Frangelico Explained - Sweet Hazelnut Liqueur from Italy

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 12, 2023

Frangelico is a real treat for lovers of sweet shots and nutty flavors in alcoholic beverages. It is a fantastic Italian liqueur with a rich and intense hazelnut taste.
Frangelico hazelnut liqueur next to vanilla, hazelnuts, and cocoa

Frangelico is a sweet Italian hazelnut liqueur with an alcohol content of 20% (40 proof). The liqueur is based on a hazelnut infusion and flavored with cocoa, roasted coffee, and vanilla flavors. Just like the taste, the aroma is full of rich roasted hazelnut notes with complementing chocolate and vanilla notes.

The most common way to drink it is neat as a shot, but you can also use it in cocktails. Here, Frangelico is typically used to impart rich nutty flavors into drinks.

The bottle design of the liqueur is as unique as its taste. It resembles the shape of a monk's habit and even has a rope tied around its waist.

It's truly is one of my favorites and one of the nuttiest liqueurs you can get. So here is all you need to know about Frangelico.

What is it? | Facts | How does it Taste | How to drink | Substitutes | What pairs well | How it's produced

What is Frangelico?

Frangelico is an Italian hazelnut liqueur made from Piedmont. In Europe, it has been a well-liked après-ski shot after a day on the slopes for decades. But these days, you can find it in all parts of the world, in almost every well-stocked professional bar.

The reason is simple, Frangelico has a rich, distinct, and, above all, unique and intense nutty taste. You will hardly find a comparable product that works as a substitution.

The bottle design of the Frangelico liqueur is as unique as its taste. It resembles the shape of a monk's habit and even has a rope tied around its waist.

The brand was established in 1978, yet, the recipe seems to be much older. The original version of the liqueur is said to have been invented during the 17th century by monks in the Italian Piedmont region. Supposedly, it was also named after a hermit monk called Fra' Angelico, who had lived in the hills of Piedmont at the time.

Quick Facts

  • Produced by: Gruppo Campari
  • Origin: Piedmont, Italy
  • Released: 1978
  • ABV: 20% (40 proof)
  • Price: $30 
  • Color: Amber gold-colored
  • Taste: Sweet, toasted hazelnuts, chocolate, and vanilla 
  • Best serve: Neat in a shot glass served with a hazelnut in the glass

How does it taste?

Frangelico tastes delightfully sweet and rich and has a distinct flavor of roasted hazelnuts with notes of vanilla, coffee, and cocoa. The sweetness is well-balanced, and you get a subtle but pleasant burn from the alcohol.

Frangelico is 100% one of the most hazelnut-forward liqueurs you can find. I would go so far as to say it is the liqueur with the most intense hazelnut flavor out there. At least, to date, I haven't come across something similar.

The Best Way to Drink Frangelico

The nicest way is to drink Frangelico neat as a shot with a real hazelnut in the glass. You can serve it chilled out of the fridge or at room temperature. -Both work superbly in this case. I prefer chilled, though, as this covers some sweet notes. The sweet and nutty flavor makes it perfect for winter drinks like hot chocolate, hot milk, or spiked cappuccino.

Frangelico Hazelnut Sour cocktail with fresh hazelnuts on the side

At the same time, Frangelico is also a pretty versatile cocktail ingredient. Especially full-bodies spirits like Whiskey or Brandy are an excellent match for the nutty, rich flavor of the liqueur. However, it also works beautifully in combination with creamy and chocolatey ingredients.

You can find Frangelico in various dessert cocktails. Plus, it can be used as a nutty element to get the typical peanut butter & Jelly combination in liquid form.


The best substitute for Frangelico is Toschi Nocello, an Italian nut liqueur made of walnuts and hazelnuts. It comes reasonably close to Frangelico when you mix it into cocktails. Other alternatives include DeKuyper Hazelnut Schnapps and Bartnenura hazelnut liqueur. However, the hazelnut flavor and aroma are nowhere near as intense as in Frangelico.

I recently discovered another excellent alternative for Frangelico from the North Italian brand Walcher; -It's called Noisetto. Noisetto is a liqueur based on rum flavored with roasted hazelnuts that originate from the same region as the ones in Frangelico, Piedmont. It's superbly nutty with a delicate rum note. The only downside is that it's hard to get.

In rare cases, you can use Amaretto as a replacement, preferably when used in baking recipes. In cocktails, I would always prefer another hazelnut liqueur over Amaretto. But let me explain.

Amaretto vs Frangelico

Some people confuse those two products because, presumably, both are made from nuts. -One from hazelnuts, the other from almonds. Well, without wanting to be too nitpicky here, almonds are fruits, not nuts.
However, more importantly, Amaretto gets its almondy taste from stone fruits like peaches, not almonds.

Frangelico offers an intense and wide array of warm notes from hazelnuts, cocoa, vanilla, and coffee. The taste of Amaretto is more one-dimensional. It is also sweet but more reminiscent of marzipan. Both liqueurs are delicious, yet in very different ways.

Frangelico Amaretto
ABV 20% 21% to 28%
Proof 40 42 to 56
Taste Sweet, hazelnut, cocoa, vanilla Sweet, marzipan, almond, vanilla
Color Amber gold-colored Darker, reddish amber color
First created in 1978 1525
Price $30 $30-40

What Goes Well with Frangelico?

The rich nutty flavors of Frangelico pair extremely well with coffee, berry flavors, Irish Cream, and other milk-based drinks. In some cases, it even pairs well with acidity like in a Frangelico Sour recipe. To make this drink, you need:

  • 40ml (1.35oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 60ml (2oz) Frangelico
  • 15ml (0.5oz) gingerbread syrup
  • 15ml (0.5oz) dry red wine
  • 15ml (0.5oz) egg white or Aquafaba
  • 1 or 2 pinches of ground hazelnuts

Instructions: Add all ingredients (except ground hazelnuts) into a cocktail shaker and dry-shake without ice for 15 seconds. Open the shaker, add ice, shake again for 8-10 seconds before straining into a Coupe glass, and garnish with ground hazelnuts.

How is it made?

The production process is comparable to that of other liqueurs. Crushed and toasted hazelnuts from the Piedmont region build the base left to soak in a solution of alcohol and water.

The resulting infusion gets distilled and then blended and flavored with extracts from cocoa, roasted coffee, vanilla, etc. Of course, the formula is a well-kept secret.

To finally achieve bottle strength, the distillate is watered down and sweetened. Before bottling, the liqueur needs to rest for six to eight weeks to allow all flavors to blend. That's when the iconic rich and intense hazelnut taste of Frangelico develops.

Final Note

Frangelico is an absolutely delicious liqueur made of the finest hazelnuts in Italy. It might not be the most famous liqueur, but it certainly is among the best ones I've tried.

If you haven't had the chance to try Frangelico yet, do so during your next visit to your favorite cocktail bar. I'm sure it won't disappoint. Also, if you're looking for a drink featuring the beautiful hazelnut liqueur, try the Hazelnut Sour from our favorite Thanksgiving cocktails.

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