March 7, 2013

P.B. & J. Gelato

When we developed the recipes for Modernist Cuisine at Home, we focused on using ingredients that we felt were fairly accessible and affordable. So when we reengineered our Pistachio Gelato recipe from Modernist Cuisine, we replaced the carrageenan with tapioca starch and xanthan gum. We tested it with corn starch and potato starch, but we liked tapioca the best. You can use either potato or corn starch, but a different texture may result.

We then took it a step further to include variations for Hazelnut Gelato, Strawberry Macadamia Gelato, and P.B. & J. Gelato, because those ingredients are also easier to find than pistachio butter.

Sam Fahey-Burke, Development Chef

Recipe Tags

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PB&J Recipe

P.B. & J. Gelato, Step 2

Mix the hydrocolloids together and then gradually add them to the juice.

P.B. & J. Gelato, step 6A

You can use either strawberry or grape juice in this recipe.

P.B. & J. Gelato, Step 6B

We recommend using an immersion blender to thoroughly mix the ingredients.

P.B. & J. Gelato, step 7

Pour the mixture into a bowl, and chill it in a bath of ice water before transferring it to an ice-cream maker.

P.B. & J. Gelato, Step 8

You can use an ice-cream maker, gelatiera, or Pacojet.

P.B. & J. Gelato

We like to serve gelato in an elegant quenelle scoop.

Tips & Substitutions

Steps 1 - –5
  • You can use either grape juice or strawberry juice in this recipe. Whichever you decide, make sure to get 100% juice with no additives. Additives can interfere with the other ingredients in this recipe.
  • You can find both tapioca starch and xanthan gum online as well as in stores.
  • If you can't find tapioca starch, you can use corn starch or potato starch, but the texture may be altered.
  • Dry-blend the dry ingredients before adding them to the juice. This will ensure that the thickening agents are evenly distributed when you add them to the juice.
  • Use an immersion blender to thoroughly combine the dry ingredients with the juice. Continue blending until the juice comes to a boil.
  • Remove the pot from the burner before adding the peanut butter and oil.
Steps 6– - 9
  • Again, use an immersion blender to thoroughly mix the peanut butter and oil into the juice mixture.
  • Pour the combined mixture into a bowl, and set the bowl into a large bowl filled with ice water. Wait until the gelato has cooled until you pour it into the ice-cream maker.
  • Our preference is to use a Pacojet, but an ice-cream maker or gelatiera are both good options, too. The texture, however, may not be quite as smooth or dense without a Pacojet.
  • Churn the gelato until it thickens and freezes, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the frozen gelato to a plastic container, press plastic wrap onto the surface of the gelato, and seal the container. Place it in the freezer until the gelato is firm, about 4 hours. The plastic wrap prevents a skin from forming on the gelato.
  • The gelato is best when consumed within 24 hours, but it will keep up to a week when frozen.
  • You may need to temper the gelato slightly at room temperature before serving it.


  1. Ryan March 7, 2013 Reply

    Sounds delicious, but to me, the color of the finished gelato is rather bland and pretty unappetizing. The second picture, where the peanut butter is added to the juice mixture, shows how beautiful the colors are, but when mixed together, it just grays out.

    Is there any way to add either the jelly or peanut butter component as a swirl and not lose the texture and flavor of the original? Or a way to make the color more vibrant and appealing?

    • Judy March 7, 2013 Reply

      Hi Ryan,

      Great question. This is based off of the Pistachio Gelato recipe in Modernist Cuisine at Home (which is slightly different than the original version from Modernist Cuisine). So yes, you could make it with just a nut butter and top it with jelly. We actually often serve the pistachio version over cherries.

    • T.C. Phelps March 11, 2013 Reply

      I used bottled (sorry) concord grape juice for the recipe and the colour was pretty good, sort of a milk-chocolate look with a slightly pinkish hue. I will add ripple next time, that’s a good idea – but will still make the main recipe as is so that there’s a good PB&J flavour in each bite.

      I’ve made around 75 different ice cream concoctions over the past few years, sometimes the final colour stands on its own very well (the brilliant red of cranberry with rosemary and white wine), other times not so much (the muddy speckled beige of bananas foster). When the flavour is a winner and the look is not, but I still need to impress, I resort to window dressing the bowl. Syrup swirls, molten sugar drip-artwork (not sure what they’re called), or an appropriate topper (like banana chips for the bananas foster ice cream and a sprig of mint, trite though it may be). I’m not a professional chef though so I’m sure others have even better ideas. 🙂

  2. Nick March 7, 2013 Reply

    Is tapioca starch the same as tapioca maltodextrin? And is corn starch the same as corn flour?

    (Please ignore my ignorance, I live in Europe and I’m unsure about how to purchase these ingredients. I purchased modernist cuisine at home and wanted to make the chicken wings recipe so bad that I had to resort to having a relative shipping over some Wondra flour because we don’t have it over here!)

    • Sam Fahey-Burke April 2, 2013 Reply

      Hi Nick,

      How they are labeled varies from brand to brand, but corn starch and corn flour are typically the same product. Tapioca starch is, however, not the same as tapioca maltodextrin. Tapioca maltodextrin is a starch that has been modified to soak up fats; those fats can then be delivered in the form of a light, fluffy powder.

  3. Juice505 March 9, 2013 Reply

    Is Tapioca Starch and Tapioca Flour the same? The hyperlink for the Tapioca Starch leads Tapioca Flour.

    • Judy March 11, 2013 Reply

      They are the same thing.

  4. Lillo March 23, 2013 Reply

    Il vero gelato non si fa così…The real ice cream does not use pre-packaged products, but natural products such as pistacchio, based pastor (thickener) fresh milk and so on.
    See you in Italy

  5. Dennis Hegyi March 26, 2013 Reply

    I was wondering why you need both tapioca starch and xanthan gum. Wouldn’t just xanthan gum be enough to keep ice crystals from growing? Also, don’t you need an emulsifier to break up the fat in the peanut butter and peanut oil?

  6. Will Holdoway February 24, 2015 Reply

    I’m wondering whether roasted peanut oil is necessary (it’s hard to find here in the UK) or whether I could substitute with cold-pressed peanut oil (marketed here as groundnut oil). Thanks

    • Caren February 27, 2015 Reply

      Hi Will- Great question. You can definitely substitute cold-pressed peanut oil for roasted peanut oil, though the flavor might be more subtle.

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