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
- 2 cups boiling water
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 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.
- 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.
- When a test skin rubs right off, add the rest of the nuts to the ice water and peel them with ease.
- Place peeled nuts into a kitchen towel or paper towels and dry them thoroughly.
- 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
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Saturday 7th of May 2022
This worked really well for me. It was still effort, of course, but at least at the end of it all my hazelnuts were completely skin-free. I'll never waste effort with a towel again. Thank you!!
Tuesday 10th of May 2022
So glad it worked for you! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and share your feedback. Happy baking! -Jamie
Wednesday 16th of March 2022
Peeling and getting rid of the skins is more difficult than described here. I put the nuts in a towel, rub them to thoroughly break the skins off, then return them to water bath. The loosened skins, being denser, sink to the bottom while the nuts float. Then you can skim off the nuts completely free of the skin junk.
Thursday 17th of March 2022
Great tip, Carl! Thanks for stopping by. -Jamie
Sunday 24th of January 2021
Oh my heavens. This technique is perfect. I let the remaining hazelnuts sit in the ice bath as I was removing the skins under running water. And I noticed that I had to let the beautiful and perfectly shelled hazelnuts (yes!) brown a few minutes longer in the oven- about 19 minutes. Probably because they were a bit water logged from all that soaking in ice water. No burned hands, no frustration. It was still a chore but a productive one. The old oven and towel method is horrible work and is not successful. This technique is a pleasure. You are a gem for bringing this forward.
Monday 30th of March 2020
Thank you this was most helpful.
Thursday 9th of April 2020
Thanks so much for stopping by, Carol! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Happy Baking! -Jamie
Saturday 18th of November 2017
Waste of time. Roast 'em, rub 'em with a towel, use 'em.