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French Madeleines (Lemon Madeleines)

Want to make perfect French Madeleines? This recipe has browned butter and a hint of fresh lemon zest. These little gems have an addictive flavor.

In thinking about a post for Classic French Madeleines, I had to decide if I should start with that oft-referenced story by Proust, Remembrance of Things Past (aka In Search of Lost Time) .

You know the story, one bite of a madeleine instantly transports the narrator to his childhood with a flood of memories. Even without reading the story I can appreciate how perfectly Proust illustrates that food is much more than mere sustenance.

We all have memories deeply tied to the flavors of our childhood. For sure, food is much more than a way to fill the belly. Food is culture, food is love and food is the stuff of childhood memories.

So, now that I got the literary reference out of the way, lets talk about the recipe.

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe, really more of a tiny sponge cake than a cookie. For my version I started by making brown butter. The zest and juice from a fresh lemon brightens the flavor.

Yes, you really should use a real madeleine pan to make the iconic shell shape.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make French Madeleines:

a pot with browned butter
1. Brown the butter in a small saucepan. 2. Pour the butter out of the pot, leaving behind the browned bits.
a bowl with ribboned eggs and a bowl with flour added
1. “Ribbon” the eggs and sugar. 2. Fold in the flour.
adding browned butter to cookie batter.
1. Add the browned butter to the batter. 2. Whisk to combine.
showing madeleines before and after baking
1. Scoop the batter into a Madeleine pan. 2. Bake until brown around the edges and set in the center.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

French Madeleines (Lemon Madeleines)

French Madeleines (Lemon Madeleines)

Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes

Are Classic Madeleines a cookie or a cake? I don’t care! I only know that they’re so easy to make and even easier to eat.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz, 170g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 oz, 140g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (5 oz, 140g) all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Continue heating the butter until it foams, bubbles and the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan. Allow the milk solids to brown but be careful not to let them burn. Pour the browned butter into a small bowl, leaving the milk solids in the pan.
  2. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt to the browned butter. Set aside to cool but not solidify.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and yolk with the sugar until pale, aerated and the batter leaves a "ribbon" on the surface when drizzled.
  4. Sift the flour over the eggs and fold in by hand with a wire whisk. Fold in the browned butter. Set the batter aside to rest for 1 hour.
  5. While the batter is resting, preheat oven to 400°F. Butter the madeleine pan.
  6. Use a scooper or a heaping tablespoon of batter to fill each cookie mold 3/4 of the way.
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown around the edges and set in the center. Madeleines are best eaten slightly warm or within a couple of hours of baking.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Elena

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

The kids love madeleines; decided to try the recipe and something wasn’t right… 1. After the rest time, the batter was quite hard; is it supposed to be so hard? 2. When baking, the butter kind of starts separating from the batter and drips everywhere. I put the 170g of butter as the recipe asks and can’t understand why it did this; like there was way too much butter in the batter. 3. The taste is not bad, but the consistency of the madeleine is not the right one. It became quite dense. What am I doing wrong? Followed the recipe by the dot.

P.S. it doesn’t take any baking powder to make madeleines? Noticed that baking powder is not part of the ingredients.

Elena

Friday 3rd of December 2021

@Eileen Gray, since in the instructions doesn’t say to let it rest in the refrigerator, I didn’t put there to rest. I believe I did fully fold the butter in the batter, but maybe I didn’t, not really sure. I’m not US based, so definitely the flour will be different, even though I used all purpose flour. The eggs… I didn’t use large size eggs, but medium, maybe that’s why it didn’t come out well? Otherwise, looking at the pictures, everything came exactly the same. Just the butter that came out while cooking and I feel that the final result was quite denser than the ones on the picture. Thank you replying to me; I love your website and at least ones a week do something from here (specially the sourdough recipes). Will try again with different butter next time. I’m suspecting that maybe is the butter… it was the first time to use the butter that I did. And will add one more egg if using medium eggs.

Eileen Gray

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

Did you rest the cookies in the refrigerator? It should stay at room temp while resting. I have no idea why the butter separated during baking. I haven't had that happen. Did you fully fold the butter into the batter. What type of flour did you use? If you're not US based your flour could be different and your eggs could be a different size. I'm not sure what texture you're expecting, but the cookies are like a spongy and buttery tiny cake. Like a sponge cake, the whipped eggs provide the lift for these cookies so they don't need baking powder for lift. As you made the recipe did the batter in each stage look like it does in the photos?

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