Hazelnuts have a creamy, nutty flavor that is beloved by many, but not always available all of the time.
If you find yourself craving or in need of the flavor or texture of hazelnuts but you simply don’t have any on hand, or you’re allergic and need a substitute to enjoy a recipe, there are a few substitutes that may come in handy.
What are the best substitutes for hazelnuts? If you have hazelnut oil, extract, or spreads like Nutella in your pantry or similar nuts like almonds or Macadamia nuts, you can often substitute them in a recipe. Sometimes oats, seeds, and other crunchy foods will substitute in terms of texture.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best substitutes for hazelnuts in different situations, preparing you for an easy alternative no matter what your hazelnut needs may be.
What are Hazelnuts?
Hazelnuts are the seeds of the hazel tree. In the US, they’re often simply called hazels, though you may also hear them referred to as cobnuts or filberts if you’re speaking with a European.
Hazelnuts, like most nuts, have a high oil content and sweet, nutty flavor.
They are often used to make hazelnut oil, which is very flavorful, or as an ingredient in sweet, baked goods. They pair particularly well with chocolate and/or vanilla flavors.
Hazelnuts can also be used to complement savory dishes, both cooked and uncooked.
Adding hazelnuts to a fresh salad provides a crunchy texture that is very distinct from the crunch of vegetables, and adds a healthy dose of fats and protein as well. When chopped, hazelnuts add texture and flavor as a garnish for pasta or curries.
Hazelnuts also make a delicious and filling snack. They can be eaten raw or roasted, paired with either sweet or savory complements.
Best Substitutes for Hazelnuts
There are many viable substitutes for hazelnuts, but which one you choose will depend on the reason for your substitution as well as what type of recipe you’re making the substitute for.
The most common reasons to substitute any ingredient are either because you don’t have any, your allergic to the item, or you don’t like the taste.
If you’re looking for the flavor of hazelnuts, the substitute you reach for will be different than if you are allergic to the nuts. It may also be different if it’s the unique crunchy texture you’re craving.
The following chart will give you a brief overview of some of the best substitutes for hazelnuts and how best to use them.
|Needed Attribute||Best Substitute||What to Expect|
|Flavor||Hazelnut Oil / Extract||All the flavor, none of the texture or bulk|
|Flavor||Hazelnut Butter||Exact flavor and nutritional match, different texture|
|Flavor||Nutella||Significant chocolate flavor with your hazelnut|
|Allergies||Seeds, Candy chips, or oats||Varies depending on the recipe|
|Texture||Macadamia Nuts||Similar in texture to roasted hazelnuts, higher in fat|
|Texture||Almonds||Similar in texture to raw hazelnuts|
|Nutrition||Almonds||Similar calorie, carb, and fiber content, and contains Vitamin E|
Now let’s look at each of these alternatives and how to use them in more detail.
How to Get Hazelnut Flavor Without Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts have a distinctive flavor that is more earthy than your average nut. While the texture also makes a strong impact on the experience of eating hazelnuts, the aroma is even more apparent.
If you love hazelnuts, when you’re looking for a substitute for flavor, you’re likely also going to crave the fragrance that announces the nut’s presence.
The only way to get an exact match for hazelnut flavor and fragrance is to substitute it for a product that uses hazelnuts.
1. Hazelnut Oil
Having hazelnut oil as a staple in your pantry is a wise decision for a lot of reasons.
Not only will it make a perfect flavor substitution for hazelnuts in any recipe, it can bring a nutty sweetness to a wide range of recipes that don’t call for hazelnuts but would be more enjoyable for the flavor.
The most common hazelnut oils are made with roasted hazelnuts, like our favorite artisanal quality, expeller pressed and non-GMO hazelnut oil from La Tourangelle. Roasted hazelnuts have the sweetest, most obvious flavor.
It is possible to find raw or cold-pressed hazelnut oil, however, if you do, it’s more likely to be recommended for external use on skin or hair, or for use in beauty and fragrance products.
2. Hazelnut Extract
Using an extract is an alternative to the real nut as well as a lighter option than hazelnut oil. This is a good way to get the flavor and aroma without any of the added calories or other nutrients.
It’s useful for baking cakes, making ice cream, or adding to frostings though it won’t add any fats or proteins. If your recipe calls for hazelnuts, you’ll have to look up a reliable conversion to replace it with an extract and other ingredients that will make up for what is missing.
The gluten-free hazelnut extract from OliveNation has a beautiful, balanced flavor and fragrance.
If you’re allergic to hazelnuts but still enjoy and crave the flavor and fragrance, they also make imitation extracts that should be safe.
It’s always recommended that you do your own safety research if you have a severe allergy, to be sure that the facility is also nut-free and caters to the rest of your safety requirements, however.
Our favorite brand for reliable imitation extracts is Watkins, and they happen to make a near-perfect imitation hazelnut extract.
3. Hazelnut Spreads and Butters
Nut butters of all varieties are becoming more commonplace, hazelnut butter among them.
When you use hazelnut butter or a hazelnut spread, you will get all the flavor, aroma, and even nutritional value of using whole hazelnuts, however, you won’t get the texture or crunch.
When you’re shopping for hazelnut butter, if you plan on using it as a substitute for whole nuts, you’ll want to check out the ingredients list to be aware of any added ingredients which may influence your recipe. The most common are sugar and/or oil, which can affect the sweetness or consistency of your recipe.
Substituting Nutella for hazelnuts will never be an exact match by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re baking sweet goods, it may work for you in a pinch, especially if your recipe also calls for chocolate.
Nutella is a brand name hazelnut-chocolate spread. Many recipes call for Nutella specifically. However, if you’re baking something that requires you to use hazelnut butter or crushed or pureed hazelnuts, Nutella will bring some of the flavors you’re searching for.
Of course, it will also bring chocolate and a lot of extra sweetness, so you’ll want to adjust your recipe to accommodate the range of added flavors.
Other Nuts as Substitutes
Substituting one nut for another in a recipe is pretty standard. Still, some make better substitutions than others, and not just because of preferences and flavors in the dish.
Raw almonds are a fantastic substitute for raw hazelnuts, assuming you’re not allergic to them. They have a very similar texture, with a solid crunch followed by a very satisfying chewiness.
As an added bonus, raw almonds have a similar sweetness and a fresh, nutty flavor to hazelnuts. So when used raw, they’re a near-perfect substitute, though they may have to be chopped to size.
Macadamia nuts have a buttery, crispy texture similar to that of roasted hazelnuts.
They have the highest fat content of any nut, which results in a very creamy texture and flavor which is more delicate and luxurious than hazelnuts, but similar enough to satisfy your desire.
Unfortunately, macadamia nuts are only harvested in very select locations around the world, so they can be more exclusive and may come with a premium price tag compared to hazelnuts.
Picking Nuts By Nutritional Content
Hazelnuts are nutritious, bite-sized treats so when you’re looking for a substitution, you may also want to consider matching up as many of the nutritional qualities as you can.
A 1-ounce serving of hazelnuts will contain approximately:
- 175 calories
- 4.7 carbs, 2.7 of which are fiber
- 17 grams of fat
- 4.2 grams of protein
They’re also a good source of Vitamin E, among other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Almonds are a well-known source of Vitamin E and the best substitute for that particular nutrient. Almonds are also the closest match to hazelnuts for the calories, carbs, and fiber content, though they’re higher in protein than hazelnuts.
The type of fat in hazelnuts is mono and poly-unsaturated, featuring a nice supply of oleic acid.
Pecans are the closest alternative for monounsaturated fats whereas cashews are a closer match for polyunsaturated fats, neither being a close match for both. Almonds have some oleic acid, though not as much as hazelnuts.
In terms of antioxidants, pecans and pistachios have similar concentrations of the types of antioxidants found in hazelnuts.
Almonds are nutritionally the closest overall substitution for hazelnuts, though there are a few instances where other options would be a better choice, particularly if fat is your main concern.
Substituting Hazelnuts For an Allergy
If you’re allergic to hazelnuts, how you substitute for them in recipes may differ, depending on the type of food you’re cooking and the other ingredients included in the recipe.
Your best substitute may also depend on whether you’re trying to replicate the texture or depth of flavor, but without using the nuts.
The obvious alternative is another type of nut. However, there’s a good chance you’re avoiding all nuts for the same reason.
For this reason, consider trying one or more of the following nut-free alternatives, if it can suit to your recipe:
- Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, or sesame seeds are all rich in oils and crunch
- Sweet Chips: chocolate, caramel, or butterscotch chips can add flavor and texture to baked goods to replace the nutty ingredients
- Oats: Oats, or granola, can add bulk and texture to your recipe and, if you toast them with a little butter beforehand will even add a mildly nutty flavor, without the nuts
Texture: Crunch Factor
One of the main reasons hazelnuts are added to many baked goods or even savory recipes is for their unique crunch.
Raw hazelnuts have a firm, solid texture that’s also somewhat chewy. When they’re roasted, the texture has more crunch but also becomes more buttery, with an almost melt-in-your-mouth quality.
Depending on what you’re searching for, you may want to try different substitutes to accomplish the specific task at hand.
Modified Hazelnut Substitutions
Not all recipes call for whole, raw, or roasted hazelnuts. Some require you to use Nutella, hazelnut flour, or hazelnut meal. These are all made from hazelnuts, but require a different kind of substitution.
Substitute for Hazelnuts in Nutella
Nutella is a hazelnut chocolate spread and recipes that call for it are generally sweet, baked goods.
If you don’t have any Nutella, you can make your own spread using hazelnuts and chocolate, but we’re going to assume you don’t have any form of hazelnuts or can’t use this particular type of nut.
An alternative to Nutella might be simply another type of nut butter melted or mixed with some melted chocolate or chocolate syrup.
If you’re trying to replicate the texture of Nutella without any nuts, you can try mashing some avocado with melted chocolate. The chocolate will be the defining flavor and the avocado will create the creamy, spreadable texture.
You can also melt some chocolate with coconut oil and then cool it until it solidifies enough for your purposes. Neither of these options will provide the nutty flavor, but they duplicate the consistency quite well.
Substitute for Hazelnut Flour
The closest substitution for hazelnut flour is almond flour, which can be substituted in exact measurements in most recipes.
If you’re baking a fluffy or light cake, you may want to cut your almond flour with some regular wheat flour or some quinoa flour to help with the structure.
If you’re trying to avoid all nut flours, quinoa flour is a decent alternative. Nutritionally speaking, quinoa flour is “better” than hazelnut flour, and it also has a somewhat nutty, earthy, full-bodied flavor and is naturally gluten-free.
What quinoa flour doesn’t have is the mouthwatering, sweet, and nutty fragrance of hazelnuts that is particularly pronounced during the baking process.
Coconut flour is another option, though the flavor is different and the way the flour acts in baking is slightly different, so you’ll want to customize it for each individual recipe with the help of a trusted recipe developer who has tested the recipe before.
If you’re looking for a substitute for hazelnut meal, you can use the above recommendations for hazelnut flour as well.
Hazelnut meal is often used as a synonym for flour or, at the most, will be a slightly coarser grind than flour. If you can use almond meal, rather than almond flour, that would be ideal but not necessary in most cases.
Are Hazelnuts a Type of Tree Nut?
Tree nut allergies are one of the most common allergies in the world, so before you reach for that Nutella or homemade hazelnut-chocolate spread, it’s important to ask, do hazelnuts grow on trees?
The answer is yes, hazelnuts are the seeds of hazel trees, making them a tree nut.
Before you avoid hazelnuts for life, it’s equally important to note that an allergy to one tree nut does not necessarily indicate an allergy to all or any other tree nut.
For safety’s sake, it’s best to be tested by a professional allergist or doctor specialized in testing for allergies.
Can You Eat Hazelnuts Raw?
You can eat raw hazelnuts straight from the tree as long as you have a nutcracker capable of getting the seed free from the hard shell.
The kernel or seed will be protected by a papery husk which should be removed, as it can have a bitter flavor. Raw hazelnuts have a mild nutty flavor with a light sweetness and a firm, somewhat chewy texture
Many people roast hazelnuts to develop the sweet flavor and warm the fats and oils to create a buttery, crisp texture, though both are equally delicious.
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