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A tray of gluten-free lemon & chocolate madeleines
Gluten-Free Lemon & Chocolate Madeleines

are dainty, mini-sponge cakes, crispy on the outside and lemon-spongy on the inside. For an indulgent finish, they are dipped in melted chocolate and either left as they are or sprinkled with candied lemon peel. These shell-like shape madeleines are beautiful visually and taste-wise.

How to get that shell-like shape:

The distinctive shell-like shape is achieved by using a specially designed Madeleine tray. Although many are available non-stick, brushing the cavities with some melted butter is still necessary to get that crisp exterior.

Why are they called Madeleines?

In the mid-1700s, a French royal family’s cook, Madeleine, created these elongated, shell-shaped mini cakes for guests visiting the castle of Commercy. This traditional cake from the Lorraine region of Northeast France has evolved from the classic lemon madeleine to endless flavour variations including chocolate.

Madeleines have a literary connection:

In the early 1900s, Madeleines made such an impact that the famous French novelist, Marcel Proust mentions in his book In Search of Lost Time, how madeleines would remind him of his childhood simply by smelling and tasting one. Over time, the expression madeleine de Proust is well-known in French to mean remembering emotional memories from the past by smells, tastes, sounds etc.

An Easter basket full of gluten-free lemon madeleines
Tips to make the perfect madeleine:
5 minutes of beating

the eggs and sugar will aerate the mixture for that spongy and light texture.

Folding gently

the flour and almond meal will retain that vital aeration.

Cooling the butter

for 5 minutes is the perfect time needed before adding it to batter. Adding it too soon may curdle the eggs in the mixture. Adding it too late, the butter may solidify and loose that pouring consistency.

Butter the tray

even if the tray is non-stick. The butter will give it that signature crisp exterior.

Use a piping bag

to pipe a small log easily into each cavity in the Madeleine tin. It is not necessary to spread the batter with a knife as it will spread naturally while baking. If you do spread it, the edges will over-bake and perhaps burn around the edges. If you prefer to add the batter with a spoon, make sure to add a teaspoon full only in the centre.


at 180°C/350°F for 10 minutes on the middle shelf. Keep an eye on them when making them for the first time. Check if they are ready by inserting a toothpick in the middle of a Madeleine. If it comes out clean, they are fully baked.

Dust with icing sugar/powdered sugar

immediately after baking and removed from the tray.

An adobe image of gluten-free lemon & chocolate madeleines
How to eat Madeleines:
  • Traditionally with a cup of tea!
  • Serve madeleines with chocolate fondue and dip them in a selection of crushed nuts, chopped fruits or sugar decorations.
  • Instead of using bread, use Madeleines to make French toast.
  • The sponge cake consistency in Madeleines is perfect to use in Tiramisu or Trifle desserts.
A tray filled with chocolate decorated gluten-free madeleines
A tray of gluten-free lemon & chocolate madeleines

Gluten-Free Lemon & Chocolate Madeleines

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
These traditional French, plump, mini sponge cakes with their distinctive scalloped shell-like shape are delicately flavoured with lemon and dipped in rich chocolate. For an extra citrus touch, sprinkle some finely chopped candied lemon peel on the chocolate.
To achieve this shape, it is essential to use a Madeleine tray, a small but worthwhile investment for endless Madeleine baking.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course baking, Kids' Snacks, Party Food
Cuisine French
Servings 18


Gluten-Free Madeleines

  • 100 g butter, melted & cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 80 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free flour
  • 40 g almond meal
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • tsp  gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tbsp melted butter to brush the madeleine tin
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar to dust baked madeleines

Chocolate Decoration

  • 50 g good-quality dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content to dip the madeleines in
  • ½ tsp butter
  • 2 tsp candied lemon peel to decorate (optional) 



  • Melt the butter and allow to cool down for 15 mins.
  • Using a stand mixer or electric handheld mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and salt together for 5 mins until it is light and creamy. The consistency will be thick like mayonnaise.
    The creamy and thick consistency of the egg and sugar after being mixed for 5 minutes
  • Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.
    Adding the lemon zest to the egg and sugar mixture
  • Sift the flour, almond meal xanthan gum and baking powder twice.
    Adding the flour and almond meal to the egg mixture
  • Fold this mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Pour in the cooled butter and fold again until combined well.
    The final mix of the gluten-free madeleine batter
  • Cover and rest the batter for 30 mins at room temperature.


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  • Prepare the madeleine pan by brushing each cavity generously with melted butter.
    Buttering the madeleine tray with a silicon brush
  • Transfer the madeleine batter to a disposable piping bag or large plastic food storage bag and snip the corner 5cm above the tip of the bag.
  • Pipe about one line of batter into each cavity. There is no need to spread the batter with a knife as it will spread naturally while baking.
    Piping the madeleine batter into the madeleine tray
  • Bake for 10 mins on the middle shelf.
  • Immediately, remove the madeleines from the tray by tipping them upside down on a wire mesh tray.
    A tray containing baked gluten-free madeleines
  • Dust the madeleines with icing sugar and allow to cool down on the tray.
    A batch of gluten-free lemon madeleines iced and cooling on a wire tray

Chocolate Decoration

  • Melt the chocolate and butter gently in a bowl over simmering water in a similar size saucepan. Do not mix the chocolate until the end.
  • If you are planning to decorate each madeleine with finely chopped lemon peel, sprinkle these over the chocolate immediately after dipping each one in the chocolate.
    Dipping the gluten-free madeleine in the melted chocolate
  • Once the chocolate has set, either transfer the madeleines to a suitable storage container lined with baking paper or serve.
    Several gluten-free madeleines decorated with chocolate and some with candied lemon peel


  • Keeps for 2 days, although they are best eaten the day made
  • Not suitable to freeze
These lemon and chocolate madeleines are chilled due to the chocolate coating on them. Otherwise, if left plain, store the lemon madeleines in a container at room temperature.
Keyword gluten-free baking, gluten-free french, gluten-free madeleines
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A display of some Easter egg decorations in a basket next to some gluten-free lemon & chocolate madeleines

Use melted white chocolate to decorate the madeleines and sprinkle them with chopped pistachio nuts.

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