Have you ever wondered what hazelnut tastes like?
Have you ever been tempted to try one, but were too unsure of how it’d taste?
Well, we’ve got the answer for you.
From its subtly sweet and nutty flavour to what dishes it pairs well with, this article covers everything you need to know about the flavour of hazelnuts.
So come along and let’s find out what this nutty taste sensation is all about.
What are Hazelnuts?
Hazelnuts are the edible nuts of the hazel tree, also known as cobnuts or filbert nuts.
Related to beech and chestnut trees, the hazel tree is native to Europe, western parts of Asia and North America.
Hazelnuts are commonly grown commercially for use in food products, such as cookies and snack bars, as well as for oils and non-food products such as cosmetics and fragrances.
The raw nut has a smooth round or oval shape comprising an inner kernel and a hard dark brown shell.
Although you can purchase unroasted hazelnuts from some health food stores, these tend to be quite expensive.
Most consumers choose pre-roasted nuts that have had their shells removed since this makes them more convenient for cooking purposes, such as adding them to cakes or sprinkling over salads.
Hazelnuts have a mild flavoring that is slightly sweet yet nutty in taste with undertones of caramel.
Many people often mistake the flavor of hazelnut for other ingredients such as vanilla (in ice cream) or cocoa (in chocolate).
The flavor of hazelnut is actually quite distinct and has been preferred by chefs across the globe due to its versatility in both sweet and savory dishes.
What Do Hazelnuts Taste Like?
Hazelnuts, also known as cobnuts or filberts, are mildly sweet and nutty-tasting nuts that are often used in baking, confectionary and savory dishes.
They have a creamy texture that can vary from dry and crumbly to soft and crunchy depending on how they’re prepared.
Their flavor profile is complex and contains notes of sweetness, bitterness and nuttiness.
Hazelnuts have a delicate flavor with a hint of sweetness that becomes more complex when cooked or roasted.
They contain high amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, calcium and protein.
In addition to their culinary uses, hazelnuts are also used in skincare products due to their high levels of antioxidants which help prevent cell damage from environmental stressors such as pollution.
The taste of raw hazelnut is mild yet distinctively nutty with subtle hints of earthiness that can be further enhanced by roasting.
Hazelnut is commonly used in baking pastries like croissants and cakes as well as savory applications like pesto sauce or frittata fillings.
When added to coffee drinks they create an intense caramel-like flavor while adding richness to chocolate concoctions like Nutella or Nut Bars.
Hazelnut can also be used as a flavor enhancer for stir fry sauces adding an extra layer of umami between sweet and savory ingredients.
Factors that Affect the Taste of Hazelnuts
When it comes to the flavor of hazelnuts, there are several factors that can influence the taste.
Foremost among these is where the nut was grown and harvested as each region has a unique climate and soil type that adds unique characteristics to its nutty flavor.
The variety of hazelnut can also influence its flavor.
For example, some varieties are naturally sweeter while others have a strong, earthy taste.
In addition, different cultivation practices may be used by farmers to enhance one quality or another.
As for texture, hazelnuts vary from crunchy and firm to soft and easily crushed depending on the roasting process.
Additionally, whether you eat them raw or roasted can impact the overall flavor with roasted nuts generally offering deeper flavors due to the Maillard reaction with caramelized sugars that occurs during their heating process.
It’s also worth noting that sweatness or bitterness in flavor profiles depends heavily on crop time too; a freshly harvested batch of nuts will typically have an intense sweetness that often mellows over time into an earthier profile.
Finally, things like soil acidity levels, water supply etc can influence their taste profile as well making it impossible to exact name one consistent featuring in terms of taste when it comes to hazelnuts.
1 – Roasting
Roasting hazelnuts is the process of baking the nuts in an oven or a special roaster to improve flavor, remove skins, and make them easier to shell.
The temperatures used for roasting hazelnuts vary from toast-dry (approximately 350°F) to mélange, which is around 420°F.
Toasting-dry produces a nut with a mild nutty flavor and light crunchy texture, while roasting at mélange yields a richer, more concentrated hazelnut taste with a crunchy outer shell.
It is important to keep an eye on the nuts while they are roasting as they will quickly burn and become bitter if left unattended.
After roasting, they can be ground or chopped into desired sizes and shapes for various recipes.
2 – Processing
Apart from the history, origin and natural flavor of the hazelnut, much of its nutrient and taste profile is dependent upon how it is processed.
The vast majority of hazelnuts used for food production are roasted first.
This enhances their texture, flavor and shelf life.
In addition to roasting, these nuts may also be flavored with added ingredients such as salt or honey.
Without any added flavors, more traditional roasted hazelnuts will have a sweet but earthy taste with hints of savoriness and umami.
There is also a small bit of acidity that can bring complexity to the overall flavor profile.
Raw hazelnuts, on the other hand, have a distinctly milder flavor that lacks some of the more savory components found in roasted nuts.
Unroasted nuts tend to be slightly sweeter yet less complex in their layering of flavors than thier roasted counterparts which can make them preferred by certain palates or culinary uses.
3 – Quality and Freshness
When it comes to tasting and enjoying the best flavors of hazelnut, quality and freshness are essential.
Quality involves finding hazelnuts that were cultivated in optimal conditions, with the right degree of moisture (not too dry or too humid) and the ideal climate for their development.
This is how you get sweet, fresh-tasting nuts rather than milky, woody-tasting nuts.
There’s a world of difference between the two, and you want to be on the side of flavor here.
Freshness also plays a role.
You should always find out when hazelnuts were harvested, as keeping them over a longer period results in flavor loss and eventual spoilage.
To taste maximum sweetness and crunchiness in hazelnuts, they should be eaten no later than three months after harvesting—for maximum taste it’s even better to find ones that have been harvested in late August or early September.
While some unshelled “in-shell” hazelnuts will last up to one year if cared for properly (in tightly sealed plastic containers), truly fresh from-the farm-hazelnuts will dramatically improve any dish.
Culinary Uses of Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are most widely recognized for their culinary uses.
In fact, this particular nut is a key ingredient in many popular dishes and desserts.
From cookies to cakes and sauces, hazelnuts add flavor and texture to a range of creations.
For example, famous Italian dishes such as Pesto Genovese rely heavily on the hazelnut’s influence.
French pastrymakers are also well-known for incorporating these delectable nuts into decadent desserts including Touillements aux Noisettes (“hazelnut rolls”).
Additionally, hazelnuts can be used in a variety of savory recipes as well.
Commonly used in classic European cuisine such as German sauerbraten or Russian Kiev Cutting board In addition to the traditional applications found in European dishes, hazelnuts make a great addition to many Indian curries and even Lebanese salads.
They provide an earthy taste that brings out sweet fruit flavors like apples and pears while adding crunchy texture to vegetables like carrots and mushrooms.
If you’re looking for a healthful snack or an easy way to add flavor when you cook, don’t forget about the host of culinary uses available with hazelnuts.
1 – Sweet Dishes
When it comes to sweet dishes, one of the most delicious ways to enjoy the flavor of hazelnut is to add some to desserts or breakfast treats.
Whether you’re baking cookies, muffins, cakes or other pastries, adding some finely ground hazelnuts into the mix can give you a rich nutty flavor that will enhance all other flavors.
In addition to being used as an ingredient in various baked goods, hazelnuts can also be added directly onto your dishes.
For example, sprinkle chopped roasted hazelnuts over ice cream, yoghurt or custard for an irresistible crunchy and earthy flavor.
Alternatively you can use them to enhance smoothies by adding them directly into the blender for a nutty and creamy consistency.
If you want something even more unique then why not try using Hazelnut syrup; which makes a superbly sweet topping for pancakes and waffles.
As with most syrups, it has a sticky texture that it also pairs very well with warm desserts like bread pudding or crumble.
2 – Savory Dishes
Hazelnuts have an intense, slightly sweet taste and are incredibly versatile.
Whether you’re looking to add a bit of crunch to your salads or you want to bring a wonderful nutty flavor to your dishes, hazelnuts can be the perfect choice.
There are a number of ways to incorporate hazelnuts into savory dishes for an extra depth of flavor.
Here are some of the most popular methods:
- Toasting: Toasting hazelnuts brings out their flavor and gives them a delightful crunch. Simply spread your hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350-400°F, shaking the pan occasionally. Allow them to cool before adding them to salads, soups or other dishes as desired.
- Chopping: Chopped hazelnuts work particularly well with pasta dishes, as they add rich texture and nutty flavors. To chop your nuts evenly, use a sharp knife or food processor on the finest setting.
- Grinding: For creamier sauces, dressings and other dishes, why not try grinding fine flakes of roasted hazelnut? This creates a nut butter that can be used in many tasty recipes – from topping desserts to creating delicious fillings. To grind hazelnuts more precisely use a food processor or electric blender.
- Roasting Whole Nuts: Taking whole roasted hazelnuts with their shell off before using them in different recipes lends an unmistakable taste as well as adding an interesting visual presentation. Roast at 350°F for 6–8 minutes until dry and fragrant when cracked open (for 1 cup roasted nuts heat 5–7 minutes).
3 – Beverages
Beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolates, and frappes can be flavored with hazelnut syrup for a unique taste experience.
There are a variety of ways to enjoy the flavor of hazelnuts in drinks.
Hazelnut syrups specifically made for beverages come in light, medium and dark varieties.
You can also find nut-flavored mixed drinks like martinis or hot toddies that use hazelnut liqueurs as an ingredient.
Coffee and hot chocolate recipes often suggest adding hazelnut-flavored creamers to enhance the flavor of the drink.
Another popular way to experience hazelnuts is to combine them with chocolate and make a mocha– either cold or hot.
Additional suggested beverage combinations include adding hazelnut flavoring to cider or apple juice; using it when making milkshakes; infusing watermelon juice with it; or adding it to smoothies alongside other fruit flavors.
Enjoying this delightful taste sensation can leave you feeling warm and happy inside no matter what time of year it is.
Nutritional Value of Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts are an excellent source of several essential vitamins and minerals.
They are a great source of monounsaturated fats, including omega-9 fatty acids which may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Hazelnuts are also high in fiber, vitamins E and B2 (riboflavin), manganese, calcium and magnesium.
The combination of these nutritional components makes hazelnuts an ideal snack for those looking to improve their overall health.
A one-ounce serving, approximately 25 shelled hazelnuts, provides 170 calories and 7 grams of protein.
They have been shown to decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels as well as reduce inflammation throughout the body — all leading to improved heart health.
As far as their flavor goes, hazelnut’s sweet delicate nutty notes make them a versatile ingredient in sweet or savory dishes such as pastas, deserts and other dishes.
Oftentimes they can be found in coffees and teas adding a delicious nutty flavor that stands out among other nut varieties such as almonds or walnuts.
Where to Buy Hazelnuts and How to Store Them
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts or cobnuts, are one of the most popular flavors in the world.
From coffee to chocolates, this nutty flavor adds a delicious touch to many recipes and treats.
But what does hazelnut taste like exactly? We’ll explore that and provide you with all the information about hazelnuts you need to know.
Hazelnuts are an easy nut to recognize thanks to their golden color and curved shape.
They have a mild flavor with sweetly nutty notes that is slightly bittersweet.
The flavor often gets compared to almonds and other tree nuts but hazelnuts have a unique taste all their own.
If you’re looking for a mild but distinctly flavorful nut, then hazelnut might be perfect for you.
You can easily find hazelnuts either in the baking aisle of your local grocery store or in bulk at an international market.
Just be sure they are vacuum sealed or stored tightly in zippered bags, as letting them sit exposed will cause them to become stale quickly.
To maximize their shelf life, store them in a cool dark place like your pantry or cupboard for up to six months.
You can also freeze nuts for up to two years if you need longer storage – just be sure to defrost them before use.
In conclusion, hazelnuts have a distinctive, nutty flavor that is often described as sweet and earthy.
The roasted varieties have a deep, toasted flavor which makes them perfect for adding depth and richness to recipes.
They can be enjoyed plain or combined with other ingredients to create delicious dishes and treats.
Thanks to their versatile flavor profile, hazelnuts are incredibly popular in cuisines around the world.
In Italy they are used in pastries like baci di dama and torta caprese while in Turkey they are a popular ingredient in the signature dessert baklava.
No matter what country you’re from, chances are your local grocery store will have hazelnuts readily available in the form of butter or extract so you can experiment with their unique flavor any time.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!