What is hazelnut oil?
Hazelnut oil, sometimes known as hazelnut seed oil, is a fragrant gourmet oil made from roasted and pressed hazelnut kernels. It can be used to add an intense, nutty flavour to dressings and baking, and also works well in hair and skincare products, thanks to its high vitamin E content.
Archaeological finds suggest that humans have been eating hazelnuts for at least 8,000 years, and we now know that this humble little nut was helping to keep our Stone Age ancestors healthy in several important ways. Hazelnuts are full of important nutrients, including vitamin E, manganese and copper, as well as omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. They are high in antioxidants and healthy fats, which can help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and normalise blood pressure. Eating hazelnut extract may even help prevent certain types of cancer. For more surprising facts about hazelnuts check out our A-Z of 26 interesting things about hazelnuts.
Of course, people don’t only eat hazelnuts for their health benefits. They also have a wonderful, sweet, nutty flavour and a delicious aroma, both of which are intensified in hazelnut oil. This means that hazelnut oil can be used to add a tasty gourmet touch to your cooking and to infuse your homemade beauty remedies with the sweet smell of roasted hazelnuts.
As well as smelling great, hazelnut oil is light and absorbent, meaning it can be used to moisturise skin and hair without leaving them greasy. It contains vitamin E, which keeps your skin hydrated and boosts the production of skin-plumping collagen, as well as the antioxidant Q-10, which is thought to have anti-ageing properties.
When to use hazelnut oil in the kitchen
Hazelnut oil can be used to add a unique, gourmet flavour to a variety of dishes. It tastes great in salad dressings and vinaigrettes, and also makes a great cooking oil, with a richer taste than olive oil, but without the saturated fat of butter. Try it drizzled over grilled meat, fish or vegetables, or even as a replacement for olive oil for a unique twist on a classic basil pesto.
For those of us with a sweet tooth, hazelnut oil also pairs well with sweet flavours such as raspberries or chocolate. It is often used to give a sweet, nutty flavour to pastries, cookies and even candy.
Hazelnut oil can be quite expensive, and it is harder to store than other oils, with a tendency to oxidise quite quickly. Because of this, it is better to buy only as much hazelnut oil as you need.
If you can’t get enough of the flavour of hazelnuts, here are some of our favourite recipe ideas.
Hazelnut and chocolate is a classic flavour combination that works beautifully in this gorgeously rich hazelnut and chocolate cake.
For an easy side salad that’s full of bold flavours and textures, combine red cabbage, sweet apple and crunchy hazelnuts with a little oil and vinegar. Simple and delicious.
To celebrate the colours and produce of autumn, try this vibrant veggie lasagna with tender butternut squash, hazelnuts, and creamy goat’s cheese.
For a nutty, boozy tea time treat, this hazelnut cake with a rich buttercream topping spiked with Frangelico liqueur is hazelnut heaven. It’s also completely gluten free, so your coeliac friends can enjoy a slice too.
Pollo a la Brasa is a Peruvian-inspired dish, created by chefs Gaggan Anand and Daniel Chavez. Pan-seared chicken, marinated in a delicious Huacatay sauce made with capsicums, hazelnuts, herbs and chilli, this dish is a real show-stopper.
For these recipes and more, check out our list of 10 hazelnut recipes to celebrate autumn.