Limoncello Macaroons Recipe

A limoncello macaroon recipe along with a batch of photos from a cabin weekend in Mendocino. The cookies are golden-crusted, powder-coated, almond-citrus gems spiked with limoncello liqueur my sister made for me.

Limoncello Macaroons

I packed a number of things for last weekend's getaway to Mendocino. One pair of flip-flops, one book, a stack of magazines, a bottle of bubbles, ten rolls of film, three cameras, a tripod, and a bag of limoncello macaroons. I bookmarked these Pinched Orange Macaroons a while back, and when my sister gave me a bottle of limoncello (made from lemons in her yard), I decided to do a twist on Patrick Lemble's cookies using the homemade citrus liqueur and zest. I thought they'd be a nice little treat for the cabin. The cookies are made primarily from almond paste and they bake into golden-crusted, powder-coated, almond-citrus gems. A tad messy to make, but well worth it.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

Before we dive into the minutiae of macaroon cookie making, I thought I'd share a few photos. For those of you who have missed previous mentions of the cabin, it is waaay off the grid, and a bit rustic - in the very best way possible. I like to sit on the porch and do a whole lot of nothing. We played board games and cards, cracked jokes, and talked a lot about the mountain lion that has been spotted at the cabin over the past few months.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

The mountain lion seemed like an abstract concept to me. Abstract in the way that I know there are bears around when I go camping, but I don't really think about it much because they don't bother me. There's a difference here. This mountain lion has apparently killed a couple goats in the area. And then, there's that photo up above. Lori & Lisa's cousin rode down the driveway on his quad one afternoon to show us. He'd rigged a motion capture camera near his cabin, just up the road a bit, and apparently the camera captured that frame. It's hard to tell from my picture, but I assure you, that cat is large.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

So, for the most part we stuck around the cabin. Or traveled in a pack when we were out and about. On the food front, Lori made an amazing grilled eggplant, arugula, and mozzarella salad as part of our dinner Saturday night, and if she posts it or publishes it at some point, I'll be sure to link to it and give you all the heads up. Strong, garlicky, and good. She makes a mean panzanella as well.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

As far as the limoncello macaroons are concerned, let me say a few things. First off, they travel quite well. And while they seemed to be at their absolute peak roughly thirty minutes after baking, I placed the cooled cookies in a sealed plastic bag, and they were delicious for days. There wasn't as much textural difference between the outside crust and the super-moist middle after being bagged, but they were still 90% as good.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

They're also made from one of the simplest batters imaginable. I made one batch following Patrick's original technique, then took a shortcut with the second batch which you'll see reflected in my version of the recipe below. In short, I found I didn't really need to do an egg wash/powder. I found the dough was quite moist. I threw a good amount of powdered sugar down on the counter top and shaped the cookies from there. They had a nice powdered sugar coating without the extra step. If you find you're not getting enough of a powdered sugar coating before baking, give each ball of dough a light brushing of egg white and a quick roll in more powdered sugar.

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Limoncello Macaroons

The original recipe is an almond paste base enhanced with Grand Marnier as a flavor accent. But I can imagine taking these cookies in many different directions. This time around I went the lemon route, but if you can imagine an ingredient pairing well with sweet almonds, you might try it here. I used two tubes of Odense almond paste here, but be interested if any of you know of a good, pure almond paste make from organic almonds. Also, be sure to buy almond paste, not marzipan.

1 large egg white
14 oz / 400g almond paste

1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus quite a bit more for surface and coating

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
scant 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon limoncello
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Beat the egg white, the almond paste, confectioners' sugar, and almond extract together either by hand or with an electric mixer, until creamy, about 2 minutes.

Add the zest, limoncello, and salt and beat until combined, another 30 seconds.

Coat a clean/dry surface with a generous handful of sifted confectioners' sugar then turn the dough out onto it. Shape and roll out the dough into two 3/4-inch thick logs, roughly 18 inches long. Cut each log into 24 equal pieces (see photo). Make sure each piece is entirely coated in sugar, tapping to remove excess.

Transfer to prepared baking sheets. They don't spread much so you can crowd them a bit more than you might with other cookies. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F / 180C degrees. Use three fingers to gently pinch each piece of dough to form an irregular pyramid shape of you like, or you can leave them pillow shaped. Bake until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, I also like them deeply golden, it's a matter of personal preference really, but baking for a few extra minutes will achieve this. Transfer the cookies from baking sheets to wire racks, and let cool completely. These cookies keep well in an air-tight container for a few days.

Makes 4 dozen bite-sized cookies.

These cookies are a riff on the Pinched Orange Macaroons by Patrick Lemble (executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons restaurant, New York City) highlighted in the December 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Prep time: 45 minutes - Cook time: 15 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I'm making these right now for Labor Day Weekend! Thanks Heidi!!!!

The Healthy Apple

These look amazing can't wait to try them! And your pictures are beautiful!


This sounds just scrumptious. I think thought that I will use orange zest and find the orange brandy with the strongest orange aroma to use instead of limoncello. I never see any one putting ORANGE in these things. " Give me ORANGE poppy seed, Orangecello Macaroons... to coin a phrase.

David Teague

Heidi, I was worried. This guy with a sweet tooth the size of the Space Needle could not look at another soup, salad or pasta recipe. I needed some unapologetically sweet thing to revive my low blood sugar. This dear friend, is just the gold nugget that I was hoping for. Merci. HS: Hope you like them Tom. And you're not alone in having a giant sweet tooth. I assure you ;)

tom @ tall clover farm

Thanks, Heidi- Sounds wonderful - I, too, love anything almond and anything lemon. Together? Yum, yum. Ines, re: homemade almond paste - is your "equal parts" by weight? Or volume? Thanks for sharing.

Suz of Santa Cruz, CA

Thank you.


These look divine and very tangy. The hue in the pictures is amazing!

Sneh Roy

They look so scrumptious! Lemon and almond are such a great combo. They are even kosher and non-dairy.


Beautiful light, Heidi. Craving summer light right now; the promise of days like those ahead has made my morning, thank you. Bookmarking right now.


I make my own almond paste - equal parts ground blanched almonds and confectioner's sugar and some rose water or orange blossom water and put that into the food processor and you have beautiful, perfect almond paste... Not a lot of work and wonderful flavor!


what kind of camera do you use?? i love your photos.... HS: Thanks Michele, I took my Pentax, my DSLR, and a little 35mm Ricoh on this trip. I have a bit of a revolving cast of cameras in my life. This page needs some updating, but there's more info on my photo equipment here.


What is lemoncello - and is there a recipe for it. Sounds good!


Oh My Heidi, Awesome trip, photos and cookies that I must make. Drooling just thinking about them. Would dearly love your friend's eggplant receipe or more eggplant recipes in general. I love it and hubby won't eat it, so I am hopeing one day to find one he will eat with me also. :-)


These sound lovely and refreshing and perfect for this hot weather (and probably also for the dead of winter when citrus abounds). I like the addition of a pinch of sea salt to contrast with the sugar and acidity. And I love a cookie with no flour, too!


Heidi, what a lovely weekend getaway (lucky you didn't come across the mountain lion but I'm curious) and the macaroons look fabulous! I still have some limoncello left that I made a couple of years ago so will give it a try, thank you! Hi Keiko! Hope you've had a great summer.


I've got a bottle of lemoncello in the freezer and I can't wait to make these cookies!

Laura @ Family Spice

*sigh* Mendocino is my favorite place and this recipe sounds scrumptious. Will have to try this recipe while I dream of the Mendo coast.


That cabin is beautiful and now I've got a song by the Essex Green in my head called Mendocino! I made some limoncello a few years ago to give as gifts for xmas and I'm wishing I had some around to make these cookies. They look like the perfect little bites.


These look and sounds gorgeous. I'm not sure where to find almond paste down here. Do you think I could just sweeten some almond butter with sugar and use that?

Joe @ Eden Kitchen

Oh I love all these photos and the macaroons look delicious!

Simply Life

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