If You’re So Concerned About Nutella, Just Make It Yourself

January 16, 2017

Maybe you’ve heard about the recent controversy swirling around Nutella, the confectionary spread whose staple ingredient, palm oil, may be bad for forests, orangutans, and, now apparently, your body. Last May, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claimed that palm oil, if refined at a certain temperature above 200° C, could give rise to some potentially carcinogenic contaminants. Now, Ferrero, who manufactures Nutella in Europe, is mounting an aggressive campaign to assure consumers that palm oil (and, by extension, Nutella) won’t kill you, because its production process keeps palm oil below that 200° threshold.

Are these just excuses for corporate malfeasance? Hard to say. Nearly 20% of Ferrero's sales come from Nutella, after all, so there's a lot of risk in that brand torpedoing. Maybe Ferrero is trying to save face. Who knows? A lot of us don’t have time for this. A lot of us do have time to make our own Nutella.

It isn’t hard. Boil some water. Add some baking soda and hazelnuts to it. Drain them. While that's going on, prep some cooler water in a separate bowl. Add the hazelnuts to that bowl. Peel them; discard the skins. Blend hazelnuts in a food processor or blender so the texture becomes pasty. Add some butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, extract. Melt some chocolate and heavy cream together in a double boiler until that mix is as glossy as ganache. Add it all to your food processor or blender, put it in a jar, and stick it in your fridge. Let it firm up.

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And there you go. There's your homemade Nutella. Put it on a slice of toast. Some pie. A cheesecake. Hell, make some frozen yogurt out of it. Stick in a freakin’ pastry.

Like the taste? Here: Make some palm oil-free “Nutella” pudding, like the one Arathi made. Feeling wild? Whip up some pistachio cardamom "Nutella" that doesn't have any palm oil. Palm oil may not even be terrible for you, but if science doesn't allay your concerns, make these Nutella imitations without palm oil instead. Go crazy.

Have your own preferred Nutella alternative? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


KTFoley January 17, 2017
The lead-in is pretty tone deaf, but it can be fixed. Removing two words from the headline would dampen 90% of the condescension, intended or not. Change it to read "If you're concerned about Nutella, make your own."

That way, readers wouldn't run into the sentence "A lot of us don’t have time for this." and wonder whether "this" refers to Ferraro's defense, palm oil altogether, or worrying about what's in beloved junk foods.

But I'll concede that two other things caught my eye: the misuse of "ensure" and the description of removing hazelnut skins which definitely reads as though the writer has heard about the technique but never tried it with an eye toward describing it for a recipe.

Good editors add a ton of value when they catch these things beforehand.
Ali January 17, 2017
Like all of this writers articles, I really enjoy the subtle humor here. It's one of the reasons F52 is a favorite website. I'm a vegan and don't feel like the article necessarily trivialized palm oil concerns either. Thank you, and keep up the good work. We all need to laugh more.
dymnyno January 16, 2017
I have a recipe for nutella that I call coffee- nochella because I wasn't sure about using a trade marked name. It's included in my recipe for coffee-nochella bread pudding.
Brenna January 16, 2017
Wow, what a condescending article. We do our best to never buy anything with palm oil due to the environmental effects of producing it, but the author makes it seem like this is a silly manufactured concern about nothing serious. The tone is completely off putting and uneducated. Palm oil is one of the leading drivers of rainforest deforestation, which not only affects the immediate region, but contributes to global CO2 levels. This isn't silly or inconsequential and the issue deserves more than a snarky sentence or two about oragutauns.
Kenzi W. January 16, 2017
Hi both—sorry you feel this way! This article was in no way meant to trivialize the concerns around palm oil.
Amy P. January 16, 2017
I also got the snarky, condescending vibe - I thought maybe it was just how I was reading it but maybe not. While yes, I can make my own (more expensive, grainier) Nutella, I'd rather Ferrero listen to its former customers and attempt to find an alternative.

As an aside - I think Ferrero was trying to "assure" their customers, not "ensure" them (well, that too, but not in that sentence perhaps! :)