York Fire and Police Departments march in large numbers, and the spectators are often dressed as colorfully as the marchers. If you've never seen it in person, put it on your bucket list. The New York "wearin'-of-the-green" experience is worth it's weight in a pot of gold!

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Eat (and read) with joy!

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Cleo (Alice) with her husband Marc

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