If you’re like me and have a bunch of different oils in your kitchen for different purposes, you might want to consider adding pistachio oil to your collection. Pistachio oil is a green-tinged, potent oil that bursts with flavor and also has plenty of potential health benefits. But when is it best to use pistachio oil? What recipes does it work best in? How does it compare to the versatile favorite butter?
We’ll get all the answers to these questions in this comparison article. Let’s go!
Comparing pistachio oil vs butter
|Solid or Liquid?||Liquid||Solid|
|Smoke Point (Fahrenheit)||250 degrees||300 – 350 degrees|
|Good for Cooking…||Raw||Raw, low heat|
|Common allergens||Pistachio, tree nut||Lactose, casein|
Differences between pistachio oil and butter
The biggest difference between pistachio oil and butter is ingredients. Pistachio oil is 100% vegan and comes from pressing roasted pistachio nuts, while butter is a dairy product churned from cream or animal milk, usually cow’s milk.
But that’s not the only huge difference between the two – pistachio oil has a very low smoke point at just 250 degrees F, so it isn’t suitable for low-heat, medium-heat, or high-heat cooking methods like frying where the oil is subjected to intense heat for a long time. If used for higher-temperature cooking, you’ll find that it develops a burnt taste and loses its nutritional value. Butter has a higher smoke point that makes it suitable for low-heat cooking and baking.
Both are suitable for gluten-free and keto diets, but pistachio oil has the advantage of being vegan and paleo as well. They also both contain allergens – butter containing lactose and casein and pistachio oil being unsuitable for those allergic to tree nuts.
Baking and cooking with pistachio oil vs butter
When I’m baking, butter is like my trusty companion I use for just about everything – pastries, cookies, cakes, pies, and more. It’s also no surprise that butter tastes better than oil in baking, as it gives off that classic, rich, mouthwatering aroma.
Butter can also come in salted and unsalted varieties. The added salt can be good for balancing sweetness in certain baked goods, while I reach for the unsalted variety if I need a lot more control over the salt content. Depending on the source of the butter (cow vs goat vs sheep vs…well, you get the idea), it will also have different flavor profiles.
On the contrary, I don’t use pistachio oil for baking or heat cooking at all. Since its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for cooking with heat, it’s best used as a finishing oil drizzled over pasta dishes, salad, roasted veg, and desserts. I particularly enjoy it paired with pesto and lemon for a fresh and flavorful kick. Fun fact: it’s extra popular in France!
Can pistachio oil and butter be substituted for each other?
Pistachio oil and butter aren’t good substitutes for each other – for reasons relating to flavor, texture, smoke point, and more.
If you’re looking for an overall alternative to pistachio oil, pumpkin seed oil is the best all-rounder. For something that’s better for regular and high-heat cooking, pecan oil will work wonders because of its similar nutty flavor profile. For butter, ghee is closest in flavor. And if you’re looking for something in place of butter for raw cooking and high-heat cooking? Choose macadamia oil and avocado oil, respectively.
Nutrition: Pistachio oil vs butter
Pistachio oil and butter are similar in two aspects: their overall fat content (around 14g per tablespoon) and trans fat content (0 – 0.5g). Pistachio oil is higher in calories than butter, at 130 calories per tablespoon vs 102 calories in butter.
While butter’s primary fat source is saturated fat (7.3g), pistachio oil’s is monounsaturated fat (8g), with polyunsaturated fats being a close second. These healthier fat profiles in pistachio oil make it a popular choice for adding more unsaturated fats into your diet and getting those all-important essential fatty acids like omega-6. A diet high in saturated fat has been linked to higher levels of “bad” cholesterol, so like with all cooking oils or fats, use butter in moderation.
|Per tablespoon (15mL)||Pistachio oil||Butter|
|Polyunsaturated||5 g||0.4 g|
|Monounsaturated||8 g||3.0 g|
|Saturated||2 g||7.3 g|
|Trans||0 g||0.5 g|
|Total Fat||14 g||14.2 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to store pistachio oil and butter
Pistachio oil needs to be stored in a cool, dark place, away from any heat sources. It should stay fresh for up to six months. For butter, transfer it from its packaging to an airtight container and store it in a separate space in the fridge. Avoid storing butter near strong-smelling foods, as it absorbs odors quite easily.
Pistachio oil vs butter: Which is better?
Each one of our contenders is better for certain things in the kitchen. Pistachio is my favorite to drizzle on gourmet salads and other treats at dinner parties, but butter will forever be my go-to for baking and savory cooking. Since they’re so different, it’s hard to pit them against each other – so why not just embrace them both? If this article has piqued your interest in experimenting with cooking oils or fats, check out our breakdown of these 42 different types!
Pistachio oil is a flavorful oil with a rich, nutty taste that brings a distinct character to dishes. With its low smoke point, it isn’t a good option for heat cooking but instead shines as a dressing, giving a unique and aromatic twist to salads, grain bowls, and roasted vegetables. You can even use it as a finishing oil to drizzle over soups, hummus, or even grilled meats for that extra flair. With its vibrant green hue, pistachio oil also adds a visually appealing element to your creations.
Overall, pistachio oil has a rich, nutty, and aromatic profile. The flavor is similar to the pistachio nut itself but with a smoother and more refined quality. You’ll find hints of toasted goodness and a touch of grassiness, a subtle sweetness, and an earthy undertone.