Macaron vs. Macaroon: Which Cookie Is Which?

There always seems to be confusion between these two cookies. However, the end products are as different as they come! Learn the difference between macarons and macaroons.

A few years ago, I walked into a bakery in northeastern Indiana and spotted a display of colorful macarons. I immediately purchased six of these pretty cookies (don’t judge–they’re small!), and decided I’d try to make them myself. If I could make macaroons, I certainly could make macarons, right?

What I didn’t know was how different these cookies could be. It took me five attempts to get these right—should have consulted this how-to first. That’s when I decided to do a little research on the difference between the two, because that extra “o” causes a lot of confusion (and can mean a lot more work in the kitchen).

The French Macaron

The macaron (pronounced mac-a-rohn) was made famous by the French, though they take their name from the Italian word maccarone, or meringue. These cookies are easy to spot in any bakery case: They look like beautifully elegant Oreo cookies. Macarons, however, are light and delicate. They’re made by combining almond flour and meringue for a deliciously chewy texture. These shells are then sandwiched together with a filling like buttercream, ganache (like these tasty chocolate pistachio macarons) or jam. Food colorings and extra flavors give these cookies extra flair (like these delicious hazelnut macarons).

The American Macaroon

The macaroon (pronounced mack-a-roon) gets its name from the Italian word ammaccare, which means “to crush,” but this creation is as American as can be. Shredded coconut cookies are served plain, packed with extra ingredients (think lemon or chocolate candies) or dipped in chocolate. Macaroons are made by whipping egg whites and sugar into a meringue and adding coconut (try toasting it first for extra flavor). Spooned onto a cookie sheet and baked, these cookies are delicious and chewy.

As you can tell, that extra “o” makes a big difference. Keep in mind that many folks pronounce both these treats the Americanized way (no judging on my end!), so I like to ask if they mean the coconut cookie or the fancy French sandwich cookie, and then share what I’ve learned about the difference between the two.

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Kizmet Byrd
Kizmet Byrd is an enthusiastic home cook, decorator, and crafter of beautiful things. She is owner of Mattie Mae Company, which specializes in easy to make recipes, decorating ideas, and home organization tips. Her recipes have appeared in Taste of Home Magazine, The Journal Gazette, Lincoln Financial IAO Cookbook, and other publications. Byrd is well versed in everyday home lifestyle needs, foodie trends, kitchen hacks, and blogs about food adventures. Having roots based in Northeastern Illinois and Indiana; she is inspired by the changing seasons, festivals, thrift shop finds, farmer's markets, and that good old Midwest hospitality. She contributes to Taste of Home Magazine as a Volunteer Field Editor and as a Content Writer, with an emphasis on cooking and baking. Coffee is her spirit animal. Instructing culinary classes brings her joy. Food is her passion.