Hazelnut–Cocoa Spread (aka Homemade Nutella)

I will not lie. This hazelnut–cocoa spread—homemade Nutella—like many other foods, requires more work to make than pulling something off a store shelf and tossing it into your shopping cart. But once you taste homemade, you can never go back. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Not only does the homemade version taste better, it contains high-quality ingredients. Sugar is the first ingredient in Nutella. Palm oil, the second. Nutella also contains vanillin, an artificial flavor. At least you can rest assured that vanillin rarely comes from the anal glands of beavers these days, to the relief of vegans. Well, okay, to the relief of everyone.

One day, security will kick me out of the grocery store

Living the sheltered life that I do, a life (happily) devoid of processed food, I didn’t realize that Nutella contains palm oil. That’s in there? If you want to learn more about why palm oil has earned a deservedly horrible reputation, read this long article, “How the world got hooked on palm oil” from The Guardian.

Ferrero, the company that manufactures Nutella, posts its corporate social responsibility report online, which I imagine explains how it continues to address the palm oil problem in its supply chain. I don’t know because I speak only English and a bit of French. I could spend my precious time running the Italian-language document through ho-hum Google Translate and then read the resulting garbled English or I could spend my time making something that tastes much better than Nutella—sans (I did say a bit of French) plastic jar and large plastic lid to boot.

No one should have to work this hard to find out what corporations put into their food-like substances. Fortunately, you have a much easier strategy to avoid eating palm oil:

Avoid buying food with labels.

Food with labels usually contains dubious ingredients you would not stock in your pantry. Whole foods have no labels listing ingredients because they are ingredients.

All In the Family

My daughter MK first made hazelnut-cocoa spread for her blog, The Plastic-Free Chef, several years ago. My younger daughter Charlotte tweaked MK’s recipe a bit for this post. MK sweetened hers with powdered sugar. Charlotte used honey. Both taste amazing.

If you want a vegan version but without powdered sugar, rice syrup or barley malt syrup will work. Or likely a simple syrup for that matter. A few people on Instagram suggested sweetening this with puréed dates. I do have dates but ran out of time before my self-imposed weekly blog deadline, so I haven’t tried that. After I finish inhaling this batch—at my current rate, a few days—I’ll try making a small amount with dates.

Hazelnut–Cocoa Spread

Yields approximately 1 ¾ cups

Hazelnut–cocoa spread ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons honey or to taste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons coconut oil to reach desired consistency

Directions

1. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast at 400°F for 5 to 10 minutes or until the skins begin to crack. Toasting brings out the flavor. Do not skip this step!

toasted hazelnuts on a cookie sheet
Toasted hazelnuts

2. After the nuts have cooled enough to handle, place them in a towel. Cover them up and rub them around inside the towel to remove the skins. Don’t worry if you can’t get all of the skins off.

hazelnuts with skins removed
Remove as much of the skins as you can

3. Run the nuts in a food processor until they become creamy hazelnut butter. This can take up to 10 minutes. Be patient.

homemade hazelnut butter
The only beaver involved in this recipe appears on Charlotte’s sweats

4. Add the cocoa, salt and vanilla and process until combined.

5. Slowly add the honey, a tablespoon or so at at time, and process until combined.

6. Add the coconut oil, a tablespoon or so at at time, and process. Continue until the hazelnut-cocoa spread has reached your desired consistency. Charlotte kept this batch quite thick. If you prefer it runnier, add more oil.

7. The oil will naturally separate when you store this. Stir it up before eating. Like other nut butters, if you eat this as quickly as we do, you don’t need to store it in the refrigerator. Natural nut butters will keep well at room temperature for several weeks.

I can’t stop eating this

24 Replies to “Hazelnut–Cocoa Spread (aka Homemade Nutella)”

  1. Homemade nutella is so much tastier! I’ve tried a few iterations, but prefer the slight caramel taste that puréed dates lend to it.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I will try that in my next batch, Sophie. It sounds like a good combo 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  2. Oh wow as bolt to my pantry.. I am so making this!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      It’s so good, Susan. A little too good! I think the fact that it takes more work to make is a good thing. Otherwise I would make it–and eat it–all the time. Enjoy! ~ Anne Marie

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      It’s very good, Dee! And only a handful of real ingredients too. ~ Anne Marie

  3. I have not been a fan of nut butters but this one sounds good.

    Reading the label and the story about the vanillin certainly turns me off any food with labels, and I really think your rule “don’t buy anything with labels” is a good strategy for staying healthy.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      It’s very good Marieann! I’m glad you like that rule. It’s straightforward and it works 😉 ~ Anne Marie

  4. We tried it. The only problem was our food processor, but at the end it is just a bit crunchy. Do you turn your jars up side down? To keep it from molding?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Manon,

      If it is not creamy, you can try running it for a few more minutes. I have never had nut butters mold. They can turn rancid though after a long time. If you’re worried about it going south, I would keep it in the refrigerator.
      ~ Anne Marie

    2. This was very tasty when I made it! I dont think I used enough coconut oil so it was a bit drier than I planned but I will definitely make it again. It’s great with berries and ice cream. It has a similar taste to choc brownies. I like someone’s suggestion of adding a couple of dates. Love your recipes and ideas!

  5. I really need to try making this sounds amazing

  6. I tried it! Got my nuts at Bulk Barn, but after I already bagged them I noticed the store has hazel nut butter. Oh well.

    I have a tiny food processor. Holds about 1.5 cups. So I processed the nuts half at a time. But I dont think my machine can do that again. It got hot and a bit smelly. I used the ingredients but found it bitter, I added some icing sugar, then of course more oil and honey to make it more wet. I think I made a mess trying to save it. Lol. But, the flavour is good, just still gritty. I think next time I will purchase the nut butter and go from there.

    We will probably make some hazelnut butter balls (like Feraro Roche) with what I made.

    Thanks!!!

  7. Great recipe, my only issue is I can’t tolerate coconut – so what is an alternative to the coconut oil that you use? Any help would really be appreciated!

    1. I am also hoping to make this–I have all the ingredients except coconut oil. (OK, I do have coconut oil. But that coconut oil is used as diaper cream. I am NOT putting that in my Nutella.) I hope that canola oil will work in its place. I’ll report back if I make this!

      1. Oh please let me know how it goes Clare!!!

  8. I made some today. It tastes better than Nutella! Thank you for the recipe and all the inspiration.

  9. Update!! I made your recipe with hazelnut butter this time, 1 1/4 cup worth. Not too bad this time round, texture is great. I think, personally, 1/8 tsp of salt is too much. More hazelnut type treats to be made I guess. Will see what I get next week! Lol!!

  10. […] started to go with the Zero Waste Chef’s recipe, but with my tiny food processor, I could not manage to make the hazelnut butter. the texture was […]

  11. James Broderick says: Reply

    I see you live in the Bay Area. Try substituting half your hazelnuts with roasted bay nuts. If you’ve never eaten a nut from the Bay Laura tree (native to California), I would describe its taste somewhere between chocolate and coffee. Absolutely delicious.

  12. I made this today with the nuts from our hazel from last year!! I found it really hard getting the skin off and everyone says the finished product tastes burnt 🙁 I don’t know if I toasted them for too long (about 8 minutes at 170 ish) or whether it’s the skins. It’s ok though cos I like it!!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Alison,

      I’m glad you like it! If you had trouble getting the skins off, you might need to toast them a little bit longer. The skins will crack and come off easily when you rub them in a towel. You might want to try it with a small amount of nuts and see how that goes. Or make it as you did this batch and eat it all yourself 😛

      ~ Anne Marie

  13. Pattie Beaven says: Reply

    OMG, I just found your website and your recipes, and I REALLY want to try this. I hate Nutella for its involvement in the palm oil crisis, and all the added crap, but yes, it tastes like heaven.
    Has anyone tried this recipe with an alternative to honey, though? My husband had a kidney transplant, and now uncooked honey is off the table. I was thinking either maple syrup or agave nectar (which I understand comes in plastic, but it’s a process, right?)

    1. Hi Pattie,

      I was really surprised to see that Nutella (or anything else really!) has palm oil. What the heck. People know it’s terrible stuff. I think it would taste delicious with maple syrup but haven’t tried it. My older daughter wrote another version on her blog without honey and it tastes amazing: https://theplasticfreechef.com/2012/11/30/chocolate-hazelnut-spread/

      Anne Marie

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