The ultimate guide to making macarons for beginners and experts alike! These delicious treats are perfectly crisp, light, and chewy. This recipe uses the French method of macaron making and includes PLENTY of step-by-step instructions and photos. I highly recommend reading through the entire post beforehand to get you well equipped to make this recipe!
This post is going to be a biiiiiit of a long one - because there are QUITE a few tips and tricks that I want to share to put you on the best possible track to macaron success!
This post goes over everything you need to know to make perfect macarons, as well as some common mistakes + troubleshooting.
- macaron vs macaroon
- macarons & humidity
- what is macaronage?
- what are macaron feet?
- macaron kitchen essentials
- French macaron ingredients
- how to make macarons
- macaron tips & tricks
- macaron troubleshooting + common problems
- macaron shells are running and overspreading
- shells are hollow / have huge air pockets
- shells are not smooth on top
- macaron shells are cracking
- macaron shells browning along the bottom / edges
- overly short / no feet
- overly tall / bubbly feet
- feet are uneven
- macaron storage
- Check out these other recipes!
- French Macaron Recipe
macaron vs macaroon
Macarons and macaroons are quite similar: both featuring egg whites and sugar as central ingredients and both unbelievably delicious cookies.
The main difference between a macaron recipe and a macaroon recipe is the addition of coconut flakes. Classic macarons recipes do not traditionally feature coconut, while macaroons recipes typically do.
Macarons are also sandwiched with some sort of filling while macaroons are drop cookies (similar in shape and size to snowball cookies).
If you're interested in a full breakdown, here's a great post going over the difference between macarons and macaroons.
macarons & humidity
You'll notice that most people prefer to make macarons during late fall / early spring and throughout winter. The reason being is that macarons are quite sensitive to humidity and heat.
The more moisture / warmth in the atmosphere, the more difficult it is to make macarons.
That's not to say you can't make macarons in the summer. But if you're relatively new or inexperienced at making macarons, I recommend trying to make them on a cooler and drier day to get the hang of it.
what is macaronage?
You're going to hear me refer to macaronage a lot in this post.
Possibly the most important step in making macarons - the macaronage stage is simply the process of mixing and folding the macaron batter to deflate it to the right consistency for piping.
If the batter is not mixed enough, your macarons will end up thick and uneven. If the batter is overmixed, the macarons will overspread and struggle to develop "feet".
So it's vital, and it's also one of the biggest culprits behind failed batches!
what are macaron feet?
Macaron feet are the crinkly edges around the bottom of the shell.
A well made macaron should have ruffly and bubbly feet (but not too bubbly) and a slightly risen shell. It should be about evenly tall all around.
Side note: "feet" is such a cute term for it!
macaron kitchen essentials
This is probably one of a VERY small handful of recipes I will say you need a kitchen scale for - which is the reason why I haven't even included cup measurements below.
Macaron batter is a diva and ingredient measurements need to be just about perfect (give or take a gram or 2). Cup measurements are just too unpredictable.
fine mesh sieve
Almond flour (no matter how fine the grind) is always going to have a few large pieces of almond hidden in it.
Those large bits can throw off the texture and rise on your macarons. Sifting helps ensure those get tossed away from the get go, and makes for a perfectly smooth macaron top!
metal or glass bowls / utensils
Plastic and silicone are porous and can hold traces of oil and other food residue. Any sort of oil / residue will interfere with the egg whites whipping up into a fluffy and glossy meringue, which is essential for a perfect macaron!
Glass and metal bowls are much easier to clean thoroughly enough for macaron making. Metal utensils are also best when coming in contact with the meringue.
But once your meringue is fully whipped to perfection, it's totally fine to start using a silicon spatula to mix.
an electric handheld or stand mixer
Unless you want to skip arm day at the gym for the next year, I really REALLY don't recommend trying to make macarons without a mixer.
piping bag + tip
For piping the macarons onto your baking sheet. Using a piping bag fitted with a plain tip just makes it easier to pipe even and round macarons.
You can use a regular plastic bag or piping bag without a tip, it's just slightly harder to control. Definitely possible though!
parchment paper or silicone baking mat
Macarons are sticky!
I've personally never had luck with silicone mats and found my macarons are more prone to sticking. Some people love 'em, some hate 'em!
(optional) a macaron template
Not totally necessary. But if you want evenly sized macarons, this is definitely handy!
Some silicone baking mats come with a pre-drawn macaron template. You can also find a printable template online that you can place under your parchment paper as a guide.
French macaron ingredients
The main ingredients for the macaron shells are super straightforward. You will need:
• almond flour: look for super fine almond flour for the best results! Also keep in mind that cheaper grade almond flours often have a coarser grind to their mixture, which can lead to more textured surfaces to the macaron shells. Not necessarily a bad thing - it just depends on if you want a smoother finish or not. So do keep that in mind when shopping for it.
• sugar: powdered and granulated.
• egg whites
• vanilla extract
• food coloring (optional): your macarons will have a natural pale yellow hue to them if you choose not to use any coloring (for reference: the photos below show a few undyed macarons mixed in with purple and teal colored shells)
• macaron filling: the macaron cookie shells are dairy-free, but I used vanilla buttercream to sandwich the cookies. So if you want a FULLY dairy free dessert, you can use another filling if you'd like. This is my personal favorite dairy free frosting recipe! Other macaron filling options include jam, lemon curd, chocolate buttercream, chocolate ganache, or thickened caramel sauce. As long as the filling is thick enough, you can go with anything your heart desires!
how to make macarons
1. Sift almond flour. Make sure to measure your almond flour after sifting it!
Some large chunks are inevitably going to get left behind in the sift. So measuring afterwards helps ensure you have the right amount in your batter.
2. Sift powdered sugar and mix into your sifted almond flour. Set aside to prep the meringue.
3. Whip egg whites and salt together until foamy.
4. Gradually add granulated sugar to the egg whites. You want to do this veeeerrryyy slowly, beating well in between each addition to help build a strong and sturdy meringue base!
5. Whip meringue until it reaches stiff peaks. Once all the sugar is added in, you should have a mixture that basically looks like a cloud.
Continue whipping the meringue until it becomes glossy and holds a stiff peak.
To test for stiff peaks, dip a whisk or spoon into the meringue. Once you pull it out of the meringue, you should have a peak that looks like so:
The tip of the meringue should not curl over. You can also try inverting your whisk or spoon and the meringue on the tip of it should hold the same kind of curl-free tip!
It's very possible to overwhip meringue! So keep an eye out and stop as soon as you see that it's thickened enough.
6. Add your food coloring (if using) and vanilla to the meringue, and mix to combine.
7. Fold your almond flour mixture into the meringue. Add in the almond flour in roughly 3 additions, and gently fold in each addition to combine.
8. Macaronage! Now we're at the very important macaronage step!!!
To mix the macaron batter, use a spatula or spoon to scrape the sides of the bowl and then run through the middle of the batter to deflate. Continue doing this until your batter loosens up to the consistency of lava.
The batter should flow off the spatula without splitting. I'd recommend erring on the side of a slightly thicker batter because it will deflate slightly when you transfer it to your piping bag.
You should be able to draw a figure 8 with your spatula without the batter breaking and the 8 should sink back into the rest of the batter after about 20 seconds.
9. Transfer your macaron batter to a piping bag. The easiest way to transfer the batter is to position your piping bag in a tall glass to hold it in place, and then pour the batter into the bag.
Avoid scooping the batter with a spoon because it can significantly deflate it.
To make piping infinitely easier, spread a bit of the macaron batter onto the corners of your baking sheet and stick the parchment paper onto it. This helps hold the paper in place.
This isn't necessary if you're using a silicone baking mat.
10. Pipe your macarons. Hold your piping bag at a 90° angle to your baking sheet to get an even cookie.
Pipe your macarons just slightly smaller than you'd like (they spread out a tiny bit), leaving about 1 inch of space between each one. Repeat with all your batter.
11. Firmly bang your baking sheets on the counter.
Bang the baking sheet on your counter a few times to even out any bumps on your macaron shells and allow any bubbles to rise to the top and pop. I also like going in with a skewer afterwards to manually pop any bubbles that just won't go away.
12. Set aside the macarons to dry. This usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes, but depending on how much moisture there is in the air, it could take more or less time.
You're basically waiting for the macarons to form a skin on the surface.
To test, gently touch the top of a macaron shell. No batter should stick to your finger.
13. Bake! The macarons are ready to take out of the oven after they've risen and formed feet on the bottoms. If you gently press one of the shells, the bottom should be firm and shouldn't jiggle.
14. Cool. Let the shells cool completely on the baking sheet, then carefully peel them off the parchment paper.
15. Fill! Match up similarly sized macarons. Pipe / spoon some filling on the bottom of one shell, and sandwich together.
And you've officially made macarons!! Woot, woot!
macaron tips & tricks
wipe down any bowls or utensils with vinegar
This helps ensure there isn't any grease or residue on your equipment that could potentially interfere with your meringue's consistency.
USE A SCALE
I know I already mentioned this, but it's so SO important! This is one recipe that should always be measured by weight.
While most other recipes have greater room for error, macarons are finicky!
sift, sift, sift!
There aren't a whole lot of steps involved in making macarons, which makes the steps that are involved THAT much more important!
Almond flour and powdered sugar LOVE to clump, and those clumps can cause uneven textures and pockets in the macarons. Sooo don't skip the sift!
Speaking of sifting...
measure your almond flour after sifting
This is something I think is so, so important, and it caused a lot of inconsistency in my test batches.
You're going to lose some volume after sifting the almond flour because you're always going to have some large pieces of almond that don't go through the sift. Annnd the amount of large pieces that get left behind can differ from one bag of almond flour to another.
Depending on how finely ground your brand of almond flour is, you may have a whole lot or a tiny bit of almond flour pieces that won't sift.
I tried testing a batch of this recipe with a cheaper bag of almond flour and it left behind 50 GRAMS of almond pieces that wouldn't pass through the sift.
Measuring after sifting helps ensure you'll always have the same amount of almond flour going into the macaron batter!
do NOT use carton egg whites
They won't whip up properly!
use room temperature egg whites
Room temperature egg whites will whip up more easily and more sturdily.
watch your mixing
If you only take one thing away from this post, it's this! The point where a macaron recipe can easily go wrong is in the macaronage stage.
Undermix, and the batter will be too thick.
In my opinion, undermixing isn't nearly as bad as overmixing macaron batter. Undermixed macaron batter will lead to a bumpier top to your shells and will often lead to a hollow center, but they'd still be pretty delicious cookies.
Overmix, and the batter will be too loose.
This will lead to sad, flat, and crinkly macarons. Flat macarons are just not my favorite thing to eat.
don't use liquid food coloring
The best food coloring for macarons is powdered, gel, or liquid-gel. Liquid food coloring can water down your macaron batter and cause consistency problems.
Macarons are an advanced baking recipe that are tricky for some of the most experienced bakers. I'm not trying to scare you because I believe anyone and everyone can make an amazing batch!
9 times out of 10, any macarons someone makes will taste perfectly fine - it can take some practice before they look the part.
Never feel discouraged if a batch turns out a little wonky looking. You can be an expert macaron maker and still have bad batches of macarons. Try, try again!
macaron troubleshooting + common problems
Here are a few of the most common hiccups that can occur when you're making macarons AND how you can fix them next time!
macaron shells are running and overspreading
It means you've overmixed your macaron batter during the macaronage phase. Watch out during the mixing step next time!
shells are hollow / have huge air pockets
This could be due to undermixing your macaron batter or not thoroughly working air bubbles out of the piped macarons.
Watch out the next time you mix your macaron batter to make sure it's the right consistency. Also, make sure to bang your pan firmly on your counter after piping the macarons to get rid of any pesky air bubbles in the center.
shells are not smooth on top
If you have huge bumps and bubbles on the shells, this again could be because the batter was undermixed during the macaronage phase or the bubbles weren't thoroughly popped while banging the baking sheets.
If the top of your shell is speckled and has a lot of tiny bumps, this can be because you used a cheaper or coarsely ground almond flour. You can try using a different brand of almond flour next time or lightly pulsing it in a food processor before sifting.
A bumpy macaron top doesn't majorly impact anything else in the macaron shell, and you'll still have pretty darn tasty and cute macarons otherwise!
macaron shells are cracking
This can be a sign that you didn't bang your pan enough to work out the bubbles. You want to make sure to be firm when you bang the baking sheet on your counter - like to the point that it's making enough noise to bug your neighbors (...sorry neighbors).
In some cases, this can also be a sign that your oven may not be baking at an even temperature and is running hot. An oven thermometer is a huge help to keep track of it.
You could also try experimenting with a few of the macarons (pipe a small batch on a small baking sheet) and try baking them at different temperatures to see what's right for your oven. Decrease your temperature by 5°F and try another batch if needed until you get the sweet zone for your oven.
macaron shells browning along the bottom / edges
This could also possibly be a sign that your oven is not heating evenly or not heating to the right temperature you set it to. Your best bet again is to buy an oven thermometer or do the experiment mentioned above.
Another reason for browning along the bottom and edges of macaron shells can be the baking sheet. Cheaper baking sheets are often thinner and are more prone to quickly browning / burning the bottoms of anything baked on them.
A simple solution is to put another baking sheet underneath it to slow the amount of heat hitting the bottom of your macarons.
Darker colored baking sheets also absorb more heat, so I would recommend using a lighter colored baking sheet for any macaron recipe you make.
overly short / no feet
Usually a sign that your macaron batter was mixed too much and the batter ended up too loose. Try mixing your batter less next time.
overly tall / bubbly feet
This may mean your meringue was overwhipped. Keep an eye out when whipping the meringue and stop as soon as it reaches stiff peaks!
feet are uneven
This can happen because of the angle the macarons were piped at. Make sure to hold your piping bag perpendicular to your parchment lined baking sheet while you pipe.
Keep your macarons sealed in an airtight container for maximum freshness. Macarons are best stored in the fridge and will keep for around 2 weeks.
Check out these other recipes!
French Macaron Recipe
- 150 grams sifted super-fine almond flour, measure after sifting *see notes
- 180 grams powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 120 grams large egg whites, at room temperature (about 4 large eggs)
- 60 grams granulated sugar
- 4 drops liquid-gel food coloring or more for a stronger color ** see notes
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Vanilla Buttercream Frosting or your choice of filling
- Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Cut the tip off a large piping bag and fit it with a large plain tip. To keep the macaron batter from leaking later on, twist the bag just above the tip and push the twisted portion of the bag into the tip. If needed, see America's Test Kitchen for a visual! Place the piping bag in a tall glass and fold the top ends of the bag over the sides of the glass to hold it open and in place. Set aside.
- Sift almond flour into a medium sized bowl and measure out 150 grams sifted. Discard any large piece of almond flour that didn't go through the sift. Sift 180 grams of powdered sugar into the same bowl and gently mix to combine. Set aside to prep the meringue.150 grams sifted super-fine almond flour,, 180 grams powdered sugar
- Wipe down a large glass or metal bowl with vinegar or lemon juice to make sure there's absolutely no grease. Add in your salt and egg whites. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until they form bubbles on top (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).¼ teaspoon salt, 120 grams large egg whites,
- With the mixer still running on medium-high speed, gradually add your granulated sugar into the egg white mixture, beating well after each addition. You want to go very slow when adding the sugar in and whip the mixture for a good 20 to 30 seconds before sprinkling in the next addition. Avoid adding in more than about ½ a teaspoon of sugar per addition.60 grams granulated sugar
- Once all the sugar is added in, continue whipping the meringue until it becomes glossy and reaches stiff peaks. To test for stiff peaks, dip your whisk into the meringue and invert it. The tip of the meringue should not curl over at all (see above post for visual reference).
- Add your food coloring and vanilla to the meringue. Mix to combine.4 drops liquid-gel food coloring, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Gently fold your almond flour mixture into the meringue in 3 additions. Once it's all mixed in, you're ready to start the "macaronage" step.
- Mix your batter with a spoon or spatula, running the utensil along the side of the bowl and then down the center of the batter to gradually deflate it to the right consistency. Keep mixing until the batter reaches a thick lava-like consistency and pours off the spoon or spatula in ribbons. You should be able to draw a figure 8 with the batter without it breaking, and the 8 should sink back into the batter after around 20 seconds. Take care not to overmix your batter! If in doubt, it's better to undermix than overmix.
- Transfer the macaron batter to your prepared piping bag. Avoid spooning or scooping the batter into the bag as this can deflate it. It's best to tilt the bowl to pour and scrape down the sides as needed. Unfold and twist the top of the bag to keep the batter from spilling out the top while you pipe. Gently pull on the piping tip to open up the tip.
- Hold the piping bag perpendicular to your baking sheet and pipe macaron shells, leaving about 1 inch of space between each cookie. You can eyeball it or use a macaron template as a guide. Pipe the macarons slightly smaller than you want them because they will flatten out a bit in the next step.
- Firmly (but carefully) bang each one of your baking sheets on your counter to even out the tops and pop any air bubbles. I find about 5 to 10 times is the perfect amount. If you notice some bubbles on the surface of the shells that just won't pop, you can use a skewer or toothpick to manually pop them.
- Set aside your macarons for 30 to 60 minutes to dry and form a skin on the surface. They're ready to bake once you can gently touch the top of a shell and none of the batter sticks to your finger. They may take more or less time depending on how humid your kitchen is.
- Preheat your oven to 315°F.
- Bake your macaron shells, one baking sheet at a time, in the center of your preheated 315°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes. To test if they're done, gently press down on one of the shells. The bottom should not jiggle or shake. The macaron shells should have all developed feet along the bottoms as well.
- Cool the macaron shells completely on the baking sheet. Carefully peel the cookies off the parchment paper and match similarly sized shells together.
- Pipe your desired filling (I used vanilla buttercream) on the bottom of one shell and sandwich with another one. If you decide to use my recipe for vanilla buttercream, a full batch will yield a generous amount of filling for each cookie and a half batch will give you lightly filled macarons. I used a full batch (you can see how much filling per cookie you can expect in the photos above).Vanilla Buttercream Frosting or your choice of filling