It’s a dessert, a breakfast treat, a snack-time dip, an Italian import, a generations-old take on affordable luxury, a nutty-chocolatey-ooey-gooey spoonful of deliciousness. It’s chocolate hazelnut spread, and its popularity in the United States is growing faster than you can spread it on a baguette and go, “Mmm.”
It seems like everyone and their crazy great aunt has a chocolate hazelnut spread on the market these days, but which ones are actually worth buying? We went into the Plum Deluxe Test Kitchen armed with five of the top spreads, five taste testers, and one blind tasting setup. Are you ready for a throwdown?
Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata Organic Hazelnut Spread with Cocoa & Milk
The top spread was a tie, with Nocciolata taking the prize for most natural and organic. This specialty brand, unsurprisingly, is imported from Italy, the birthplace of the original chocolate hazelnut spread. The eight ingredients in this jar — seven of which are organic — provide a good balance of chocolate and nut that comes across as mild, buttery, and semi-sweet. This brand also uses real vanilla extract — not vanilla flavoring — in their spread, which gives it an almost refreshing aftertaste. Nocciolata is one of the more expensive brands on the list, but you should definitely feel good about putting it in your grocery basket.
Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
Tied for first place is Justin’s, which happens to be my personal favorite. It also has only eight ingredients — most of which are organic and/or sustainably sourced — and is both gluten-free and vegan. This spread is the nuttiest of all, with both hazelnuts and almonds, and has by far the lowest amount of sugar per serving. It does, however, have the highest level of sodium, but the saltiness helps balance out the semi-sweetness of the chocolate. Justin’s is also one of the more expensive spreads you’ll find, but it’s definitely worth the price.
Nutella by Ferrero
In the middle of the pack is the classic that started it all, Nutella. While it has what may be considered the best balance of chocolate and nut flavors, it’s still mild in flavor compared to the top contenders and was too sweet for our taste testers’ liking. One tester even went as far as to describe it as, “generic.” Nutella also hits the middle mark nutritionally, being not as good as some but not as bad as others. The price point is mid-range, too, making it an all-around okay sort of thing.
Hershey’s Chocolate with Hazelnut
If you want intense chocolate flavor and cake batter-like texture, Hershey’s is your spread. It’s rich, creamy, and heavy on the cocoa — to be expected from one of the oldest chocolate companies in the US. It was still too sweet, however, for most of our testers, and the nuttiness just wasn’t that strong. But if what you’re really craving is brownie batter straight from the bowl, by all means grab a spoon and a jar of Hershey’s!
Jif Chocolate Flavored Hazelnut Spread
Poor Jif — not one of our taste testers liked their chocolate-flavored hazelnut offering, describing it as “fake,” “too sweet,” and “mediocre.” Ouch. Unsuprisingly, it’s at the bottom of our list — and our price range. Do we really need to say more? Go try one of the other brands instead.
Our test kitchen agrees: If you’re going to spend your cash on putting chocolate hazelnut goodness into your mouth, make sure it’s delicious and uses good ingredients. For us, that means Justin’s or Rigoni di Asiago. For you? Maybe it’s something else. Conduct your own throwdown and decide!
Photo Credits: author, ejaugsburg, and Thavlosk.