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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Oh wow - O love the way those two words sound together: "limoncello macaroons"... Bet they taste as good as they sound... Robynx


Dear Heidi, thanks for your inspiring recipes and glorious photographs. I live in Europe and here organic stores stock a kind of almond spread that is just made or ground almonds with no aditives. it is used like peanut butter - in fact they make these will all sorts of nuts. Would that be what you are looking for? and would that work for these recipes provided I halve the quantity of almonds and make up the rest with sugar ( Odense seems to be 50/50 almods and sugar) ? I look forward to trying these out.


First of all, wanted to say I have been a reader of 101 for a long time, and HAD to comment on this recipe for two reasons one. I grew up in Santa Ynez, close to Mendocino. I miss it so. It's a truly wonderful place. Secondly, this recipe is more like a little Italian cookie, they are called Riccarelli, from Toscana (Tuscany). You even captured one of the typical shapes in the photo. I live in Italy currently, and have had the pleasure of sampling these little babies in the region they are from, as well as from my kitchen. They are such a lovely morsel, but the addition of limoncello is genius. I usually just use a lot of Sicilian lemon zest and call it a day. If you get a chance to make them the traditional way they do in Italy, here are the ingredients (process is the same, cooking time is about 4 to 5 minutes at 220 C) 300 g almond flour (sifted) 300 g super fine sugar 1 egg white 1 1/2 lemons, zested 1 tsp vanilla 1 tbl baking powder Powdered suagr for dusting Really love this blog. Thanks for every post Heidi. HS: Thanks for thie Joy, I'll have to give them a go!


I will have to make these for a long trip I have next month! I've tried making my own almond paste similar to Ines's recipe above with ground almond from Berkeley Bowl. You can find it in the bulk section. They might have paste as well. At one time I was going to order a can from Blue Diamond Almonds but was 7lbs. I know you can freeze it but that was still more than I needed.


my English is not so good and I have to translate a little bit with a wordreference dictionary... but it's so good read your recipes. I try to make them tomorrow! Thanks and congratulation. Lorena


Devono essere davvero buoni!


Would it be possible to use a simple lemon extract instead of lemoncello? For personal reasons I can't use alcohol. Please let me know...I absolutely love lemon recipes.


It's so nice to see such an interesting variation on macaroons. Love the idea of adding limoncello. The possibilities now seem endless! Thanks for yet another wonderful recipe!

Dina Avila

I love almond paste! My German nanny used to use it in the desserts she made for us. Need to make this, it'll take me back ;)

Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)

My God, these look heavenly! And the possibilities, kirsch, and Creme de Cassis come to mind. Thanks!

Amanda at Enchanted Fig

Hi Heidi. These sound great and can't wait to make these. Do you have a recipe to share for limoncello? Thanks for a beautiful post.


Oh I always get excited when I find these in cafes but didn't have the foggiest how to search for a recipe for them. They look fab, can't wait to try them!


Hi, I am so excited to make these. I don't have Limoncello but I have an lemon liquor made from organic lemons in Chile, purchased on a recent trip there. It's an all natural liquor. Should be good substitute. Question, you mention recipe from your friend Lori, does she have a blog? Recipes sound so good! Thanks

Val Makrogiannis

Oh, I have to try those. They look great. As always, Heidi, you are an inspiration.


these look and sound yummy..I have some Limoncello from Italy but not sure where to buy the almond paste..any suggestions?


Oh, as always thank you, thank you. I love reading about your adventures, sharing food, recipes, life and lovely photographs.... Limoncello, brings me back to Italy! Ah, the food, the wine, the country, the people....

Suzanne Kaplan

These sound so great!!! I love lemon flavored desserts :) Such a cute cabin too!! I would love to have a getaway place like that one day!!


Heidi, PLEASE I want the recipe for the homemade limoncello. Cookies look good and I will try them - looks quite easy but I REALLY want the limoncello. Again thanks a lot for a great post




Heidi, I make my own almond paste and you could certainly use organic almonds. It's easy, inexpensive, and freezes well.


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