Delicious & Easy

Plant-Based Hazelnut-Cacao Nut Milk

Making a multitude of nut milks at home is easy so long as you have a blender and a nut milk bag. I started experimenting with my own almond milk recipe years ago, then pistachio and macadamia–and some of them, like cashew and walnut, don't even need to be strained. When I got to hazelnut, a voice chimed in my head and said "add a scoop of cacao powder now."

I obliged that inner-calling and can testify that this resulting plant-based milk recipe was sent from heaven.

I find it's a perfect treat for Friday movie nights, especially when paired with Golden Popcorn (melt a few dashes of turmeric with a plant-based butter like Miyoko's or grass-fed butter, and pour it over fresh popcorn with salt and pepper to taste for a healthy twist on the yellow popcorn that sells for a tiny fortune at the movie theater).

Ingredients for

Plant-Based Hazelnut-Cacao Nut Milk

  • 1 cup hazelnuts, raw or roasted without salt works
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder*, or more to taste
  • 2–3 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
  • Dash of cinnamon, optional

*Cocoa powder works fine too.


Instructions for

Plant-Based Hazelnut-Cacao Nut Milk

1. In a large bowl, cover hazelnuts with a generous amount of water and refrigerate overnight.

2. Drain hazelnuts and add to blender with 3 ½ to 4 cups water, cacao powder, and maple syrup. Blend until hazelnuts are finely ground, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Pour blender contents through a nut milk bag into a large pitcher or bowl to strain hazelnut pulp.

4. Chill and give it a good stir or shake before serving, or blend with a bit of ice to make it frothy. Keeps well covered in the fridge for up to 5 days, so you may want to double or triple the recipe.

Frequently asked

Questions About This Recipe

How flexible is this nut milk recipe?

Once you nail down the basic nut-to-water ratios, you can take the nut milk almost anywhere. Adjust sweetness and play with other spices and flavors like raspberry hazelnut cacao nut milk. Yes. I've done it. It's crazy good. You can also make this with almonds instead of hazelnuts, or omit the cacao altogether.

What do you do with the leftover nut milk pulp?

Do not throw it away. Spread it into a thin layer on a baking sheet and dehydrate the pulp in the oven on the lowest temperature for about an hour, until fine, dry crumbs are left. Run the pulp through the blender again to break down any large crumbs for finer consistency (optional). Now you've got hazelnut-cacao flour to try using as a full or partial replacement for almond flour in gluten-free chocolate baking recipes (think GF shortbread cookies, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies). You can also add scoops of it to banana smoothies for extra protein and subtle hazelnut flavor, or sprinkle it on top of jammy toast. If you'd like to take the added step of mixing in the cacao powder and maple syrup into to the nut milk after you've strained your nut milk pulp, it'll make a pure hazelnut flour, but it works out better to have the hazelnut paired with the chocolate in advance. If you make a variety of nut milks (you must try doing a pistachio-matcha like this too), you'll have a variety of nut flours to try.


Notes & Thoughts

Having a super-pricey high speed blender is unnecessary if you're going to make nut milk since the affordable nut milk bag will do most of the work for you, but there are many benefits to having one. If you haven't already made the investment and want to be economically and environmentally conscious with such purchases, try looking for a refurbished blender (they are often insured), or keep an eye out for a unit in need of a new home at thrift stores, garage sales, or on a site like OfferUp. You can also try putting the word out that you are looking for one; I bought my refurbished blender with a dresser and a printer for $200 from a friend who moved to Europe. You never know where a good deal and a chance to repurpose—and be purposeful in the kitchen—might strike.

This recipe was originally published October 13, 2021 exclusively on Edible San Diego Weekly. Want to join the club? Support the region's only dedicated, local, and independently-owned food media company by signing up for a digital membership or subscription today.