Crispy outside, soft and chewy inside, these gluten free coconut macaroons are only as sweet as you want them to be. Whether you think you love coconut or not, you’ll love these cookies!
What makes this the best recipe for gluten free coconut macaroons?
With extra crispy edges, and chewy centers, these homemade macaroons rival anything you’d find in a box. Anything prepackaged is at least somewhat weepy and wilted.
And unlike many other coconut macaroon recipes, this recipe doesn’t call for any sweetened condensed milk. That makes them lighter and airier, and also naturally dairy free.
I really prefer making these treats with unsweetened coconut. It really allows us to control the sugar, so the other flavors shine through–;including the flavor extracts and maybe the chocolate you dip them in.
I also include instructions for how to make these gorgeous nuggets with sweetened coconut, in case that’s all you can find. You’ll reduce the amount of added sugar considerably (or not, if you really like your macaroons on the sweeter side).
What’s the difference between coconut macaroons and French macarons?
You know those super fancy French melt-in-your-mouth meringue confections that often come in a rainbow of colors? These are not those.
These are gluten free coconut macaroons. Those are macarons, made with superfine almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and whipped egg whites–;and no coconut at all.
Both macarons and macaroons are made with a sweetened, whipped meringue made of egg whites, which provide structure, and airiness. They also have a bit of a tangy flavor from the egg whites.
The taste of macarons reminds me of marzipan, which is a sweetened almond paste made with a rich simple syrup (a simple cooked sugar) and confectioners’ sugar. The texture of macarons is like the meringue on top of lemon meringue pie.
Since these macaroons are also made with whipped egg whites, like macarons, they have a meringue texture once baked. But the coconut flavor is entirely their own!
Substitution information for coconut macaroons ingredients
This macaroon recipe is already naturally dairy free, so no substitutions needed there. Let’s talk about a few of the other ingredients, to set you up for success.
What type of flavoring extract is best?
I like macaroons best with a mixture of vanilla and almond extracts. The almond extract really enhances the coconut flavor, and reminds me of the bakery-style cookies.
Can you make a macaroon recipe without egg whites?
I think so! Try. making this recipe for coconut macaroons with aquafaba (the liquid brine from a can of chickpeas) in place of egg whites. Just measure by weight.
Whip the aquafaba with half of the granulated sugar (75 grams). Then, to avoid weighing down the vegan meringue, add the remaining 75 grams of granulated sugar to the coconut and rice flour mixture before folding in the meringue. Bake as usual.
Can you replace the superfine rice flour in this macaroons recipe?
Yes! This recipe uses a few tablespoons of superfine white rice flour to add structure to the cookies, allowing them to hold their shape as they cool.
In its place, you can use our 3-ingredient basic gum-free gluten free flour blend. You can even try using potato starch or cornstarch.
Tips for making the best coconut macaroons
This recipe is made by whipping egg whites with sugar until the whites are tripled in volume, tossing together the few dry ingredients in a large bowl, and then folding in the egg whites. The most crucial parts of the recipe are selecting the right coconut, and whipping the egg whites properly.
Here are some tips for coconut macaroon success:
How to select the right type of coconut
I generally prefer baking with the broad, flat unsweetened coconut flakes that we use in granola and for general snacking. I think it has a better mouth feel than shredded coconut.
You’ll need to pack your coconut pieces together into the cookie scoop when you portion the macaroons. If you use coconut flakes that are in long, elegant, thin strips, pulse them a few times in your food processor.
If you prefer to use shredded coconut, you should also pulse it a few times in a food processor, too. If you’re using sweetened shredded coconut, reduce the granulated sugar by about half, to a total of 75 grams.
Weigh ingredients for best results
Since there are so few ingredients, and you may or may not be processing the coconut a bit before using it, it’s really important to measure all of your ingredients by weight. Coconut strips or shreds that have been pulsed in a food processor have less volume after processing, so volume measurements are unhelpful.
Similarly, we’re separating eggs and using only the whites. Some egg whites are half the weight of the full egg, and weigh 25 grams.
But sometimes, the yolk is smaller than normal and the white weighs 40 grams. Measure out 75 grams of egg whites by weight, and you won’t go wrong.
When to remove your macaroons from the oven
Even though meringue cookies, like a pavolva, tend to be rather fragile and may collapse as they cool, these gluten free macaroon cookies tend to hold their shape well out of the oven. To ensure that they maintain their shape well, be sure to bake them until the very top of the cookies has some brown flecks.
You can also turn off the oven and allow the baking sheet to sit on the rack inside the oven, with the door ajar, for 10 minutes. But if you’ve whipped your egg whites enough and measured your ingredients by weight, your macaroons should be beautifully puffed and round.
How to shape your gluten free macaroons
The perfet macaroon shape is a round globe on top that’s flat and crispy underneath. The best way to achieve that shape is by using a medium-size spring-loaded ice cream scoop. To ensure your ice cream scoop releases the scoop cleanly, rinse it off with cool water between scoops.
If you don’t have an ice cream scoop, you can form rounds with two medium-size round bowl spoons. Scoop with one spoon and scrape and shape with the other.
Let’s talk about chocolate
You don’t have to dip these macaroons in melted dark chocolate, but it makes a great presentation and adds a lot of flavor to these simple cookies. Whether you melt dark chocolate disks or chopped chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler on the stovetop, try “seeding” it to bring it to the right temperature easily.
First, melt about 2/3 of the total amount of chocolate in 20 second bursts in the microwave or over a simmering bowl of water. Then, add the remaining chocolate after you remove it from the heat, and mix it until the remaining chocolate is melted and smooth.
The remaining chocolate will “seed” the melted chocolate and cool it down just enough to temper it. Then, when you dip the cookies, the chocolate will dry cleanly.
I always add just a few ounces of miniature chocolate chips to the cookie dough. The mini chips add just the right texture and chocolate flavor throughout the cookie.
And of course, the chocolate drizzle is optional, but it definitely makes them look absolutely beautiful.
Are coconut macaroons gluten free?
Some recipes for coconut macaroons are naturally gluten free, if they’re made without any stabilizing flour. They’re also much more delicate than this recipe, which is gluten free but made with some white rice flour.
Can I use almond flour in this coconut macaroons recipe?
No, this recipe can’t be made with almond flour, which is too heavy and will weigh down your macaroons.
Why did my coconut macaroons spread while baking?
You may not have whipped your egg white meringue until it tripled in volume. Your oven may also be too cold, or you didn’t bake them for long enough.
How do I store coconut macaroons?
To maintain texture, store your completely cooled macaroons in a sealed glass container at room temperature.
How to make gluten free coconut macaroons, step by step
Gluten Free Coconut Macaroons [Crispy, Chewy & Dairy Free]
Serve up delicious bites of coconut goodness when you prepare these gluten free coconut macaroons. Enjoy macaroons with a crispy shell and chewy center.
Prep Time 15 minutesCook Time 20 minutes
Servings 16 macaroons
Author Nicole Hunn
Ingredients3 egg whites¾ cup granulated sugar4 ½ cups wide flat coconut flakes processed into smaller pieces (See Recipe Notes)3 tablespoons superfine white rice flour½ teaspoon kosher salt2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or half pure vanilla extract, half pure almond extract4 ounces miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips optional6 ounces dark chocolate melted (optional, for dipping and drizzling)Customary – Metric
InstructionsPreheat your oven to 325°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the white attachment or a medium-size bowl with a handheld mixer, place the egg whites. Begin to whip until frothy.Adding the granulated sugar slowly while the egg whites are whipping. Continue to whip until the mixture turns white and glossy, and is tripled in volume.The egg white mixture won't form peaks but with fall off the whisk in heavy ribbons. And it will take at least 6 minutes of continuous whipping. Set the mixture aside.In a large bowl, place the coconut, rice flour and salt, and mix to combine.Add the whipped egg whites in 3 or 4 batches, folding them in to the coconut mixture. Mix until well-combined and all the coconut is moistened and holds together.Add the optional chocolate chips, and mix gently until evenly distributed throughout.Using a medium-size spring-loaded ice cream scoop, drop the cookie dough in tight mounds of about 1 1/2 tablespoons each on the prepared baking sheet, about 1-inch apart from one another. They will not spread during baking.Place the macaroons in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet 180° and continue to bake until golden brown underneath and beginning to brown on top (about another 10 minutes).Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the macaroons to cool on the baking sheet completely.Once the macaroons are cool, melt the optional dark chocolate in 30-second bursts in the microwave or in a double boiler. Dip the bottoms of the macaroons in the chocolate and return to the baking sheet, chocolate side down.Drizzle the tops with more melted chocolate in a zigzag pattern, if you like. Allow them to sit until the chocolate is set.Store in a sealed glass container at room temperature.
NotesA note about coconut:If you can’t find coconut flakes, you can use unsweetened shredded coconut. Process it similarly to small pieces (but not crumbs). If you’re using sweetened shredded coconut, to control for sweetness, reduce the granulated sugar by half.
Recipe originally published on the blog in 2015, new photos in 2017, republished again in 2021 with lighter, crispier recipe, new photos, text, and video.
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