Vanilla Bean Madeleine Cookies

What are Madeleine Cookies? | Why is a Madeleine Called a Madeleine? | The BEST Madeleine Cookie Pan | 3 Tips for Making the Best Vanilla Bean Madeleines

Soft, buttery, vanilla bean madeleine cookies. This is such a chic French cookie because the shape is so beautiful, and the texture is so light and delicious. Read below for the recipe.

Vanilla Bean Madeleines

What are Madeleine Cookies?

Vanilla bean madeleine cookies are a mixture between a cookie and cake. They consist of sugar, eggs, flour, milk, salt, and vanilla bean. Traditionally, these cookies are made in the shape of delicate sea shells. This is easily achieved with a good madeleine pan, but we’ll discuss that below.

Traditionally, madeleines don’t use leavening. Instead, these delicate cookies get their lift from the air incorporated during mixing.

After testing several batches, I found that those cookies made with baking powder tend to be far more cake-like. The cookies made without baking powder yielded the best texture, however.

The best madeleine recipe should have that cake-like quality but should feel like a good cookie too. And this recipe meets all criteria for being the best! It’s really the best of both worlds!

vanilla bean mandeleine recipe

Why is a Madeleine Called a Madeleine?

Madeleines originated in the Lorraine region of France. Now as to who the cookies are named after, that is a bit of a mystery. Through research, I found that there are a few stories that claim to be the correct one.

What I think we can safely say is that the cookies were named after someone named Madeleine, possibly a cook who baked for royalty in the 18th century. But there’s not a 100% right answer according to history, as no one can say for certain who the real Madeleine was.

It was, however, always made in a seashell-shaped mold, which is still the classic shape today.

vanilla bean mandeleine cookie recipe

I did some serious testing when it came to madeleine pans. Luckily I happened to own two different types, and bought a third to makes sure I covered all pan types.

Here are my conclusions:

Dark Coated Pans

Dark coated (black) madeleine pans tend to make the cookies brown too quickly. I also had problems with the cookies sticking, although not too terribly.

Classic French Aluminum Pan

The classic aluminum pan (I used a real French pan), didn’t promote much browning. It left the cookies looking slightly underdone and not as pretty even though they were baked through.

The madeleines also stuck quite a bit to the pan, making it difficult to get most of them out without chunks missing. I heavily buttered the pan every time, and I even tried melted vs soft butter. Nothing made a difference.

Also, I had no desire to flour the madeleine pan before adding the batter to the pan because it can leave a film on the cookies. So while this probably would have solved the issue, it would have caused another altogether!

Nonstick Aluminum Pan

The last pan I tested was a nonstick aluminized steel pan made in the USA. I hesitated about using a nonstick pan because that just seemed less traditional. But, it was amazing!

I didn’t butter the pan, the madeleines browned beautifully, and they literally slid right out of the pan when tipped the pan onto the cooling rack. The madeleines didn’t need butter to help them, because the nonstick coating did the job beautifully.

They baked with a perfect peak/dome on top, the shells were golden, and the interiors of the cookies were super soft.

If you invest in one madeleine pan, make it this madeleine pan. It’s the only pan I will recommend from now on.

madeleine cookie recipe with raspberry sugar

3 Tips for Making the Best Vanilla Bean Madeleines

I originally made these cookies with the idea that they would be Christmas madeleine cookies. And they really are beautiful and delicious for the holiday season. But, you don’t have to make them for Christmas.

However, if you want a cookie to really wow your neighbors during the holidays, this cookie is the one for you!

Here are 3 tips that will help you make these amazing cookies perfectly every time:

Whip the Eggs

Getting enough air incorporated into the batter is super important, especially since we aren’t using leavening. (As a side note, if you insist on adding leavener, add no more than 1/4 tsp of baking powder.)

To add enough air, combine the eggs and sugar and mix with a hand mixer for 5 minutes until the eggs are pale and thick. This air provides lift in the cookies as they bake.

Chill the Batter

Chilling the madeleine batter is key to getting that hump or dome shape when the cookies bake. Room temperature batter will still puff slightly, but it doesn’t create that iconic peak.

The combination of the cold batter and the hot oven (400 degrees) work together to give the cookie lift and shape.

Don’t Stir

When you chill the batter, it will get quite thick and stiff. The consistency is almost fluffy but solid…you’ll know what I mean when you make them.

Don’t stir the batter after removing it from the fridge. Use a tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop the batter into each shell. The batter will naturally fill in the shells when they bake.

This method works perfectly every time, and the vanilla bean madeleine cookies turn out beautifully.

raspberry vanilla madeleine cookies

A Note About Madeleines

Madeleine cookies are best eaten the same day for optimal texture and flavor. They are acceptable to eat within 2 days, but they are not nearly as good by day 3.

It’s best to make these the same day you want to enjoy them!

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Vanilla Bean Madeleine Cookies

close up of vanilla bean mandeleine cookie dipped in raspberry sugar

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  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Chill Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x
  • Category: Cookies


Units Scale

For the Vanilla Bean Madeleines

  • 113 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1/2 c)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 110 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds from 1 vanilla bean (alt. 1 Tbs vanilla extract)
  • 35 g milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100 g all purpose flour

For the Raspberry Sugar

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 10 g freeze dried raspberries, crushed


To Make Vanilla Bean Madeleine Cookies

  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine eggs and sugar in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer and whisk attachment for 5 minutes on medium high speed. The eggs will be pale and thick when done. 
  3. Next, whisk in the butter by hand. Then add the vanilla and milk and gently whisk to combine.
  4. Add the dry ingredients, and gently whisk until no flour remains. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees 30 minutes before baking the madeleines. Remove madeleine batter from fridge once oven is ready.
  6. If using the recommended pan, do not butter the pan. If using another kind of madeleine pan, butter it with softened butter. Portion a heaping tablespoon of batter into each sea shell mold, and do not worry about smoothing the batter out. The batter will spread as it bakes.
  7. Bake vanilla bean madeleines for 10-12 minutes. You know they are done when they are golden brown on the edges and they spring back when you touch them lightly. You should see that iconic peak formed in the center of each madeleine as well.
  8. Turn madeleine pan over and release the French cookies onto a cooling rack with the shell side down.
  9. If you wish, make the raspberry sugar by combining granulated sugar and crushed freeze dried raspberries. Dip the edge of a madeleine in the sugar, or you can coat the entire shell for more flavor.
  10. Cool and enjoy. Madeleines are the absolute best eaten the same day, but they are okay the second day as well.

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