Macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are both small, roundish nuts that are creamy, rich, and softly crunchy, but that is where their similarities end.
So what’s the difference between macadamia nuts and hazelnuts? When you take a close look at Macadamia nuts vs hazelnuts, the main differences are flavor, texture, how they’re used, their nutritional value, and their price points.
In this article, we’ll look at each of these areas and point out the major defining features of each nut so that you understand all the differences between them.
Macadamia Nuts Vs Hazelnuts
Below is a detailed guide about the differences between macadamia nuts and hazelnuts. We included a chart later in the article that summarizes the most important points, so make sure to keep reading!
Macadamia nuts are native to Australia but are most well-known for growing in Hawaii, which is where our favorite macadamia nuts are from.
You can also find these trees in other tropical climates, such as Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Brazil.
The trees are slow-growing, which is surprising for a tropical plant, but it can take up to 10 years to produce nuts.
Because they only grow in very specific climates that are specifically not the mainland of North America, Macadamia nuts have a steep price tag.
In fact, they’re the most expensive nuts in the world.
The easiest way to get your hands on them is by ordering online. You can find them in supermarkets, but you’ll have to pay a bigger mark-up on an already expensive item.
What Macadamia Nuts Taste Like
If ever a nut could be called decadent, it would be Macadamia nuts. When you bite into one it’s almost like biting into solid, creamy butter, only without the distasteful experience of eating butter.
These nuts are slightly sweet, incredibly rich, especially when lightly salted, and highly addicting.
Macadamia Nut Benefits
Aside from their purely blissful flavor, Macadamia nuts aren’t generally thought to be overly beneficial to your health, with the notable exception of the high-fat Keto community.
With about 23 grams of fat per 30-gram serving, they can really help beef up the macros for a Keto dieter.
The fat in Macadamia nuts is monounsaturated, which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and help balance blood glucose levels, both important factors of weight management and heart health.
Of course, as most plants do, Macadamia nuts have a varied nutritional profile which includes vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, however, calorie per calorie, the concentration is very low compared to many other optional sources.
The key to enjoying the benefits of Macadamia nuts without going too far and putting your health at risk is moderation. A serving size is about 10 – 12 nuts, possibly less depending on whether they’re raw, salted, roasted, etc.
Popular Uses for Macadamia Nuts
Eating them by the handful out of the bag is probably the most common method of consuming Macadamia nuts because, even if you’re planning on cooking with them, they’re very hard to resist and will tempt you into eating half the bag before your baking is done.
They’re also commonly combined with white chocolate in cookies. Coconut is another common flavor combination but they are delicious additives to nearly any baked good.
Sweet recipes are by far the most popular use for macadamia nuts, but you can also feature them in a few savory recipes as well. Our favorites include:
- Adding Macadamia nuts to hummus intensifies the creaminess by multiple levels
- Macadamia nuts create a delicious, creamy soft vegan nut cheese
- Chopped up and added for texture to creamy soups or pasta sauces
- Crushed and blended with olives to make a creamy, briny tapenade for crackers or toasted baguettes
- As a breading for fish or chicken
Depending on where you live, you may call hazelnuts filberts or cobnuts.
Regardless of the name, they are plucked from the Corylus tree, which originated in Asia though they are now found all over the Northern Hemisphere.
It’s a very resilient, disease-resistant tree that will thrive without the need for pesticides or heavy fertilizers.
Fun Fact: they’ll grow either as a tree, with a single main stem or trunk, or a bush, depending on how you trim them.
They start to bear nuts in as little as 4 years, though the flavor varies widely based on the quality of the tree and European nuts have been carefully cultivated for optimal flavor for generations, making them the most highly prized variety.
Our favorite hazelnuts are non-GMO and Kosher certified.
Describing the flavor of nuts as anything other than nutty can be difficult, but hazelnuts have a distinctly earthy taste.
Because their texture is so creamy, however, that earthiness melts into something closer to buttery as soon as you start to chew.
How to Eat Hazelnuts
You can eat hazelnuts almost any way you can dream up. If you pick one off a tree, you’ll need a nutcracker or a hammer to crush the shell.
They also have a smooth, papery skin that you’ll want to remove. You can, of course, also buy them pre-shelled and de-skinned.
You can eat them raw, roasted, mixed with other nuts, chopped and added to your cooking or baking, or even candied if you prefer.
Most Popular Hazelnut Recipes
The most popular recipe that involves hazelnuts is by far Nutella or a chocolate-hazelnut spread alternative.
The next most popular recipes are any baked goods that include Nutella or a chocolate-hazelnut spread alternative in their ingredients list.
Beyond being paired with either chocolate or vanilla, hazelnut is delicious when combined with fruits, some earthy, peppery spices like chipotle or paprika.
It’s also really handy when ground and used as a flavorful alternative to boring All-Purpose flour for breading meats or vegetables.
Some of our favorite recipes and ways to use hazelnuts include:
- Raw, chopped hazelnuts in salad
- Using hazelnuts instead of pine nuts in pesto
- Chopped up hazelnuts that are cooked with grains like quinoa, rice or even oats
- Toasted, crushed and sprinkled over the top of a rich, creamy pasta dish
- Added to brown butter and used to sauce anything
- Chocolate covered whole, raw hazelnuts
- Hazelnut, chocolate coffee icing
- Hazelnut and caramel in ice cream
- Using chopped hazelnut pieces instead of walnuts in brownies
Hazelnuts are undeniably high in calories per small serving size of only 30 grams, but there are plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy components that are packed inside each of the 175 calories you consume.
They’re a decent source of protein, with about 4 grams per serving, though they are high in fat as well, with 17 grams.
It’s unsaturated fat, however, and hazelnuts have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels making them a heart-healthy choice. They also may reduce blood sugar levels, helping to control weight even if they are high in fat.
They’re a great source of Vitamin E, which helps to keep your skin looking young and vibrant, among other things.
Hazelnuts also have a wide variety of antioxidants that can help with everything from reducing chronic inflammation to fighting cancer.
As with nearly all-natural, plant-based foods, they can be a very healthy addition to your diet, but they should be eaten in moderation and with careful attention to serving sizes.
Macadamia Nuts Vs Hazelnuts – The Main Differences
Below is the chart we promised that shows the main, and most important, differences between macadamia nuts and hazelnuts.
|Flavor||Very light flavor, creamy, and slightly sweet||Earthy, pairs well with chocolate, vanilla, fruit and smoky spices like chipotle and paprika|
|Texture||Soft and yet solid, like biting into cold butter or a medium-firm cheese||Creamy and buttery with a very slight crunch|
|Most Popular Use||White chocolate macadamia nut cookies||Chocolate-hazelnut spread|
|Minimal – extremely high in calories and fat per serving size, but happen to be quite high in B-Vitamins||Moderate – decent source of protein, vitamins, and heart-healthy fat but high in calories|
|Price||High – 24 oz bag of dry roasted Macadamia nuts is $30+ Check most recent pricing on Amazon.||Low – Moderate – a 1 lb bag of premium roasted Hazelnuts can be found for less than $15 Check most recent pricing on Amazon.|
What are the best nuts for protein?
Most nuts are a decent way to add extra protein to your daily routine, but some have a higher protein/calorie percentage.
Peanuts top the list, even though they’re technically a legume and not a nut.
Almonds are in a very close 2nd place. Between the two of them, you’ll get between 6 – 8 grams of protein per 30-gram serving.
Coming in closer to 4 grams of protein per 30-gram serving size you can choose from any of the following: hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, or even pine nuts.
What are the worst nuts to eat?
The definition of worst depends heavily on context.
For example, the worst nut to eat if you’re on a low-fat diet would be the Macadamia nut, yet it’s praised for its high-fat content if you’re following the Keto diet instead. They’re not great for being budget-friendly, either.
Peanuts have made a lot of people’s “worst nuts” lists recently because of quality control issues. They very easily develop a fungus that is undetectable in the taste but is linked to increased risk for certain cancers.
Horse chestnuts, which are not actually related to chestnuts, have a very dangerous toxin that can cause paralysis, so they would certainly be one of the worst nuts to eat.
How common is hazelnut allergy?
A hazelnut allergy is one of the most common tree nut allergies, though it’s not usually highly serious.
The reason it’s so common is that many people who suffer from hayfever or, more specifically, Birch pollen allergies, will also find that they’re sensitive to hazelnuts. They will likely experience similar symptoms to hayfever – itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose.
However, for others who experience the allergy more closely to a tree nut allergy, it can be more severe and lead to anaphylaxis, which requires immediate and urgent medical attention.