Is Nutella Vegan? Choosing a Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Nutella is a globally-loved treat. But is it vegan?

Hazelnut chocolate spread in a jar on wooden board, closeup view.

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Necessity is the mother of invention, and Nutella is proof of this adage. After World War II, Nutella’s parent company Ferrero found it challenging to acquire cocoa. To make the best use of the little cocoa the company had, Ferrero combined it with hazelnuts and sugar to create an iconic, spreadable, sweet paste. Today, Nutella is consumed at breakfast, for dessert, or any time in between.

Unfortunately for vegans, Ferrero's Nutella contains additional ingredients, one of which is derived from non-vegan cow’s milk. Learn what’s inside Nutella and discover the plant-based alternatives available in our vegan guide. 

Why Nutella Is Not Vegan 

Nutella has relatively few ingredients, and Ferrero is very transparent with ingredient sourcing information. While this is great for consumers, Nutella is still not a vegan spread.

The main non-vegan culprit is skim milk in Nutella. Made from whole cow’s milk, skim milk (also known as nonfat and fat-free milk) has nearly all milkfat removed. When the liquid is evaporated through a quick spray drying method, tiny milk particles remain. Powdered milk provides desserts with fat content, texture, and flavor without adding additional liquid.

Other Nutella Ingredients

While the following ingredients in Nutella are considered vegan, there are still things plant-based eaters might want to keep in mind.

Sugar

The sugar in Nutella comes from a mix of beets and sugarcane. Beet sugar is always vegan-friendly because it only takes a single process to transform the root vegetables into table sugar. But cane sugar requires two steps, and the second step processes the unrefined cane sugar with animal bone char to whiten the crystals. 

Because of this, some strict vegans abstain from processed foods containing any sugar since it’s often difficult to tell the source from the label. However, most “practical and possible” vegans include sugar as a plant-based food.

Palm Oil

Vegans with environmental concerns may also avoid palm oil. The most produced and consumed vegetable oil in the world, palm oil trees grow in some of the planet’s most biodiverse forests. Unfortunately, farming and harvesting this versatile comestible often destroys wildlife habitats. 

Thankfully, the palm oil in Nutella is 100% RSPO certified sustainable, ensuring that their products don’t contribute to deforestation. 

Lethicin

Lethicin is a common food additive and emulsifier that helps to provide a smooth texture. It commonly comes from non-vegan eggs or, as in the case of Nutella, plant-based soy. 

Did You Know?

Nutella’s main ingredient, cocoa powder, also faces sustainability questions. These tropical plants only grow in equatorial regions, and as climate change creates warmer temperatures, the moisture these plants need to survive will disappear. Cocoa farmers, who are already under significant economic strain, may have to decide between making a living and preserving otherwise undeveloped land areas.

Vegan Alternatives to Nutella

Vegans don’t have to sacrifice their sweet tooth to indulge in a chocolate hazelnut spread. From easy-to-find grocery store brands to emerging leaders in the space, these plant-based options make vegan snacking a snap.

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut & Almond Butter

Close but uniquely different, Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut and Almond Butter is a widely available vegan option. The blend of nut butters and the thicker, more granular texture differentiate this spread from its peers. Justin’s also carries a 100% vegan certified label.

Nocciolata Dairy-Free Organic Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread

Nocciolata offers both vegan and non-vegan varieties of their chocolate hazelnut spread. Organic and vegan certified, the dairy-free Nocciolata substitutes sunflower oil for palm oil but otherwise resembles the classic version. This spread is noted for its rich hazelnut flavor with a texture akin to fudge.

Nutiva Organic Hazelnut Spread

Available in many conventional and specialty food stores, Nutiva’s Organic Hazelnut Spread also has vegan and Fair Trade certifications for its conflict crop ingredients. With 40% less sugar than Nutella, Nutiva’s spread is not nearly as sweet, and its consistency is thinner, but it’s still delish. 

tbh Hazelnut Cocoa Spread

New to the market, tbh has just half the sugar of the brand name spread plus no palm oil. The organic cane sugar and cocoa powder mixed with pea protein give this vegan-friendly spread the advantage of having the most protein among popular hazelnut spreads. tbh also strives to use recycled plastic packaging.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Nutella dairy-free?

    No. All of Nutella’s products contain a milk derivative, making it distinctly non-vegan.

  • Does Nutella contain egg?

    No. The lecithin in Nutella comes from vegan-friendly soy.

  • Will Nutella ever be vegan?

    It’s unlikely that the Nutella brand will ever be vegan. Still, with many readily available plant-based alternatives on the markets, vegans can enjoy their chocolate hazelnut spread.