Crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle, a good coconut macaroon is an irresistible thing. It's also a particular favorite for people observing Passover and those who avoid gluten. As long as you have some shredded coconut stashed away in your cupboard and a few eggs that you don't mind cracking, a batch of sweet macaroons can be yours in less than a half an hour.
The proper color for a macaroon is a matter of great controversy and personal taste. Snowy-white or toasted golden? As you can see by these pictures, I am a sucker for a well-toasted macaroon. I like to toast the coconut just slightly before even mixing it with the egg whites. Once baked, these turn a lovely golden color with a delicately crunchy shell and a deep coconut flavor.
If you prefer the classic white macaroons, skip the toasting step and keep an eye on your macaroons as they bake. At around 15 minutes, the tips will just be starting to turn golden, and that's probably when you'll want to pull them from the oven.
There are countless ways that you can tweak this basic macaroon recipe for your own tastes and whims. Add more coconut for lighter macaroons or whip your whites and sugar into a meringue for an even crunchier version. You can also tuck nuts or chocolate (or both!) into inside your macaroons or fold dried fruit into the batter. And never underestimate the power of a little drizzled chocolate to take your macaroons up yet another notch.
What are your favorite ways to make macaroons?
There are lots of ways you can vary your batch of coconut macaroons. Check out the Additional Notes section for some ideas!
How to Make the Easiest Coconut Macaroons
Makes about 24 cookies
What You Need
3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (see Additional Notes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Silpat or parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Gather all your ingredients and equipment.
Toast the coconut (optional). For deeper coconut flavor and extra-crispy macaroons, spread the coconut on the baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, or until just barely starting to show some color. Let cool slightly before using.
Whisk the egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk until the whites and sugar are completely combined and the mixture is frothy.
Combine the coconut and egg white mixture. Pour the coconut over the egg white mixture and stir until the coconut is evenly moistened.
Shape the macaroons. Line the baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. With wet hands to prevent sticking, shape the coconut mixture into small balls about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Space them an inch or so apart on the baking sheet.
Bake the macaroons for 15-20 minutes. Bake the macaroons until golden, 15-20 minutes.
Cool the macaroons. Let the macaroons cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Macaroons can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week.
If you are keeping kosher for Passover, double check your ingredients before using, especially the vanilla (which is often made with grain alcohol). You can substitute another kosher-for-passover extract in place of the vanilla or skip it entirely. For a full resource of kosher ingredients, see this link:
→ OU Kosher Industrial Product Database
For crispier, lighter macaroons, increase the amount of coconut to 5 cups.
For meringue-like macaroons, whisk the egg whites in a standing mixer until they hold soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar until it holds stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla and salt, then fold in the shredded coconut by hand.
For larger or smaller macaroons, keep the recipe as is, but adjust the baking time to match (longer for big macaroons; shorter for small macaroons).
Coconut Macaroon Variations: dip or drizzle the baked macaroons with melted chocolate, wrap the coconut mixture around a whole almond (or a whole almond and a piece of chocolate!), fold up to 1 cup chopped dried fruit into the coconut mixture.
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(Images: Emma Christensen)