Lemon Coconut Macaroons (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Lemon Coconut Macaroons (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

These lemon coconut macaroons started with my nana: I remember her making the most wonderful macaroons throughout my childhood, and we shared a great love for all things coconut. If there’s coconut in a recipe, just know I’m thinking of her!

Macaroons are a quintessential Spring treat: perfect for sharing at Passover or Easter gatherings with loved ones, adding to a Mother’s Day spread or having on hand for a simple dessert. Honestly, I couldn’t resist creating these melt-in-your-mouth cookies in Nana’s honor, and who would I be if I didn’t share them with you?!

a batch of lemon coconut macaroon cookies piled on a serving tray with a small bowl of coconut and lemons in the background

😍 Why You’ll Love My Lemon Coconut Macaroons

These biscuits are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside with less sugar and fat than traditional recipes call for – but I promise, they are just as moreish! Then there’s the added lemon zest which, although it may not be traditional, certainly adds a delicious twist that cements that bright, spring-inspired flavor.

With the help of coconut flour, these macaroons stay tall and airy, and by choosing coconut flakes over shredded coconut, they have a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture you’ll fall in love with.

I also can’t speak more highly of how easy they are to make. They come together in minutes with no special equipment required! Depending on how quickly they cool in your climate, I can see you biting into one of these cookies in just a little over an hour!

ingredients in small bowls: vanilla, coconut flakes, egg whites, coconut flour and granulated sugar

🗒️ Ingredients

Egg Whites – Egg whites give this recipe its structure and airiness – they’re capable of foaming more than 6 times their original volume, so don’t let the number of egg whites deceive you. Just make sure you don’t catch any yolk in there!

Granulated Sugar – Granulated sugar helps to aerate your egg whites into the creamy base we need before adding the flaky coconut!

Unsweetened Coconut Flakes – These flakes of dried coconut have no added sugar, a subtle flavor and provide more texture than your regular shredded coconut. You’ve almost certainly got some sweetened shredded coconut on hand, but you don’t need the added sugar or moisture here.

Coconut Flour – Coconut flour is a natural choice for this recipe given the coconut component, but it also helps us control the moisture to ensure these cookies stay fluffy and high and get perfectly crispy on the outside!

Vanilla Extract – Vanilla is to baking what salt is to cooking – it enhances all the wonderful flavors in a baked good, and keeps your creations from tasting bland.

Lemon Zest – Lemon cuts through the sweetness of these macaroons and adds that Spring-inspired brightness that will have you coming back for more.

whisk sitting in a bowl of whisked egg whites and sugar

👩‍🍳 How to Make My Lemon Coconut Macaroons

🔥 Preheat oven to 325F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

🥣 In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt and sugar until white and creamy, about 30-45 seconds. Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine.

🍋 Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dried coconut flakes, flour and lemon zest.  Continue mixing the batter until all of the coconut flakes are moist and suspended in the batter.

🥄 Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, portion about 2 tablespoons of batter each. Drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets.  You want to have 8-9 drops of batter per sheet with a few inches in between.  Use the spatula to push in the sides of the drops of batter to even them out into circles, if desired.

⏲️ Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, switching the pans from back to front and top to bottom halfway through, until well browned on the bottoms, sides, and tops. 

🌬️ Once baked, let the macaroons cool completely on the sheet pans before using a spatula to remove them.  

💃 Enjoy!

whisk sitting in bowl of whisked egg whites, sugar and vanilla

🎩 Tips and Tricks

  • Macaroons are often called ‘drop cookies’ and look more like a coconut mound than a nice, neat biscuit – embrace it! They won’t be perfectly round, and may even look a little lumpy on the outside. I promise you, you won’t notice once you taste them!
  • I’ve added a tablespoon of coconut flour to help the batter hold together and absorb any extra liquid. This also keeps the macaroons high and airy, preventing them from spreading too much in the oven. If you omit the coconut flour, you may find that your macaroons will spread, but it won’t impact the flavor.
  • Because of their melt-in-your-mouth, crumbly texture, it’s important to wait for them to fully cool before removing them from your sheet pans. I know it’s tempting, but you run the risk of having your delicious cookies fall apart in front of you.
lemon coconut macaroon mixture in a cream bowl

🌟 Variations

For a classic macaroon, omit the lemon zest entirely from the recipe. You’ll be left with a beautifully light, melt-in-your-mouth macaroon that contains less sugar than a traditional recipe calls for!

portions of lemon coconut macaroon mixture spaced across a baking sheet on a reusable non-stick mat


🤲 Substitutions

Cookies this good deserve to be enjoyed – and sometimes that means using what’s on hand! So, here are a few quick and easy substitutions to help you get these macaroons into hungry mouths as quickly as possible:

  • You can use shredded coconut instead of flakes, though I like the texture and appearance that coconut flakes provide.
  • You can use sweetened coconut if you’d like, but I suggest cutting back on the sugar if you do.
  • If you don’t have lemons on hand, these would be beautiful using another citrus variety like orange or lime.
  • I do think coconut flour does a lot for these in terms of keeping the structure together when baking, but if you do not have any and don’t want to buy it, you can leave it out.  The cookies may spread a bit more though.  
freshly baked lemon coconut macaroons spaced across a baking sheet on top of a reusable non-stick mat

👝 How to Store Lemon Coconut Macaroons

I wholeheartedly recommend eating these macaroons the day they are made, but they will last up to 5 days covered and kept at room temperature. They’ll get softer each day so the sooner they are consumed, the better!

🧠 Common Questions

What’s the difference between a macaron and a macaroon?

A macaron (or French macaroon) is a sandwich-like cookie usually filled with jam, ganache, or buttercream. An Italian macaroon (what I’m referring to as just a macaroon) is a drop cookie made of shredded or flaked coconut.

Can I use eggs fresh out of the fridge, or should they be room temperature?

I recommend using room-temperature eggs in baking because they blend more evenly, but a quick way to warm them up if you keep them in the fridge is to pop them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes while prepping other ingredients.

How much should I whip the eggs?

We’re trying to emulsify the eggs with the sugar, which should only take about 30-45 seconds. It should be frothy or foamy, but not stiff in any way.

I think I’ve over-whipped my eggs, they’ve started to become stiff. What should I do?

This recipe relies on the eggs being emulsified but not stiff, so if you’ve reached a soft-peak stage with your egg whites, you will need to use them for another recipe – pavlovas perhaps?

What do you mean by ‘fold in’ the dried coconut, flour etc?

When you fold an ingredient into a mixture, you’re slowly scraping your spatula along the bottom of the bowl from one side to the other, and then dragging what lingers on the spatula over the top. Repeat around the bowl until everything is incorporated. This preserves the airiness that has been created in the egg whites.

Do I have to ‘fold in’ the ingredients? Can’t I just stir like I usually would?

You can, but you run the risk of your macaroons being denser because you’ve stirred away any trapped air.

I’ve never enjoyed gluten-free baking, does this recipe have to be gluten-free?

The magic of this recipe is that we’re not making substitutions for the sake of it being gluten-free, it just so happens that the ingredients are gluten-free to begin with. If gluten-free baking has never lived up to your expectations, you may just find you love these macaroons!

Can I use plain flour instead of coconut flour?

Yes, but it may alter the flavor of your cookies slightly. The coconut flour blends in seamlessly, but you can also opt to leave the flour out altogether if you’d prefer not to purchase it!

Lemon Coconut Macaroons

Kat Ashmore
These gluten-free, dairy-free Lemon Coconut Macaroons are the quintessential spring treat: perfect for sharing at Passover or Easter gatherings with loved ones, adding to a Mother's Day spread or to have on hand for a simple dessert.
4.20 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Course Dessert, Sweets
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 143 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 egg whites large
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 cups Flaked Coconut unsweetened dried, also known as coconut chips
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon zest

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt and sugar until white and creamy, about 30-45 seconds. You want good emulsification to contribute to the structure of the cookies.
  • Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dried coconut flakes, flour and lemon zest. Continue mixing the batter until all of the coconut flakes are moist and suspended in the batter.
  • Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons to portion about 2 tablespoons of batter each, drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets. You want to have 8-9 drops of batter per sheet with a few inches in between. Use the spatula to push in the sides of the drops of batter to even them out into circles, if desired.
  • Bake, switching the pans from back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 18 to 22 minutes until well browned on the bottoms, sides, and tops. Once baked, let the macaroons cool completely on the sheet pans before using a spatula to remove.
  • These macaroons are best the day they are made, but will last up to 5 days, covered at room temperature and getting softer each day.

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 2gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gSodium: 53mgPotassium: 97mgFiber: 3gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 0.1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Coconut, cookies, lemon, Macaroon
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

18 thoughts on “Lemon Coconut Macaroons (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)”

  • 5 stars
    Made these for Easter and they were a hit!!! Absolutely delicious an loved that they were dairy free since I’m lactose intolerant. I even dunked some bottoms in some dairy free dark chocolate. This recipe is a keeper!

  • First of all, coconut chips I bought were much larger than yours appear. More like short fettucine noodles! Result was very chewyI I ended up crushing for second batch before adding. Also doubled lemon zest for more flavor and dipped bottoms in melted semisweet chocolate chips. I would use shredded coconut next time.

    • Ivy, I totally hear you on this one – there doesn’t seem to be a generic size of coconut flakes which can be frustrating! It sounds like shredded coconut is definitely the way to go for you!
      Let me know how you get on when you try them next.
      Kat.

  • 5 stars
    I made these for Passover & they were so delicious! I used coconut sugar in lieu of white sugar & I loved that caramel-y flavor it added. My coconut flakes were definitely too big & made for very unruly-shaped macaroons, but it didn’t affect their yumminess. I’m making them again today to bring to a friend’s for Easter dinner, and will look for either smaller flakes, or will use shredded coconut. Oh, and I measured the lemon zest with my heart, probably winding up with double what the recipe calls for. 🥥🍋 This recipe is a keeper!

    • I’m over the moon you loved this one, Michele – and that they’re Passover friendly! Go you for not letting the coconut flakes put you off (there doesn’t seem to be a generic size which can be frustrating), but I’m all about measuring your heart and substituting. It sounds like you’re a pro!
      Enjoy,
      Kat.

  • Hi Kathleen! Two questions: 1. What’s the best substitute for the coconut flour (no dietary restrictions), and 2. Could we make these say half the size (bite sized) and just reduce baking time? Thanks!

    • Chan, great questions! You can leave the flour out or use a plain flour although this may change the flavor slightly. The coconut flour helps with structure but it’s not essential. And you could definitely make these bite sized with a reduced bake time, I would just keep a careful eye on them the first time around to make sure they don’t burn!
      Let me know how you get on!
      Kat.

  • 1 star
    The batter did not hold together when scooped onto the baking sheet. I followed the recipe and watched the video while making them. I used the coconut flakes instead of shredded also like suggested.
    Im watching them bake and all the egg batter has spread out of the macaroon scoops.
    Any thoughts?

    • Hi Patty, sorry to hear this recipe caused you some trouble! It’s difficult to tell what may not have come together correctly for you but I would suggest based on your comment that perhaps the egg whites, salt and sugar needed some more mixing – the emulsification there is what creates the structure of the cookie and without it they are likely to spread.
      Let me know if that helps at all!
      Kat.

    • I recommend using room temperature eggs in baking because they blend more evenly, but a quick way to warm them up if you keep them in the fridge is to pop them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes while prepping other ingredients.
      Let me know how you get on, Suzanne!
      Kat.

  • Hi – these look great and I can’t wait to make them. They’re also Passover-friendly so perhaps you can include that in your message for those of us who look for recipes that align with the holiday. Thank you!

    • I’m so thrilled that they’re passover friendly, Wendy!
      I can’t wait for you to try them.
      Enjoy,
      Kat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating