The French Macaron. Notoriously finicky, but always a stand out dessert when it comes to elegance. With this step by step tutorial, you’ll be able to hone in which methods will work best for you in your kitchen by starting with my tried and true method, and then experimenting with other techniques from there to achieve your ideal macaron.
I would consider myself a competitive person, and the challenge of these beauties has driven me to spend many an hour in the kitchen attempting to develop a recipe that would produce consistent results. I want to say this right away…if your first (or second, or third) batch of macarons doesn’t turn out quite like you hoped, you’re in good company. Multiple stages of this process have variables that can only be determined by getting a feel for the consistencies and qualities of the batter, not to mention gauging what temperature and bake time is just right for your oven. So all that to say, have patience and keep trying, because the finished product is incredibly rewarding!
With how many factors go in to making macarons, this post could be a novel, so buckle up. (Or skip through with the blessed Jump to Recipe button if you already know the ropes!) However, if you are just starting out with making macarons, I would definitely recommend reading through the whole post. I hope to eventually write detailed posts on each part of the macaron process, but for now we’ll focus on the basics (with maybe just a few tangents).
So let’s get started! Macarons do require several key pieces of equipment to create, so I’ve compiled a list of absolute necessities, and also some optional bonus items that are helpful to have.
This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.
-Large Piping Bag
-Silicone Mat or Parchment Paper
-Stand or Handheld Mixer
-Circle Template Sheet (or template silicone mat)
-Large Round Piping Tip
-Notes App or Journal to Log Recipe Process and Results
A few items on the necessity list might seem excessive, but allow me to elaborate.
Macaron ingredients need to be precise, and using a kitchen scale to measure is substantially more accurate than using cup measurements. Rest easy knowing ingredient amount is one less variable to consider when making your shells.
The temperature you set your oven at is not always true to what’s happening inside. Most ovens (even new ones) are liars! To know exactly what temperature you’re working with, I highly recommend using an oven thermometer (or two).
Everything else is fairly self explanatory. I will say, a circle template sheet or silicone mat with the template on it is probably my favorite “optional” item. It increases your consistency along with your speed when you don’t have to check back to compare shell sizes. A fan also speeds the resting process up significantly which is a must for me. Here is a link to the silicone mats I use from Amazon that have been solid performers in my kitchen.
Once you’ve rounded up your equipment, let’s talk about ingredients. Surprisingly, these classy cookies only require 5 things.
-Cream of Tartar
You might wonder why bakers charge $2+ per cookie for something with fairly inexpensive ingredients, but the skill and time required to make them is well worth the value.
Next, let’s get baking! If this is one of your first few times making macarons, before you start mixing I recommend getting all of your equipment ready, in addition to having your ingredients measured, sifted, and ready to roll. This will help you avoid feeling stressed out in the middle of your recipe scrambling to get things ready for your next step in what can be a time sensitive process.
Along with getting your ingredients ready, you’ll need to get your baking sheet, parchment paper or silicone mat, and piping bag all set. To prepare my piping bag, I place the round piping tip in (Wilton 2A size), and then I twist the bag and add a clip to seal off the opening. I know a lot of bakers prefer a smaller tip like the Wilton 12. It all depends on your preference! The batter will flow more easily out of the 2A, but may be harder to control. With the size 12, it will take a bit of effort to squeeze the batter to pipe, but you’ll have more control. Pick your poison!
Wilton 2A Piping Tip (Set)
Wilton 12 Piping Tip
I then place the bag tip down into either a clean tall cup with the edges folded over the rim to keep the bag open, or I clip it into a bag clip contraption like the one in the photo below. I would recommend picking some of these bag holders to make your life easier when filling larger bags.
It’s nice to have your piping bag standing up in a secure way so you can use both of your hands to pour your batter in while you scrape the bowl. Whichever method you go, make sure it’s secure, because it is a sad day when the batter you’ve labored over tips out of the bag and flows on to your counters!
Let’s move on to our dry ingredients. Sift your carefully measured powdered sugar and almond flour into a medium/large mixing bowl. Whisk until completely incorporated, and set aside. Some people swear by food processing the powdered sugar and almond flour together. I’ve tried both, and I’ve found sifting and whisking really well to be sufficient.
Next, it’s time to whip up the meringue! A meringue consists of egg whites and sugar that is beaten until light and fluffy. I don’t know what it is about making gorgeous, glossy, pure white meringue, but it is one of my FAVORITE processes in baking. The fact that egg whites turn into this luxuriously light goodness blows my mind and it is just so dang BEAUTIFUL. There are three main meringue methods, but today (as you already know by the blog post title) we are focusing on the french method! This is the method with the least steps (and the least dishes).
When making macarons, some bakers prefer to bring their egg whites to room temperature before mixing, or even “dehydrate” them for a few days to gain better volume while mixing, but I’ve found that this doesn’t make a difference for me. I like to keep things simple, and if something doesn’t produce significantly better results, it gets the axe. Once again, less time AND less dishes is a win in my book. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of needless dish dirtying?) My husband who does most of the dishwashing in our house agrees whole heartedly. That being said, maybe you’ll be one of the people that does notice better results with room temp or dehydrated egg whites, so just go ahead and tuck that piece of knowledge away as a thing to experiment with should you so desire.
To begin the meringue, pour egg whites into a CLEAN mixing bowl. If your dishes have any fat residue on them, it can effect your egg white’s ability to whip up. If you want to be extra sure your bowl has no fat residue, you can wipe your bowl down with a small amount of bit of vinegar. Make sure none of the egg yolk gets into the bowl when you separate your eggs!
Add in granulated sugar and cream of tartar. Using a whisk attachment, mix egg whites for 2 minutes on a low speed (Kitchen Aid speed 4). Many recipes I’ve tried include instructions to pour sugar in slowly. I prefer to add it all at the beginning so I can measure it right into my bowl.
Next, increase mixer to a medium speed (Kitchen Aid 6) and whip for 2 minutes. After this, you should be seeing some whisk tracks and soft peaks.
If you plan on adding food coloring, I recommend doing it here. Use a gel based color instead of water based so you don’t add additional moisture and throw off your batter consistency. I like to add the color at this point so I have plenty of mixing time left to adjust and add color as needed. The color of your macarons may turn just a pinch warmer once you add your almond flour and powdered sugar in, so keep that in mind when adding your food coloring. My favorite food coloring brands are Americolor and Wilton.
Next, crank your mixer up to a high speed (Kitchen Aid 8) and mix for 3 more minutes. Your goal is to achieve STIFF peaks. Your meringue should also start coming together or balling up inside the whisk. When you lift your whisk out of the bowl, it should be stiff and fall off in big clumps when you tap your whisk on the side of the bowl. See photos below for reference.
If your meringue has not yet reached this consistency, mix for 1 more minute on High (Speed 8). Repeat as necessary.
Meringue consistency was the BIGGEST game changer when it came to the fullness of my shells. I struggled with mostly hollow shells for SO. MANY. BATCHES. and it drove me absolutely crazy. My shells would look beautiful, but were lacking that iconic chewy texture that comes from having a nice full shell. It was also less than ideal having the shells be super fragile because of the lack of interior support! Oven temperature and bake time also played a role in this, but we’ll touch on that later.
I followed many recipes that told me to whip until the peaks were just barely stiff, but time and time again I was disappointed with the interior of my macarons. I immediately noticed improvement once I tried whipping to super stiff peaks with it clumping inside the whisk. So here is yet another step of the process where I recommend trying different things to find out what works best for you! Try both, and see what happens.
If you end up having small gaps in your shells, seriously don’t sweat it. In my opinion, as long as a shell has more fluff than gap, you’ll still have an awesome texture experience eating it. Shells also fill up a pinch after the maturing process (refrigerating filled macarons in an airtight container for 24 hours).
TIP: TAKE NOTES on what you’ve tried, and record the results that were produced! I can’t tell you how many times I promised myself I would remember all the little variable changes I’d make in a recipe, only to forget by the next time I was baking macarons. WRITE IT DOWN. I’ve included a list of things to jot down about your process along with different categories of results.
Macaron Recipe Notes Outline
Recipe: (Ex: The White Whisk, Blog Title, Cookbook name)
–Ingredient Amounts and Adjustments
-Temperature of ingredients (Ex: Cold or Room Temp)
-How long egg whites were mixed in each step
-If sugar is added in slowly, in a few parts, or all at once
-Stiffness of meringue peaks
-Amount of folds when incorporating dry ingredients
-Description of the consistency of the batter once all ingredients are folded in
-Description of piping behavior (Did the lines/peaks settle once trays were tapped? Did the batter spread too much?)
-Tray Placement in Oven
-Tray Rotation During Baking
-Description of Macaron Feet
-Color of Shells (Ex. Too brown, just right, splotchy)
-Exterior Texture (Ex. Cracked, Domed, Smooth, Lumpy)
-Doneness (Ex. Underbaked and gooey, Over baked and crispy, Just Right)
Alright, so now that you’ve got your gorgeous glossy meringue all ready, go ahead and pour half of your sifted dry ingredients in to your mixing bowl. Using a medium/large silicone spatula, start folding in the dry ingredients with 15 folds. One “fold” for me is scraping my spatula all the way around the edge of the bowl, and then dragging it through the middle of the batter. I alternate how low in the bowl I scrape each time so I can be sure to get all the dry ingredients at the bottom as well.
Pour in the remaining dry ingredients, and continue to fold about 30 more times or until your batter is shiny, and starting to flow off your spatula in slow ribbons. I usually start checking for readiness at the 45 (total) fold mark, and then every five folds after that to make sure I don’t over mix. My average amount of total folds when making a batch this size is somewhere around 65-70. Folding until I can achieve the traditional “figure 8” consistency test usually ends up making my batter over-mixed. Here is the method I use to test batter readiness.
Bowl Jiggle Test: Scrape all batter down into an even layer in the bowl, and then scoop up batter and drape a ribbon through the middle. Wiggle the mixing bowl back and forth several times and see if the fine/medium lines in your batter mostly settle down in to an even surface. See photo below for reference.
Once batter is ready, pour it in to your prepare piping bag.
Holding your bag perpendicular to your tray, pipe in the center of your circle template until your macaron is just a few millimeters short of your desired size. Release pressure, and use a small quick circular flick in the center of your macaron to release the batter.
Once all of your macarons are piped, firmly smack your trays down on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles. If you’d like to minimize the noise and annoyance to the rest of your household, you can lay down a kitchen towel or two on your counter to soften the tray banging. If needed, use a toothpick or scribe tool to pop any remaining noticeable bubbles. Preheat oven to 295 degrees Fahrenheit while the shells rest.
If you are adding any sprinkles, do so immediately after piping and banging the trays while the batter is still tacky. They will bounce off and not stick if you wait too long.
Rest shells until a skin forms and they are no longer tacky to the touch. I dry mine until I can gently run my finger over the shell. This helps to form the signature macaron feet, and also prevents cracking and domed shells.
Once your oven thermometer is reading 295 and your shells have formed a crust, place one single tray on the center baking rack. Do not bake multiple trays at a time.
Bake for 18 minutes. Open oven and gently touch the side of one of your shell tops. If it wiggles, bake for two more minutes and then test again. Once the shells are fully cooked, they should feel solid and not wiggle when tapped. Remove them from the oven when they reach this point. Usually 20 minutes total is perfect for my oven.
Cool shells completely before removing from parchment or silicone mat.
Once removed, match each shell with a partner of similar size, and line them up together. Pipe a dollop of buttercream or whatever filling you’re using in the center, leaving a 1/4 inch or so of space from the edge.
The Wilton 8B is a beautiful tip to pipe macaron fillings with!
Gently sandwich the matching shell on top.
Place macarons in an airtight container and refrigerate to “mature” for 24 hours. This helps the flavor and textures to fully develop. Eat within 3-5 days for optimum freshness, or pop them in the freezer for up to 2-3 months before eating (at room temp). Enjoy!
French Macaron Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve heard macarons are super hard to make. Is this true?
Macarons have a bad rap with how many variables can have a big effect on the outcome, but have hope, macarons can be mastered! They do take practice to figure out which methods work best for you in your oven and kitchen, but once you’ve got the basics down and have experience with the specific consistencies needed in each step, you’ll find your bad batches become few and far between.
Do I have to use a scale to measure the ingredients?
YES, I definitely recommend using a scale. In fact, I don’t recommend trying macarons without one. There are already quite a few variables in the macaron making process, and using a scale ensures that incorrectly measured ingredients are not going to cause issues. Weighing by cups or volume can vary on how much of an ingredient is actually being measured. For example, if your powdered sugar is super dense and clumped together, you could have significantly more in 1 cup worth than if you were to measure out the true weight on a scale. Egg whites can also vary in weight, and using a scale removes the guesswork.
Can I make these without an electric hand or stand mixer?
To be honest, I’ve never tried, but I can promise you it will take MUCH longer during the meringue part of the process. I know people made macarons before mixers were invented so I’m sure it’s possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re looking for a major arm workout and have some extra time on your hands.
Can I use parchment paper instead of silicone mats?
You can, but you may experience wavy bottoms on your shells. I prefer silicone mats because the shells peel off cleanly AND have smooth bottoms.
My meringue won’t stiffen. What could be causing the issue?
The biggest culprit of a meringue that won’t whip up and stiffen, is fat. Any yolk or fat residue on your bowl and whisk is the likely cause. You also may just need to whip them for a longer amount of time.
Can I add extract to the macaron batter?
I haven’t tested it with my recipe, so I can’t ensure it would work. Adding moisture could throw off the balance of the batter’s consistency. If you give it a try, let me know! (I have seen recipes where an extract is factored in, but I have chosen not to include that in my recipe.)
Can I bake more than one tray at a time?
I have a standard oven and do one tray at a time on the center rack, which is what i recommend for this recipe. I’ve heard some bakers say that they can do more than one tray at a time in a convection oven that has good circulation that has a gentle fan which doesn’t blow their shells lopsided!
How do I know when my shells are done baking?
To check a shells doneness, gently press on the side of the shell right above the feet. If the shell wiggles, it needs more time. If it stays firm, it’s done!
Why did my shells crack?
Cracked shells can be caused by too short of a rest time, too hot of an oven, large air bubbles, too much moisture, under mixed batter, or a weak under whipped meringue.
Why are my shells fragile after baking?
Fragile shells can be caused by over mixed batter, underbaking, oily almond flour, too low of an oven temp, humidity, or excess moisture in the batter.
Why are my shells splotchy?
Splotchy shells can be caused by oily almond flour, over mixed batter, or underbaking.
The top of my shells are bumpy. What caused it?
The biggest culprits of bumpy shell tops can be caused by lumpy (or unsifted) dry ingredients, under mixed batter, or air bubbles.
How can I avoid browning on my shells?
If your shells are browning, try lowering the oven temp and increasing the bake time. Something else you can try is moving the tray further from the heat source causing the browning if possible. Make sure you’re using quality aluminum baking sheets to ensure even heat distribution!
How do I fix hollow shells?
First of all, I encourage you not to sweat it if the gap is smaller than the amount of fluff on the interior! As long as your shells are sturdy and have a good amount of “meat” on the inside, they’ll give you the signature chewiness of a macaron. BUT if you’re having structure issues or your macarons are mostly empty, try experimenting with your meringue stiffness! For me, it made a difference to use a super stiff meringue, but some bakers prefer a just barely stiff meringue. You can also try mixing your batter less or more, or even lowering or raising your oven temp. Try raising your oven temp as much as you can without running into issues with browning.
My macarons spread out and ended up with ruffled feet. What happened?
My guess would be over mixed batter, or too hot of an oven!
What can I fill macarons with?
Some of the most popular macaron fillings are buttercream, ganache, curds, caramel, or even jams and fruit fillings! Be aware that the more moisture a filling has, the sooner you will need to eat the finished macarons to avoid soggy shells.
What does it mean to “mature” macarons? Is it necessary?
Necessary, no. Beneficial, YES! Maturing it the process of storing the assembled finished macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for 24 hours. This allows the flavor and moisture of the filling to meld with the shell, allowing the macaron to reach is optimal texture and flavor.
Can macarons be stored in the freezer?
Absolutely! Macarons freeze extremely well, The shells can be frozen for up to 3 months. Filled macarons can also be frozen in advance, but it does vary depending on what filling you used. Fillings with a lot of moisture can release that moisture back in to the shell when thawing which can effect the consistency. Buttercreams, and ganaches do particularly well in the freezer!
Basic French Macarons
- 130 grams egg whites Approximately 4 large eggs, use scale to measure.
- 120 grams granulated sugar
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 200 grams almond flour (Preferably Kirkland Brand)
- 200 grams confectioner’s sugar
- 1 pinch salt (Optional)
Almond Buttercream Filling
- 5 oz butter
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 10 oz powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone mat (circle template optional but recommended).
- Place a medium sized round piping tip (like a Wilton 2A) in a large piping bag. Twist the bag right behind the tip and add a clip to seal off the opening. Place the bag tip down into either a clean tall cup with the edges folded over the rim to keep the bag open, or clip it into a bag holder.
- Using a kitchen scale, carefully weigh out and sift the confectioner’s sugar and almond flour into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk well to fully blend the two together.
- Place egg whites, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar into a large mixing bowl, and begin beating with a whisk attachment using either a handheld mixer or a stand mixer for 2 minutes on a medium low speed (Kitchen Aid Speed 4).
- Turn up the mixer to a medium speed (Kitchen Aid Speed 6) and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add desired gel food coloring (optional)
- Turn mixer up to medium high speed (Kitchen Aid Speed 8) and beat for 3 more minutes, or until peaks are very stiff and the meringue clumps up in a ball in the center of the whisk. Test stiffness by removing whisk and pointing it upward. (See photos in post) Once the peaks can hold their shape flipped upright, your meringue is ready.
- Pour half of your almond flour/confectioner’s sugar mixture into the bowl with your meringue, and fold 15 times. One fold is scraping all the way around the edge of your batter in your bowl, and then dragging your spatula through the middle. Be sure to scoop around the bottom of the bowl as well so you don’t miss any dry ingredients.
- Pour in the remaining powdered sugar and almond flour, and continue folding (approximately 30 more folds) until dry ingredients are fully incorporated, your batter is no longer super clumpy. Do not overfold. Please note this recipe stays a bit thicker than most, and should not be folded to the traditional figure 8 test consistency. Start checking your batter’s readiness every 5 folds or so at this point by scraping all batter down to the bottom of your bowl, and then wiggling your bowl back and forth several times. If the batter levels out with few peaks and lines remaining, it should be ready. (See photos in post for reference.)
- Pour batter into prepared piping bag, and twist the opening off. Hold your bag at the twist between your thumb and pointer finger. Remove the clip.
- Holding the piping bag straight up and down, apply pressure to begin piping your batter in the center of your circle templates, releasing pressure once you are a few millimeters short of your desired size. After you release pressure, use a small quick circular flick to release your tip from the piped macaron.
- Once you’ve piped a full tray, firmly bang the tray on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles and smooth out shells. Pop any remaining large bubbles with a toothpick. Repeat with the second tray.
- Begin preheating your oven to 295 degrees, using an oven thermometer ensure accurate temperature readings.
- Set aside shells to dry until they form a skin and are no longer tacky to the touch. Once you can gently run a finger over your shells, they are ready to bake. Use a fan to speed up the process, rotating the tray every few minutes to ensure even drying. This usually takes at least 16-20 minutes for me even with a fan.
- Once shells are dry, and the oven has fully preheated to 295, place one tray in the center of the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 18 minutes.
- Quickly open door to check the shell’s doneness by gently pressing on the side just above the feet to see if it’s firm. If it moves at all, rotate the tray and bake for another 2 minutes.
- Check shells by performing the same test, pressing on the side. If they are still unstable, bake for one more minute, and check again. Repeat until shells are firm and do not budge.
- Allow shells to cool completely, and the carefully remove from silicone mat or parchment paper by gently peeling them off.
- Place butter, salt, and almond extract in mixing bowl, and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar, and beat until frosting starts to come together. Mix for 2 minutes, and then scrape down the bowl and beater. Mix for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour in heavy cream, and beat on low speed just until heavy cream is fully combined.
- Match each shell with a partner shell of equal size.
- Pipe buttercream in to the center of one shell, leaving at least 1/4 inch of space around the edge.
- Gently sandwich the partner shell on top to complete your macaron.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for 24 hours to allow the macarons to “mature” and fully develop their flavor and texture.
- This recipe can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Take macarons out of the freezer 20-30 minutes before eating to allow them to come to room temperature. Enjoy!
OK. I’m going to give these a try in January when it’s not so crazy busy.
The White Whisk
Sounds good! I’d love to hear how it goes!
I’m making a batch today. I have failed so far with other recipes. I only have a bench top oven and can only bake a small tray (12) at a time. Will the batter be OK left in the bag? Thank you
Excited to try these! What containers do you like to use while they mature?
The White Whisk
Hi Hannah! I currently use Targets Up and Up Brand large rectangular Tupperware boxes 😊 They are very inexpensive, but also a bit on the flimsy side. I’ve also heard great things about Rubbermaid Brilliance containers!
Awesome! Thank you!
What is your preferred brand of almond flour?
The White Whisk
I currently use Kirkland Brand. I’ve heard great things about Blue Diamond as well but have never tried it myself.
Hey 🙂, thank you for sharing such detailed and insightful inputs. These look lovely and hope to attempt these soonish. Just need clarity on one aspect, the baking temperature you’ve mentioned is it 295 degrees in Fahrenheit or Celsius? Here in the U.K. we use the Metric system ,so pls do tell as you’ve not specified that. Thanks in advance. Have a good rest of your day. Taa. X
The White Whisk
Hi there! This temperature is in terms of Farenheit. I’d love to hear how it goes if you give the recipe a try!
i plan on making these soon! you said to not put more than one tray in the oven at a time, but letting them dry for too long can effect the final product. what do you do if you have 2 or more trays?? asking because i probably will. thank you!
Your macarons are so gorgeous! How do you keep them so white? Mine always come out ivory. Thank you!