Have you ever been ready to bake a decadent hazelnut cake or whip up a creamy homemade hazelnut butter, only to realize you’re entirely out of hazelnuts? The struggle is real. But before you run to the store or scrap your recipe altogether, take a deep breath – there is a hazelnut substitute you likely already have on hand.
Hazelnuts lend a rich, nutty flavor and creamy texture to sweet and savory dishes. With their versatility, it’s no wonder they’re a staple in cuisines worldwide. But when you can’t get your hands on these little gems, don’t fret – you’ve got options.
This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know to seamlessly sub hazelnuts in any recipe. From almonds to sunflower seeds, you’ll be surprised by how well these subs mimic raw hazelnuts’ flavor and crunchy texture. Let’s dive in!
What are Hazelnuts?
Hazelnuts, or filberts, are nutritionally dense nuts with a unique, sweet flavor. They have an oval shape and hard brown shell. Hazelnuts are often used in desserts, granolas, confections like Nutella, and savory dishes. When toasted, they take on a deeper, nuttier taste. Hazelnuts pair well with chocolate, berries, citrus, cinnamon, honey, and woody herbs like rosemary.
Why Substitute Hazelnuts?
Here are some of the most common reasons you may need a stand-in nut:
Allergies: Hazelnuts are one of the more allergenic nuts, so subbing can make recipes safer.
Availability: Depending on where you live, hazelnuts may be challenging to find.
Cost: Hazelnuts tend to be on the pricier side for nuts. Substitutes can help save money.
Strong flavor: Sometimes, hazelnut flavor can overpower a recipe. Subtler nuts may be preferable.
Recipe experimentation: Trying different nuts can add variety to your cooking.
15 Delicious Hazelnut Substitutes
Would you be ready to find the perfect hazelnut alternative for your recipe? Here are your best bets.
Why they work: Almonds have a similar mild, nutty taste and buttery texture when chopped.
Example dishes: biscotti, breads, granola
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount as hazelnuts called for. Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to enhance the hazelnutty flavor.
2. Cashew Nuts
Why they work: Cashew nuts provide creaminess and nutty sweetness.
Example dishes: cookies, pralines, granola bars
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount as hazelnuts. Consider toasting the cashew nuts lightly for deeper flavor.
Why they work: Walnuts have an earthy, bold flavor that mimics hazelnuts.
Example dishes: breads, muffins, grain salads
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount as hazelnuts. Walnuts have a more robust flavor, so consider using slightly less.
Why they work: Pecans have a similarly rich, buttery taste.
Example dishes: cakes, cookies, granola
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount as hazelnuts. Pecans are a bit sweeter, so reduce any sugar slightly.
Why they work: Pistachios offer a mildly sweet, fruity nuttiness.
Example dishes: biscotti, frangipane, pesto
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount as hazelnuts. Blend pistachios for a smoother texture.
Why they work: Peanuts have a familiar nutty flavor and creamy texture when ground.
Example dishes: pralines, flourless chocolate cake
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount as hazelnuts. Roast unsalted peanuts first for deeper flavor.
7. Sunflower seeds
Why they work: Sunflower seeds become rich and nutty when toasted.
Example dishes: granola, veggie burgers, breads
Measurement guidance: Use 1 1/2 times the amount of hazelnuts. Grind seeds first for the best consistency.
8. Pumpkin seeds
Why they work: Pumpkin seeds offer nuttiness with hints of spice.
Example dishes: crusts, baked goods, pesto
Measurement guidance: Use 1 1/2 times the amount of hazelnuts. Toast pumpkin seeds first to intensify flavor.
9. Flax seeds
Why they work: Flax provides nuttiness and omega-3s.
Example dishes: granola bars, breads, smoothies
Measurement guidance: Use two times the amount of hazelnuts. Grind first. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to imitate the hazelnut flavor.
10. Hemp seeds
Why they work: Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty taste when toasted.
Example dishes: energy balls, granola, sauces
Measurement guidance: Use two times the amount of whole roasted hazelnuts. Grind hemp seeds for a finer texture.
11. Macadamia nuts
Why they work: Macadamia nuts offer a luxuriously rich, buttery flavor.
Example dishes: cookies, cakes, candy chips, brittle
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount of macadamia nuts as a substitute for hazelnuts. You don’t need to adjust any of the other nuts or ingredients.
12. Brazil nuts
Why they work: Brazil nuts provide creaminess with nutty notes.
Example dishes: nut crusts, frozen sweet treats, energy bites
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount as hazelnuts. Chop or grind Brazil nuts first.
Why they work: Chestnuts have a mildly sweet, nutty, and earthy flavor.
Example dishes: stuffing, soups, purees
Measurement guidance: Use 1 1/2 times the amount of hazelnuts. Roast or boil chestnuts first to soften.
14. Acorn flour
Why it works: Acorn flour offers a unique nutty, cocoa-like flavor.
Example dishes: cakes, cookies, pastas
Measurement guidance: Replace up to 1/4 of the flour in a recipe with acorn flour. You can start small and add more acorn flavor as you’d like.
Example dishes: granola, macaroons, curries
Measurement guidance: Use the same amount of hazelnuts. Opt for unsweetened shredded coconut for a balanced flavor.
Using Other Hazelnut Products As Substitutes
In addition to whole hazelnuts, you can use a variety of hazelnut-based ingredients to mimic their flavor in recipes:
Why it works: Hazelnut oil provides a pure, concentrated flavor.
Example dishes: vinaigrettes, baked goods, drizzled over dishes
Measurement guidance: Use 1-2 tsp of hazelnut oil per 1/4 cup of hazelnuts. Start with less and add more to taste.
Why it works: Hazelnut flour has a rich, nutty flavor and can be used instead of regular flour.
Example dishes: cakes, cookies, coating for fish
Measurement guidance: Replace up to 1/4 of the flour in a recipe with hazelnut flour.
Why it works: Hazelnut extract provides an intense hazelnut aroma and flavoring.
Example dishes: cookies, cakes, custards
Measurement guidance: Use 1/4 tsp hazelnut extract per 1/4 cup hazelnuts. Add gradually until you reach the desired strength.
Why it works: Hazelnut butter has a creamy, chewy texture and concentrated hazelnut taste.
Example dishes: frostings, fillings, granola
Measurement guidance: Replace up to half the hazelnuts with hazelnut butter. Reduce any other fats slightly.
Why it works: The liqueur lends a bold, boozy hazelnut flavor.
Example dishes: cakes, custards, chocolate ganache
Measurement guidance: Use 1-2 tbsp liqueur instead of 1/4 cup hazelnuts. Add slowly until all the flavor here is correct.
With the wide range of hazelnut products available, you have many options for mimicking their signature flavor and richness in your cooking and baking.
Popular Dishes That Use Hazelnuts
Looking for recipe inspiration to put your hazelnut subs to work? Here are some classic dishes that showcase their nutty goodness:
Hazelnuts often provide crunch and flavor to savory crusts for vegetable tarts or fish.
Best Hazelnut Substitute: Almonds make an ideal sub to grind into crusts. You can blanch almonds before using them.
Hazelnuts shine in these crispy Italian cookies.
Hazelnuts lend nutty depth and thickness to complex Mexican mole sauces.
Best Hazelnut Substitute: Try almonds or pumpkin seeds instead.
The natural fat in hazelnuts helps make ice creams and sorbets creamy.
Fruit cakes and Breads
Hazelnuts are frequently mixed into holiday fruit cakes and nutbreads.
Best Substitutes for Hazelnuts: Walnuts or pecans make solid stand-ins here.
Hazelnuts give granola clusters delicious flavor and crunch.
Best Substitutes for Hazelnuts: Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds make great substitutes.
Hazelnuts team up with caramelized sugar in these rich candies.
Best Hazelnut Substitutes: You can swap in pecans or peanuts instead.
Ground hazelnuts add moisture and fat to vegetarian and vegan roasts.
Hazelnuts often provide richness and body to basil or other pestos.
Best Hazelnut Substitutes: Pistachios or walnuts can work here beautifully.
This almond cream filling gains extra flavor from hazelnuts.
Best Hazelnut Substitutes: Almond flour and extract plus cinnamon mimics frangipane well.
Tips for Substituting Hazelnuts
To get optimal results when subbing for hazelnuts, keep these tips in mind:
- Toast nuts or seeds first for deeper flavor. 5-10 minutes at 350°F does the trick.
- More Spices: Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom, which complement the nutty flavor.
- Grind some subs finer for a crunchy texture closer to hazelnuts, like sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- If swapping butter for nut butter, slightly reduce other fats in the recipe.
- For tree nut allergies, consider seeds like sunflower or flax as safer options. Always check labels.
Go Nutty with These Clever Subs
With hazelnuts’ sweet, buttery taste, it’s no wonder they’re a baking staple. But as we’ve seen, everything from almonds to pistachios can make delicious stand-ins in a pinch. Get creative, and don’t be afraid to experiment – your dishes will still turn out delicious!
What’s your go-to sub when hazelnuts run out? Share your top picks in the comments below!