Recipe: Coconut Macaroons

December 4, 2015 Providence Health Team


From Good Food, Great Medicine: A Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle Guide. Third edition, 2014, by Miles Hassell, MD, and Mea Hassell

We grew up with this recipe; these macaroons are disgracefully simple to make, store well, and even freeze beautifully. (In fact, I have served them directly from the freezer.) These have no flour – but it’s surprising how many recipes for coconut macaroons do include flour. You can generally find dried unsweetened shredded coconut in the bulk food section of natural food stores or packaged by Bob's Red Mill.

For reasons that are not clear, many patients with irritable bowel syndromes such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis seem to get a noticeable degree of improvement in their symptoms by having a small amount of coconut each day. Not surprisingly, a popular coconut delivery system is a couple of these macaroons

Makes about 2 dozen


  • 2 egg whites (scant 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups dried unsweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set rack in middle oven. Mist baking sheet with a non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk egg whites, sugar, almond extract, vanilla, and salt in a mixing bowl until smooth and foamy and sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add coconut and mix thoroughly with a large fork or a sturdy rubber spatula. The mixture should be thick and sticky.
  4. Form tablespoon-sized mounds of mixture (see note) and place about an inch apart on the oiled baking sheet. The cookies won’t spread unless the mixture is too wet. (Stir from time to time, as the egg white mixture tends to settle.)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, or until macaroons are golden top and bottom. Transfer from baking sheet to cooling rack with a thin-edged metal spatula. Store in covered container for a week (I’ve kept them successfully for 2 weeks) or store for a few months in the freezer, well sealed.


  • I use the tablespoon from my Oxo measuring spoon set to make evenly sized and shaped macaroons. I scoop it full of the coconut mixture, scrape off the excess on the edge of the mixing bowl, and unmold it with a firm tap on the cookie sheet. I rinse the spoon about every 3 cookies or so, which keeps the coconut mixture from sticking to the inside of the spoon.
  • This recipe uses what I think is the minimum of sugar; another ¼-cup of sugar will make a crispier cookie.
  • Macaroons made with a higher egg-white-to-coconut ratio will spread slightly as they cook. They will also be chewier, and stay moist longer.
About the Author: Miles Hassell, M.D., is an internist in private practice at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland. He is medical director of the Integrative Medicine Program at Providence Cancer Center. He encourages the vigorous use of evidence-based food and lifestyle choices and has been chosen as one of Portland’s Top Doctors. He lectures widely to physician groups about the appropriate integration of lifestyle and conventional medicine, and is often interviewed on health issues by local television and radio programs.

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