They look similar to one another and, on sight, often get confused for one another, but macadamia nuts and hazelnuts could not be more different. Both nuts have a small and rounded shape, and both are creamy, rich, and a nice mixture of softness and crunchiness, but there are certainly some big differences even in the flavor.
The main differences between these two types of nuts are their texture, flavor, common uses, nutritional value, and even price points.
In this article, we’ll go through the most significant differences between macadamia and hazelnuts to demystify, once and for all, why these nuts are so different.
First, let’s talk about where these two nuts come from in the world.
Macadamia nuts are most well-known for being grown in Hawaii – in fact, it’s rare that tourists don’t come home with a giant box of macadamia nuts from a Hawaii trip – but they are actually native to Australia. They’re also common in other tropical climates like New Zealand, Brazil, and Costa Rica. Surprisingly for a tropical plant, macadamia nut trees grow very slowly and can take up to 10 years to produce nuts (compared to Brazil nuts, which also take a long time to mature, sometimes about 14 months)
On the other hand, hazelnuts (also called filberts or cobnuts) come from the Corylus tree, which has its origin in Asia. Now, these trees are found all over the Northern Hemisphere. The Corylus tree is very dense and it’ll actually grow as a tree with a trunk, or a bush, depending on how it’s trimmed. These trees begin to bear nuts after as little as four years.
When it comes to taste, there are some huge differences. Macadamia nuts have the most decadent of all flavors due to their extremely high fat content. They are essentially the nut equivalent of taking a bite (if it were enjoyable) of pure butter. They are slightly sweet, and as you can tell, incredibly rich. The addition of a little salt on top completes the addictive trifecta of salt, sweetness, and fat. Most popularly, these nuts are used in white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.
Hazelnuts do not have such a sweet or rich flavor. In fact, hazelnuts are quite earthy in taste. However, they still qualify as buttery, and as you begin to chew the nut, the earthiness tends to melt away. Often paired with chocolate, the most common way most people consume hazelnuts is in a chocolate spread such as Nutella.
Nutritional and Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts and Hazelnuts
The most important difference between these nuts is their nutritional benefits.
From a nutritional standpoint, macadamia nuts aren’t touted for their benefits, other than for those following a ketogenic diet. The fat content, and therefore the caloric content, of macadamia nuts is quite high. For the high-fat keto dieter, the 23 grams of fat per 30 gram serving can really help them achieve their desired macronutrient levels.
The majority of the fat in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated fat, which has benefits for lowering LDL cholesterol and balancing glucose levels. Both are beneficial for weight management and heart health. And while macadamia nuts contain a varied level of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, their concentration of these nutrients is very low compared to many other nuts.
As will all nuts, it’s best to enjoy macadamia nuts in moderation, with a recommended serving size of about 10 to 12 nuts.
Hazelnuts have a substantially different nutritional profile. While still high in calories, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Hazelnuts are also a somewhat good source of protein, with about 4 grams per serving, and quite a bit lower in fat than macadamia nuts, with 17 grams of fat per serving.
Hazelnuts as well as almonds are a great source of Vitamin E, which is a highly beneficial nutrient for vibrant skin health, amongst its other anti-aging attributes. The antioxidant levels in hazelnuts are quite a bit higher, and these nuts have beneficial properties for reducing inflammation and even combatting cancerous cells.
As with macadamia nuts, hazelnuts should be enjoyed in moderation.
One thing that is quite interesting is that it seems that macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are somewhat complimentary from a vitamin profile. While hazelnuts contain more vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B5, and vitamin B6, macadamia nuts are higher in vitamin B1, B2, and B3.
Storing Macadamia Nuts and Hazelnuts
With any nuts, it’s important to keep them in an airtight container or freezer bag in a dark place, away from heat sources. Macadamia nuts, because of their extremely high fat content, last for at least five months at room temperature. If you keep them in the refrigerator or the freezer, they will last even longer.
Hazelnuts can also be stored at room temperature for several months, but only if they are still in their hard shell. If shelled, they should be stored in a refrigerator or freezer.
Cooking with Macadamia Nuts and Hazelnuts
Macadamia nuts are most often enjoyed right out of the bag. As mentioned above, they often are combined with white chocolate in cookies. They are also often combined with coconut, but in reality, they go well with just about any baked good.
While sweet recipes may be the most common use for macadamia nuts, they do play exceptionally well in savory recipes, such as the following:
- As a base to create a vegan nut-based cheese
- Chopped up in soups or a pasta sauce
- Added into an olive tapenade to be used on crackers or toast
- Crushed and used as a breading for fish or chicken
- Blended into hummus to add to the creaminess
Hazelnuts are also very versatile, and they can be eaten whole as well. However, you’ll need to remove the hard shell with a hammer or nutcracker, and then you’ll have to peel off the smooth, papery skin. You can also find hazelnuts that are pre-shelled and de-skinned. Hazelnuts can be consumed raw or roasted.
From a recipe standpoint, hazelnuts are often blended with chocolate to make a chocolate-hazelnut spread a la Nutella. This type of spread is also used often in baked goods. You can also try chocolate bars with hazelnut and other chocolate-covered nuts.
Due to its earthy flavor profile, hazelnuts do work quite well paired with fruits or even spices like chipotle and paprika. You can also grind up hazelnuts and use them as a healthier alternative to all-purpose flour when you need a breading for meats or veggies.
Some other ways hazelnuts can be used include:
- Incorporating hazelnuts into a pesto in place of pine nuts
- Chopping up hazelnuts and adding them to cooked grains such as quinoa and rice
- Toasted, crushed, and sprinkled over pasta in place of parmesan cheese
- Incorporated with caramel in a delectable ice cream flavor
- Chopping up raw hazelnuts and adding them to a salad
As you can see, the term “nut” and the round shape are pretty much the only similarities between macadamia nuts and hazelnuts. But both nuts can be a great additive to many dishes as part of a healthy diet. At NutStop, we have some of the best bulk macadamia nuts and bulk hazelnuts you can buy. Pick up a bag of each and enjoy!