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Italian Hazelnuts, The Prize of Piedmont

Italian hazelnuts in a mason jar.
Italian hazelnuts in a mason jar.

There’s more to Italian hazelnuts than Nutella.

Don’t get us wrong, we love the world’s most popular hazelnut spread (known in Italy as gianduja). But these gourmet nuts have a lot more to offer. With a rich, nutty flavor, Italian hazelnuts elevate sweet and savory dishes alike. Whole, crushed, chopped, or ground, hazelnuts are as versatile as they are delicious. But not all hazelnuts are created equal. 

To get the best, you have to head to the misty foothills of the Langhe region where acres upon acres of hazelnut trees dot the countryside.

Buy Piedmont Hazelnuts: Roasted IGP Piedmonte Hazelnuts (3.52oz)

The green hills of Piedmont.

Barolo, Barbaresco and...Hazelnuts?

Piedmont is home to one of the world’s best hazelnuts—Nocciola Piemonte IGP. This variety has a crunchy flesh, long shelf life, and unparalleled flavor and aroma. It can only come from this specific region of the world.  

Nocciola Piemonte IGP is smaller and sweeter with less woody and bitter notes than mass-produced varieties. The secret is in the dirt. Piedmont’s microclimate and soil offer the perfect environment for these trees. How perfect? When growers attempted to export and grow the same trees in other parts of the world, notably the US, they failed completely. Today, Piedmont is the only location in the world where the Nocciola Piemonte IGP grows.

Piedmont is a certifiable foodie paradise. Among the wines of Barolo and Asti, white truffles, and internationally-renowned cheeses, the Piedmontese hazelnuts hold their own.

The passion for the hazelnut runs deep in this region. There’s even a Hazelnut Fraternity (Confraternita della Nocciola) dedicated to the protection and promotion of this local treasure. Each year the fraternity organizes the Sagra della Nocciola IGP Piemonte, an international hazelnut festival, complete with multi-course hazelnut feasts, the sale of hazelnut treats, and blind tastings of hazelnuts from around the world.

The Piedmont hazelnuts win every year.

Cocoa and hazelnut pound cake topped with almonds.

How To Enjoy Italian Hazelnuts

Italian hazelnuts are enjoyed in a variety of ways, but they are most commonly used for sweets. Turin, the capital of Piedmont, is the birthplace of gianduia, the original hazelnut and chocolate spread, but that’s just the beginning.   

Our favorite way to enjoy hazelnuts? Straight from the box is a great place to start. There is a whole range of savory applications. Add them to a charcuterie board, sprinkle over a salad, or fold into your favorite pasta. The options are limitless. 

In addition to flavor, toasted hazelnuts offer a great textural component to any dish. 

Here is a list of some of our favorite hazelnut recipes to get you started. 

Butternut Squash Baked Pasta with Toasted Hazelnuts

Soul-satisfying, creamy, and easy to make, this baked pasta uses hazelnuts for a little crunch.

Hazelnut Chive Dressing

The little black dress of dressings. Perfect for a mixed green salad or as a topper for crusty bread.

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad With Bacon and Hazelnut Vinaigrette Recipe

Hazelnuts freshen up this classic vegetable dish. Maybe a new twist for Thanksgiving?

Healthy hazelnuts full of vitamins and nutrients.

Where to Buy Italian Hazelnuts

Pariani is our go-to producer of nuts and nut products in Italy. For walnuts from Veneto, hazelnuts in Piemonte, and pistachios from Sicily, Pariani partners closely with local growers to ensure the highest quality supply of nuts.

Piedmont hazelnuts—especially the Nocciola Piemonte IGP— can be difficult to find as the confectionary industry soaks up almost all the local production. Thankfully, Pariani offers the chance to sample these nuts in the raw form. Purchase today before they’re gone!

Buy Roasted and Salted Hazelnuts: Roasted Piedmonte Hazelnuts in Cervia Salt (1.8oz)

Buy Piedmont Hazelnuts: Roasted IGP Piedmonte Hazelnuts (3.52oz)

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