A complete step by step guide to mastering french macarons, the classic delicate chewy cookie. This guide also lists out a list of tools, tips, and troubleshooting techniques from hollow shells, no feet, crunchy, and more.
What is a macaron?
First clarification is macarons vs. macaroons. MACAROONS (mac-ah-ROO-ns) are the delicious coconut chocolatey cookie. MACARONS (mac-ah-RON-s) are these light and delicate cookies made from almond flour, sugar, and meringue, and sandwiched with typically frosting, ganache, salted caramel, or a fruit compote.
There are 3 methods to making macarons: Italian, Swiss, and French. While they all typically yield a similar end result, the process is a bit different. This guide focuses on the traditional French method.
The texture of macarons are soft and chewy neutral cookie, with most of the flavor pulling from the choice of filling. The delicate process to this cookie can make it seem intimidating to make – but I hope after several (and I mean SEVERAL) failed batches, I hope to share all the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to helping you master and perfect this delicious, beautiful cookie.
Supplies & Ingredients for Macarons
Here is a complete list of the ingredients and supplies needed to make macarons. Because of the preciseness nature of this cookie, it’s important that the ingredients used and instructions followed are done exactly as listed.
Fresh egg whites: (fresh divided egg whites; do not use packaged egg whites from store)
Fine almond flour: (The two brands that have been successful for me are Bob’s Red Mill and Costco’s Kirkland brand. Every brand of almond flour has a different oil content which can effect the recipe. You are welcome to try a different brand, but just come back to this tip if you find you’re having issues.)
Powdered sugar: (I’ve had success with a variety of brands! Just use classic, standard powdered sugar.)
Granulated sugar: (Yup, just run-of-the-mill, normal white sugar. Any normal brand is fine.)
Cream of tartar: (Optional, but it can help increase the stability of the meringue, so I always add it for good measure!)
Food coloring: (Optional, but if you would like to color you macarons I only swear by using a gel food coloring as opposed to using a liquid based coloring. Gel maintains the integrity of the texture, and you get a much more accurate color, by using less product too!)
Electric stand mixer or hand mixer: (I highly recommend using a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid or Bosch, because the meringue needs to mix for a while. Hand mixer will work fine too, but it’s a bit more work.)
Sifter: (You will need a sifter. Even with a very fine almond flour, it needs to be even finer.)
Baking Sheet: (a metal baking sheet to bake the cookies on!)
Parchment paper or silicone mat: (Silicone mats with the round circles printed on make for such an easy piping guide and help make sure the cookies are even in size which is especially helpful since you’ll be sandwiching them together, but parchment paper works great too!)
A large bowl: Any large mixing bowl will do!
Oven thermometer: Optional, but an oven thermometer helps to know how hot your oven is, as not all ovens are the temperature they claim to be preheated to. If your oven is running too cool or too hot, it can impact the result of the macaron.
*These links are affiliate links, which means I get a very small commission when you purchase with no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and brands that I trust, love, and use in my own kitchen.
How to make French Macarons
The process of making macarons is to combine a stiff meringue (beat egg whites + sugar) with dry ingredients (almond flour + powdered sugar). Folding two together creates a beautiful batter that is piped on to a baking sheet, baked at a low temperature, and then sandwiched together with a delicious filling inside.
1. Double sift almond flour and single sift powdered sugar; whisk together and set aside
2. Separate the whites from yolks from *room temperature* eggs. Pour into the mixer.
3. Mix on low for about one minute, then slowly add granulated sugar and cream of tartar. After a couple minutes, turn up to medium, then a couple minutes later, turn up a notch higher. Stop mixing when the meringue becomes stiff. See picture below.
4. Fold in the meringue with the sifted dry ingredients. Fold until you get a lava flow consistency that can create a figure 8 in the batter. You will also see that the figure 8 doesn’t hold its mold in the batter but slowly softens into the rest of the batter. When you get there, STOP folding.
5. Pour into piping bag and holding the piping bag vertically up and down, pipe 1 1/2 – 2 inch circles onto your mat.
6. Let the circles rest until the tops are dry to the touch. You should be able to gently run your finger across the top without it sticking.
7. Bake at 300 degrees for 14-16 minutes. Let them cool, then pipe a cookie with a small dollop of frosting, and sandwich together with a second cookie. Store in refrigerator. Cookies are actually best after maturing in fridge for at least 24 hours. Eat after pulling out of fridge for 30 minutes following its rest.
Even professionals get a bad batch now and then, I promise. It’s a learning process, and knowing WHAT went wrong is incredible helpful to perfect the next batch even more! Here are a few things that could go wrong, and what you can do to possibly correct it:
NO FEET | If you don’t get the traditional tall straight sides on the macaron, it can often be because you did not let your batter sit long enough to dry the tops before baking. A very humid or rainy day can cause this too. It just means the batter is wet. Many bakers also try to combat this by aging their egg whites (keeping in the fridge for 1-3 days prior to baking) to get a thicker egg white. This can work well in more humid environments. This also can happen if you’ve over mixed your batter.
HOLLOW SHELLS | Your oven could be running too hot. Try getting an oven thermometer or turn down your temp 5-15 degrees.
CRISPY COOKIE | You’ve just cooked your cookie too long! It either had too many minutes in the oven or you need to reduce baking temperature.
BUMPY TOPS | This is typically from either not sifting your almond flour enough (and/or not using a fine enough flour) to it’s causing some larger pieces to be visible, or if there’s tips sticking up, it’s because you have under-folded the batter. The batter was slightly too stiff. Try folding a few more times next time.
UNEVEN OR STICKY BOTTOMS | You did not cook your cookie long enough. Try cooking for 1-2 minutes more next time. Also be sure you’re not trying to take it off the pan too quickly. Make sure its cooled entirely.
CRACKED TOPS | Cracked macaron tops are caused by an under-folded batter or too hot of an oven.
There are SO many flavor options out there for macarons. There are a few that add a tweak into the shell to make a different flavor (such as chocolate, pumpkin spice, graham, etc.) but many have a standard base that is colored (or not!) and the punch of flavor comes from a filing of choice.
I’d love to add some of our favorite flavors to the website soon, but in the mean time, here are some favorite combinations. Use a favorite buttercream, jam, custard, or any kind of filling of choice.
– Strawberry lemonade (a strawberry buttercream with a small dollop of lemon curd in the middle)
– Salted caramel (a salted caramel buttercream with chocolate and caramel drizzled on top)
– Cake batter (cake batter buttercream)
– Chocolate (a simple chocolate ganache sandwiched)
– Oreo (substituting some of the almond flour for oreo crumbs, and using a cookies and cream frosting for the filling)
Have fun with it, the options are endless!
- 100 grams fresh egg whites (not from a carton)
- 75 grams granulated sugar
- 125 grams fine almond flour, sifted (I like Bobs Red Mill or Kirkland brand)
- 125 grams powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
- gel food coloring (optional)
- + Filling of choice (buttercream frosting, ganache, fresh fruit compote, etc.)
- Prepare supplies. Prepare a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip (about 1/4-1/2 inch round). Prepare a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. TIP: I like to fit it into a drinking glass to make it easy to pour in the batter.
- Using room temperature egg whites, separate egg whites from the yolks in a bowl and set aside. Ensure there is NO yolk in the whites.
- In a large bowl, sift in just over 125 grams of almond flour. Take that almond flour and sift it again one more time until you get to 125 grams. Sifting a total of 2 times. Don’t try to force the flour through the sifter. Any coarse remains should be thrown out.
- Sift in 125 grams powdered sugar with the almond flour. This can just be sifted once. Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar together and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, mix egg whites on low. Once the egg whites become frothy (about 1 minute in), slowly add the granulated sugar while mixing. Add optional cream of tartar (ensures an extra stable meringue, but not mandatory). If you are using food coloring (ensure it’s gel, not liquid food coloring), you can add it now. TIP: If you are using a plastic bowl that was previously used to mix a baked good with butter or oil, wipe down with vinegar and then wash. The vinegar will help release the fat from the plastic. Meringues do not mix up as well with oil.
- After a couple minutes the mixture will begin to turn into a stiffer meringue. Turn up the speed to medium. Continue to mix until the meringue has "stiff peaks". You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and everything remains in place. The whisk will have sharp peaks to it. If the peaks are wilting, those are loose peaks, and you need to mix for about one more minute.
- Using a spatula, transfer the meringue to your bowl of almond flour and powdered sugar. Using the spatula, fold the two together. Stop folding when you can lift up your spatula and the batter can flow slowly into a figure 8 and the shape slowly melts back into the rest of the batter. This can happen very quickly, so when you are close, you may just be a few folds away. Do not over fold your batter. Doing so results in a flat macaron.
- Transfer macaron batter to the prepared piping bag. Gently pipe circles on the lined baking sheet. Make sure your piping bag is vertical when piping, not at an angle. Gently pipe about 1.5 inch circles, or sized as desired. TIP: This needs to be piped right away and can not be prepped in advance to keep the meringue stable.
- Firmly tap your baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Use a toothpick to release any additional air bubbles. Let the macarons sit to dry (typically about 30-45 minutes), or until the shells feel dry to the touch and loose some of their shine. While it rests, preheat the oven to 300 Fahrenheit.
- Once macaron shells are dry, bake for about 14-16 minutes. Do not open up the oven until nearing the end. Shells are done when the bottoms loot set. You can test one by edging a knife underneath to ensure it's starting to just barely get golden. Let baked shells cool on the mat for about 15 minutes before trying to remove. Prematurely removing them can cause them to pull apart.
- Sandwich the shells with a filling of choice and place in the fridge to rest for at least 24 hours. Macarons taste best after they have matured for at least 24 hours. Set out for about 15 minutes before serving to give them a chance to soften.
- Store in fridge airtight for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You should get a nice soft, chewy macaron that is full of flavor and not too sweet. Enjoy! If you have any questions, leave a comment at the bottom.