Genius Recipes

Caramelly-Crisp Coconut Macaroons Are a One-Bowl Pantry Hero

A longtime favorite Genius Recipe, with a brand-new video we hope will make you smile.

March 25, 2020

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.

Even if you’ve had some version of these macaroons before (and you have) and been quite happy, there’s a secret side to them you’re going to want to get to know.

As delightful as all those other macaroons may be, with their one-bowl ease, their irresistibly chewy texture and snowball-like charm, it turns out—with just an ingredient twist here and there—they could also be rich and custardy in the middle, caramelly-crisp at every edge, and not just sweet, but brown-buttery, salted, toffee-like.

Most macaroons are made with shredded coconut and little else, bound with sweetened condensed milk or egg white. And until Danielle Kartes, author of the blog and cookbooks Rustic Joyful Food, emailed me a few years ago, I didn’t think much about what else they could become.

Photo by James Ransom

As Kartes was researching classic macaroon recipes, she told me she found herself wondering what other cookie-like ingredients might do here—like melted butter and flaky salt. And how about that leftover egg yolk? Why not use it all up, instead of separating the egg and trying to save the yolk for some future baking project, only to lose it in the fridge instead?

While adding more fat and salt—the ingredients that we spent the 1990s stripping away—isn’t necessarily the answer to making everything better, the difference it makes in these macaroons is profound.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I'll be making these for sure - love coconut macaroons and I firmly believe that adding butter and salt to anything (including cardboard) makes it exponentially more delicious. But I also bristled a bit at "wondering where was the butter, where was the fun?" Kind of like saying of an Indian/Hindu specialty, "where's the beef?" Coconut macaroons may not be exclusively Jewish, but they're strongly associated, as already noted. I'd eat them anytime (my family hasn't been kosher for generations) - but perhaps it would be a little smarter not to explicitly label this recipe as for 'Passover.'”
— amysarah

Instead of a straightforward sweet, coconutty chew, you get a more rounded richness, and a welcome savory oomph. And the butter has an amplifying effect—the cookies don’t just taste better because butter inherently tastes rich and good, but because it turns to browned butter in the oven, and mingles with sugars and salt to become caramel. All of these flavors swim along quite happily with coconut.

At the same time, the butter and egg yolk help the pointy outer edges of the macaroon brown and crisp up as the inside stays soft and custardy. In fact, the cookies are so moist (there, I said it) that they can soften and lose some of their addictive crunch over the course of a day. Don’t worry—I’ve stress-tested them for you, and a quick toast in the oven brings them back to their full crispy-chewy glory.

This makes them as good a treat to eat tomorrow and the next day, even pulled from the freezer in a week, as they are right now (and I do mean now—they’re ready fast).

Note: These macaroons are kosher for Passover, but if you're looking for a good recipe that's also parve to serve after a meaty seder, try Alice Medrich's New Classic Coconut Macaroons—they're genius, too.

This post originally ran in 2017, but we're bringing it back because we love these macaroons that much, with a brand-new video.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Further Reading

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lk gris
    Lk gris
  • sujanap
  • constance
  • Anna
  • SallyHuebscher
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."


Lk G. August 4, 2022
Am not an experienced baker so I wonder how long would these keep, or do these freeze well? Thank you for any response.
sujanap March 25, 2021
Looks so yummy! and your video - so cute, cheers to friendship.
I have a question for you - If I didn't want to use eggs in this recipe, is there a good substitue?
constance April 15, 2020
Just watched the accompanying video: so brightened my day!
Anna April 11, 2020
sorry I made these about a month a go when I first saw the show.....
My husband did not care for them..... but on the other hand I kept eating
them. I did not get much of a caramel taste. loved the show...
SallyHuebscher April 7, 2020
Fantastic. I made them for Passover and yesterday made them again for a Sisterhood zoom cooking demo. I added a tablespoon of instant espresso powder to part of the batch - that worked too. Do you want photos?
Alexandra April 11, 2020
Yes please!
Violetta M. April 7, 2020
Hello, these were delicious! What would you recommend to crisp these back up the day after? I tried a toaster oven for a few minutes (4 mins) as I don't want to reheat the whole batch at once, but they don't crisp back up.
Kristen M. April 7, 2020
Hi Violetta—here's what I wrote on the recipe page, and the timing will depend a bit on how soft the cookies have gotten. Once they're looking toasty and feel dry and crisp on the outside, they should be good: If they do become soggy and you’d like to restore them to their former crispy-chewy glory, toast them in the oven at 350° F on a lined baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they don't get too dark. Hope this helps!
SallyHuebscher April 1, 2020

These are amazing. I won't have a traditional Passover table this year, but I will enjoy these with my posse. I'll send you a photo if you tell me how.
Julie March 28, 2020
The two of you are a great team. I would make whatever you are making just to watch you again. When are you taking the show on the road?1
Preetha S. March 27, 2020
Hi there, do you freeze the mix in spoonfuls then just pop onto tray when needed or freeze the whole batter and thaw abd scoop nand then bake?
Kristen M. March 27, 2020
Hi Preetha, I think you could do either (just give the batter a good stir after it thaws if you're doing the latter) but I think the former would be easier! You should be able to bake straight from frozen, they just might take an extra minute or so to brown.
Angela March 26, 2020
I could watch this video over and over again. Not only do the cookies look amazing, you two look like you had so much fun! These are definitely on my list to make this week!
Lauren B. March 25, 2020
I see some confusion about whether these could be kosher for Passover. As far as I know and I am so far from expert, if you follow kashrut (laws of keeping kosher), then it is considered ironically cruel to serve a calf in the mother’s milk and that was the reason behind keeping dairy and meat (fowl included there!) separate at meals. Most people having the first seder (meal like Last Supper)and usually there are 2, serve meat so these would not be appropriate. There are a ton of other versions that can be very simple, using whipped egg whites and sugar as the binder. For chocolate I like to wait till they are cool from the oven and then I dip half in melted semi sweet pareve chocolate to which I stirred in a little pareve margarine. Sometimes I also add a little bit of instant coffee crystals to the melted chocolate and stir them in. Then you let them cool again on parchment. The problem with these is one of our usual guests keeps taking them and surgically removes with his teeth the whole chocolate coating and the macaroon crust, leaves the rest! Sheesh! But I would prefer that to the remote virtual seders that we will be having this year, but at least so far everybody is OK, and I wish the same good health to all of you. ❤️ Ha, now somebody who really knows their stuff can come and correct everything I just said! 🙂
SallyHuebscher April 1, 2020
we have a dairy, no meat passover, so these are perfect. It depends upon what you are serving.
Elizabeth H. March 25, 2020
you guys used the whole 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk-so the linked recipe citing 3/4 cup should be amended?
Kristen M. March 25, 2020
Hi there, I'm sorry if the video confused things! The recipe on Food52 is the version I fell in love with (through the miscommunication we talk about in the video) and is printed in Genius Desserts. But Danielle uses the whole can, which is also very good, just a little sweeter and stickier. I added a note to the recipe to clarify.
Barry March 25, 2020
I asked this same question in the Questions section. Recipe states 3/4 cup yet there is a BIG discussion in the video about whether to use 1 cup (as she states was published in her book) or to use the full 14oz can which she had been using all along. So 3/4 cup (6oz), 1 cup (8oz) or 1 can (14oz)?

The (super quick) response I got back from Food52 editor was to use the whole can (14oz).
joanie March 25, 2020
Is there any substitute for the sweetened condensed milk? Can’t leave the house ...
Kristen M. March 25, 2020
Hi Joanie, here's a recipe for homemade that might work for you: Or you could try riffing with cream or coconut cream and some sort of sweetener—you might need to add another egg to make sure the mixture sticks together when you scoop them. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
Kristen M. March 25, 2020
I also really love this recipe, if it works better with your pantry:
Tricia March 25, 2020
These are fabulous! Gluten free too. These make a super hostess gift too instead of the usual wine bottle in a bag.
Jody March 25, 2020
These are one of my 'go to' cookies. I modified the amounts to use 1 bag of Baker's sweetened shredded coconut. I kept the egg & vanilla the same, but changed the butter to 3/4 stick and the sweetened condensed milk to 1/2 cup (the rest of the can makes wonderful iced lattes!). This modified recipe makes 20 macaroons, using a 2T scoop.
S.Neubeck March 25, 2020
I would use coconut milk or cream. Sweetened coconut milk is very cloying. I also have to use non dairy because of lactose intolerance. It forces me to be a better cook by varying ingredients.
Jon May 23, 2018
These were ok but very fragile/crumbly after baking. They need more of a binder.
Kristen M. March 25, 2020
Hi Jon, I'm sorry for the very late reply—I wonder if your coconut was on the drier side, or if you might have used unsweetened. Usually this mix is very sticky.
tamater S. April 17, 2017
I was wondering if anyone here has tried substituting whipping cream for the condensed milk in this, or other recipes?
Kristen M. March 25, 2020
I'm sorry for the very late reply, but I don't think that cream would be binding enough. It sounds *delicious* though. Maybe if you added another egg or so until the mixture holds together? You might want to add some sweetener (maybe a little honey?) too.
Debra April 11, 2017
Tough recipe to cut in half... 1/2 an egg?
tamater S. April 17, 2017
I'd probably try it with a whole egg, choosing the smallest one in the carton. Alternatively, you can freeze half the recipe - or give some away, (it might make somebody very happy!).
Rhonda35 March 31, 2017
The note at the end of this article states these macaroons are kosher for Passover - I disagree. Kosher macaroons do not contain any milk - not sweetened condensed milk, not butter, not any dairy product. The traditional Passover macaroon is made using egg whites, sugar, coconut and an alcohol-free vanilla extract. - i.e. no dairy. Please correct your Passover and kosher references/tags/etc. in this article so you do not misdirect your readers. :-)
Fresh T. March 31, 2017
No. Kosher for Passover means no risen ingredients such as flour. These aren't parve, but they are kosher and kosher for Passover. If you have a dairy meal you can eat these.
Rhonda35 March 31, 2017
Okay, thx for the clarification of parve and kosher, Fresh Tomatoes. 😊
Kristen M. March 25, 2020
Very belated thanks to you both for weighing in here—there's now a note at the end of the article directing cooks looking to keep kosher with a meat meal to another favorite coconut macaroon that's dairy-free.
Lauren B. March 25, 2020
Wait, my problem with saying these are kosher for Passover is that where are you going to get sweetened condensed milk that is kP? Or to make your own they call for nonfat dry milk which I doubt I could find a kP version and then there is the question of do I WANT to find it? I grew up drinking that stuff and I can always spot that TASTE in any recipe. Yuck! But theoretically it would be a kosher for Pesach recipe just you would not serve it with a meal containing meat.