Kesar Pista Cupcakes – Indian Fusion Dessert- Pistachio Cupcakes with Saffron Frosting

Pistachio cupcakes with a cream cheese saffron topping! Easy to make cupcakes use ground pistachios for a delicious flavor.
kesar pista cupcakes indian fusion

Popular Indian flavor profile in a new form – Kesar Pista Cupcakes!

This recipe is for from scratch kesar pista cupcakes.  Kesar means saffron and pista pistachio.  So the base cupcake is an eggless pistachio cupcake made from ground pistachios.  It is then topped with a saffron cream cheese buttercream frosting. 

Kesar pista is a popular Indian flavor ice cream.  The two are also used in many sweets so I thought it would be fun to make it in a new form for an Indian fusion dessert. Pistachio is a versatile ingredient and goes great with the flavor of saffron.

Note: If you’ve worked with saffron you know it takes some time for the flavor to be absorbed.  I recommend making these the day before you serve them to give a more pronounced saffron flavor.

Saffron was once highly sought after and the ingredient of royalty. I think saffron is totally under utilized. It has a lovely floral taste and gives a beautiful color to sweets. A little goes a long way when it comes to saffron. The saffron cream cheese buttercream frosting tastes a bit like shrikhand because of the tang!

These pistachio cupcakes also taste great as Pistachio Cupcakes with Rose water Buttercream

If you are a fan of Indian fusion eggless cake recipes or fusion Indian sweets, you will love my Gulab Jamun Cake, Kesar Pista Milk Cake, Gajar Ka Halwa Cake, Mango Shrikhand Cheesecake, Chikoo Cheesecake, Tiramisu Burfi, Cookies and Cream Burfi and Kesar Pista Cupcakes.

Ingredients for Pistachio Cupcakes

  1. All purpose flour
  2. Roasted ground pistachios
  3. Sugar
  4. Unsalted Butter
  5. Salt
  6. Baking powder
  7. Whole milk
  8. Vinegar
  9. Vanilla and almond extract
I recommend sifting the dry ingredients (except sugar) together to make the cupcakes lighter and fluffier.

How to make the Kesar Pista cupcake batter

Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting

Tastes a bit like shrikhand because of the tang of the cream cheese!

If you’ve worked with saffron you know it takes some time for the flavor to be absorbed. I recommend making these the day before you serve them to give a more pronounced saffron flavor.

kesar pista cupcakes indian fusion dessert
kesar pista cupcake indian fusion dessert

Kesar Pista Cupcakes (Saffron Pistachio)

Shilpa Joshi
Pistachio cupcakes with a cream cheese saffron topping! Easy to make cupcakes use ground pistachios for a delicious flavor.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Indian, indian fusion
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 167 kcal


  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Mixing bowl


Pistachio Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar sifted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened (room temp)
  • 1 cup roast pistachios ground finely, some chunks ok
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar white vinegar can be substituted
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 generous pinches saffron crushed
  • 2 tbsp milk warmed in microwave 20 seconds
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick
  • cups powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • extra chopped pistachios for topping
  • few strands of saffron


Pistachio Cupcakes

  • Roast pistachios and grind into powder. Use 2 tbsp of the flour while grinding to prevent pistachio mixture from becoming pasty.
  • Mix milk with vinegar.
  • Sift together all dry ingredients except sugar.
  • Beat butter on medium until creamy. Slowly beat in sugar until all is incorporated. Beat in extracts.
  • Alternating between dry ingredients and milk, slowly beat into butter/sugar mixture until all is combined.
  • Heat oven to 350F and line cupcake tin with liners. Pour cupcake batter into liners to about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes. Check with toothpick to ensure fully baked. Let cool completely before icing so they set up properly.

Saffron Butter Cream Frosting

  • Mix milk and crushed saffron. Let sit to bloom 10 minutes.
    bloom saffron
  • Beat sugar, butter and cream cheese together
    cream butter and sugar
  • Beat in bloomed saffron milk until fluffy. Spoon into piping bag and top cupcakes.
    saffron buttercream


I like to leave out the butter and cream cheese for 2 hours before starting the recipe
Saffron flavor grows over time.  If possible make day ahead of serving to give the saffron more time to absorb into the frosting.
Bloom the saffron in warm milk (microwaved 20 seconds) before using.  Let sit atleast 10 minutes.  Leave longer, if you have time.
See recipe for eggless pistachio cupcakes here: Eggless Pistachio Cupcakes


Calories: 167kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 125mgPotassium: 38mgFiber: 1gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 269IUCalcium: 27mgIron: 1mg
Keyword diwali desserts, indian fusion desserts, kesar pista
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

15 thoughts on “Kesar Pista Cupcakes – Indian Fusion Dessert- Pistachio Cupcakes with Saffron Frosting”

    1. Hi Preeti, I haven’t tried with salted pistachios. It may become too salty. If you do give it a try, I would skip the salt added to the batter in the recipe.

  1. Hi! This is the first website I’ve seen that fuses indian and western confectionery. I loved this idea and want to make this but i have a few doubts. If i use salted butter, can i skip the additional salt? Also what should I use instead of cream cheese? Can i use Amul cream? Or perhaps whipping powder?

    1. Hi Saara! Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, if you use salted butter then skip the additional salt in the batter. A substitute for cream cheese in the frosting is hard to determine. You could try marscapone cheese but I have not tried it. Amul cream is too liquidy to use so your frosting won’t set. As an alternative, you could make a whipping cream frosting and add saffron to it. Ingredients for whipping cream are in this recipe card:
      Hope that helps!

      1. thank you for the clarification but again, to make the whipping cream, is amul cream okay? i also have Baker’s whip whipping powder though it gives a chemical taste.

        1. I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure of the consistency of Amul Cream so cannot confirm if it would work. You could definitely give it a try! Where are you based? The grocery stores here also sell a cream cheese frosting which could save you time! Feel free to email me with further questions: shilpa at

  2. 5 stars
    These were incredibly lovely! I used all vanilla extract. I baked mini cupcakes and used store bought frosting because I had some left over in the fridge. Everyone loved these. Thank you. 🙂

    1. Hi Aimee – Thanks so much for taking time to let me know, I’m so happy to hear 🙂 Also, appreciate you sharing that you used all vanilla extract and that it worked well as others may want to do the same!

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