Cocoa Hazelnut Granola

January 22, 2011(updated on August 30, 2021)

cocoa hazelnut granola

I’ve been making granola like crazy lately, as I finalize the recipes for that section of the cookbook. Just when I was sure I was done and could put the oats away, another recipe possibility started growing. You see, I’ve had Nutella on the brain in the last few days (I blame Lara’s Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies). And when you combine an obsessive devotion to granola with thoughts of Nutella, its an impossible task to try and avoid seeing what their love child would look like.

roasted hazelnuts

In my kitchen, the result of that unlikely union is a chocolate-kissed cereal that has a touch of sweetness and a crunch that is habit-forming. The jar of it is sitting next to me as I type these words and my writing progress is far slower than normal, because I can’t stop my hand from dipping into it every minute or so.

cocoa hazelnut granola

A word of warning. This is not the chocolate cereals of our collective youth. If you eat it with milk, you will not go into glucose shock from drinking the liquid that remains in the bowl. In fact, had someone presented to this to me as a child, I would have taken a bite and then been mightily disappointed by the subtly of the sweetening. However, as an adult, it’s that nuance that I find so appealing (along with the small hints of salt that come through thanks to the 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt).

cocoa hazelnut granola

All that said, if you did want to turn this concoction into something a bit more dessert-like, you could toss the partially cooled cereal with small shards of dark chocolate. That would be good. Oh, another thing. Hazelnuts are one of the more expensive nuts out there. If you can’t swing their price, you could substitute almonds. However, you only need about a 1/3 of a pound for this recipe, so if you have someplace that sells them in bulk, it’s worth spending $3-4 to buy just that amount. They are transcendentally good.

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Cocoa Hazelnut Granola


  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil I like sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup cane syrup* like Lyle’s Golden Syrup or Steen’s


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the hazelnuts out onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10-12 minutes, until they are toasted and fragrant. While still hot, spill the nuts into a colander or mesh strainer and shake them around. This will loosen the skins. When they are cool enough to touch, use your fingertips to rub away a bit more of the skins. They don’t have to be perfectly skinned, just get rid of whatever is loose. I like to chop the hazelnuts into slightly smaller pieces, and I do this using a chopping bowl and a curved chopper. You could also pour them into a bag and give it a couple of whacks with a rolling pin. Or, you can just leave them whole. Up to you.
  • Combine the hazelnuts, oats, cocoa powder and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss it all together with your fingers, just to help the cocoa powder coat everything else.
  • Measure the oil out into a graduated 1-cup measure and swirl it around a little bit before pouring it into the mixing bowl. Then measure the cane syrup into the same, unwashed measuring cup. This will help you get a accurate measure while still getting the bulk of the sweetener into the granola.
  • Toss everything together with a silicone spatula (it’s the best tool for this job but a wooden spoon also works) until the oil and syrup are evenly distributed.
  • Pour the cereal out onto an ungreased baking sheet and spread it evenly using your spatula. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, to ensure even baking.
  • When it well roasted, remove the baking sheet from the pan. Using a spatula, scoot the cereal together into the center of the baking sheet and press it down. Let it remain like this, undisturbed, until fully cool. This promotes crunchy clusters.
  • When the granola is totally cool, use a sturdy metal spatula (something like this, with a flat, straight edge is ideal) to break up the granola and scrape it off the baking sheet.
  • Store in an airtight jar or container, to protect the crunch.


*If you can’t find or don’t have cane syrup, you could sub in maple syrup. I wouldn’t swap in honey though, I think it would make it too cloying.

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32 thoughts on "Cocoa Hazelnut Granola"

  • This looks delish and I’m definitely going to try it out. Nutella… drool…

    Just to make you jealous, hazelnuts grow everywhere in WA state.
    My grandma has a tree in her backyard, though the squirrels beat her to the nuts every year. There’s a huge hazelnut grove (orchard…?) not 10 miles from my house and the owners are regulars at the farmers markets. They’re super nice and such great people. Hazelnuts are the only nut grown in the Pacific Northwest, making them the cheapest available at just $3/pound.

    Pecans, on the other hand, are outrageously expensive here.

    1. That’s so funny! I feel like I know where a lot of vegetables do well, but I’m just starting to learn about nuts. My in-laws in Oklahoma have 6 or 7 huge pecan trees in their front yard, they get pounds and pounds and pounds of them every year just by walking around outside and my freezer is always full of pecans… Now I just need to find some friends in the Pac NW to get my hazelnut fix 🙂

      1. We need some kind of foodie swap! 😀 I live in Tulsa, OK, and have no problem getting cheap pecans. I would gladly swap pecans for other non-local tree nuts, OR huckleberries from Montana! I had huckleberry jam for the first time last year from Montana and have been craving it since.

  • I’m imagining this granola with a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt…maybe a few sliced strawberries…*drool*

  • I love Nutella. I love granola. Must. Try. This. Recipe! Also I just love the technique tip to pile up all the granola and then let it set to get crunchy clusters. My homemade granola never has those nice clusters like store bought granola and maybe this will help!

  • man, when you tweeted about this my mouth watered. Now that I see the actual recipe, I wish I hadn’t finished the last of rolled oats…must.get.more!

  • This looks amazing! I love Nutella so I imagine this would thrill the taste buds.
    I’ve been thinking of planting hazelnuts here lately (Michigan). I just got a mailing from the Arbor Day Foundation and they will send me three trees for a $15 or more donation (I’m already a member, I don’t know if they offer that to everyone or not). They are supposed to grow well in our climate.

  • And what would you say about using agave syrup as a sweetener? I agree honey could be too thick and powerful, but I am loving agave syrup lately and think it could pair nicely with cocoa, both being Mexican-ish. And this leads me to using pepitas instead of hazelnuts, an even more Mexican rendition! How fun! Thanks for the beautiful inspiration.

  • I’m breaking my personal rule to only use Freddy Guys hazelnuts (my fave local farmers) and buying a 1/3 pound of questionable source at Limbo to make this. it’s just the thing today! thanks so much for the great idea 🙂

    1. …and, the report: I did indeed make the granola (subbing coconut oil and maple syrup, adding cinnamon) and adding Italian dark chocolate chips before mixing when I pulled it out of the oven. it was fantastic and I picked up another pound of hazelnuts today 🙂

  • Just made this tonight. So delicious! I love being introduced to different ways of making things. So, first of all, I will totally make this for my kids, just leaving out the hazelnuts (they won’t appreciate them quite yet), and calling it homemade cocoa cereal. So much healthier! (BTW, I used Trader Joe’s agave-maple syrup – just enough sweet and not overpoweringly maple-y.) Second, I’m thinking about my morning oatmeal in a whole new way. Why do I limit myself to brown sugar and cinnamon??? I can’t say it enough: THANK YOU for your site! 🙂

  • I used to LOVE Nutella, but ever since I became vegan, I haven’t found an acceptable substitute. I’m making this today and really looking forward to it. Thank you.

    1. Thank you! I don’t know why I haven’t bothered to make something like this before…I’ll give it a try in the next couple weeks.

  • Been eating those the past 2 weeks and plan to make another batch tomorrow as it was delicious.
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  • This sounds delicious and is just baking in my oven! I substituted the nuts and used walnuts because this is what I had. Looking forward to breakfast tomorrow and cannot wait until your book comes out!!!

  • I made this again today (for the millionth time) and I can’t believe it didn’t make the final cut for the cookbook!

  • I really, really, REALLY wanted to love this recipe but, wow, what a disappointment! I’m a veteran granola maker, so it wasn’t about technique. In addition I used the very best local, organic ingredients including a super expensive cocoa and fleur de sel… Which is why it really stunk when I went to relish my first bite and … Blah. Not nearly enough sweetness to counteract and bring out the cocoa and it was just missing something… Very one note… Alas I must continue my search for the elusive perfect chocolate granola….

    1. I’m so sorry that you’re disappointed with this granola. I do state in the post that it’s not a super sweet recipe.

  • Thanks so much for this recipe, I make it all the time. I use maple syrup instead of cane syrup and I love this granola with wild blueberries and milk for breakfast or dessert!

  • Warning: Cover your baking sheet with heavy foil before baking. I didn’t and ruined a useful pan. (I’m going to try to rescue it however.)

    That said, I really like the results. I followed the recipe as written. I love hazelnuts and look for ways to use them. I’m glad it’s not too sweet.