We’re food folks, not math people. But perhaps our most favorite equation ever? Chocolate + hazelnuts = gianduia. (That’s essentially what Nutella is, folks.) It’s a basic yet brilliant mathematical expression in the Piedmont region of Italy. And it perfectly illustrates how the sum is most definitely greater than the parts. Michelangelo couldn’t have expressed this creative brilliance any better.–David Leite

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato FAQs

Where do hazelnuts come from?

Nearly all of the hazelnuts consumed in North America come from either Oregon or Turkey. That said, hazelnut trees are native to a large portion of the United States and north into Canada.

What is the difference between gelato and ice cream?

Gelato and ice cream share common ingredients – cream, milk, and sugar, but there are several differences to note. Gelato contains more milk and less cream and tends to be more rich and dense than American ice cream. Ice cream is generally served between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas gelato is served between 7 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that gelato won’t result in brain freeze as commonly as ice cream – but it also means that gelato will melt a lot faster.

Two cups with scoops of chocolate hazelnut gelato, known as gelato di gianduia, with a spoon.

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato

5 / 2 votes
This chocolate hazelnut gelato, known as gianduia in Italian, is chocolate ice cream and hazelnuts. It’s a classic Italian gelato and tastes like Nutella.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories582 kcal
Prep Time35 minutes
Chill4 hours
Total Time7 hours


  • Ice cream maker


  • 3 cups skinned hazelnuts
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico or other hazelnut liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade vanilla extract


  • Heat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • Scatter the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Tip the hazelnuts onto a plate to cool.
  • Measure 1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chop them, and set aside. Finely grind the remaining 2 cups hazelnuts in a food processor. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the finely ground hazelnuts, and let steep for 1 hour.
  • Strain the nut mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another saucepan, pressing on the solids before discarding them. Add 1/2 cup sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

  • Place the yolks, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until thick and pale yellow. Whisk in the cocoa. Gradually ladle about 1 cup hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Stir the warm yolk mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and registers between 175°F (79°C) and 180°F (82°C) on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Strain the custard into a bowl. Add the liqueur and vanilla and set aside to cool, stirring frequently, until room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 4 hours. (This will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
  • Churn the custard in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s directions. Just before the gelato has finished churning, add the reserved chopped hazelnuts, letting the paddle stir them in. Transfer the gelato to a container with a lid, cover, and freeze for a couple of hours or until it is just firm. Scoop at will.


Serving: 0.5 cupCalories: 582 kcalCarbohydrates: 33 gProtein: 12 gFat: 47 gSaturated Fat: 13 gMonounsaturated Fat: 27 gCholesterol: 196 mgSodium: 56 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 25 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Melissa Hamilton | Christopher Hirsheimer. Photo © 2012 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This chocolate hazelnut gelato is like the elegant, frozen cousin of Nutella. It has a deep chocolate flavor with the great texture of chopped hazelnuts. The richness of this ice cream would really lend itself well to Popsicle form.

This is a very nice gelato. Smooth, creamy, chocolatey, and crunchy. Rich, but not too rich; sweet, but not too sweet.

This recipe calls for a substantial amount of hazelnuts. Blanching the nuts literally was the most labor-intensive step in the entire process. In the future, I intend to plan ahead and purchase blanched hazelnuts.

I used Cacao Barry Callebaut Amber, and Frangelico in the recipe. Two cups ground hazelnuts was too much for my strainer, so I had to do that in batches. I am the dishwasher in my kitchen, and this recipe requires a substantial amount of labor in that regard. Just sayin’.

I had thought that an entire cup of chopped nuts added to the custard base would be too much, but the effect produced was similar to eating chocolate-covered almonds. The result was a nice toasted nut crunch, but not hazelnut that overpowered chocolate. The balance was just about right.

That said, if I were to make this recipe again, I would double the amount of Frangelico. Also, I used Jeni’s (Splendid Ice Cream) procedure of putting the custard in a resealable plastic bag and submerging it in an ice bath rather than refrigerating it for a more rapid chill.

Gianduia is probably one of my favorite flavors. It’s tough to go wrong with roasted hazelnuts and chocolate, and this recipe delivers that combination almost perfectly, with plenty of bitter chocolate and nutty hazelnut.

I say “almost perfectly” because I think it needs a touch more sugar. Maybe 1 cup instead of 3/4 cup would round out the sweetness better and will also help make for a softer texture for the ice cream.

As it is, the recipe is very tasty, but the ice cream sets too hard for my taste—I prefer ice cream that can be scooped right out of the freezer—and needs to sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly.

Hazelnut and cocoa—wow, what a spectacular combination. This chocolate hazelnut gelato is simply divine with the robust hazelnut flavor and the hint of chocolate. Even though it’s a tad elaborate compared to making regular ice cream, this recipe was worth every effort.

I toasted the hazelnuts before skinning them, and that definitely helped in terms of efforts. One does have to watch the custard carefully while it cooks as it’s quite thick and can scorch if left unattended. I chilled the custard overnight before processing it.

Wow! This did not last long at my house! Gianduia is one of my favorite things, and this ice cream really delivers that flavor. Adding the toasted nuts at the end takes it over the top.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I have this issue of Canal House! Why didn’t I notice this recipe? (rhetorical question, please 😉

    This makes me think of the Baci gelato from Vaccaro’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy. My gosh, but I loved that stuff. No chopped nuts in it, but if this can equal that in flavor, I will be in heaven. I would say I want to be the Canal House ladies when I grow up, but I’m pretty sure I’m already older than them…if less grown up. 😉

    So glad you highlighted this recipe. Thanks!