"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Chocolate Spread Smackdown! Nutella VS. TJ’s Cocoa Almond Spread

by Julie on November 18, 2011

in Minor Miracles

Is there anything better than Nutella? For the longest time, I didn’t think so, except for when I’ve had Nutella in Europe. Apparently they make it differently over there. Of course.

But I was happy to make due with what I could buy here. Until now. Now there’s this:

Trader Joe's Cocoa Almond Spread

The contender

It’s a new product from Trader Joe’s (which used to stock Nutella back in the day, which is where I first started buying it. And then one day it mysteriously disappeared. TJs is notorious for hooking you on a product and then discontinuing it. But what can you do? It’s one of those lovable quirks.)  I learned of this  new product on Facebook, when a friend of mine who works there posted it on her wall, with the incendiary legend, “better than Nutella.”

Fighting words indeed. So what could I do? A taste test was in order.

The taste test

The taste test

I decided to test the two spreads on toast, which is the normal, all-American way to eat Nutella. At least at my house.

taste test - Nutella vs. TJ's Cocoa almond spread

Martha Stewart does not live here

The 11-year-olds chewed their respective pieces of toast thoughtfully. But they both came down in favor of Nutella.

“It’s sweeter and smoother,” said the boy, “and tastes more like what I think a chocolate spread should taste like.”

The girl, a neighbor friend named Natalia (who, not coincidentally, we lovingly call Nutella), agreed. “It’s smoother. I like Nutella better.”

Then they asked me to make them Nutella toast for their Friday afternoon snack.

The teen also favored Nutella, although she offered  her typically taciturn response; a wrinkled nose at the almond spread and a nod and a point at the Nutella before exiting the room (and asking me to make her my famous Nutella Bap, which is Nutella on a bollilos roll).

For the two adult tasters, however, the results were less clear-cut.

“It’s excellent,” said the Ex, trying his toast with coffee. “The almond flavor really comes through, but subtly.” However, he did agree that Nutella still held its own.

“It’s not better than Nutella,” he said. “Just different.”

And what did I think? I think I’m trained to love the taste of Nutella, so that new and competing brands of chocolate spread have to fight first through that bias before working its wiles on me. But after a couple of chews I decided I liked the nuances of this new spread just fine. I also wondered what it would taste like underneath some cashewnut butter, although is it wrong to mix almonds and cashews in such a reckless manner? No matter. I could learn to love Cocoa Almond Spread.

I bow to the crowd, however. The result?

Nutella wins the taste test

Two Thumbs Up!

Nutella wins this round. Which is not to say I won’t be buying TJ’s Cocoa Almond Spread. Especially if Fresh & Easy, my Nutella supplier these days, ever decides to stop carrying it.  Who knows?  Maybe the fam will come around to its charms.

Your verdict? Talk to me chocolate spread lovers!


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious November 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

OK, get thee to an Italian market and buy the REAL Nutella, the version they import from Italy. It is far, far superior to ours. Taste test it and see for yourself.


Julie November 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I KNEW it!! Dorothy, WHERE do I find this Italian market in LA?? Tell me!!!


Susan November 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

You can buy large containers of Nutella at Target now (although not the Italian one). I will have to try the TJs spread as well.


Julie November 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Susan – large containers of Nutella would just be dangerous at my house…The teen would probably bathe in it…But I still want to know where I can get the Italian version….


Gelly November 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Tried TJ’s today and I want more! It’s better, but I have to agree with everyone who says the European version is tough to beat. It does taste different here, which is why I’m diggin on TJ’s.


southboundtrain December 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I’m not a huge Nutella fan, too sweet and iffy on hazelnuts. TJ’s cocoa almond spread. Ummmmm, I loved it. Now trying to think what else to do with it. I’ve used it as a dip for almonds and pecans (yes you can mix nuts!) and am considering it with vanilla ice cream. Does it melt well? Haven’t tried it yet. TJ, this ALMOST makes up for doing away with the milk chocolate covered almonds. Do you detect a trend here? Plebian milk chocolate tastes!


Julie December 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

We embrace the plebian where I live 😉 Let me know if it melts…or at least thins…you could try it on crepes…


finkel epstein January 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I also did a side-by-side tasting of Nutella and Trader Joe’s. Trader’s uses lowfat cocoa. powder and it shows. Trader’s lacks anything “chocolate – it’s sweet, but tastes more like a deep-flavored almond butter than a rival for Nutella,… it’s not the same thing, and certainly not a suitable replacement,

They both come in 13 oz sizes, and the TJ is only about 50-60 cents less than the Nutella ..


dulin March 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I actually far prefer Trader Joe’s chocolate almond spread. I’ve never had the European Nutella, so I cannot compare it to that, but I find the American Nutella way too sweet and the chocolate is a bit wimpy. The chocolate almond spread has a much better texture than most Nutella wannabees, and it seems to have a milder but darker chocolate flavor with a tastier (smaller) amount of sugar. Then again, I generally adore everything lightly sweetened, but am not too interested in either the heavily sweetened or the unsweetened.

I was baking cookies (hamentaschen) with nutella as the filling, and I ended up mixing nutella with finely chopped dark chocolate. Mmmmmm. Perfection. (It wouldn’t work so well outside of baked goods though, because it murders the texture).


Julie March 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Dulin – Yeah, it’s sort of a tie for me…I will use either on my morning toast…as long as I have a lot of cashewnut butter to spread over it…that’s the way to eat chocolate spread!

(Your hamentaschen sounds delish! I swear I’m gonna try that one day. NEXT Purim, maybe…;-) )


Love the TJ's spread, seems more cocoa June 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

We loved the TJ’s spread on their coconut Toasted Coconut Thin cookies. A desert you could bring or serve at a party. We don’t eat a lot of sugar but, yummmmmy! these were great We know they’re not great for you, but a little goes a long way.



Lulu May 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Nutilla with GMO no thank you TJ’s product sure is better


lana August 27, 2014 at 8:03 pm

For all of you Nutella lovers out there I suggest you to read this article. http://www.weedemandreap.com/nutella-under-fire-in-court-consumers-win-3-million/#comment-207802


Kem December 17, 2017 at 8:05 pm

I don’t like Nutella, hazelnuts are horrible! But this Cocoa Almond spread is MAHVELOUS!! I eat it on EVERYTHING, it tastes wonderful on my banana chips, on giant blueberries, on apple slices, along with every kind of bread!!


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