Culinary Arts

Quick and Easy Coconut Macaroons Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Apr 22, 2019 • 3 min read

Easy-to-bake macaroons turn a bag of shredded coconut into an American icon. Learn how to make the classic gluten-free dessert, and why it often gets mistaken for its French cousin.

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What Is a Macaroon?

Macaroons are flourless cookies made from shredded coconut bound together with egg whites, sugar, and sometimes condensed milk or cream. They’re chewy, with a craggy texture that clings to the melted chocolate they’re often dipped in. Gluten free and unleavened, coconut macaroons are a popular choice for Passover.

What’s the Difference Between Macarons and Macaroons?

Rustic, homemade coconut macaroons and colorful, precise Parisian macarons look completely different but actually share a common ancestor: they’re both riffs on the original Italian macaroon, a cookie made from chopped almonds and egg whites. When shredded coconut became widely available in the 19th century, macaroons made with coconut supplanted their almond-based predecessors in the U.S. Meanwhile, in Paris, the traditional Italian almond meringue got a patisserie upgrade: macarons with one O are made with finely ground almond flour and confectioners' sugar, yielding ultra-delicate cookies that are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream, or jam and dyed bright colors.

5 Tips for Making Perfect Macaroons

  • There are three common types of shredded coconut available at grocery stores. Get to know them, because all three are usable for delicious coconut macaroons. It all depends on what you're looking for in your cookie:
    • Dessicated coconut, sometimes sold as macaroon coconut, is the finest grade of coconut and makes for dense, compact cookies. Finely shredded and usually sold unsweetened, it’s drier than sweetened coconut and may require extra moisture in the form of condensed milk, butter, or cream.
    • Sweetened shredded coconut is the most common choice for coconut macaroons. The way it’s processed allows this type of coconut to retain the most moisture. If you want a more closely textured cookie without sacrificing moisture, you can further shred sweetened shredded coconut in a food processor.
    • Coconut chips are sold in flakes larger than shredded coconut and almost always unsweetened. These make for a crunchier cookie.
  • Room temperature egg whites will whip to an airier texture. If you have the time, take your eggs out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you plan to bake.
  • Use a very clean stainless steel or glass bowl for whipping egg whites to prevent scraping plastic particles into the egg whites.
  • Coconut macaroons can be made simply with egg whites and sugar, but sweetened condensed milk, coconut cream, heavy cream, or butter all add moisture to an otherwise dry cookie. Start with a smaller amount of your liquid of choice, and add just enough for the dough to hold together.
  • Dropping the dough onto a baking sheet by the tablespoonful is the easiest way to shape macaroons, but you can also use a piping bag (pastry bag) fitted with a ¾-inch round tip for a neat presentation.

6 Ways to Riff on Classic Coconut Macaroons

  • Dip them in chocolate: Melt 4 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate chips in a double broiler and dip the bottom third of baked, cooled macarons in the melted chocolate. Place on a lined baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator.
  • Make them nutty: Add ½ cup chopped pistachios, almonds, or any other nut to the dough, or top each cookie with one whole almond before baking. You can also swap the vanilla extract for almond extract, taking care to add half the amount.
  • Make them fruity: Add ½ cup roughly chopped cranberries or another dried fruit to the dough.
  • Make them extra chocolatey: Add ½ cup white chocolate or dark chocolate chips to the dough.
  • Make them toasty: Try lightly toasting the coconut in the oven or on the stovetop before baking for a nuttier flavor.
  • Make them fun for kids and use gel food coloring to turn the cookies into Easter eggs and bunnies.

Easy Coconut Macaroon Recipe

Makes
40
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
  • 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup sweetened condensed coconut milk or sweetened condensed coconut milk, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract until fully combined. The dough should be moist and sticky but dry enough to hold its shape; add a little more condensed milk if needed. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture using a rubber spatula.
  3. Scoop tablespoon-size portions of the cookie dough onto baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch of space between the cookies. Bake until the edges are light golden brown, rotating halfway through, about 25 minutes total. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely, about 20 more minutes.