Macaroons vs. Macarons: Know Your Cookies

Before you preheat, make sure you know the difference between these two cookies. Macaroons vs. macarons—they've very different (but both delicious).

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Turn to the index of your favorite baking cookbook, and you’ll find two remarkably similar entries: macarons followed by macaroons. Both of these recipes are for cookies, but that extra “O” makes a world of difference. Learn what the big difference is in this baking debate: macaroons vs. macarons.

What Are Macaroons?

First Place Coconut MacaroonsTMB Studio

Macaroons (that’s “mac-uh-roons”) are mounded, chewy cookies made from shredded coconut, egg whites and sugar.

These cookies are made by mixing all the ingredients in a single bowl—no muss or fuss. They’re then dropped onto a cookie sheet in rounded spoonfuls; a cookie scoop (a must-have for cookie bakers) also works well here. When baked, the exterior of these cookies gets crisp while the inside remains wonderfully chewy.

Macaroons are often made with just a dash of vanilla extract for flavor. You’ll also find versions that are dipped in chocolate or have extra ingredients like fruit, nuts or cocoa powder stirred in.

What Are Macarons?

Taste Of Home's French Macarons Dessert RecipeTMB Studio

Macarons (pronounced “mac-uh-rohn”) have a distinctively French flair. These cookies are often found at swanky bakeries and on fancy dessert menus.

French macarons are a next-level sandwich cookie. The shells are made from meringue and finely ground almond flour. Buttercream, jam or ganache is then sandwiched between two shells to form a bite with a thin, crisp exterior, chewy interior and rich filling.

Macarons can be made in all sorts of flavors ranging from traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla varieties to over-the-top twists like cookies-and-cream, peppermint mocha or even Fruity Pebbles (we encourage you to check out bakeries near you for wonderful riffs on this French cookie).

Unlike speedy macaroons, learning how to make macarons takes time and some more serious baking skills. These cookies start with a meringue formed by whisking egg whites to stiff peaks. Then these egg whites are folded together with finely milled almond flour to form a smooth batter.

From there, the batter is piped carefully onto baking sheets in identical rounds. The batter needs to rest before going into the oven so these cookies get their distinctive shell and foot—that’s the ruffled edge around the base of each cookie. Once baked and cooled, the cookies can be filled with buttercream frosting, jam or even a fudgy ganache.

While delicious and impressive, consider macarons to be an all-day baking project.

Macaroons vs. Macarons: Why the Similar Name?

Despite these cookies being wildly different in flavor, preparation and appearance, both can trace their name back to the same Italian word: ammacarre. Roughly translated, this word means “to dent” or “to crush;” apt for the crushed almonds and coconut in each recipe.

These cookies can trace their roots back to the same basic recipe. In medieval Italy, treats made with crushed almonds and egg whites were popular. It’s believed that these cookies migrated to France along with Catherine di Medici. There they took on the distinctive French patisserie flair we know and love.

Macaroons—extra “O”—continued to evolve elsewhere with the growing availability and popularity of shredded coconut. Like the French macaron, these cookies also start with a crushed or shredded base along with egg whites and sugar.

The extra letter is a bit inexplicable, but we’re just happy to have both of these tasty treats in our recipe library!

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.