Quantcast

How to Make Macarons: A Detailed, Illustrated Step-by-Step Recipe

Macarons are a French delicacy I am completely crazy about. Since I can’t always be in Paris close to my favorite pastry-chef, Pierre Hermé, I have decided to make my own. It’s not an easy task, and it needs a lot of patience. I learned how to make them in Paris, but when I came back I searched around the internet for some recipes providing the perfect ratios. I learned the hard way that macarons are capricious little wonders: add a bit of this or that, and your delicate balance tips over; I’ve seen my share of overbaked, flat, cracked or overinflated numbers coming out of my oven. No recipe is universal, and the most important thing is to go slow. Try cautiously with your own instruments, ingredients and oven. You will have to try more than once before achieving perfection. If they were so easy to do, wouldn’t everyone make them?

When I was looking around for recipes, I found plenty but few had illustrated steps to guide you through what’s OK or not in terms of texture, color and result. Since you can’t always have an experienced teacher showing you the first time, I figured I would allow you to benefit from my apprentissage and help you get to a happy result more quickly.

No single source can be given as a base for my recipe. I have gathered dozens left and right, tested and tasted and ended with my own proportions. Now I (almost) always make them successfully, so this is a good base to start with. I will guide you through the rest.

-

Having trouble making macarons? Since first publishing this post, struggling macaron-makers have asked me every question under the sun. After over two years (and hundred of comments!), I’ve decided to close the comments on my macaron posts, but I’m not leaving you an excellent resource: I’ve gathered the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked about macarons in one single post: A Macaron Troubleshooting Guide: Useful Tips and Advice to Master the French Delicacy. If you’re having any trouble making macarons, chances are you’ll find answers in that post. You can also read through the comments left below, I did my best to reply to all of them and many (if not all!) macaron issues are covered in there as well.

If I missed something, send me a note and I promise I will keep on editing the troubleshooting post once in a while!

-

I have put together a short 5-minute video that shows you the key steps in making French macarons at home. There’s nothing like having someone show you the way – at least, that’s how I learned. The video, along with this post’s detailed instructions and pictures, should allow anyone wanting to make this French delicacy at home succeed.

Watch the video below, or better yet, click here to view it in high-definition on YouTube. You’ll be able to read the instructions more easily and see all the important details much better.

See also my “All About Macarons” page for more resources and links.

-

Looking for the right tools that will help you make macarons successfully? Visit my new macaron store for my recommendations for the best macaron-making tools, ingredients and books.

Note: The following window provides a preview of the items I added to my store. Click here to go straight to the store and view all of my recommendations.

Full disclosure: This store is powered by Amazon. When you buy tools, ingredients and books through my store, I am earning a small referral fee that helps me keep on producing quality content for Food Nouveau. Thanks for your contribution!

-

Macarons: Basic Recipe
These ingredients will make the cookies. This is the base and what’s hardest to master. You should try to successfully bake a couple recipes of basic macarons before trying to mix in other flavors.
Makes about 60 small (1.35-inch [35 mm] diameter) cookies, or 30 assembled macarons.

3 egg whites (from large eggs), separated at least 24 hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator
210 g powdered sugar
125 g almond meal
30 g regular granulated sugar

What you need – equipment:
It’s best to gather all the equipment you really need before starting. Yes, I did have to buy some of these tools before making my first macarons. The good thing is that none of the following tools are specific to making macarons so your new gadgets will help you make many other great desserts. Please, do take this excuse and go shopping. :)

Kitchen scale (yes, you do have to measure in grams, it’s more precise)
Food processor (really nice to have but not mandatory)
Hand or stand mixer with whisk accessory (mandatory unless you’re very courageous and/or strong)
Sifter or fine sieve
Big stainless steel bowl (cul-de-poule)
Another big mixing bowl
Spatula
Pastry bag and round tip (1/2 to 3/4 inch opening)
Large baking sheets, preferably 2 to 4 of them
Parchment paper

Various food color (liquid, gel or powder are all good)

A couple of days before you plan to make your macarons: Prepare your eggs. Separate them, putting the whites in a clean airtight container and reserving the yolks for another use. Now, your egg whites must “age”: they need to spend at least 24h (up to 5 days) in the refrigerator before you use them.

The morning of the day you plan to make your macarons: Take your egg whites out of the refrigerator and leave them to temper at room temperature for several hours.

Making the cookies:

Measure the powdered sugar and almond meal and put them in the bowl of your food processor. Finely grind the two together for a minute or two. Stop the processor, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and process again for a minute.

Yes, you need to do this even though both ingredients are already powdered. This step blends the sugar and nuts perfectly together and gets rid of bigger bits that often remain in packaged almond meal.
You can grind your own almonds, just make sure they are peeled. And that you very finely grind them (add the powdered sugar to the almonds when they are coarsely ground to make sure you don’t end up with a paste).
If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make macarons, but make sure to really thoroughly blend the almonds and sugar together. The consequence is that the texture of your macarons won’t be as soft and smooth.

After processing the powdered sugar and almond meal, you have to sieve the mixture. This is really important (especially if you don’t have a food processor) as it will get rid of the remaining bigger bits and ensure a smooth batter. You will see some of the almond refuses to pass though your sieve (see picture below). Don’t try to force it through; it’s ok to throw it away. The quantity shouldn’t be significant enough to unbalance your recipe.

Here’s what I generally have left after I sieve half of my almonds-sugar mixture:

How to Make Macarons

Set this bowl aside and take your bigger stainless steel bowl out. This kind of bowl is called a cul-de-poule in French and they are so useful in a kitchen that, if you don’t have one already, you simply really should invest in a couple of them (different sizes). Stainless steel bowls helps egg whites get fluffy and firm.

Make sure your bowl is cold. Stainless steel usually remains cold by itself, but if it’s not, rinse it under cold water (or stick it in the freezer for a couple of minutes) and dry it before continuing. A cold bowl also makes egg whites happy.

Make sure your granulated sugar is measured and close to your working area. Put your egg whites in the bowl. Start beating them at medium/high speed with your mixer. Once they start to get bubbly and white and you see your whisk is lightly leaving marks, add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar.

How to Make Macarons

Continue beating and add the remaining sugar slowly over the next minute or two. Your eggs will now be white and fluff but not stiff enough. Continue beating at high speed until peaks form and remain up when you take out your whisk (stop your mixer before trying this!). When the egg whites are ready, you’ll notice that they seem dense and creamy and not as bubbly anymore. Here’s what they look like:

How to Make Macarons

How to Make Macarons

Now is the time to put your electric appliances aside. Your egg whites are delicate and you must treat them gently. If you wish to add color, now is the time to do so. I made lemon macarons. I added 15 drops of yellow liquid food coloring and the very finely grated zest of one lemon. Gently fold in the color using a spatula: slide your spatula on the side of the bowl under the egg whites and bring the bottom up to the top. Repeat this until the color is evenly blended. Now is not the time to be in a hurry: DO NOT whisk at any cost as it will deflate your egg whites and your batter will be ruined. At this point, the color of your batter (if you added food coloring) should be at least as intense as you want the final macaron to be. It will intensify and brighten a bit when you add the almonds/sugar mixture.

The batter is now matte, light and fluffy:

How to Make Macarons

Continuing your folding motion, start mixing in your dry ingredients a little at a time (you should add the whole thing in 4 or 5 additions). Carefully blend everything together, always sliding your spatula to the bottom of the bowl and back up to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain.

When your batter is evenly blended, it will look shiny and creamy:

How to Make Macarons

Prepare your baking sheets. Double the baking sheets (helps macarons rise and cook more evenly) then cover each with a well-measured sheet of parchment paper. I have tried silicon mats before and I don’t think they work well with macarons. Their rubbery texture seems to cling to the delicate and somewhat sticky cookies so that you more often than not end up with empty shells (the tender insides remaining stuck to the silicon).

How to Make Macarons

Now is the time to fit your pastry bag with its tip. I like to use disposable pastry bags that I wash 3-4 times before getting rid of them. I find that plastic pastry bags are more flexible and easier to work with than textile bags. They are also really easy to clean just by letting hot water run through them and they don’t stain.

To make the transfer from bowl to pastry bag easy, I stand my pastry bag in a measuring cup, folding or twisting the tip to make sure the batter doesn’t come out too quickly. If your pastry bags are long, fold it in half to make sure the batter gets to the bottom of the bag.

How to Make Macarons

Take your bag out of the cup, keeping the tip folded or twisted so that the batter doesn’t come out. Unfold the larger end of the bag and twist it shut close to the batter to push it down. As you lay your macarons on the cooking sheets, you will continue this motion (twisting the larger end of the bag with one hand) to put constant pressure on the batter and ease its way out on the sheets.

Now is the time to work your magic: you have to hold the tip of your bag with one hand to guide it, and hold the larger end with your other hand to push the batter down. Place your tip close to the parchment paper and twist the end of the bag so as to push the batter down and out to form 1 to 1.5” disks. You can set your macarons pretty close together as they won’t expand while cooking. When enough batter is out, stop twisting the end of the bag and swiftly lift your tip up to stop the batter from coming out. This is tricky: you will need practice. Mastering this technique will ensure your macarons are uniform in size and round.

How to Make Macarons

Now, don’t panic. Your macarons have a pointy tip that makes them look like lazy Hershey’s Kisses. Not to worry: as they rest before cooking, they will smooth out. You can help them though: lift your baking sheet up a bit and firmly bang it on the table a couple of times. This will even the caps and take the air bubbles out of them.

If you’re a perfectionist like I am, now is a good time to edit your macarons to make sure they will be perfectly round. I use a small silicon spatula to make oval caps round or smooth down tips that won’t come down. This step is absolutely not mandatory; imperfection can be very charming.

The next step will once again test your patience: you have to let your macarons rest on the baking sheets at room temperature for at least 20 minutes (some say a couple hours is best but I’m not that patient). You just have to. This step will “dry” the caps and help them rise later when they cook.

How to Make Macarons

Halfway through the wait, preheat your oven between 275 and 300°F (135-150°C). Every oven behaves differently. I have a gas oven and 300°F (150°C) is generally good for me. In some ovens, this temperature can be too hot, especially for light-colored macarons (you don’t want them to brown). I prefer to play it safe, cook them at a lower temperature and leave them longer in the oven. You will have to test your own oven and stay close to it to watch over your macarons as they cook.

I baked these lemon macarons at 300°F (150°C) for 14 minutes. Your cooking time could be anywhere between 13 and 18 minutes. From 12 minutes on, watch closely, and avoid opening your oven door before that. Your macarons are ready when they look dry and matte and seem firm on their crown when you lightly tap on them. Overcooking the macarons will make them too crunchy and feel like meringue. Undercooking them will make them separate when you try to lift them off the sheets. I know, it’s tricky! After a while, you will know your oven and get better at figuring when your macarons are done. In any case, please play it safe when setting your oven temperature. Excessive heat is the macaron’s worst enemy: they will cook too quickly, cracking like meringue and browning, hiding their beautiful color.

When they are done, take the sheets out of the oven and let them cool on a rack. If you need to reuse your baking sheets for the next batch, let them cool 5-10 minutes in the baking sheet and then lift the parchment paper out of the sheet to set it directly on the cooling rack (this is why it’s good to have more than 2 sheets).

Once cooled to room temperature, your macarons are ready to be assembled.

How to Make Macarons

When they are perfectly cooked, they should lift easily from the parchment paper, have a flat bottom and a beautiful puffy crown. If they stick a bit, help them up with a thin stainless steel spatula so that they don’t separate or break. If they’re a bit overcooked, they will be hollow under the cap. You can still use them, you’ll just have to put more cream to assemble them (yum!).

Match the cap sizes that fit best together. For the filling, the possibilities are as great as your imagination is. For lemon macarons, you can fill them up with lemon curd as I did, or with a lemon-flavored buttercream. If you made pink cookies, fill them up with good-quality raspberry preserves or, if you feel decadent, with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and preserves. The only thing that’s important is to make sure the filling is firm enough to not drip out from the macarons. A great macaron should be able to stand on its side and not lose its filling.

Using an icing spatula (or just a regular butter knife) spread your icing on one cookie. Place the other cookie on the icing and press gently to stick them together.

Once all of your macarons are assembled, in an ideal world, you would put them in an airtight container, in the refrigerator and let them rest for another 24 hours. Yes, you need patience once again. They won’t be bad if you eat them right away. Letting them rest with their icing in really reveals the fine texture of the macaron. The humidity of the icing will get into the crispy caps and that’s what will make them crisp on the outside and so tender on the inside. Try to be patient, trust me, it’s really worth the wait. The good thing is that it’s a great dessert to make in advance and it will for sure impress your guests. They will be at their best if you eat them in the next 4-5 days.

Yes, these French cookies are a really fancy delicacy. No, they’re not easy to make. Yes, they require time, patience and practice to master. But it’s worth it really, and less expensive than a plane ticket to Paris.

How to Make Macarons

Yum

347 Responses to How to Make Macarons: A Detailed, Illustrated Step-by-Step Recipe

  1. Teresa Leonard says:

    Thanks for the recipe and the great directions.  My macarons turned out really well on the first try.  I had a problem with the food colouring.  I wanted a pale baby blue so added a little blue food colouring and it turned almost turquiose, similar to a robins egge blue.  Very pretty but no what I wanted.  I wouls appreciate any help you could give me.
    Thanks Teresa

  2. Sruthi says:

    Hey Maria,
                    I use a microwave oven which can accomadate only very few macaroons at a time so will the rest of the mix be damaged if kept ouside ,is it better to keep the mix as such or pipe it and let it rest while the other ones are in the oven?

    • Marie says:

      You can leave the macaron batter at room temperature for about an hour while you’re baking the shells, one batch at a time. If it’s especially warm or humid though, I would place the remaining batter (the portion that hasn’t been piped out yet) in the fridge in between each piping session.

  3. [...] make these sweet little bites of heaven. With a little research, I stumbled up this awesome blog, Food Nouveau, with a step by step guide about how to make perfect macarons! I am thinking about using this [...]

  4. shilla says:

    Hey, can I reduce the amount of sugar used in making these macaroons? As my parents could'nt eat something that are too sweet. Will there be too sweet if follow with the exactly amount of sugar? Will try this recipe soon..thanks for sharing and reply. =) 

    • Marie says:

      You can’t reduce the amount of sugar used in the macaron recipe. The ratio is essential to make the meringue necessary to achieve a great macaron. Check out this troubleshooting entry for more info about the use of sugar in macarons.

  5. Christina says:

    my first batch didn't turn out. I'm not sure why some of them cracked at the top and when I took them out because the crown was hard they were undercooked and won't come off the paper at all. I left them to "dry out" longer than 20 minutes. Does that change the texture? my oven was at 250 because it can get quite hot and I tried following the recommendation of cooking it longer at a lower temp. my rack was in the middle – should I move it up? What did i do wrong-what happened? Otherwise I think your blog is awesome! Thanks!

  6. [...] make these sweet little bites of heaven. With a little research, I stumbled up this awesome blog, Food Nouveau, with a step by step guide about how to make perfect macarons! I am thinking about using this [...]

  7. James says:

    Hi i made a similar recipe but made a white choc and mixed berry ganache. yum yum. I seem to have problems with my shells cracking half will be ok the other half gone. plus dont seem to get the "feet" properley. any suggestions?
    I used the same technique as the one described above

  8. Kaylene says:

    I am thinking of making these for my wedding favours. I will need to make 220 as we have roughly 110 guests and I want to put 2 in each. How long do you think this will take? I only have a couple of days to put aside to make them. I will have a back up just in case they dont work but I wanted to put a bit of a personal touch on our wedding favours.
    I will be making them a week before the wedding so they will go in the freezer but they will need to be taken to the venue the day before the wedding and put in the fridge. Until they are ready to put them out in the afternoon before the guests arrive at the reception. Will the make them go bad at all? Do you have any other tips for this.
    I wanted to make coral/salmond coloured macaroons (as our wedding is mainly balck and ivory with the girls dresses and a few flowers being coral/salmon colour) with a white chocolate filling.
    Do you think this is over reaching.. trying to make this many in a couple of days.. I will have help from my mum putting them together etc..
    Thanks
     

  9. Danielle says:

    This is a great recipe!  My first batch came out okay, but I think I just let them over dry, but my second batch was pure perfection thanks to you!  BTW I did use cold egg whites and it didn't make a difference since they were still aged.  Thanks!

  10. Judy says:

    Any recommendations for baking in a convection oven – there is not the option of no fan – but I tried with the fan on low and they tasted great, but the "feet" appeared to spread out – my thought was that it was due to the fan. 

    • Marie says:

      Try to lower the temperature to a minimum – convection speeds up the heating process, so a cooler oven should work better.

  11. Sharon says:

    Hi there
    Thank you for this great guide! love how detailed it is..and the video is very helpful too.
    I just have a question regarding the tip for the pastry bag. I can't find Ateco tips here so I bought a Wilton 2A. Can you please tell me if that size is okay? Thanks a lot!
     
    Sharon

  12. Jill Jones says:

    Hi! Thanks so much for these instructions. I have only made two batches and I have a few problems. First time I made them too big and likely did not cook them long enough but they were edible. This last time I used powder colorant and it was difficult to mix in gently. The shells rose a bit and had little "feet" but they were sticky underneath and hard to get off the parchment paper. Again, edible but not perfect macarons.
    I cooked them at 148 C but I think my oven cooks a bit lower than the stated temp. They were still a little big but I think my batter might be a bit thin. I only let them sit for about 20 minutes before cooking and they did not rise very much. My first batch I let sit for an hour (per Tartlette) and they rose well and had nice feet but again I think I did not cook them long enough.
    Any tips on getting a great final result?
    Thanks!

  13. Pinky says:

    hi, i would like to ask how many servings can your recipe made? in a medium size of macaron? thanks :)

  14. [...] Food Nouveau 1 – step-by-step photos and instructions (the author of this post creates Video 3) [...]

  15. Jessica says:

    Prior to attempting to make these beauties, I have spent the last week scouring the internet and familiarizing myself with the techniques that will "hopefully"  lead to me making beautiful, and wonderfully tasting, macarons. Your tutorial – and your response to every comment left on your blog – has led me to take many side notes before setting out to make these for the first time! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and techniques with all of us! I'm excited to get going!
    My question are… 1.) Can this recipe be halfed? If so, I'm just wondering what the measurements would be as one batch calls for 3 egg whites. And can this recipe be doubled? 2.) You say that if you want to add color {for the shells} to do so prior to mixing in the dry ingredients. After you have beaten your egg whites and are ready to color them, does the entire batch have to be colored the same color, or can you take out half of the egg mixture and use half of the dry mixture to create one color of a batch…and then retain the other half of the egg whites, add the remaining half of the dry mixture to that, and make another color. Or must this be a process in which ALL of the egg whites/one color/and ALL of the dry ingredients must be combined together, and not divided, since the ingredients are weighed? 

    • Marie says:

      I would not halve the recipe because it may be hard to halve the egg whites quantity (although you can weigh the egg whites, knowing one large egg white weighs 30 to 33 g). You can double the recipe, but unless you have access to more than one residential oven, I would make single recipes twice (go through the process once, then do it again), just so your batter doesn’t wait around for too long after being folded together.
      You can try to halve the batter after it’s folded together to add different food coloring to each portion, but be careful not to overbeat the batter.

  16. rina says:

    hi,
    i've copied the recipe. will make them soon. thanx for sharing..:)

  17. Hanna says:

    Hi there, thanks for the great recipe. It was the fourth consecutive attempt to get my macarons right, and it took me closest to success. Just one question: in other recipes, I always managed overwhip my meringue (dry and crumbly) and overmix the batter (runny). Now the situation was the other way around: I couldn't get the batter to be runny enough! No matter how much I turned it in the bowl, it just stayed at the "not ready yet" stage. It seemed that there was too little meringue in comparison with the sugar/almond meal. think that I had too little egg whites; I'm always hesitant with recipes that don't give the amount off egg whites in grams.  Do you think it might make a difference if I added maybe another half egg white? Or maybe the egg whites should be even warmer, now they were in room temperature only for about 2 hours. What would you suggest? :)