How to Peel Hazelnuts

In recent weeks, I have become reobsessed with Nutella which prompted me purchase a bag of hazelnuts (aka filberts) which had their skins intact. One of the recipes that I was playing around with called for peeled hazelnuts, but I figured they would be a cinch to remove – however, I quickly realized that was not the case. Hazelnut skins are stubborn – mighty stubborn.

Since picking papery peels off of 1 cup of hazelnuts sounded less than awesome, I did a little research and decided to use the roast and rub method. Essentially you roast the hazelnuts at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the nuts have darkened a bit and you can smell the nutty goodness wafting through your kitchen. Next, you place the hot nuts into a slightly dampened kitchen towel and rub the skins off using the towel. Apparently the combination of moisture and heat helps to loosen the skins. Well, this worked – sort of.

After rubbing and rubbing and rubbing, many of the hazelnuts were still flecked with pieces of brown skin which pretty much annoyed the heck out of me. I knew there had to be a better way. Again, I turned to Google and happened to stumble upon a method from Alice Medrich.

Basically you boil the hazelnuts in baking soda and water for a few minutes then immerse them in cold water before you peel the skins away. This technique enabled my perfectionist self to easily remove every single piece of hazelnut skin with ease! Now don’t get me wrong, this is still a bit of process, so don’t expect the skins to magically disappear, but I will tell you it works like a charm and is actually kind of fun!

Alice Medrich demonstrated this method to Julia Child while making Hazelnut Biscotti – you catch the entire process and Julia’s reaction to this method by watching the YouTube video below.

How To Peel Hazelnuts

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 cup hazelnuts

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan with high sides, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda to the water – the water will foam up.
  2. Add the nuts to the boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes. The water will turn black – don’t be alarmed. While the hazelnuts are boiling, prepare a medium bowl of ice cold water. After three minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove one test nut, placing the nut into the prepared bowl of ice water. Use your fingers to remove the skin, if the skin doesn’t come off easily, boil the nuts 1-2 minutes longer and try another test nut.
  3. When a test skin rubs right off, add the rest of the nuts to the ice water and peel them with ease.
  4. Place peeled nuts into a kitchen towel or paper towels and dry them thoroughly.
  5. If desired, toast the peeled and dried hazelnuts at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes - trust me it's so worth it!
  • Method from Alice Medrich

77 Responses to “How to Peel Hazelnuts”

  1. Tricia L. — August 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This worked great and I ended up with lovely, naked, little hazelnuts.

    • Jamie — August 28th, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Tricia,

      That’s awesome to hear! I’m so happy the tips worked for you. Have a wonderful day and thank you for following MBA!

      Jamie

  2. Kathy — September 6, 2013 at 3:48 am

    I just used this method for my hazelnuts and it worked so well! I’m baking them right now, hopefully the won’t taste like baking soda. I love those vintage videos!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jamie — September 8th, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Kathy,

      You’re very welcome! Thank you so much for following MBA and have a fantastic day!

      Jamie

  3. Virginia — November 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    As I was planning to do a lot of baking in the weeks to come, I decided to double the amount of recipe ingredients so I would have the hazelnuts ready for my next recipe. However, by doing so, the hazelnuts that awaited the “disrobing” turned a darker colour than the ones that had their skins removed at the beginning. In future, I would only do one cup of hazelnuts at a time, in order to keep the colour light. FYI….

  4. Kari@Loaves n Dishes — November 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I’m just about to make a tart with hazelnuts, and you’ve saved me! Thanks Jamie!

  5. Shweta — November 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Just did this n it was sooooo easy! Thanks soooo much.

  6. Nina — March 29, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Thanks so very very much! I had no idea what to do and with your insight and website it was simple!!!

  7. Bernie — July 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Works perfectly. I peeled the filberts under a small stream of running water into a fine meshed sieve. Made clean-up easy and the running water removed any excess baking soda. Thank you.

  8. 3petitsprinces — August 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! The method worked beautifully! I always avoided using hazelnuts before because I could never get the skins off. But I do love hazelnuts! You have saved me! Alice Medrich is genius! I love her biscotti recipes. Some of my hazelnuts went to grace the top of Martha Stewart’s homemade brownies…can you guess where the remaining ones will be going?

    • Jamie — August 11th, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Glad you found this helpful, thanks for stopping by.

      -Jamie

  9. Shelley — October 8, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    This is awesome. The only thing that I could think of while I watched this was what a perfectly brilliant job Marylyn Streep did playing the part of Julia Child in Julie and Julia. She was absolutely flawless!

    • Jamie — October 9th, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Shelley-
      Thanks for stopping by!

      -Jamie

  10. LaChina — November 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    This worked great thanks!!!

  11. Gordon — November 27, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Thank you!!!!! After trying the towel method, I tried this as I need them for 2 different recipes. Roasted the first batch and drying the second for tomorrow’s nut mix! Hope they dry out overnight. If not I’ll do another cup in the morning. Whole”paycheck ” foods charges 17 bucks for a pound of shelled hazelnuts!!!!

    • Jamie — November 28th, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Gordon-
      I’m so glad it worked out well for you. Thanks for visiting!

      -Jamie

  12. Sheryl Scott — March 4, 2015 at 7:51 am

    I love hazel nuts! I think that if I can I will eat them every single day! Once I tried to make a hazel nut butter but I had no idea how to peel them and my butter didn’t look so creamy. Thanks a lot for sharing the trick with the baking soda! I will definitely try it! Creekmouth Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

    • Jamie — March 9th, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Sheryl-
      I’m glad this was helpful. Thanks for visiting.

      -Jamie

  13. Shannon — May 15, 2015 at 2:10 am

    I’ve made nutella many times before and the most annoying part of the process for me is always to peel the hazelnuts after roasting. So of course, I thought this would be a good thing to try. It worked beautifully at first, I was able to get every piece of skin off of the hazelnuts with ease. But then when I went to blend them into a paste after roasting them, it ended up as a crumby mess rather than the smooth paste that I’m used to. I’m not sure what boiling them in water and baking soda did, but this is something that has never happened to me when I’ve made it without this extra step. I ended up tossing the entire pound of hazelnuts. What a waste… I was hugely disappointed with this.

    • Jamie — May 22nd, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Shannon-
      I am sorry that you had trouble with the nut butter. I appreciate you stopping by.

      -Jamie

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