Tips & Techniques

These Genius, 3-Ingredient Cookies Will Be Ready Before the Oven Beeps

February 14, 2018

While Genius hunter Kristen is off editing Genius Desserts, we're bringing back this favorite—the most instant and lovable of cookie recipes.

When you call Dorie Greenspan to say you’re coming over, this is what she bakes. “It takes longer to preheat the oven than to put these cookies together,” she wrote to me. “I love them for a million reasons, but chiefly because they're a simple pleasure that can be shared on the spur of the moment.”

Dorie learned the recipe from Martine Collet, one of her oldest friends in Paris, and couldn’t quite believe it. There are only three ingredients: egg, almond, and sugar, simply stirred together—and in very un-cookie-like fashion, no flour or butter.

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It’s not entirely clear how these three ingredients become a cookie, but between the handy glue of egg and sugar, the architectural advantages of sliced almonds, and the crispability of all of the above, they do. “It's a miracle of a recipe in that it's delicious, of course, beautiful, in a higgledy-piggledy never-perfect way, and a snap to make,” Dorie says.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

But beyond the fact that this exercise in minimalism just happens to work, it tastes like so much more than just these three ingredients and this care-free technique—there are warm, toasty caramel notes, and a sweet vanilla-like scent.

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Top Comment:
“My best friend's husband is familiar with Dorie Greenspan and he thanked me for the recipe (he is a fine food fanatic). They taste like Paris, he told me. To me they taste like almond yumminess. I will try another nut when I get tired of almonds but I'm not there yet. Seems impossible that 3 ingredients could yield so much flavor although I add almond extract so I guess it is 4 ingredients. I may try adding cinnamon one of these times. Maybe now...........”
— Sherry W.

There’s a wild array of textures—the shattering, airy crunch of meringue at the edges, and the softer one of toasted almonds, with rolling bubbles and pockets skittering across the surface. They’re more relaxed than a Florentine, more lightweight than a brittle. And they’re altogether really lovely over a cup of coffee with an old friend.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Beyond this come on over! scenario, Dorie also recommends these first for someone who’s never baked before. “They're an easy treat for anyone to share in an act of #cookiesandkindness. And who doesn't love—and need—a lot of cookies and a little kindness now?”

Once cooled, I’ve found they also travel and store extremely well (if it’s not too humid, that is)—I’m still taste-testing the last of a big batch I baked three weeks ago, just to explore their magical powers further. So bake and share them freely, with your Valentine, your office, your kids’ teachers, your mail carrier, your barista, your dentist.

Photo by James Ransom

Oh and here’s a little tip, whether you’re an old fan of Dorie’s or a new one: If you want the next 34 minutes of your day to be immediately brighter, go watch Dorie talk cookies on our Facebook Live. Bookmark it. But first, turn on your oven and get out the almonds, eggs, and sugar. And call a friend.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to our Books Editor and Stylist Ali Slagle for this one!

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From our new podcast network, The Genius Recipe Tapes is lifelong Genius hunter Kristen Miglore’s 10-year-strong column in audio form, featuring all the uncut gems from the weekly column and video series. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss out.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Shawna
  • Jen Lieberman
    Jen Lieberman
  • Khatri
  • Jeff Powers
    Jeff Powers
  • Sherry Wright
    Sherry Wright
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Shawna December 1, 2023
I made these cookies for a cookie swap at work 2 years ago. Shortly after, I quit. Last month, I started working there again, and so far 3 different people who remembered the swap have each independently approached me to ask me if I would make them again. The most recent person started with "You remember those ugly cookies you made that everyone thought would taste bad, but were actually delicious?" (Well, no one said any of that to my face at the time, but yes, I have already received several requests, and they will be made lol).
TLDR: MAKE THESE COOKIES. You won't regret it.
Jen L. September 19, 2021
Calories per cookie??
Khatri February 14, 2018
Hi, we dont get sliced almonds where I live and these cookies are literally calling out and begging me to bake them:(.....what is one to do? Any tips on slicing almonds? Or maybe just smash them?
sharontesche April 15, 2020
Jeff P. May 1, 2017
The first sight of this recipe sent me down a rabbit hole looking for an almond slicer. I buy my almonds whole in bulk and would prefer not to buy pre-sliced in a bag, and slicing by hand is no easy feat. Research finally led me to a company in India with a great little gadget that has a flywheel and sits on the counter, not too expensive either. But apparently there are laws against importing appliances from India, dang. Why can't anyone else make something like this?
Sherry W. March 22, 2017
I first made this recipe about 2 weeks or so ago..........and I've made it 4 times since then! They are so easy to make and that is a good thing since it only makes about 20 cookies. My best friend's husband is familiar with Dorie Greenspan and he thanked me for the recipe (he is a fine food fanatic). They taste like Paris, he told me. To me they taste like almond yumminess. I will try another nut when I get tired of almonds but I'm not there yet. Seems impossible that 3 ingredients could yield so much flavor although I add almond extract so I guess it is 4 ingredients. I may try adding cinnamon one of these times. Maybe now...........
Ann February 14, 2017
Ok.....What did I do wrong to this easiest of easy cookies? Problems started when I opened the oven after 10 min to rotate the pans. There was a fair amount of watery egg mix that wanted to connect neighboring cookies to one another. Also, the cookies that were once FAIRLY circular were now very misshapen and ugly. Really ugly. I also needed to leave the cookies in at least 7 min longer than required. Despite all this they tasted pretty good, but bore little resemblance to the photo. HELP!!!! I want to make these again to serve to guests.
Kayla February 6, 2017
Would you recommend Ener-G egg replacer or a flax egg to replace the egg?
Sarah L. February 25, 2017
Have made these successful using aquafaba, if that is any help.
Kayla February 25, 2017
Fantastic! From my brief search online, it looks like you can replace an egg with 3 TBSP of aquafaba. Thank you so much for the follow-up comment!
Julie February 6, 2017
Thank you once again, Dorie! They look fabulous. Not only GF, but practically paleo as well. I bet these would take well to a variety of tweaks...maybe brown sugar, maybe coconut sugar, maybe granulated maple sugar...hmmmm...with walnuts...or pecans...or mixed nuts...yummmm.
JEANIE K. February 6, 2017
JEANIEK. "Great little recipe!, If you've got a nut Allergy?, then don't make them!, If you Don't?, then Enjoy"!, Thanks Dorie!....XXXX
Ironstring July 1, 2023
It is a fact of life, like death and taxes, that not everything is for everyone. This recipe may not be for the nut allergic, but it's a book for the gluten allergic, the lactose intolerant, and a wide array of other people who are under the vast umbrella of difference that living involves.
Packy February 6, 2017
Bravo! These were so simple to make and they are delicious! They check all of the boxes. Yes I altered the recipe by using 1 less T of sugar and adding a pinch of almond extract....worth it!
Michele February 5, 2017
A variation of this was in our local paper a few years ago. They were called Passover Cookies and so they are - perfect for Passover. The Passover Cookie recipe also included chopped up dried fruit. Easy and delicious!
nathalie February 5, 2017
Umm.... this is a crowd pleaser for sure -- but pretty much identical to an Ottolenghi recipe from his first cookbook. I've been using that recipe since 2008...just want to give credit where credit is due
Gourmet T. February 5, 2017
I made this but changed the recipe a little. Add 1/2 teaspoon of each cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla bean paste for enhanced flavor. Use 1 cup of almonds and 1/4 cup of almond flour to help with cookie structure.
Judith P. February 5, 2017
Could you make these with brown sugar?
Julie February 5, 2017
Omg my ex boyfriends mom used to make cookies exactly like these, but with a few alterations. She used just the egg whites and added some orange zest, which added a whole other layer of flavor. DELICIOUS.
Patricia M. February 5, 2017
Yum adding some orange zest sounds good, I will try it today.
Katheryn's K. February 5, 2017
Yes and just using egg whites makes them virtually fat free. I love the orange idea. I am making these right now and wish I'd read these comments first.
Julie February 5, 2017
Exactly!!! So they are really a healthy cookie...or at least a healthier alternative :)
JEANIE K. February 6, 2017
JEANIEK. They may be fat free, But Very "High Carb" level, with 6 Tabs sugar for only 20 Cookies!, that's the level you watch., fats/sugars together = carbohydrates., But 2 won't kill you!
Patricia M. February 5, 2017
Will the recipe work with walnuts or pecans?
Nora February 5, 2017
Yes. I found a similar method for cookie-making several years ago and have experimented a lot. Walnuts and pecans work, and a few chocolate chips never hurt anything!
Patricia M. February 5, 2017
Thank you
BerryBaby February 5, 2017
The recipe states 'two teaspoons' of batter for those of you wondering 'how much'. These sound really easy, has anyone tried making them?
Katheryn's K. February 5, 2017
I just made, I actually used a tablespoon, but used just a little less than a tablespoon, easier for me. I also increased the temperature to 350 from 325 right off the bat, as it is they are taking much longer than 20 mins to get as brown and toasty as the photos. I'd say 30-35 mins in my oven at 350.
Katheryn's K. February 5, 2017
Actually now after eating a few, I might add a little almond extra next time just because we love marzipan and it just feels as though it will extend the flavour, make it fuller.
Katheryn's K. February 5, 2017
I meant almond extract!
Teresa February 5, 2017
These sound delicious but very sweet. Am wondering if anyone has tried a few flakes of Maldon sea salt sprinkled on top?
Katheryn's K. February 5, 2017
I don't find them that sweet once baked, they are super good, just make sure you bake long enough so that they are toasty brown.
Katheryn's K. February 5, 2017
But you know what on second thought, just adding a pinch of salt to the batter would bring out the flavours more so.
Ann A. February 5, 2017
I wonder if honey would work instead of sugar...anyone have experience with swapping the two?
Nora February 5, 2017
I do not think honey will work. I've used this method for several years and count on the sweetener (sugar, Splenda, Truvia) to also act as a bit of a thickener so that the dropped cookies hold together.
Antiqua March 31, 2019
What about swerve or erythritol? I have truvia, but prefer they other two.
carol February 5, 2017
From the photo it appears that you don't much dough on the cookie sheet, maybe a teaspoon?????? Then press down with the fork. How long do you
bake them???? Kinda need to know this kind of stuff (especially being you say this is perfect for the 1st time baker).
Robbie W. February 5, 2017
325 about 20 minutes. All your info is in the recipe. Click on the picture of the cookies. I think I will make them today.
Laura February 5, 2017
(The "recipe-->" button (next to the photo) links you to the full instructions)
Nora February 5, 2017
I posted elsewhere, I've made cookies by this method for several years. I do not press them down, just do drop cookies. But next time, I'll try the fork for a variation on the theme.
Kathleen February 5, 2017
The "Recipe" button is small and grey with the > symbol.