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 have to try this recipe because years ago I bought old French tin madeleine pans at an Antique fair. You have inspired me to give it a go!

  2. Kim Goldfeder Clarke says:

    Hi Sally!

    Can’t wait to try my hand at making these. I just bought the pan you suggested, because I’m throwing a tea party for some girlfriends for the holidays and thought the madeleines would make a lovely addition to my menu. Quick question: Do you think I could substitute GF flour and the recipe would still come out alright? One of my guests is GF and I wouldn’t want her to miss out. King Arthur’s GF flour is a really nice substitute, but I was wondering if you had any experience with this? Thanks so much! LOVE your site. Everything I’ve made from it has come out fabulously well.

    1. Hi Kim, I wish I could help but I have not tested this recipe with gluten free flour. Let me know if you try it!

      1. Thanks so much for the quick reply! Yes, I’m going to do a test batch, one exactly as written and one just substituting the AP with GF flour and see how they compare. Will absolutely let you know!! Thanks again and Happy Holidays!

  3. I was so proud of my success in baking the perfect French madeleine following your recipe! Thank you for the beautiful layout and helpful instructions.

    I even wrote about it on my newest blog – The French Californian. 🙂

    I will surely continue to look at your recipes!

  4. This “hands down” the best Madeleine recipe I have found. I’ve made this twice now and both times….perfection. The first time I followed the recipe exactly. The second time, I used orange zest instead of lemon and the orange gives it an extra little sweetness. Also, the second time, I substituted vanilla bean paste to give it a little deeper flavor. I have tried numerous recipes (all so different, too!) and yours is the one I will keep! Thank you so very much!

  5. This recipe works very well. My only additions/comments are:
    1) To get the brown around the edges, leave a lot of melted butter around the edge of the scallop. Don’t worry about butter on top of the pan.
    2)Baking works better for me at 350 degrees. Perhaps that is my stove.
    Thank you for this!

  6. sorry! I meant it bakes better for me at 375 degrees!

  7. Deborah Craig says:

    Hi Sally!

    I saw the contestants on the Great Baking Show make these and decided to try to make them too. I browsed the Internet for a recipe and settled on this one. I ordered the pans from Amazon and picked a calm, quiet morning to experiment. (I am an excellent cook, but a nervous baker.).

    The pictures and techniques you shared were most helpful. The only thing I would add is a hack on the way to tell if the batter/dough is chilled enough. If you can turn the bowl upside down and the contents stay put, it’s ready to bake. Obviously, start slowly so if it’s not ready, you won’t dump the contents on the floor. Lol! This took about 30 minutes in my fridge.

    Long story shorter, this recipe is foolproof. My Madelines were, light, airy, perfectly golden brown, with a crunchy thin edge. Dusting with powdered sugar was the perfect accompaniment. I will be making these over and over.

    1. Hi, Deborah – thank you so much for the kind feedback! I’m so glad you enjoyed making this recipe!

  8. Priya George says:

    I loved this recipe. I got 24 in number. I had only the silicone mould and it’s turned out just fine. Thank you for making it so simple.

  9. My first attempt at making Madelines. I, too, saw them being made on the Great Baking Show and became inspired. Everything worked well for me except one aspect. When mine baked they got the tell-tale hump, but were also a bit bumpy and rustic looking on the top side and the edges. It almost seemed as if the batter didn’t “melt” enough in the oven to smooth out. Texture and flavour were perfect, but I would like to perfect the appearance. I chilled the dough for 40 minutes and wonder if maybe that was too long, thereby not allowing the batter to flow a bit more as it baked to smooth out? Any advice?

    Also mine weren’t as browned as the ones pictured, but I don’t think that’s a problem as the texture was good.

    1. Hi Karen, If they rose well then they probably were not in the refrigerator too long. I chill mine anywhere from 30-60 minutes. When you mixed the batter together was it nice and smooth – or did some bumps remain in the batter?

  10. I think it was smooth. I was trying to be gentle with it so as not to deflate it. There were no obviously lumps, and it was nice and airy. I will try to make them again and pay more attention to the smoothness of the batter before chilling.

  11. I made your recipe and my cookie /cakes turned out picture perfect!
    My son loves them and asked me to make some, so I ordered my pans from amazon
    And used your recipe I got nice crispy edges and the bump in the middle ,and tasted great! My son did not like the powdered sugar but I did.
    Thank you for such a good recipe and good directions

  12. Melissa Padula says:

    Hi Sally,

    I made these the day before yesterday and they were amazing! I forgot to sift the flour and substituted lemon extract for lemon zest. They came out of the oven as pretty as your picture.

    I wonder how cake release would work to get them out of the pan instead of butter.

    I truly appreciate all the time and energy you put into your recipes and instructions so I don’t have to. Thank you.


    1. It would probably lead to a smooth release, but wouldn’t add to the flavor the way a buttery exterior does.

  13. Hi, my question is about shell lines – mine are not as definite as yours. It’s not a big deal but I’m wondering if that is because of my pan or because the batter was not liquid enough. Also I had 2 batches, one after another in the same pan, 12 min each, and the second one was much darker. Still very good.

  14. Bake a batch of these buttery little French cakes to have with a cup of tea or coffee. You won’t be disappointed. These were excellent!

  15. Hi Sally. I visit your blog a lot. I love many of your recipes. Question about these cookies, aren’t we suppose to put the shell pans after buttering all the shells in freezer? I use to use another recipe, but, of course I have to make yours. In fact I doing it right now!

    1. Hi Bonnie! I’ve never made madeleines that way, but you can certainly try it! Hope you enjoy these.

  16. Lerma Aldovino says:

    Hi Sally,
    I just bake my madeleines and turned so delicious! I reduced the sugar a bit and changed the baking time and temperature of oven. I did 200°C for the first 3 minutes and down it 190°C for the remaining 6 to 7 minutes. I like the brown color and nice bumps on it. Chilled overnight the remaining batter and it turns still good in the morning for my coffee!!
    Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe and step by step process:))

  17. Dear Sally,
    Thanks for sharing! Followed instructions to a T and the recipe was so clear and easy to follow. The flavor was perfect, the kids loved it.
    I had 2 things that happened differently.
    1. Instead of getting the belly/hump, the entire madeline rose….a lot!
    2. The ridges on the other side were not that distinct-good color and crust but minimal ridges-felt like the batter hadn’t settled into the molding b/c it was too thick? Not sure.


  18. I veganized this recipe by substituting aquafaba for the eggs and earth balance for the butter. They came out perfect thanks to your detailed descriptions and photos.

  19. I just made madeleines for the first time with this recipe and they came out great! I make loads of recipes off the internet and your directions were very clear. Wonderful!

  20. Marilyn Descours says:

    I’m at home right now, and decided to find the perfect Madeleine recipe. The first batch was yours, then I made 2 more recipes the next two days. I share them with my neighbors, leaving them a plate on their porches. Then everyone emails their vote for the best. . Yours won! I’m making them again today! They are awesome! I find that even stale, the next morning they’re great with coffee. Thank you for this recipe. And the “ 15”.

  21. Kati Hattwick says:

    Lovely! I’m not a huge fan of lemon zest, so I might do less next time. My son wonders how almond extract would work. Worth the effort, for sure! Thank you for the recipe!!

  22. Hi Sally:
    I just made your recipe. My husband has quite the sweet tooth & is from France, so I made them as a surprise. He loves them, as do I! Thanks!

  23. These are amazing! I just got a stand mixer for my birthday so I was finally able to try these out. I used my own homemade vanilla extract (left out the lemon zest) but I feel like I would add maybe a quarter teaspoon more (to get more of the vanilla flavor). I left them in the oven for 15 minutes instead of the recommended time and I think they were a little too crispy….but I was worried they weren’t done! Anyways, an amazing recipe!

    1. Okay so I’ve been baking pretty much nonstop since I got my stand mixer and made these again. I modified by browning the butter and including all of the browned milk solids in the batter (made the batter taste amazing). I also did 1/4cup dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar to make Brown Butter Brown Sugar Madelines. They were great.

  24. Wow, I have never made madeleines before, but alway fancied trying them. After ordering 2 tins, I made this recipe, very carefully. And the result was even better than I expected. I have a small single oven so baked at 170C for 12 mins which was perfect. My hubby was so happy/surprised, dare I say a little emotional, bless him, lol. Tha ks for this fab recipe!

  25. Leticia Mercado says:

    Can’t wait to make these. Can they be frozen after baked and cooked?

  26. Great recipe. I followed everything exactly as you had written…they came out perfect!

  27. I made these madeleines, minus the lemon zest. The flavor was there but they were too fluffy and very dry.

  28. Amazing! Loved the step by step with photos. Perfect recipe with fabulous tips. Making more tomorrow as they’ve all gone already!

  29. I just made these and they were less complicated than I would have thought. My only issue is that I don’t have a zester so I didn’t add the lemon zest and I am sure they would be better with it.

  30. Hi Sally! I have just put the batter inyo the fridge to chill. For some reason instead of silky smooth it looks somewhat porous. What do you think my mistake was? Too much flour measured not correctly?

    1. Hi Elina! It’s always best to spoon and level your flour. The batter/dough will look a little foamy before mixing in with the melted butter. Did you add all of the melted butter? I’m sure the baked madeleines will be just fine.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally