Why Chefs Prefer Italian Nutella Over American

Pizza, pasta, espresso, gelato. Some things (okay, a lot of things) are just better in Italy. Try as we might to remake the magic here in the U.S., a dish or a product is only as good as its ingredients, and there's no denying that, in many cases, Italy produces better, higher-quality ingredients.

That's because more often than not, authentic Italian food utilizes fresh, local ingredients, ingredients that grow and thrive in the Mediterranean climate and come from the earth. And the food is prepared so simply and effectively that those ingredients can live up to their full potential. No added nonsense or unnecessary preservatives, just simple, fresh ingredients creating delicious food that speaks for itself.

So it's not surprising that even Italy's processed foods tend to taste better than the American versions. Particularly when it comes to that velvety chocolate hazelnut spread we all love: Nutella. And a lot of chefs agree.

Italian Nutella over American Nutella

Why is an Italian jar of Nutella superior to the version we buy at our grocery stores? It all comes down to the flavor, and the flavor comes down to the ingredients. Simply put, the Italian version likely uses more of the real stuff.

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli, owner of Luca Osteria, tells Food & Wine that he grew up eating Italian Nutella, which he says "...is far more delicious and hazelnut forward." Many that have done taste tests across the internet have confirmed this: Italian Nutella is less sweet with a richer, more pronounced hazelnut flavor. In contrast, American Nutella tastes sugary and oily in comparison.

The ingredients listed on each jar of Nutella are essentially the same (except for the use of vegetable oil in the Italian version as opposed to palm oil in the American version). Still, there's one telling difference: Italian Nutella lists the percentages of hazelnuts and cocoa powder (13% and 7.4%, respectively), whereas American Nutella leaves those out. So one has to assume that Italian Nutella uses more hazelnuts and cocoa to achieve its natural, rich flavor.

The history of Nutella

Anyone who has tasted Nutella (especially the original Italian version) recognizes the incredible flavor of the magical creamy spread that seems to go well on anything from french toast to fruit and cheese. But the Nutella we know today evolved from several predecessors, dating back to the 1940s.

According to Nutella heritage, the first invention that would lead to Nutella was conceived in 1946 by Ferrero in Piedmont, Italy. Due to a cocoa shortage after World War II, Ferrero got creative and crafted a sweet and satisfying paste from hazelnuts — a product grown abundantly in Piedmont — sugar, and a touch of cocoa powder. This paste was formed into a small block called Giandujot.

In 1951, SuperCrema was born: a creamier version of Giandujot that was more easily spreadable. It wasn't until 1964 that the SuperCrema recipe was improved and perfected to create the world's first jar of Nutella.