madeleines on a white plate

2018 baking goal = let’s step outside our comfort zone.

Equipped with determination, I studied and tested and retested and retested some more until I figured out the big question that is madeleines. While their fancy appearance and classy name can be intimidating, these airy teacakes require the most basic ingredients. They aren’t difficult, but they do demand your attention, patience, and precision. And a solid (very detailed) recipe to produce the light texture doesn’t hurt either!


Let’s figure this out first: are madeleines cookies or itsy bitsy cakes? A big debate! They’re a delicate little butter cake that most people refer to as cookies. However you categorize them, madeleines are known for their beautiful and distinct scalloped shell shape and need nothing more than a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar on top. Though a dunk in dark chocolate is nice too!!

Let’s dive in. This is a lengthy post, but I think it’s important to discuss what works and what doesn’t work so you can truly understand what you’re doing in the kitchen. We’re going to walk through the process together with step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and then the madeleine recipe is at the bottom of this post. Break out your madeleine pan. We’re doing this!

hand dunking a madeleine into a cup of coffee

Basic Process

In this great big world, there are MANY ways to make madeleines. This is how we’re doing it today, a recipe based off of Julia Child’s. Madeleines start with a sponge-like batter, called a genoise in European baking, and get most of their lift and volume from beaten eggs. The base of our desserts is usually creamed butter and sugar. With madeleines, however, beating the eggs and sugar together is the most crucial and particular step. We’ll beat them for 8 minutes to really whip in enough air. We’ll add a little flavoring to the madeleine batter: lemon zest and a little vanilla extract, both optional. Then in a separate bowl, we’ll toss a little flour, baking powder, and salt together. We will delicately fold the flour mixture into the beaten egg mixture. Why emphasis on the delicate? We don’t want to deflate the eggs we just beat, do we?? Finally, we’ll mix in some melted butter. So as not to deflate the airy batter with a whole mess of heavy melted butter, mix *some* of the madeleine batter into the melted butter, then add it all into the madeleine batter for final mixing. If that confused you, step pictures are coming. The melted butter gives mads their classic taste, as well as a lovely shiny appearance when they finish up in the oven. If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and brown the butter. Yum!

We’ll spoon the batter into a madeleine pan. And that’s the catch! You need a specific pan. I know what you’re thinking. Is it really worth buying a new pan for just 1 type of recipe? Yes. If you’re into mads, it’s worth the $12. Here’s the pan I own and highly recommend along with the 1000+ other people on Amazon!!

Can I bake madeleines in another pan? Sure! A mini muffin pan works, but the texture of the little cakes will be different. I found that you really need the scallop pan to produce the iconic crisp edges.

ingredients for madeleines

The Batter

You see the photo above? It shows that there are 3 components to the recipe. The flour mixture, beaten egg mixture, and melted butter. Tip: when you’re ready to begin, melt the butter first so it has at least 8 minutes to slightly cool before using. Remember, we are whipping the eggs for 8 minutes.

Like I mentioned, the most particular step in madeleine baking is whipping the eggs long enough. You’ll need room temperature eggs. Cold eggs won’t reach the volume we need for madeleines. You’ll know you whipped the eggs long enough when the mixture is thick and pale. And this might be the most helpful clue– when the beater is raised, a ribbon of batter will fall back into the bowl. Aka the ribbon stage!

So now that the eggs (+ sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla) are beaten… let’s continue.

collage of 4 images showing various stages of madeleine batter in glass bowls

In the photo above, we are (1) folding the dry ingredients into the beaten egg mixture, making sure we aren’t deflating the eggs. When we’re all done, our batter will look like photo (2). Then (3) we’ll take some of that batter and mix it into the melted butter. Then (4) we’ll mix that into the rest of the batter.

We’re doing everything slowly and delicately.

Chilling the Batter

Just like most of the cookie doughs in our repertoires, madeleine batter needs to chill out before baking. Letting the batter rest in the refrigerator ultimately helps the mads rise up taller in the oven. Taller usually means fluffier, which is exactly what we’re shooting for. But don’t chill the batter for too long and here’s why: the butter will solidify again. And when baked, the madeleines won’t rise up as tall which negates the whole point of chilling the batter! Good thing madeleines are delicious because they sure do have lots of rules.

I find 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator is the sweet spot.

Preparing the Pan

Many madeleine recipes call for greasing the madeleine pan regardless if you’re using a nonstick madeleine pan or not. I tested a few ways: nonstick spray, buttering and flouring, and just buttering. Honestly, nonstick spray worked absolutely fine but brushing the pan with melted butter gave the mads a lovely crisp and buttery crust. I wasn’t fond of the butter + flour preparation because the flour either burned or left a residue on the baked cookies. Just my opinion.

A pastry brush comes in handy!

brushing madeleine pan with melted butter

madeleine batter in madeleine pan before baking

How much batter per cookie? I found 1 heaping Tbsp was plenty. Use a basic spoon and just plop it right into the center of the scallop shell, just like this:

madeleine batter in madeleine pan before baking

I tested madeleines at varying oven temperatures and settled on 350°F (177°C). Anything higher than that burned the edges without properly cooking the centers.

madeleines in madeleine pan after baking

Look at that rise! This is called the belly, hump, or bump of a madeleine.

Madeleines are best right out of the oven. They’ll lose a lot of moisture overtime, so I suggest baking and enjoying them fresh. I had lots of madeleine rocks on my hands after a day or 2. (Dunk them in coffee… still good!)


So Are They Worth the Fuss?

Yes, I definitely think so! Laced with fresh lemon zest and finished with confectioners’ sugar, their texture is undoubtedly unique. Delightfully crisp edges, buttery scallops, and a subtly sweet airy teacake inside. To say they’re delicious is an understatement. They’re remarkable. A French pastry I never thought I could recreate in my own kitchen. Invite some friends over, brew some coffee, pour some tea, and bake them together. It’s a fun baking experience!

If you read the recipe and use these pictures as your guide, you’ll be gifted with these fancy treats too. If, somewhere along the way, your batter gets a little too heavy– no fret. Your mads will taste more like poundcake, but they’ll still be worth it.

Do you have a favorite madeleine recipe? Or any other tips and tricks? I’m pretty happy with these, but would love learning from any madeleine experts!

madeleines on a white plate

By the way, I can’t finish this post without two more things:

  1. The history of madeleines. 🙂
  2. Ross: Oh really? Did she tell you he plays the recorder, recites poetry, and bakes madeleines? Monica: Ohhhh how are they? Ross: Lighter than air… but that’s not the point!
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  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 18-20 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French


Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter (plus another 2 Tbsp for the pan)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (115g) sifted all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional: confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling on top

Special Tools


  1. Read the post above for explanations and step-by-step pictures. It will help you!
  2. Melt the butter and set aside to slightly cool as you prepare the rest of the batter. You can melt it in the microwave or melt it/brown it on the stovetop.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (didn’t notice a difference using either one), beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed for at least 8 minutes. The mixture will be thick, pale, and form ribbons when you lift the beater(s). Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined. (The remaining ingredients are mixed together by hand;  you no longer need the mixer.)
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold into egg mixture. I suggest carefully folding in half of the flour mixture, then folding in the other half. (Instead of dumping it all in at once.) Make sure you’re handling this batter with care. It’s very delicate.
  5. Stir 1/4 cup of the batter into the melted butter. It will take a minute to fully incorporate. Then stir it all into the rest of the batter. The batter will be thick, silky, and shiny.
  6. Cover the batter and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Try not to chill any longer than this as the butter in the batter will begin to solidify.
  7. During the last few minutes of chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  8. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the pan with melted butter. I find that greasing the pan is necessary even if you’re using a nonstick pan. We want to avoid any chance of sticking.
  9. The batter will be quite airy and spongey after resting. This is good! Do not try to deflate it. Spoon 1 generous Tablespoon of batter into the center of each scalloped well. No need to spread it to the edges. Just plop it in the center. (Cover and refrigerate remaining batter if you do not have 2 madeleine pans to bake the batter all at once.)
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The madeleines are done when the tops spring back after lightly pressed with your finger. Invert the pan onto the counter. Transfer the warm madeleines to a wire rack to lightly cool.
  11. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, before serving. Madeleines are best enjoyed right after baking, so I don’t have any make-ahead tips. They dry out very quickly; I find baked and covered madeleines lose their texture even after 1 day! For this reason, I don’t recommend freezing them either. You’ll lose a lot of texture.


  1. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Zester | Spatula | Pastry Brush | Madeleine Pan | Sifter | Glass Mugs
  2. Flour: Sift flour before measuring.
  3. Adapted from From Julia Child’s Kitchen (I reduced the sugar, oven temperature, sifted the flour, added baking powder, and did not flour the pan)


  1. I am so satisfied I read to the end of this post to see you included the Ross quote. I literally cannot think about Madeleines without seeing his face saying ‘lighter than air’  

  2. Lol. I am so glad that you added the Friends comment to your post. I cannot hear Madeleines without thinking of that.

  3. Your food photography seems even more perfect lately… if that is even possible. Have you changed anything, as the equipment or even hired a pro?

    1. Thanks Katrin! I really appreciate the compliment on my photography. No new equipment or lighting or someone else. Honestly, I took a 3-4 month break from my camera when my daughter was born in the fall. I came back refreshed and inspired. When I’m run down, over-worked, and rushed, I can see it in my photography. Sometimes stepping away for awhile helps.

  4. What can I use if I don’t have the pan?

    1. You can purchase one or use a mini muffin pan– though you won’t quite get the same texture in the muffin pan.

  5. Sally, if I were making for a tea party, how can I keep them fresh and just right (no little rocks!), yet do ahead? Thanks.

    1. That’s the thing about madeleines– they’re not really a make ahead dessert! Unless any madeleine experts have tips? Everything I’ve read and everything I’ve tried– these cookies just do not hold their texture for very long.

    2. I’ve frozen madeleines for at least 2 weeks without them loosing their moisture! They’re not as good as freshly made because they loose their crunchy edges but they still stayed soft for me.

      I recommend freezing them as you would with cookies (put them in an airtight tupperware and use parchment paper or wax paper to separate each layer).

      I haven’t made and froze Sally’s madeleines yet. The recipe I used (first result when you google “classic lemon madeleines”) adds a tablespoon of lemon juice, maybe that helps with retaining the moisture?

      I’ve also made Piere Herme’s caramel madeleines which froze well too (My favorite! I always make a double batch)

  6. Hi Sally,

    I am planning to use lemon zest in the Madeleines.  Can I substitute the vanilla extract for lemon extract?  Would they be too lemony? 

    1. Hi Pola! You can sub out the vanilla extract for lemon, but I would maybe reduce the lemon extract down to 1/2 teaspoon.

  7. Hey Abby! I don’t have any tips for freezing them. I don’t think they’ll ever freeze nicely. Unless someone else has a freezing suggestion?

  8. Would you dip these in ganache or drizzle? I adore Madeleines but have a partner who isn’t a fan of citrus in desserts….

    1. Either! 🙂

  9. I took some to work and they thought there should be a dip or frosting with it, because it is like eating plain cake–plain. Any ideas on how to jazz them up?
    Love your site and recipes!

    1. Dip them in tea or coffee next time 🙂 But to add a little something next time, you can dip in white/dark chocolate or drizzle with chocolate. Or top with lemon glaze. Or try browning the butter for more flavor!

  10. That chocolate/pistachio combination sounds heavenly!

  11. Can I make Madeleines without the Madeleine pans?

  12. Nicci Marquart says:

    I really want these Madeline’s right now but I am so bad at baking. I can cook but baking is a whole different story. But I love your recipe Sally so I might give it a try and get back to you 🙂

  13. I’m so glad you posted this recipe – I received a madeleine pan for Christmas and I’ve been dying to use it!  I tried your recipe for the first time today and they turned out great!  As usual, your instructions were detailed and thorough – I followed them exactly and my madeleines were perfect.  I saw your comment that they’re not make-ahead-friendly, but have you tried freezing them?  Also, the lemon zest was delightful, but I would love it if you could post some more flavors! 

    1. Thanks Dana! So glad you tried them. I want to try them again soon with orange zest and even a light orange glaze on top. And browning the butter too!

  14. The Foodie Journey says:

    Madeleines have always been one of my favourite thing to bake ! 
    Very easy to make, once you get the hang of it! Yours look great 🙂

  15. Hi Sally,

    I just made the recipe today. They were delicious! The texture was perfect. 
    Thank you for your suggestion and taking the time to write a detailed recipe. 

  16. WOW! I made these today and they turned out amazing! I just have one question: can you replace the lemon zest for something else? And what would that something else be?

    1. Orange zest would be great! Or you can use another flavor of extract besides vanilla. You can also brown the butter for a different flavor as well.

  17. Christina Aliyetti says:

    Hi Sally! I’m so excited to try these!! I want to make these for my friends birthday but she lives across the country. Would you recommend mailing them? 

    1. Hi Christina! I don’t recommend mailing them– they harden up in an instant. Best enjoyed right away.

  18. Hi Sally — If we decide to brown the butter, do we need to increase the amount of butter we start with, since the volume will reduce? Or is keeping the same amount of butter just fine?

    Can’t wait to try these! 🙂 Thanks for the detailed explanation and gorgeous pics!

    1. Hi Anna! You’d actually start with the same amount of butter, whether you are browning it or not. Let me know how they turn out!

      1. Hi Sally —

        I just made them yesterday with the brown butter, and they turned out WONDERFULLY. So light but flavorful. Thanks for another great recipe!

  19. Hi Sally! These madeleines look so good and I want to try them. I have one question though. The link for the Madeline pan fits 12 madeleines. Your recipe makes 18-20. Does that mean you have to bake half of the madeleines then bake the other half?

    1. Yep! I bake 12 in the first batch, then grease the pan again for the remaining 6-8.

  20. Hi Sally, I have a question about Madeleine recipes. I noticed a slight difference between your’s and Julia Child’s recipe. In Julia Child’s recipe, the sugar and 1 cup of flour is mixed with the egg vs. mixing in the flour after the egg and sugar mixture. Does that make any difference? Have you try that method?

    1. I found that the eggs never quite got to the ribbon stage without the sugar being added first. That’s just my experience. I had better luck with my finished madeleines this way. Try it either way!

  21. Hi Sally,

    I made these madeleines tonight using orange zest instead of lemon.  Thank you for laying out the recipe and making it so easy to follow.  They turned out absolutely amazing! So incredible!

  22. Well, Madeleines have been on my list for ages and madeleines tins were half price this morning so I couldn’t wait any longer.

    Err, it seems that I have managed to make 6 disappear before I even got the second batch out of the oven.

    I love the crispy buttery edges with the airy centres. So simple yet so good.

  23. Hi Sally!

    These Madelines were just something else! So delicious! It had me thinking about some other things you’ve done on your site…like adding the freeze dried strawberry powder to your strawberry buttercream…I wonder if that would work here? I’m not sure if some flour would need to be taken out or to just leave it the same…but I’m sure a little couldn’t hurt 😉

    1. Hi Rose! You know, I’ve thought about trying freeze-dried strawberry powder in these madeleines too, but I haven’t tried it yet. Please let me know if you do!

    2. Mary Jo Carson says:

      Hi! Just took these out of the oven. Delicious!! Perfect bumps. My problem was that I didn’t get defined ridges. What did I do wrong? I used spray butter, could that have done it?
      But they are ridiculously delicious light and airy with crisp edges. Thanks Sally. I had a choice of two recipes – yours and ATK, I chose yours of course and I am not sorry!

      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Mary Jo, We are so glad you enjoyed this recipe! It could simply be the shape of your pan. If you want to try again you can try brushing the pan with melted butter and see if that makes any difference.

  24. Hey Sally! It’s an amazing recipe to try out soon. I would like to ask how do you maintain the freshness till the next day? In the fridge or airtight containers? =) looking forward to your reply!

    1. Hi Candice! Madeleines are best enjoyed right after they’re prepared. They dry out very quickly and I find they lose their texture even after stored in airtight containers for 1 day!

  25. Hello Sally, love your blog! 🙂
    Excuse my ignorance, I am not by far a baking aficionado, I am just merely trying to get things right in the kitchen for personal enjoyment :))) So I have a couple of questions:
    1. What is the difference (if any) if you beat the egg whites separately and then fold them into the batter? Isn’t this technique supposed to make spongecake fluffy? (I mean besides creaming the yolks and shugar)
    2. Do the egg whites (room temperature) become flat and cannot be beaten to soft peak texture if you add a pinch of salt to them? I had it happen, and I assumed it was the salt’s fault…(?) Or is it the (room) temperature too warm sometimes? Because after it happen, I had to grab some cold eggs from the fridge, and I beat them to meringue consistency on the spot…
    3. Can I use coconut sugar? Or at least cane sugar?
    Thanks xoxo

    1. Hi Gabi! I’m happy to help.
      1) There likely wouldn’t be much difference texture-wise.
      2) Salt could be the culprit in that situation. But in this recipe there is no need to separate the eggs and the salt is added with the dry ingredients.
      3) No, I recommend regular granulated white sugar.

  26. I’m thinking about adding mini chocolate chips the 2nd time I make these. How much would you recommend? Do you think ½ C would be too much/too little? Thanks!

    1. Hi Joanna! I think 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips would be perfect.

  27. Dear Sally, thank you very much for your recipe. My attempt this time around following your intructions yielded a very good result: crispy golden brown outside, a little plump in the middle and has the consistency of cookie borderline cake. I have tried and made Madeleines using other recipes and they were more like cake. I read an article that Madeleines are best eaten when dunk into tea. If this is the traditional way of eating it, then I need not worrie if the middle was not very moist like sponge cake. I replaced vanila with cinnamon paste and the result was delicious. Yes, I dunk them into my tea and they were yum. Thanks so much. Michelle

    1. I’m so happy that you found success with this recipe, Michelle!

  28. Margeaux Macchia says:

    Hi Sally,
    Just attempted this recipe today, was very excited to make these. I have a question, after I folded in the last remaining flour and then move on to adding the butter, my batter deflated, drastically and by time I was done combining the butter, my batter had reduced by probably half. Was I too rough with the egg mixture? Or did I not let the eggs and sugar beat for 8 mins? Help appreciated! Thanks.

    1. Hi Margeaux! It sounds like the eggs and sugar weren’t beaten for long enough. Did you let the mixer run for 8 whole minutes? Always handle the batter with care to avoid deflating it.

  29. I only have one pan. I let the batter chill for 30 minutes and then baked. They had a slight hump in the center. Then I baked the rest of the batter that had probably been in the fridge for 50 minutes. The hump was much bigger and they just looked better overall. I will definitely make these again, but I will start out giving the batter a 45-60 minute chill.

  30. Hi Sally,
    I’ve been following your recipes for a while and love how you’ve explained the steps clearly! Bakes turned out so yummy each time!

    This is my first time baking madeleines and I’ve followed the steps as you’ve described. Taste really good! However, the only problem I’ve faced is that the madeleines sticked to the pan even though I’ve butter generously on the non-stick pan. I’m using Chicago Metallic madeleine pan. Any idea what could have caused that? Had much difficulties trying to scrap the madeleines out…

    1. Hi Fang! Try buttering the pan generously AND sprinkling lightly with flour. This should help next time. Or you can try a nonstick cooking spray. They’ll never stick with that stuff!

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