Better Than Nutella: The Best Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads from Italy

There’s no doubt: Nutella is a beloved chocolate hazelnut spread that has captured the hearts of many around the world—including Italians. However, there’s also no doubt that Nutella isn’t the healthiest option due to its high sugar content and use of palm oil. Serious foodies in Italy know a secret: there are several Italian chocolate hazelnut spreads that far surpass Nutella in terms of both taste and nutrition.

Homemade cookie topped with our favorite Chocolate Hazelnut spread!

The Best Chocolate Hazelnut Spread: Criteria

The best chocolate hazelnut spreads excel in taste and nutrition. When choosing a healthier alternative to Nutella, look for spreads that have…

  • a high hazelnut content (higher than 13%)
  • low sugar content and
  • no palm oil

Italian spreads that meet these criteria offer the fantastic flavors and creamy textures that make them a delicious (and nutritious) choice for your toast, fruit, or dessert recipes.

Taste and Quality

One bite of a chocolate hazelnut product with a 35% hazelnut content (compared to Nutella’s paltry 13%) is all that you’ll need to taste the difference! To us, Nutella mostly just tastes of sugar. The products we recommend below are creamy and decadent and truly taste of rich cocoa and hazelnut.


Hazelnuts themselves are very nutritious. Unfortunately, the ingredients that brands like Nutella use to make up for their lack of hazelnuts are not so nutritious.

Here are the ingredients in Nutella:

  • sugar
  • palm oil
  • hazelnuts (13%)
  • skimmed milk powder (8.7%)
  • fat-reduced cocoa (7.4%)
  • emulsifier: lecithin (soya),
  • vanillin

Nutella needs to add additional oil in order to give the product a smoother texture. Why? Because it does not contain the % of hazelnuts that other (better) products contain. Palm oil is less healthy than oils coming directly from hazelnuts. Why?

Saturated vs Monosaturated Fats

Palm oil is less healthy than oil from hazelnuts. Palm oil is high in saturated fats, which, when consumed in excess, can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, hazelnut oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy fats. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and provide nutrients that help develop and maintain your body’s cells.

Vitamin E, and Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio

Hazelnut oil is rich in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage and supports a healthy immune system.

Both palm and hazelnut oils contain omega-6 fatty acids, but hazelnut oil has a more balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. A balanced ratio is important for reducing inflammation in the body and promoting heart health.

Vanillin VS Natural Vanilla Extract

Like us, you may have been surprised to see ‘vanillin’ listed in the Nutella ingredients. What is this?

Vanillin is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean. It is the compound that gives vanilla its characteristic flavor and aroma. Synthetic vanillin, instead of natural vanilla extract, is sometimes used as a flavoring agent in foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals because it is less expensive and has a longer shelf life.

Vanillin can be produced synthetically from several different sources:

  1. Guaiacol: This is the most common method for producing synthetic vanillin. Guaiacol is a petrochemical that is converted into vanillin using several chemical reactions.
  2. Lignin: Lignin is a component of wood that is often a byproduct of the paper industry. It can be broken down into several different compounds, including vanillin.
  3. Ferulic Acid: Ferulic acid is found in several different types of grains, including rice and wheat. It can be converted into vanillin using a series of chemical reactions or through fermentation with certain types of fungi.

While synthetic vanillin has a very similar flavor to natural vanilla, it lacks the complexity and depth of flavor that natural vanilla has. This is because natural vanilla contains several hundred different compounds, while synthetic vanillin is just one compound.

Typically when a product lists “vanillin” in its ingredients, it is referring to synthetic vanillin. Synthetic vanillin is used more commonly than natural vanilla extract in food products due to its lower cost and longer shelf life.

So, with all of these criteria in mind, what is the best chocolate hazelnut spread?

Meet Novi: The Ultimate Chocolate Hazelnut Spread!

Novi is an Italian confectionery company that specializes in chocolate production. The company was founded in 1903 in Novi Ligure, a small town in the Piedmont region of Italy, which is famous for its chocolate production. The name “Novi” is an acronym that stands for “Nome, Origine, Valore, Individualità” (Name, Origin, Value, Individuality).

Novi is known for its high-quality chocolates and uses traditional Italian chocolate-making techniques. The company sources its cocoa beans from the best plantations around the world and uses pure cocoa butter in its products, which contributes to their rich flavor and smooth texture.

A jar of Novi Chocolate Hazelnut spread purchased in Italy.

In addition to its range of chocolate bars and pralines, Novi also produces a chocolate hazelnut spread that is to die for! This spread is made with high-quality ingredients, including 35% hazelnuts, cocoa and natural vanilla extract. It’s a delicious alternative to other chocolate hazelnut spreads on the market.

While Novi‘s chocolate hazelnut spread is less well-known internationally than some other brands, it is highly regarded in Italy and among those who appreciate fine Italian chocolates. If you’re looking for a chocolate hazelnut spread with a rich, authentic chocolate flavor, Novi’s spread is definitely worth trying.

Best of all? You don’t have to fly to an Italian grocery to try this delicacy! It’s available on Amazon (affiliate link).

More Quality Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads Made in Italy!

  1. Colzani Chocolate Hazelnut Spread: This spread is made in Lombardia, Italy, and is a great alternative to Nutella. It’s made with 45% hazelnuts, which is significantly higher than Nutella’s 13% hazelnut content. This results in a richer, nuttier flavor. It’s also free of palm oil, making it a healthier choice. Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

More Italian Dessert Recipes!

More Chocolate Recipes!

We have many decadent recipes for the chocolate lover on our website! Check out these chocolate recipes and their accompanying video recipes!

Moist Chocolate Muffins with Sour Cream
This deliciously Moist Chocolate Muffins recipe is made with sour cream. Find out it works and why other recipes fall short!
Check out this recipe
Easy Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe
Our easy Chocolate Lava Cake recipe is also, thankfully, one of the most decadent! While some chocolate lava cake recipes require separating and whipping eggs, this recipe uses only whole eggs and takes just minutes to make.
Check out this recipe
Italian Hot Chocolate Recipe
This Italian hot chocolate recipe makes a thick, rich hot chocolate in the European style! So easy to make and so decadent.
Check out this recipe
About the author

Classic recipes from Italy and beyond. Traditional Italian Cooking and Mediterranean Diet recipes!

PIATTO™ Recipes bring traditional Italian food recipes to your table with our tested, step-by-step recipes and videos. You'll find the best Italian recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Always tested, always delicious.

Leave a Comment