Coconut Macaroons (Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Passover AND ACD-Friendly)

[Note: this recipe is now available in my cookbook, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, along with over 100 more refined sugar-free, gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free treats!]

sugarfree, grainfree, vegan coconut macaroon recipe

[Photo: Celine Saki]

Back in our 30s, my friend Babe and I had a little routine we’d enact any time we met someone new (say, at a party, or a work event).  A few minutes after the  “hi, I’m Ricki” and “Hi, I’m Babe”* chit-chat began to stale, Babe would pause, crook her elbow and touch her index finger to her chin, then ask the unsuspecting target victim sucker stranger while nodding toward me, “Okay, guess how long we’ve known each other!”

Usually, the person would begin with a reasonable guess, something like, “Five years?” Babe would shake her head.  “Ten?” Another negative response. Eventually, the individual would give up, and Babe would announce flamboyantly, “We’ve known each other twenty five years.”  The newcomer would appear suitably impressed, at which point Babe continued, “but we’ve only been friends for six months.  There was that week in grade five, a month in grade seven, three days in grade eight. . . ”  She just thought that was hilarious.

In fact, the joke came about because of our habit during our tween years of getting together only once or twice a month. Invariably, we’d go see a movie (two eleven year-olds travelling on their own on city buses was a nonevent in those days). Since the only worthwhile movie theater was across town at the Cote Des Neiges plaza, we always headed there.  It was there we saw Cabaret (velkomen!), The Poseidon Adventure (the first one, with Leslie Nielsen as a serious captain), The Hot Rock (remember Robert Redford sucking on Rolaids?), American Graffiti (probably Suzanne Somers’s only non-speaking role) and The Way We Were (about eight times–Barbra Streisand was then, and still is, Babe’s all-time favorite entertainer).

When we weren’t at the movie theater, we’d be watching movies at home; each in our own home, that is. A spring ritual that endured well into our twenties was watching DeMille’s The Ten Commandments on television, with running commentary.  We both thought Charlton Heston was dreamy (this was before he kind of lost his sheen by becoming the President of the N.R.A).  Each on our respective sofas, in front of our respective TVs, with our respective snack foods (mine: chocolate chip cookies; hers: Bar-B-Q chips), we’d sit by the phone and basically watch the movie together.

I’d call Babe near the beginning of the film, already teary-eyed as the infant Moses was saved from certain death: “Oh, wait, here it comes–look!  She found the basket floating on the Nile!”  Then twenty minutes later, Babe would respond with a call, pronouncing: “Nefertiri still loves him–look at that agony on her face!” We loved how Moses’ good nature won over Pharaoh Seti and how the evil son, Ramses II (played by Yul Brynner) was thwarted.  And even after Moses was condemned for being a Jew and flung out of Egypt, The Pharaoh felt compelled–on his deathbed–to honor his adoptive son, rasping out the words, “I must break my own vow, and speak the name of. . . . Moses.”

At that, Babe and I both uttered the line simultaneously with Seti, gasping for air and dying with a flourish before breaking into irrepressible giggles.

For years, any time we changed our minds or were faced with an error in judgement, we’d employ Seti’s Formula: let’s say I’d promised to stop blabbering about my crush on Teddy Saskin and then slipped up. I’d be forced to admit, “I must break my own vow, and speak the name of. . . Theodore!”  Or if Babe and I shared some normally prohibited junk food after school, she’d have to admit, “I will break my own vow, and speak the name of. . . Bar-B-Q Chips!”  We used that formula for years, until we tired of the movie and eventually moved on to something else (probably Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which remained my personal favorite for the next decade or so; say, who are those guys??).

The Ten Commandments was also my major introduction to the history of Passover (yes, one would assume that the Passover haggadah, which actually relates the history of Passover and is read every year at the seder table, would have been a more fitting introduction. But neither my sisters nor I understand Hebrew, so while my dad droned on read from the booklet, our attention would always wander, and we’d find ourselves stealing dill pickle slices from the serving dishes, or dipping our fingers into the wine glasses, or giggling disrespectfully at the silly cartoon illustrations in the hagaddah, which would invariably elicit a terse and angry admonishment from our dad).

Because Passover foods do not contain leavening agents, desserts can be a bit of a bust.  In recent years, flour-free chocolate tortes have taken over many of the sweet menus, but they tend to rely heavily on eggs, clearly a no-no for moi.  Ditto for coconut macaroons, one of my favorite childhood Passover-friendly desserts.

Although we don’t celebrate Passover in our house, the HH and I are invited to friends’ seders this year, and I wanted to bring something appropriate that I could also enjoy.  Complying with the “no flour” commandment was easy, as I’m already eating that way quite a lot on the ACD.  I thought about how I could approximate a chewy, gooey, meringue-y texture that is common in macaroons.  Then I remembered the coconut macaroon recipe in my cookbook, always a big hit when it was sold in stores, and decided to alter it to be both ACD-friendly AND Passover-friendly.

While this version is definitely less sweet than the ones I remember, it is no less appealing.  With the intense chocolate crunch of the cocoa nibs scattered throughout, the crisp edges and chewy interior imbued with a whiff of caramel flavor, these little gems are delicious in their own right, Passover or not.  Even the HH, an avowed coconut lover, was happy to eat three of these at one sitting.

As for me, I couldn’t stop eating them.  I bet they’ll make a great little snack–even as I break my own vow this year, and watch The Ten Commandments on television.

*Of course, she didn’t really say, “Hi, I’m Babe.”  But this is a re-enactment, silly!

Because these are such a healthy, yet indulgent-tasting, treat, I’m submitting them to Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, who is hosting this month’s “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free!” event, the theme of which is “Guiltless Pleasures.”

[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]

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  1. I may just give these a try — if I can possibly prevent myself from making my usual carrot-coconut macaroons. Sometimes it’s so hard to break away from a longstanding tradition. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.

  2. YES! I’ve been thinking about macaroons like crazy lately, and here you go making the cookie. Perfect. I’m so totally trying these. Thanks 🙂 I’ve never used yacon – do you really consider it ACD friendly? I’ve looked at it a million times and never bought it.

  3. Yay! Just in time for Passover. Thanks a bunch, Ricki. Can’t wait to try ’em.

  4. Great story! And, these look wonderful. 🙂


  5. Can I say again how impressed I am by you?

  6. Oh yum! Those look heavenly!

  7. These look fantastic! We need all the help we can get this time of year.

  8. A yes, coconut macaroons, a staple of Passover. For many years, I had only had those that came in a can, and thus hated them with a passion. Now I know better, and I think it’s my Jewish duty to make a decent batch of them for my family around the holidays. I definitely like the look of your version!

    • Andrea,
      I think YOUR carrot version sounds incredible! Hope you are posting/have already posted the recipe! 🙂

      I’m going by my best authority, They say yacon is okay for Phase I of the ACD, and who am I to argue? 😉

      Thanks! I bet they’ll be great with agave, too. 🙂

      First, try the cookies! 😉

      Thanks! I sort of had to restrain myself. 😉

      I guess I kind of eat with the same restrictions all year. . . though I suppose grains are verboten, right?

      Funny, I used to LOVE those canned ones!! Then again, I am a total junk food junkie (oh, I mean “reformed” junk food junkie!) 😉

  9. Nooooo!!! I was wanting an evening OUT of the kitchen and now I have to make these tonight because I want to reach into the computer and eat them NOW!!!

  10. Hi Ricki,
    I don’t mean to be a “stick in the mud” but there are ingredients in there that aren’t technically kosher for Passover (wouldn’t be suitable for someone who observes the holiday “stringently”).They look great,just won’t be able to make them until after the holiday…
    Have a Happy Passover

  11. Ricki, these sound amazing!!! I’m so excited to be able to make these for Passover this year!! Thank you soooo much! Happy Passover! 🙂

  12. Veggiegal13 says

    Happy Passover! These look great and I may try them next week. I will use agave becasue yacon syrup seems to be hard to find.

  13. I really love your book’s coconut macaroon recipe, so I will give this one a try sometime soon! Thanks for taking us on a trip down memory lane with you and Babe. 🙂

  14. Just reading the ingredients list has me drooling… Those macaroons sound terrific!

  15. Sounds delicious. I might be making these. Now I’m wondering if tahini is kitniyos. I’m just curious. I will use cashew butter though.

  16. Leah,
    As a food blogger, do you really expect to *ever* get out of the kitchen? 😉

    Thanks for reading, and for your comment! I’m not absolutely sure what you’re referring to, but if it’s the agave and/or sesame seeds, agave has been certified “kosher for Passover” since 2007 (and is widely used by this famous blogger in Passover recipes). Depending on your geographic location, sesame seeds are or are not “approved.” If not, just go with the cashew butter. 🙂

    Hope you enjoy them! And Happy Passover to you! 🙂

    I know what you mean about yacon (VERY hard to find over here, too–but since it’s all I’m allowed, I had to search for it!)

    Thanks so much! Glad you like the SF version, too. 🙂

    They were, um, maybe a little TOO delicious for me last night (not that I ate 5 of them, or anything) 😉

    I had to look up “kitniyos” and yes, I think sesame seeds do fall into that category in North America (but not in Israel). They’re equally delicious with cashew butter! 🙂

  17. I must give these macaroons a try, especially since my husband loves coconut.

  18. These look really good! Everyone in my family loves macaroons and would probably end up eating more than one should!

  19. Okay, wow, yum scrumptious … must try!

    Let me know about that beet recipe too – I want to post up some pepperoni beets and greens 🙂

  20. I love your stories! Those look really good too.

    By the way, I have a little award for you over on my blog…

  21. Those look better than any macaroons I’ve ever tasted. Toasty. Crispy. Yeah!

  22. kitchenspoon says

    Hi Ricki, These macaroons look divine! I’m going to be making some this week. YummY.

  23. Coconut Macaroons used to be my favorite cookie. My parents would go to the bakery on Saturday mornings for donuts and I would always beg them to let me get a macaroon instead. I haven’t had one since becoming vegan 4 years ago and am so looking forward to trying your recipe.

  24. I could start every comment on your blog with: omg, Ricki, your food is so amazing. Now that would be boring,wouldn’t it? But those macaroons sound absolutely perfect. I’ve never made macaroons in summer, they are sort of a Christmas cookie to me. But I’m going to change that soon!

  25. i totally just added The Ten Commandments to our netflix queue, Ricki. i haven’t seen it in years and think it’s about time i revisited (and by years, i’m talk’n about 20 or so). i too had a crush on Cheston (and Burt Reynolds ‘n Gene Wilder – although i’m not sure how the two are related). tee hee! i love that your macaroons are suitable for everyone – they look wonderful and they sound absolutely perfect! thanks, Ricki! and thanks again for the kind words about happyveganface. i’m still smiling. 🙂

  26. My, oh my, these look delicious. I had to giggle at the title because I struggle with making mine short and sweet as well. I want to tell every category the food fits into right away!

  27. these sound great. I’ll keep them in mind if I ever find coconut flour.

  28. yahoo! those look worth celebrating. need to update the ‘to make’ list

  29. Oh my goodness those look amazing! I think I need to whip up a batch to take to a Passover thingy I’m going to this weekend!

  30. Ah, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. A classic — except I’m always shocked that Yul Brenner doesn’t break into “Shall We Dance?” mid-movie.

    Beautiful treats!

  31. Oh Yul, I loved him. So pretty. And these cookies? I need to see if I can find some coconut flour (all out) these would be great for this weekend, or even for this afternoon. Hungry for your cookies!

  32. Jo-Lynn,
    My hubby loves it too, and he was crazy about these!

    At least you know that they are full of real, natural ingredients 😉

    Thanks! Sent you an email re: the beet recipe 🙂

    Thanks so much! And thanks again for the award :D–I am honored! I hope you’ll forgive me if it takes a while to get back to it, though. . . but I will!

    Aw, thanks! They do taste pretty good, too 🙂

    Yay! Let me know what you think if you do give them a try.

    Thanks so much! I’d go for the agave option if you are allowed, as it will be sweeter than the yacon (which I’m using primarily because it’s ACD-friendly!)

    I’d never get bored of hearing from you! 🙂 Funny, I don’t associate macaroons with any particular holiday. . . they’re just good any time!

    Oh, now I want to go out and rent it, too! And I meant every word, of course! Reading your blog (and hearing from you) make me happy! 🙂

    For some reason, it seemed to need it in the title. . . though normally I’m much more restrained that way 😉

    Thanks so much, and for commenting! You could try more almond flour, or even another gluten free flour (though I’d add a bit more flax seeds in that case, as they will help to absorb the excess moisture when you’re not using the coconut flour). Let me know how they come out if you do give them a try! 🙂

    Thanks! I think they are, indeed, worth celebrating!

    I bet your host(s) will appreciate it! 🙂

    Ha! I forgot about that one (I always found Yul a bit scary looking. . .much preferred the guy who played Joshua in the 10 Commandments!) 😉

    I bet you could sub something else. . . maybe chickpea?

  33. yum – I have tried your cookbook version of these and loved them – so will have to try this version too because I don’t mind less sweet – although yacon syrup is a bit beyond this kitchen

    as for you and your friend babe – that is a great story of sitting on the phone watching tv together – makes me think of how much lifestyles have changed from when a film on tv was an event – now there are so many channels and alternative media that it seems that sharing such events happens a lot less

  34. Ooo I know I’d love these! Anything with coconut and I’m in.

  35. these sound delicious 🙂 coconut flour is something i’ve been wanting to try… but held back b/c of the price tag. i’m sure i’ll cave soon!

  36. Thanks for your advice on alternatives. I used agave, tahini (didn’t have any cashew butter) and chocolate chips. I thought my husband might think they were “too healthy” tasting but we both LOVED them. So delicious! They will definitely go into my make again binder.

  37. These look delicious, crunchy outside and soft on the inside and not a grain in sight!

    I love watching things over the phone with my husband when he’s away on business. x x x

  38. I am making these as soon as humanly possible. I have everything I need in my pantry. Dangerous, I know!

  39. Hi! I was so excited to make these when I saw them. I had to do a few subs/ alterations… I used about half the amount of sugar in the form of palm sugar paste (all I had), and due to that it just didn’t get the right consistency of a cookie – wouldn’t stick! So I decided to make it into a crust… baked that, and then poured a mix of mint dark chocolate and peanut butter on top. Chopped almonds and coconut for the finish. Left it in the fridge for a few hours, and then had the most AMAZZZINNNGGG cookie bars ever. So thanks to your recipe and my lack of ingredients, I had a really fantastic treat. Thanks!! 🙂

  40. Fresh out of Almonds so over to the shop to get some and then these babies are going to be mine, mwhahahaha. Sorry got a bit excited, and feeling evil!!!

  41. Hi Ricki, I absolutely LOVE these delicious treats!! I have been enjoying them for about 7 months, now, since I started my version of the ACD. Yesterday I bought a box of (about 14) ataulfo mangos (the ‘champagne’ of mangos) for $12 and today i decided to make a pie with some of them.
    All I have to say is holy crap. Probably the best thing I have eaten in a LONG time!!!

    I doubled the macaroon recipe, pressed it into a 1.8L casserole dish (it wasn’t enough dough to fit my ceramic pie dish).
    I cut up and cooked down four mangos with a little splash of water, then poured it into the crust.
    I baked the whole thing at 350 for a total of 22 mins (pulled it out after 16 mins, then decided it could use a little more.)

    It turned out PERFECT!!! 20 mins would have been good, too, but I guess it depends on your oven…

    Thanks for making it all possible. My husband thanks you, too 😀

    • Lindy, thanks so much for sharing this! Your pie recipe sounds spectacular. And I am so glad that the recipes & blog have been helpful! 😀

  42. I’m wondering what you think about subbing vegetable glycerin for the yacon syrup? I’m out of yacon but have a ton of veg glycerin. Thanks!!!

    • Hi Joylene,

      I haven’t used the gylcerin in this, so I can’t say whether it would work or not. My first choice if using it would be to combine with either agave or yacon at least half-and-half. But since there’s only 1/4 cup, it might work. The problem is that glycerine doesn’t have the same binding qualities as yacon or agave, so you might find that the cookies don’t hold together well. It might be worth trying just a half batch, though. Let me know how they turn out! 🙂

  43. Just wondering is Cashew butter okay for phase 1 of ACD? I know most Raw nut butters are but wasn’t 100 percent sure about Cashew! I made these 2 days ago and their already gone….. I think I’ll have to wait to make more again otherwise I’ll be eating about a batch a day! Would it be a bad thing to have one or two everyday or every other day? Or is this a dessert that should be limited to a couple times a week?

    • Sarah, thanks so much! I think the cashew butter depends on who your healthcare practitioner is and which diet they prefer. Many ACD diets don’t allow cashews, but my naturopath felt they were no worse than most other nuts (though he drew the line at peanuts and pistachios–both no-nos). If you are concerned about the cashews, you could try almond butter or macadamia butter; both should work. For me, ACD desserts were a very rare treat in Stage 1–maybe once a week or less. I found that, like you, if I made dessert more often, I just ate it more often! Again, I think it depends on you and your own individual case. Are you working with a naturopath, holistic health coach or nutritionist? If so, you should ask them whether this recipe works within your version of the ACD. 🙂

  44. This is my second run at the whole Candida Cleanse, and the first time I did it I was working with a Naturopath but this time I decided to do it on my own to save a few bucks. Thanks so much for getting back to me so soon and also for all the great postings on your site! There isn’t a ton of information/recipes out there related to candida so I really appreciate you sharing all of your for people to use!
    I wanted to ask what you do if your craving something sweet?? I’m really going to crack down and avoid “desserts” at all costs but I still have cravings and want sweets EVERY evening!!!!
    Any suggestions?

    • Sarah, I still have sweet cravings. Actually, I think this is a great question for the Candida FAQ page, and I’ll work on a longer answer for that page. The short answer is, if I can’t ride through the craving (ie, not eat something sweet), I usually opt for something stevia-sweetened that I know is “safe.” My favorite safe treat is the Carob-Coconut Sweeties. I ate them many a day when I first started the ACD! But you will find that cravings dissipate the more you eat healthy, sugar-free foods. . . it may take time, but it does happen. 🙂

  45. I can’t wait till the day comes when I don’t want sweets anymore 😉
    Thanks so much Ricki!!

  46. Yum, these sound delicious!! Would it be possible to substitute something else instead of the syrup – do you think unsweetened apple sauce would work, or a small quantity of liquid stevia? Thanks again for your help and recipes! 🙂

    • Hi Mel,
      I’m not sure how applesauce would work, as the syrup here provides some caramelization (binding) that the applesauce wouldn’t add. If you have coconut nectar, you could try that instead. I’m sure the stevia would work in terms of flavor, but I’m afraid that the macaroons would fall apart in that case. If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try (and come back to let us know if it worked!). 🙂


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