homemade hazelnut chocolate spread

When I first mentioned last week that I was attempting a homemade version of Nutella, a twitter friend said I was going too far. Oh, how does his lovely wife Michele live his incessant teasing? They are a very cute couple, by the way, and I’m so glad to have met them in person last year.

Ah, but I’ve gotten off track, and so soon into this post. That may be a record for me. Alas, my goal in making my own nutella wasn’t to improve upon the original recipe. And when I say original, I mean the one in the glass jars that are imported from Italy, not the plastic containers made domestically in the U.S.—they used to contain HFCS, and while that ingredient has been removed it still is made with palm oil. My goal was to simply recreate the recipe as stated on the label of those glass jars I’d been paying $5.79 for to support Isabella’s habit.

Well, at least that was my original intent. Of course, I decided to push the envelope, and we’ll see what Chef John has to say about it. The ingredient list is short, and um…sweet: zucchero (sugar), olio vegetale (vegetable oil), nocciole (hazelnuts), cocoa magro (which translates to thin cocoa, which I interpreted to mean cocoa powder) and from here there are three more ingredients with very funny literal translations, but they’re basically powdered whole milk, powdered skim milk, emulsifiers and flavoring.


What that translated to in my Italian-American kitchen was confectioners’ sugar, hazelnuts, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, vanilla bean seeds, and a few drops, I really mean just a scant amount, of vegetable oil—for an ultra smooth spreading consistency.

Here’s where I may have gone too far. I was going to use Scharffen Berger cocoa powder. But right next to it on my pantry shelf was that alluring dark box of Valrhona cocoa. It’s as if it was batting its eyelashes, saying “you know you want me”.

I caved.

Then there’s the matter of the chocolate. I could’ve used milk chocolate, which would’ve better recreated the exact flavor.

I could’ve. But I didn’t. 


I used some Guittard 55% chocolate wafers. The resulting flavor is a quite decadent treat, as if Nutella in itself doesn’t scream decadence spread on toast…for breakfast. Back when I was in middle school—I believe my daughter thinks that’s when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we used to rent an apartment from an Italian family. I was always jealous of their morning Nutella ritual but my mother said chocolate wasn’t for breakfast.

Now that I’m a grown up, I can have it whenever I want. I also get to be a pretty cool mom when I let the kid have a tiny smear on toast before she goes off to school—hey, it’s whole wheat bread and it gets her to eat something in the morning, as well as drink a big glass of milk. 

So, while this recipe is richer and has a deeper chocolate flavor, it’s pretty darn good and kid approved. If you really want to be a purist and crave more of that creamy, milk chocolate undertone, by all means swap in milk chocolate discs and regular cocoa. Trust me you won’t be disappointed by either version. 


hazelnut chocolate spread

makes one generous cup

Hazelnut oil is used in many other recipes out there for homemade Nutella. I found the flavor from the ground hazelnuts to be all this one needed. And while I really adore using vanilla beans, please feel free to replace it with 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract if they’re too expensive or you just don’t have it on hand.

1 cup shelled, toasted hazelnuts, skins removed

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate discs, melted

2 tablespoon cocoa (Valrhona)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 split vanilla bean

a few drops, vegetable oil (optional)

Add hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it becomes a smooth peanut butter-like
consistency. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa, sugar and vanilla. Process until smooth and well-mixed. Add vegetable oil one drop at a time, and pulse to a smooth, spreadable consistency, if necessary. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar and use as desired.

Some helpful notes: You’ll want to use a just-right sized food processor for this recipe. I made my very first batch in a large capacity one (11 cups) and it proved too challenging to attain the desired consistency with such a small batch. Of course, if you’re tripling this baby, then you’ll be fine (trust me you’ll want to after making it once).

Also, give it the extra few seconds to minute you need to really make sure the hazelnuts are a peanut butter-like consistency. And when it comes to roasting and de-skinning hazelnuts, place them single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 400º oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, until they become very fragrant. Immediately transfer them to a cloth towel and rub like mad to remove the skins. Not all of them will come off, and that’s absolutely fine.


  • John

    Great post! I hope you realize the kidding was based on admiration, not contempt. I think I need to do a video of this now. Thanks!

  • Jennie

    John, of course I knew it was a good type of kidding around. Just couldn’t help but think of you as I was writing it up. You and Michele are among some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.
    Liz, you can only imagine the look on my daughter’s friends’ faces when they hear I’ve made this. I have a lot of orders to fulfill!

  • Winnie

    That’s so funny- I just bought nutella for the first time in ages and gave my kids their first taste last night. They loved it, of course. I love your idea of the homemade version; I purposely wouldn’t let myself read the Nutella label because otherwise I would not have purchased it…I’m sure your version is more natural as well as delicious!

  • Jennifer

    Huh. Thanks for the link on palm oil. I was going about contentedly buying the tub o’ Nutella from BJ’s but now…I may have to cave and try it myself. Which will truly be a labor of love as I don’t even like Nutella but the kids do 🙂

  • Talia

    Just found your blog from the delicious looking photo on tastespotting. I’ll be back: anyone who’s pantry staples include homemade ricotta cheese and Grazin’ Angus beef is someone I want to read more from!

  • Jennie

    Hey Radish, they sell the jars at Caputo’s on Court down by 3rd place. Last I checked they were out about a week ago, but I’ll be sure to pick up a jar for you next time I see they’re in stock. Then that means I get a visit from you!
    Talia, do you know Grazin’ Angus? We may be soul mates if that’s the case. Best eggs and beef, and gosh Dan and his family are such wonderful people. Hoping to visit the farm this Spring. Thanks for visiting IJK!

  • Talia

    I made a great braised beef from Grazin’ Angus meat last week, and this morning I bought some eggs from their stall at the farmer’s market. I don’t know them except for chatting to the guys at the stall. A visit to the farm sounds amazing: I’ll be so jealous if you go! (though if we are soul mates maybe I’ll be able to tag along!)

  • Christine

    Thanks for posting this (nutella is a favorite of mine and I don’t like to buy it because of the ingredients. (doesn’t it also have High Fructose Corn Syrup?) I also wanted to thank you for the palm oil link – I worked for about 20 years in orangutan conservation, and the situation there is grim, to say the least.
    One tip I’ve found for hazelnut skins – dump them into the dish towel, wrap them up and leave them there for a little bit to cool. Cooling and steaming inside the towel loosens the skins nicely, and makes them far easier to rub off.

  • Robyn

    I have seen other homemade nutella recipes which say that the final product must be kept in the fridge and should be eaten within 3-4 days. How are you storing your spread, and how long should it last?

  • Jennie

    Robyn, I’ve had mine on the kitchen counter in a sterilized glass mason jar with just the screw on top, not canned, for a week now and it is fine. There are no dairy products, so I can’t imagine why it would need to be refrigerated and consumed within 3 to 4 days—you may want to double check the ingredient list on those other recipes.
    However, nuts in general can go rancid unless stored in a cool place, so if you have a very warm kitchen or think you will need to store this past a week or two, I would recommend the fridge in that case. Again, I’m not a scientist in anyway and have not been able to make it last long enough for long term storage.

  • Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    Jen — I was with John on the going too far thing until I saw the pictures.
    Now, I want to make you a deal. You bring the spread. We provide the wood-fired oven and the pizza crust. “Nutella” pie for dessert!

  • Sarah

    My littlest one has a Nutella addiction. Thank goodness that the store we go to sells it in huge containers. Great job recreating it though!

  • Jennie

    Christine – thanks for the tip on leaving the toasted hazelnuts to “steam” inside the wrapped towels. Make perfect sense and I will to file that in the memory bank.
    Tamar – homemade Nutella for home wood-fired pizza? You may never get me to leave so becareful what you wish for 😉
    Jen – Yes, it is tricky trying not to eat it all. The other night I was snacking on crackers topped with homemade peanut butter & homemade nutella. I guess now I just have to figure out how to make the cracker!

  • ptera

    i’ve tried this nutella just today, and it didn’t work out 🙁 don’t know what i did wrong, i quess something was wrong with hazelnuts, or maybe i put too much of them, or too little chocolate 🙁 but at the end i put to that fiasco some eggs, flour and made quite nice and realy sweet pie :)) will have to try nutella again soon 🙂

  • Amy

    Oh my goodness…I have been CRAVING Nutella for the past few days. Now I have a GREAT excuse to make it! Thanks, Jennie! I’m a fan of your site 🙂

  • Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite

    Looks wonderful! I saw David Lebovitz made this for Nutella Day in February and have been wanting to try it ever since. It really sucks how our Nutella in Canada and the US has that palm oil, don’t understand that at all. Homemade=so much better! Nice work. Does it come with a cap tat seals itself after two spoonsful? 😉

  • Divina

    This spread is pure heaven. I don’t buy nutella that much because of the ingredients. But thanks for posting this recipe.

  • Jenny

    Thank you! My 13 year old son is a nutella addict- not that I complain… I would much rather he have a nutella sandwich with whole wheat bread and a glass of milk for a snack after school than the chips and pop that I am sure some of his friends are having! Now I can show him how to make his own (and it will be even better for him!)