Do macaroons have gluten or dairy?

Macaroons are a type of cookie made with coconut, sugar, and egg whites. They are often confused with macarons, which are made with almond flour and egg whites. The main differences between macaroons and macarons come down to a few key ingredients.

The Difference Between Macaroons and Macarons

The key ingredients that set macaroons and macarons apart are:

  • Coconut – Macaroons are made with shredded coconut, while macarons do not contain coconut.
  • Almond flour – Macarons are made with almond flour, while macaroons do not contain almond flour.
  • Gluten – Macaroons are naturally gluten-free, while macarons contain gluten from the almond flour.
  • Dairy – Macaroons do not contain dairy ingredients, but macarons often contain dairy like butter or cream.

So in summary:

  • Macaroons are made with coconut, while macarons contain almond flour.
  • Macaroons are gluten-free, while macarons contain gluten.
  • Macaroons are dairy-free, while macarons often contain dairy.

Do Macaroons Contain Gluten?

No, macaroons do not contain any gluten ingredients. The main ingredients in a traditional macaroon recipe are:

  • Shredded coconut
  • Sugar
  • Egg whites
  • Salt
  • Vanilla or almond extract (optional)

None of these ingredients contain gluten. Coconut, sugar, eggs, and flavorings like vanilla are naturally gluten-free. This makes macaroons a great gluten-free cookie option for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

There are some gluten-free flour blends that contain coconut flour, which can also be used to make gluten-free macaroons. So traditional macaroons without flour or macaroons made with coconut flour will always be gluten-free.

Why Are Macaroons Naturally Gluten-Free?

Macaroons do not contain grain flours like wheat, barley, or rye that contain the protein gluten. Instead, shredded coconut provides the bulk and structure to the cookies. Coconut is naturally gluten-free and does not contain protein types that mimic gluten.

In addition, macaroons are egg-based cookies. The egg whites act as the leavening agent and provide structure once whipped into stiff peaks and folded into the coconut and sugar mixture. This allows the cookies to hold their shape without needing gluten from grain flours.

Are There Gluten-Free Macaroon Recipes?

Yes, you can find many delicious gluten-free macaroon recipes. Traditional recipes using just coconut, egg whites, sugar, and flavorings will always be gluten-free. There are also recipes that incorporate gluten-free flours like:

  • Almond flour – Adds nuttiness and texture
  • Coconut flour – Absorbs moisture and binds the cookies
  • Tapioca flour – Light texture and neutral flavor

As long as you ensure any flour used is certified gluten-free, these recipes will produce gluten-free macaroons. You can also find recipes for chocolate macaroons, caramel macaroons, and fruit flavors like raspberry or lemon.

Do Macaroons Contain Dairy?

Traditional macaroons made with just coconut, sugar, egg whites, and flavorings are dairy-free. They do not contain milk, butter, cream, or any other dairy ingredient. This makes macaroons a great cookie choice for people with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance.

However, some modern macaroon recipes include dairy ingredients like:

  • Butter – Adds richness and flavor
  • Cream cheese – Provides texture and tanginess
  • Milk – Can replace some or all of the egg whites

So whether a macaroon recipe is dairy-free or not depends on the specific ingredients used. Traditional, no-flour macaroons are always dairy-free. But adapted recipes may include small amounts of dairy products.

Why Are Classic Macaroons Dairy-Free?

The basic ingredients in a classic macaroon recipe do not include any dairy products. There are a few reasons why dairy is not traditionally used:

  • Coconut flavor – The rich coconut flavor is the star, not dairy.
  • Texture – Shredded coconut and whipped egg whites provide enough texture.
  • Moisture – Dairy can make the cookies too moist and less crunchy.
  • Origin – Historic macaroon recipes did not use dairy.

The naturally sweet flavor and crunchy texture from the coconut and eggs is enough in a basic macaroon. So dairy does not play a role in traditional preparations.

Should You Avoid Dairy in Macaroons?

Dairy is not required to make great tasting macaroons. But if you do not have an allergy or intolerance, adding a small amount of butter or cream cheese can provide a nice richness and flavor. Just aim for around 1-2 tablespoons of dairy per batch.

You can substitute non-dairy milk or vegan butters in recipes as well. The cookies may spread a bit more or have a different texture, but they will still be delicious. Those with dairy issues should stick to traditional egg white and coconut macaroons.

Common Macaroon Ingredient Questions

When making or buying macaroons, it helps to understand common macaroon ingredients and which ones may contain gluten or dairy:


Granulated sugar or confectioner’s sugar does not contain gluten or dairy. All sugar used in macaroons will be gluten and dairy-free. Sugar substitutes like stevia or maple syrup are also fine on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet.


Pure chocolate or chocolate chips will be gluten-free and dairy-free (if dark chocolate). Milk chocolate contains dairy. Chocolate flavored macaroons will be safe, just check labels for allergens if using pre-packaged chips.


Flavor extracts like vanilla, almond, coconut, etc. do not contain gluten or dairy. They are made from distilled plant products. Any extract can be used to safely add flavor to gluten and dairy-free macaroons.

Food Coloring

Food coloring and dyes do not contain gluten or dairy and are fine for gluten and dairy-free diets. Sprinkles, coconut flakes, edible glitter and other decorations should also be gluten and dairy-free.


Table salt and sea salt do not contain gluten or dairy. A pinch of salt enhances the flavor of macaroons but does not affect gluten or dairy content.


Eggs are a core ingredient in macaroons. Egg whites provide structure and leavening. Eggs do not naturally contain gluten or dairy and can be used for gluten and dairy-free diets.

For vegan macaroons, the egg whites can be replaced with aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) or plant-based egg replacers.

Dairy Substitutes

Non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, soy, etc), vegan butter, and vegan cream cheese can be used to adapt macaroon recipes that call for dairy ingredients. Always check labels to ensure they are certified gluten-free as well.

Are Store-Bought Macaroons Gluten and Dairy-Free?

When purchasing pre-made macaroons, you need to carefully read the label for gluten and dairy ingredients. Some store-bought brands or bakery macaroons may contain:

  • Wheat flour – Adds gluten
  • Milk or butter – Adds dairy
  • Chocolate with dairy
  • Flavorings with gluten or dairy

Your safest bet is to look for macaroons that are labeled “gluten-free” and “dairy-free.” Recipes colored with all natural ingredients free of the top 8 food allergens are also a good option.

There are gluten and dairy-free brands of macaroons available in many grocery stores, specialty markets, and online. Just be vigilant in checking the ingredients list.

What to Look for on Ingredient Labels

When purchasing macaroons, look for these gluten and dairy-free clues on the label:

  • Gluten-free certification
  • Dairy-free certification
  • No flour in ingredients
  • No wheat, barley, rye or malt
  • No milk, butter, cream cheese or cheese
  • No chocolate, unless dairy-free

Avoid macaroons with ingredients like wheat flour, milk, or contains statements such as “processed in a facility with wheat.” Always check labels carefully for gluten and common dairy allergens.

Calling Companies About Ingredients

When in doubt, you can call or email the macaroon company to ask about gluten or dairy ingredients. Many brands have helpful customer service teams to answer any questions you may have on ingredients or factory processes.

Some questions to ask:

  • Do your macaroons contain any wheat or gluten ingredients?
  • What type of flour is used, if any?
  • Are they made in a gluten-free facility?
  • Do they contain milk, cream, butter or any dairy ingredient?
  • Can you guarantee they are 100% gluten and dairy-free?

Reputable companies should be transparent about their ingredients and manufacturing processes. This extra step helps ensure you get a definitively gluten-free and dairy-free product.

Tips for Baking Gluten and Dairy-Free Macaroons

Here are some helpful tips for baking perfect macaroons at home that avoid gluten and dairy:

Use shredded coconut

Shredded coconut gives the best texture and coconut flavor. Look for unsweetened coconut flakes to better control sweetness.

Whip egg whites properly

Whip egg whites into stiff, glossy peaks to achieve the perfect chewy yet crunchy cookie texture.

Fold gently

Fold the egg whites and coconut together gently to maintain as much air as possible.

Avoid overmixing

Once egg whites are incorporated, avoid over-beating which can deflate the batter.

Watch oven temperature

Bake at a low 325°F to prevent browning. Macaroons should be pale and chewy, not browned.

Cool completely before removing

Allow baked macaroons to cool and set on the tray for at least 30 minutes before handling.

Use gluten-free flour

If using flour, opt for coconut, almond or tapioca flour to keep gluten-free.

Substitute dairy

Use non-dairy milk and vegan butter instead of dairy options if needed.

Read labels

Check any pre-made ingredients like chocolate chips for gluten and dairy.


Traditional macaroon recipes made solely with coconut, sugar, egg whites and flavorings are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. Common macaroon ingredients like shredded coconut, vanilla, chocolate, and salt do not contain gluten or dairy. Recipes can easily be adapted to be gluten and dairy-free by using substitute ingredients.

When buying pre-made macaroons, always read the label carefully to look for gluten and dairy ingredients. Seeking out brands that are certified gluten-free and dairy-free is the safest option. With the right ingredients and preparation, macaroons can be enjoyed on both gluten-free and dairy-free diets.

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