French macarons are notoriously difficult to make, yet with the right recipe and instructions, anyone can make them. Learn how to achieve this French treat in your home kitchen!
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French Macarons are a delicacy I am completely crazy about. My favorite macarons are sold at Pierre Hermé, in Paris, and it’s tasting the French treat in that shop for the first time, almost 20 years ago, that sent me down a rabbit hole. Coming back home after that first trip to Paris, I was obsessed with macarons. On subsequent trips, I took classes to learn how to make French macarons, yet as I experimented in my home kitchen, I realized making macarons is not an easy task, and it requires a lot of patience. I learned the hard way that French macarons are capricious little wonders: change the ratio of ingredients even just a tiny bit and your delicate balance tips over. I’ve seen many trays of overbaked, flat, cracked, or overinflated macarons coming out of my oven!
Over time, I perfected my technique and recipe and began teaching others to make them. No macaron recipe can guarantee a perfect result. Here’s what you need to be successful at making French macarons:
You likely will need to make French macarons several times before you achieve perfection—that is, a result that makes you happy and proud. After all, if French macarons were so easy to do, wouldn’t everyone make them?
With experience, I noticed that there’s nothing better than watching someone making macarons to learn how to make them properly. This post is as close as still photos can get you to a step-by-step demonstration. If you prefer video, watch my oldie-but-goodie How to Make French Macarons 5-minute video How to Make French Macarons 5-minute video, or enroll in my detailed video class, the one place where you’ll find ALL my secrets and tips to make French macarons.
Since first publishing this post in 2010, struggling macaron-makers have asked me every question under the sun. After replying to hundreds (thousands!) of comments over the years, I decided to close the comments on my macaron posts, but I’m leaving you with an excellent resource: my Macaron Troubleshooting Guide: Useful Tips and Advice to Master the French Delicacy. This post gathers ALL of the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked about French macarons over the years. If you’re having any trouble making French macarons, I’ll bet 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! I will keep regularly updating my troubleshooting posts with new issues that come up.
If you want to SEE someone make macarons before you take on the project of making your own, my Skillshare video class is for you:
I designed my Skillshare class both for novice bakers who want to learn new skills, and for experienced bakers who are seeking to master a new and impressive dessert. The class is divided into 15 short videos that will show you the essential equipment you need, the important steps to follow, the techniques to master, and the potential pitfalls to avoid. You can watch the videos on your own time, start practicing, share with other budding macaron makers, and ask me questions if you encounter difficulties along the way.
I’m confident that this video class will enable you to create perfect French macarons. Enroll Now!
Successfully making French macaron shells is the toughest task to achieve and the one you’ll need the most practice for. You should try to successfully bake basic French macarons before trying to mix in other flavors.
Making French macarons requires a bit of advance planning.
Gather all the equipment you need before you get started. You might need to purchase new tools–yes, that kitchen scale is required. 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!
STEP 1: PROCESSING THE ALMOND FLOUR/POWDERED SUGAR TOGETHER
Weigh the powdered sugar and almond flour 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 step 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 flour.
You can grind whole almonds. Use raw almonds, unpeeled or blanched. If you use unpeeled almonds, the brown peel will give a speckled look to the macaron shells. To very finely grind almonds, put them in a food processor along with the powdered sugar. This will prevent the almonds from turning into butter.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make macarons, but make sure to thoroughly blend the almonds and sugar together. The consequence is that the texture of your macarons might not be as smooth.
STEP 2: SIEVING THE ALMOND FLOUR/POWDERED SUGAR MIXTURE
After processing the powdered sugar and almond flour, you need 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 through your sieve. Don’t try to force it through; it’s ok to throw it away. If you don’t remove more than 1 teaspoon of larger bits, your ingredient ratio will still work.
Set the sieved ingredients aside.
STEP 3: BEATING THE EGG WHITES (making the meringue)
Get a large 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 should consider investing in a couple of them: one small and one large. You can get them in sets of 3 to 5 bowls, but you really only need a couple. Stainless steel bowls help to get egg whites fluffy and firm. If you have a stand mixer, the bowl that comes with your mixer works.
Make sure the bowl is cold. Stainless steel remains naturally cold, but if it seems warm to the touch or if you just washed it in hot water, rinse it under cold running water, then dry it properly before using. You can also stick the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes before using it. A cold bowl also helps to get the best out of egg whites.
Weigh the granulated sugar and keep it close to your working area. Put the egg whites and the cream of tartar in the stainless steel bowl. Start beating them at medium-high speed with your mixer. Once the egg whites start to get bubbly and whiter, and the whisk begins lightly leaving marks (after a minute or two), add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar.
Continue beating and pour in the remaining sugar slowly over the next minute or two. The eggs will now be white and fluffy but not stiff enough. Continue beating at high speed until peaks form and remain up when you pull the whisk out. When the egg whites are ready, you’ll notice that they seem dense and creamy and not as “airy” anymore.
Here’s what the egg whites should look like at this stage:
STEP 4: ADDING COLOR (optional)
Set your electric appliances aside. From this stage on, the beaten egg whites—also called the meringue—must be treated gently.
If you wish to color the shells, now is the time to do so. Add a few drops of gel food coloring to the meringue and gently fold in the color using a silicone spatula: slide the spatula along the side of the bowl down to the bottom, then pull back up towards the center of the bowl. Do this 3 to 4 times to start distributing the color. The color will fully incorporate when you mix in the almond/sugar mixture. DO NOT whisk the meringue at any cost as it will deflate your egg whites and your batter will be ruined.
At this point, if you added food coloring, the color of your macaron batter should be at least as intense as you want the final macaron to be. The color will fade out a bit when you add the almonds/sugar mixture.
STEP 5: MACARONNAGE (incorporating the almond/sugar mixture into the meringue)
Pour about half of the sugar and almond mixture over the meringue and a silicone spatula to fold it in. Slide the spatula along the side of the bowl down to the bottom, then pull back up towards the center of the bowl. This will deflate the egg whites a little, which is normal. When the first half of the sugar and almond mixture is incorporated, add the rest of it to the bowl and keep on folding.
Now is when you need to start paying close attention.
At first, you’ll notice the macaron mixture looks curdled, and as you fold, it will become homogenous and looser. When ready, the macaron batter should be just loose enough for it to lazily drip from the spatula in a continuous ribbon.
Recognizing when the batter is ready is key to successfully making French macaron.
It’s important to learn to recognize when the batter is ready because the look of your finished shells depends on it. If you don’t fold enough and the batter is too stiff, the shells might not form feet. If you overfold and the batter is too loose, the shells will spread unevenly when you pipe them onto the sheet pans. They might also crack during the baking process.
When the macaron batter is evenly blended, it looks shiny, smooth, and creamy:
STEP 6: PREPARING THE BAKING SHEETS
Stack two baking sheets if you can (the extra layer helps macarons rise and cook more evenly). Cover the top baking sheet with a cut-out piece of parchment paper: the paper should fit flat over the bottom of the baking sheet and not come up the sides to avoid warping the macaron shells. Parchment paper sheets are very handy because they come in a pre-cut format that perfectly fits standard half sheets. I do not recommend using a silicone mat: 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 mat).
Slide macaron templates under the parchment paper if you wish to use them.
STEP 7: PIPING THE MACARON SHELLS
Fit the pastry bag with its tip. I like to use disposable pastry bags that I wash and reuse 3-4 times before getting rid of them. Disposable plastic pastry bags are more flexible and easier to work with than textile bags. They won’t stain and they’re also really easy to clean just by letting hot water run through them.
To transfer the macaron batter to the pastry bag more easily, stand the pastry bag in a measuring cup. To do so, folding or twist the pastry tip to prevent the batter from flowing out, then fold down the top part of the bag (like a cuff) to make it easier to push the batter to the bottom of the bag.
Transfer the macaron batter to the prepared pastry bag.
Take the pastry 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 pipe the macarons on the lined 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 sheet.
Here’s how to pipe perfectly round French macaron shells: Place one hand towards the tip of the pastry bag with one hand to guide it, and hold the larger end with your other hand to push the batter down. Keep the tip very close to the parchment paper, holding the bag upright, 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 the tip up to stop the batter from coming out. Finding the right rhythm to do this is tricky: you will need practice. Mastering this technique will ensure your macarons are uniform in size and round.
Right after piping, your French macarons may have a pointy tip that makes them look like lazy Hershey’s Kisses. Not to worry: as the macaron shells rest before cooking, they should smooth out. If they don’t, it may be a sign that your macaron batter is too stiff. There’s nothing you can do to change the texture of your macaron batter at this point, but you can smooth out the top of the shells: firmly bang each baking sheet on the countertop a few times. This will even out the caps and take the air bubbles out of them.
If there are still tiny points showing, you can use a small silicone spatula or an offset spatula to very gently smooth them out. This step is absolutely not mandatory; imperfection can be charming.
STEP 8: RESTING
The next step will test your patience: you need to let the piped, unbaked macarons rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. This step will “dry” the caps and help them rise properly later when they bake.
STEP 9: BAKING THE MACARON SHELLS
Halfway through the wait, preheat the oven between 275° and 300°F (135-150°C). Every single oven behaves differently, so I highly recommend the use of an internal oven thermometer to monitor the actual temperature of your oven. The temperature of some ovens can be off by as much as 25°F, which is enough to mess up a batch of macarons.
I have an electric oven and 275°F (135°C) is the temperature that generally works for me. This temperature can be too hot for light-colored macarons, which you don’t want to brown at all. In case of doubt, play it safe: bake the macarons at a lower temperature and leave them longer in the oven. To find out which temperature works best in your own oven, you will need to do a few tests and watch the macarons closely as they bake.
I baked the vanilla bean macarons, below, at 275°F (135°C) for 14 minutes. The average cooking time is between 13 and 18 minutes. From 12 minutes on, watch closely, and avoid opening the oven door before that. The macarons are ready when they look dry and matte and seem firm on their crown when you lightly tap on them.
Overbaking the macarons will make them too crunchy and brittle.
Underbaking them will give them a “wet” look as they cool. Underbaked macaron shells will also be difficult to remove from the parchment paper: they may stick to it and separate when you try to lift them off the sheets. Yes, it’s tricky!
After a few tries, you’ll get to know your oven and be 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, losing their beautiful color.
STEP 10: LETTING THE MACARON SHELLS COOL
When the macaron shells are done, take the sheets out of the oven and let the shells cool completely over a wire rack.
If you need to reuse your baking sheets for the next batch, let the shells 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.
Once the shells have cooled to temperature, the French macarons are ready to be assembled.
STEP 11: ASSEMBLING THE FRENCH MACARONS
If you prepared the filling in advance, take it back out to room temperature at least 1 hour before assembling the macarons.
When French macaron shells are perfectly cooked and cooled, they should lift easily from the parchment paper, have a flat bottom and a beautiful puffy crown.
If your macaron shells seem to stick to the parchment paper, here are two tips to help lift them up without damaging them:
Match macarons shells that fit best together and set them side by side, flat side up, on the baking sheet or a clean working surface.
Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Alternatively, you can use an offset spatula to spread the filling on the shells.
Pipe frosting on one of each pair of macaron shells, or delicately hold one shell in one hand, flat side up, and spread some filling over it. Gently set the second shell over the filling and press lightly to help close the macarons.
STEP 12: THE WAITING GAME
Once all of the macarons are assembled, you need to put them in an airtight container, store them in the refrigerator, and let them rest for 24 hours, or at least overnight. That’s right! After all that hard work, you can’t even enjoy the macarons right away! Well, you can taste one just for a taste—macarons sure won’t be bad if you eat them right away. But resting French macarons with the filling in is the extra step that fully reveals their irresistible texture. The humidity of the filling then gets into the crunchy meringue caps, and that’s what creates the lovely contrast between the lightly crisp outer shell and the tender insides. Be patient, trust me, it’s worth the wait.
The good news about that extra wait is that it means French macarons can and should be made in advance. Your macarons will be at their best if you eat them within the next 2 to 3 days. Always make sure to bring them back to room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
STEP 13: ENJOY!
Enjoy the fruit of your labor, then plan your next batch, and keep practicing. Your macarons will only keep getting better!
Yes, French macarons are finicky. Yes, they require patience to make. Yes, you are likely to fail at first—I still mess up batches from time to time, even after 15 years of making them at home! But the challenge is worth taking on, and biting into your very first homemade macaron is so satisfying! There’s nothing quite like it. Plus, making French macarons at home is way less expensive than a plane ticket to Paris :)
Yes! French macarons withstand freezing very well. Store assembled macarons in an airtight container, then freeze for up to one month. Once the macarons are frozen, you can take out the exact quantity you need and keep the other at their freshest. To serve, simply let the macarons rest at room temperature for an hour and they’ll be ready to eat.
Note that freezing works better with creamy fillings such as buttercreams and ganaches. Fillings that are more humid, such as jams, can excessively moisten the shells, making them lose their crunch completely. If you plan on filling your macarons with jam, you’re better off freezing the shells alone, then defrost and assemble them on the day you plan to serve them.
NEVER throw away failed macaron shells. Your macarons shells may not always come out looking as perfect as you’d like them to be—they could be warped, cracked, or hollow, but unless they are downright burnt, they are still usable. Fill them and enjoy them, or give them away to friends and family who will be more than welcome to enjoy these treats, even if they look slightly wonky.
If you have trouble making macarons, make sure to read through my very detailed Macaron Troubleshooting Guide: Useful Tips and Advice to Master the French Delicacy. This post gathers ALL of the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked about French macarons over the years.
My many French macarons recipes are sure to inspire macaron lovers!
Be sure to check out my French Macaron Video Class for even more flavor ideas.
PDF file: print two copies to fit a standard half-sheet pan. Download the printable French macaron template.
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