Why It Works
- Making your own liqueur produces a cleaner, nuttier flavor than its commercial counterparts and allows you to experiment with additions like herbs and fruit.
- Since they’re strained at the end, there’s no need to skin the hazelnuts before combining them with the other ingredients.
Love of Nutella is one of the things that connects us as a species. And while chocolate is fantastic, it's the humble hazelnut that elevates Nutella from delicious to life-changing. That's why I'm surprised that hazelnut liqueur (also called noisette) flies a bit under the radar compared to its nutty cousin amaretto. Hazelnut liqueur has a layered and complex flavor that makes it a treat to sip on its own after dinner or shake up in a cocktail.
What's Available to Buy?
Frangelico is the most well-known hazelnut liqueur, and it's easy to find at liquor stores. Hiram Walker, Gaetano, and DeKuyper also make hazelnut liqueurs. If you think coffee and hazelnut would make good friends, you'd be right. Kahlua makes a hazelnut version of its liqueur.
While hazelnut liqueur isn't that hard to find, it's still worth it to make your own because the flavor is better. Homemade hazelnut liqueur has a clean nutty flavor that's stronger and more natural-tasting than its commercial counterparts. And the potential for experimentation in small batches makes it as entertaining as it is delicious. This recipe is a simple mix of flavors but you could really have some fun adding a few herbs and even a little fruit to the mix. Cherries, apricots, mint, or some cacao nibs could make for a whole new hazelnut experience.
Aside from sipping it straight as an after-dinner treat, a splash or three of homemade hazelnut liqueur makes coffee and hot chocolate more fun. (You can take that idea to the next level with this bacon, bourbon, and hazelnut hot chocolate or a hazelnut-spiked Irish coffee with chocolate whipped cream.)
Your homemade liqueur is also essential for treats like the homemade Oreo blizzard and spiked Do-si-do milkshake. Your liqueur is also handy in the kitchen, making a great addition to cakes, biscotti, and ice cream.
If you're not craving something quite so sweet, add a touch of hazelnut along with some bitters to Irish whiskey.
1/2 pound raw hazelnuts with skin, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split
Combine chopped hazelnuts, vodka, and brandy in a sealable jar. Shake and let steep at room temperature for 2 weeks.
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then add to the hazelnut mixture. Shake and let steep for 3 days, then add vanilla bean and let steep for an additional 3 to 5 days.
Sample often. Once desired flavor is achieved, strain through a sieve and then again through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Refrigerate for up to 2 months.
Fine-mesh sieve, cheesecloth or coffee filter
Whole, raw hazelnuts with the skin on can be found in the bulk bin section of natural supermarkets or at Trader Joe's. This recipe goes light on the sugar, so add more simple syrup to taste if desired.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 1g||1%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 3g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|