Lucy's Friendly Foods

Strawberries & cream macarons – egg-free and nut-free.

nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free macarons

Macarons, or to be precise Macarons Parisiens are those stunning little almond sandwiched delicacies which we all know because they are absolutely everywhere these days. It’s another one of those tempting treats that has been out of bounds for us, what with them being made with eggs and almonds/nuts.

It has taken me years to get this one right. One of those unattainable recipes that no matter how many times I tried, I’d never be able to make a free-from version. I’ve tried so many times before, but when you’re leaving out two essential ingredients of a recipe it’s understandable to find it difficult to make a free-from replica.

Those pretty pastel-hues kept me trying though. There was no way the macaron was going to win in this battle. This journey has taught me that I hate to be defeated and that everything is possible.

vegan no-nuts macarons

The first problem with free-from macarons was replacing the egg-whites but luckily last spring fellow bloggers started having great success with aquafaba. We were one step of the way there.

Next problem: how to replace the nuts? Almonds are intrinsic to a macaron, delivering not just flavour but also the gooey texture. I’d heard of people subbing coconut, but I’m not keen on coconut and find it a very strong flavour, which in my opinion doesn’t suit a delicate Parisien Almond Macaron. I was going along the lines of ground sunflower or pumpkin seeds but was having trouble sourcing trace-free seeds. Then during the last series of Masterchef the professionals one of the contestants made a cake using popcorn. Lightbulb moment! Why not use ground popcorn in place of the almonds? As it turns out it was a genius flash of inspiration. The ground popcorn has a similar light texture to ground nuts, minus the oil and combines beautifully with the whisked aquafaba meringue to form the perfect free-from replacement.

I was worried the popcorn would have too strong a flavour, but although you could detect it if you knew it was there, it doesn’t overpower once you have flavoured it with other things. Initially the texture is a little firmer than traditional macarons, but I hear that is usually the case with vegan ones made with aquafaba. If you can resist, leave them in the fridge overnight, then the filling melds with the shells to make a slightly softer and gooey centre, far more like the authentic recipe.
My recipe is created by tweaking and experimenting with the creations developed by Floral Frosting and Crazy Vegan Kitchen, and I thank those ladies wholeheartedly for giving me the beginnings of a recipe that could be made nut-free! The joy.

Macaron making isn’t difficult but it is quite a lengthy process – be sure to leave yourself plenty of time, as the folding  and resting are crucial to the recipe.

Nut-free, Egg-free Strawberry Macarons

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

free-from nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free macarons

makes about 14

Aquafaba from one tin of beans, you will need 3/4 cup

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 1/2 cups ground ready popped popcorn

1/2 cup icing sugar

Pinch of cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp pink gel food colouring

1/4 tsp natural strawberry flavouring

  1. First reduce the aquafaba by about a third, you need to end up with 1/3 cup of aquafaba. Leave to cool
  2. In a food processor, grind the popcorn to a powder and then pass through a sieve. This takes a fair while and the popcorn turns to airy dust and flies everywhere. Be patient, you want the popcorn powder to  fine as possible. Combine with the icing sugar
  3. In a stand mixer, whisk the aquafaba and cream of tartar until you form a fluffy, bubbly mix. Slowly add the caster sugar until you have a glossy, thick meringue mixture. This will take a few minutes. Whisk in the colour and flavouring. meringue for macarons, egg-free
  4. Stir in half of the popcorn. Then gently fold in the other half, trying to retain as much air as possible. Once it is all combined, fold the mixture 15-20 times. This is called the macaronage.
  5. Transfer to a piping bag with a plain nozzle, and pipe even circles ( with the nozzle going directly downwards) onto a lined baking sheet. With a wet finger, smooth over the top of each macaron so there is no lumps or bumps. piping free-from macarons
  6. Once finished, pick up the baking sheet and drop in onto the work surface so it slaps down two or three times ( this is to remove any air bubbles)
  7. Leave uncovered at room temperature for at least two hours. This will encourage the tops to form a skin-like covering so that when they bake they rise up and form frilly feet round the bottoms.
  8. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees centigrade and bake the macarons for 22 minutes. Do not open the oven! Turn off the oven (still do not open!) and leave for a further 15 minutes. Open the oven door a little and leave for a further 15 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the baking paper.

  9. macarons made with aquafaba and popcorn

For the filling:

2 tbsps dairy-free margarine

2 cups icing sugar

1-2 tbsps dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp natural strawberry flavouring

  1. Whisk all together to make a thick, smooth buttercream. Pipe circles into the flat side of half the macarons and then sandwich together. ready to fill vegan macaron
  2. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat. They last really well for 2-3 days.


44 Responses

  1. Once you have ground the popcorn what will it weigh/measure? Wanting to make sure I have made enough!

  2. I love you! You are the best! Finally! I thought my little one would never be able to have a macaron due to his nut allergies. I’m going to make these as soon as I can! Thank you!

    1. Aww thank you 😊 it’s been a long standing mission to make macarons my daughters can enjoy, I’m so pleased your son will be able too as well. Do let me know how they turn out and if he enjoys them x

    2. QUESTION:
      My apologies if I missed it as I read the recipe rather quickly because I’m on my way out the door… Just to clarify, I assume u mean popped popcorn. If so, how? I’m guessing that unflavored and oil-free would be best? I heard recently that u can pop popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave without oil, but I haven’t tried it yet…

      1. Hi Mimi, yes popped corn. I used ready popped (some brands are ok here in the UK) or you can pop your own – the paper bag in the microwave works pretty well x

  3. Hi I can’t seem to get the popcorn fine enough. I’ve had it in the thermomix for a little while sieved about half but the rest is still quite large, have you any ideas how to get a finer result or will the process still work eventually? Also I have a question about temperature/time. I have found my oven to take a little longer when baking do I increase the cooking time, heat or leave as is? I’d say it takes around 10/15 minutes longer then stated time to cook, or will the residual heat continue cooking it for long enough? If I can’t open the oven how do I find it cooked?

    1. Hi, yes it is a lengthy process. I processed then sieved, reprocessed the larger bits and sieved again. As for the temp, innit quite sure. My oven is well calibrated so I can’t really advise about changing temperature. My gut instinct would be to work out if it runs cool, then increase slightly, or simply cook for a little longer. It is very important only to open the oven when instructed so don’t be tempted to peek too soon! Hope that helps! 🙂

    1. Hi Hema, I just whizzed it in a food processor and then passed it through a sieve – it’s fairly laborious but worth it! 🙂

  4. Hi ! My 9 year old daughter have anaphylaxis on eggs and all nuts , one day she saw a macarons store and and she said “how can i eat a macarrons mom with no egg and nuts” …i found your website and we both excited to try your recipe .Thank you for sharing

  5. Amazing! I have been puzzling out how to make allergen free macaroons for the past 2 yrs- ever since I discovered aquafaba. This is genius! I am wondering if you pop the popcorn with oil and if that affects the meringue? Or do you use an air popper?

    1. i actually used ready popped corn so it was dryer – I don’t have an air popper so use a saucepan and often find it remains a little damp 🙂

  6. These turned out beautifully! We popped the popcorn without oil and it worked very well. We used our food processor to do the first grind of the popcorn, then ground it even finer using a coffee grinder (that we don’t use for coffee). That produced a fine powder that didn’t need to be sieved. This was a labor of love so my children (who have egg and nut allergies) could try macarons for the first time.

  7. Hi!
    I just tried this lovely receipy, all good until I added the popcorn mixed with the icing sugar. It turned into liquid… all the air just went.
    Any ideas???

    1. oh gosh, i’ve not heard of that happening before. did the icing sugar have any other ingredients in? additional starch can make the meringue collapse

  8. As someone allergic to eggs, tree nuts/coconuts, and lactose, and is also vegetarian, I can’t say how valuable this site is for me. Thank you for such good recipes! You’re such a dedicated person to do this for your kids as well!!!

  9. Hi! I’m planning to make this wonderful recipe. I just want to know how much popcorn I will need to get 1 1/2 cups of ground popcorn. Thank you so much!!! <3

  10. Today June 6 2020, I decided to make these only with raspberries. I sweated in the kitchen from 10 am until 3pm only to have my cookie to be flat >:( June 6 2020. I forgot my mom got me a pipping bag and nozzle so I spooned them onto the baking sheet. While they poofed up in the oven, they were flat when I took them out. I had a hard time getting them off the parchment. The recipe does not say to grease the parchment. I banged the trays twice. I left the trays to rest, one in the kitchen and one in the dining room. It was a bit cooler in the dinning but hot in the kitchen. With 18 minutes left, they were moved to the basement. During the process of making the popcorn flour, I turned the food processor to pulse and then on high when making the ½ cup. While they were in the oven, I accidentally opened it. When cooled, I stacked the shells ontop of each to get them to look bigger and placed them in the fridge.

    I did pour two containers of raspberries into a stove pot with ¼ of sugar and ¼ cup water, mashed the berries and cooked on medium heat. I added tsp to the dough. I taste the dough I felt it needed a stronger raspberry taste to cover up the hint of popcorn so I added two more tsps and then 1 tbsp of the juice. I added more juice after I scooped the dough onto the trays. Lucy, please tell me what I did wrong and how I can improve the next time. I love macarons but almond growth uses a lot of water and I’m also trying to eat a more plant based diet to heal the Earth which I why I picked your recipe.

    1. Hi Courtney, thank you for your message. I think opening the oven door probably made them flat and by adding more liquid you have changed the recipe. I only used 1/4 tsp natural flavour. Next time I’d suggest you use less liquid.

  11. Hi just came across your recipe while looking for a vegan, gluten-free, nut free macaron. Using popcorn is super creative and interesting to me. But I’m a little confused, do you use the popcorn kernels or store-bought already popped popcorn? If it’s the store bought already popped, which brand works the best for you? It seems they all have oil and wondering if that will effect the macaron mixture?
    This recipe seems to be just what I’m looking for to provide my allergy sensitive clients with macarons.

    1. Hi angie, I used ready popped but you could pop your own. It is a labour of love sieving the popcorn – it’s so light that it goes everywhere but it does give great results! I used metcalfs. Let me know how you get on x

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