Step-by-Step Guide to French Macarons

Carefully explained and photographed tutorial for delicate French macaron cookies.

Carefully explained and photographed tutorial for delicate French macaron cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

It’s been a helluva long time coming!! Light, airy, meringue-like, beautiful French macarons have been on my baking bucket list for a few years. I’ve been studying, testing, and driving myself crazy in the kitchen for months trying to get these things right. I’ve never been more determined and with perseverance comes success!

Today I’m teaching you exactly how to make French macarons at home. Consider this post your French Macarons: Decoded class.

Carefully explained and photographed tutorial for delicate French macaron cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

French macarons are delicate cookies with a crunchy exterior and weightless interior. They have a nougat-like, chewy texture and can be filled with anything from frosting and salted caramel to lemon curd and chocolate ganache. If there’s one thing to know before beginning French macarons at home, it’s this: these cookies are not simple. Impossible? Absolutely not. Requiring BOTH patience and practice? Yes.

That’s why they’re so expensive in bakeries and restaurants! These are quite particular little cookies, as I’m sure you already guessed. I’m not saying this to intimidate you! I’m saying this to prepare you for a French macaron journey. Let’s get started. You can do it.

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

A kitchen scale is required for the best results. You know I’m a stickler for using a scale! Accurate measurements = accurate results. I’m actually encouraging you to NOT use US cup measurements for this recipe, as there is way too much room for error. Whenever I made macarons based off of cup measurements (2/3 cup this; 3/4 cup that), I messed up the cookies every single time. They tasted “fine” but not authentic. And they didn’t look very pretty, either!

Here is the kitchen scale I own. Less expensive options: here and here.

The base ingredients for these French macaron cookies are almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and room temperature egg whites. You can make your own almond flour at home by pulsing blanched, skinless, unsalted, raw almonds until fine. However, buying a package is easier and you get the super-fine texture needed for macaron batter. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand. I find this in my regular grocery store in the baking aisle.

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Almond flour and confectioners’ sugar is blended together in a food processor or blender until thoroughly combined and fine in texture. Like this:

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Then beat 3 room temperature egg whites until stiff peaks form. Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature. In fact, separate the egg whites in advance. Then, let them sit out for a few hours or even overnight. They need to “age.” That is SO important!!

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Left: Stiff peaks. Right: sifted granulated sugar. Sifted being the key word here! The last thing you want are coarse granules of sugar in your airy, light macaron cookies.

Lightly beat the sifted sugar into the egg whites then fold in the almond flour/confectioners’ sugar blend. Slow slow slow folds. This isn’t a race! Always be gentle with macaron batter.

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The batter will be thick, off-white, glossy, and sticky.

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Now it’s time to pipe the batter onto baking sheets.

I tested macarons on parchment paper, bare non-stick sheets, and silicone baking mats. Silicone baking mats were BY FAR the easiest surface to work with. I found the macarons spread a little more on the bare non-stick sheet surface, as well as the parchment paper. Using either surface also made it a little more difficult to remove the delicate cookies. So, a silicone baking mat is best.

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The macaron batter is piped onto baking sheets. It took me a lot of practice to get those perfect little circles and, trust me, each one still isn’t perfect. You will need a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip– I always use my Ateco 806 (size 6) 1/2″ plain tip.

Pipe small rounds. The macaron batter will slightly spread, so start with only a little bit. You want the rounds to be around 2 inches in diameter.

Before baking, let the piped rounds sit. Just as you let the egg whites come to room temperature, the batter rounds need time to “age” as well. This is crucial to making macarons! Time is macaron batter’s best friend. During this time, the air will will help the rounds set and form a dry shell. Meaning, they will no longer be wet and sticky. I always let mine sit for at least 45 minutes.

Then, bake the cookies!

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The cookies take around 10 minutes in the oven. The tops will be crisp, the bottoms will develop their trademark crinkly “feet.”

Allow them to cool, then fill with your favorite fillings/frostings.

Here's exactly how to make French Macaron cookies-- everything explained on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Here I used my basic very vanilla frosting that I kept white for 1 batch macarons and tinted blue for another. You can tint the frosting any color you like OR you can use other fillings. I list several in the recipe notes below, so there’s plenty to choose from. Have fun with those fillings!

You see these peach-colored macarons? I added a drop of pink food coloring and a drop of yellow food coloring to the macaron batter to obtain this light color. You can color the macaron batter any shade you desire! Read my recipe note about that.

Be sure to read through all of the recipe instructions before you begin so you know the what, when, where, and why’s of the recipe. Also, read my Quick Tips for Success below. You’re guaranteed better success doing both.

Carefully explained and photographed tutorial for delicate French macaron cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Print

Basic French Macarons

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 40 shells / 20 filled macarons
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French

Description

For best results, use a scale to measure these ingredients in grams


Ingredients

  • 200confectioners’ sugar (close to 2 cups)
  • 100g almond flour (close to 1 cup)
  • 120g room temperature egg whites (around 3 large egg whites)*
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 40g sifted granulated sugar or caster sugar (3 Tablespoons)
  • flavoring or color*
  • your desired filling*

Instructions

  1. Place the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor or blender and pulse or blend for 30 seconds until thoroughly combined and fine in texture. Set aside.
  2. In a completely dry and grease-free bowl, beat the egg whites and salt together on medium speed for 1 minute. Switch to high speed and beat *just* until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Do NOT overbeat. Using a metal spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold in the sifted granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time.
  3. On low speed, beat in any flavor or color2 at this point. Do not overmix.
  4. Using a metal spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the confectioners’ sugar/almond flour mixture until combined. Be very gentle and light-handed while doing so. Once completely combined, the mixture will be smooth, sticky, and glossy.
  5. Let the batter sit uncovered at room temperature for 10-30 minutes. Meanwhile, fit your piping bag with the piping tip. Line 2-3 baking sheets with silicone baking mats (read explanation in this post about why these mats are preferred).
  6. Fill the piping bag with the batter and pipe evenly sized rounds onto the baking sheets– make sure you are holding the bag vertically and close to the baking sheet. While piping, the batter will slightly spread out, so keep that in mind. You want around 2-inch circles. Gently tap the bottom of the baking sheets on your counter to rid any large air bubbles. You can lightly sprinkle a few sprinkles, a dash of cinnamon, or any edible decorations onto the wet round shells at this point.
  7. Let the piped rounds sit for at least 45 minutes and up to 1 hour. This is crucial to making macarons! The air will will help the rounds set and form a dry shell. They should not be sticky going into the oven.
  8. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Bake the macarons for 10 minutes, one baking sheet at a time.  Rotate the pan at the 5 minute mark. The tops should be crisp and the macarons should have formed their signature crinkly “feet.” Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before filling.
  9. Fill* and sandwich two shells together to form an iconic French macaron cookie! Leftover macarons keep well covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Special Tools: Kitchen scale (great options herehere, and here), food processor or blender, piping bag, 1/2 inch tip (I use Ateco 806 (size 6) tip)
  2. Egg Whites: Age your egg whites. This is so important! Separate them first. Then, let them sit out at room temperature for a few hours; overnight preferred.
  3. When coloring or flavoring macaron batter, remember that less is more. Too much addition to the light batter equals a change in texture and appearance. I find a half teaspoon of any flavor extract is enough for the entire batter, as well as only 1-3 drops of liquid/gel food coloring. You can also use food coloring paste. I used 1/2 teaspoon almond extract in the pictured macarons. I also tinted one batch peach with 1 drop pink liquid food coloring and 1 drop yellow liquid food coloring.
  4. Filling Ideas: I used very vanilla frosting in these photos. To get blue, I tinted with 1 drop blue liquid food coloring. You can also use regular vanilla frostingstrawberry frosting, raspberry frosting, jam, salted caramelmarshmallow frosting, lemon curdmilk chocolate frosting, dark chocolate frosting, coconut frostingbutterscotch sauce, apple butter, chocolate ganache, white chocolate frosting, whipped cream, strawberry whipped cream, etc.
  5. Adapted from Les Petits Macarons and Mad About Macarons

Quick Tips for Success

  • If your macarons aren’t perfect, that’s ok! Don’t give up just yet. Practice makes perfect. It took me awhile too.
  • Make sure you weigh all of your ingredients before beginning. You might think this is unnecessary but, if you read anything in today’s post, you know it’s crucial.
  • Overbeating the egg whites will introduce more air and create an airy, hollow cookie. Avoid overbeating. Only beat *just* until stiff peaks form. Here is a GREAT post from Ms. Humble on avoiding hollow centers.
  • Always handle macaron batter with finesse and care. Mixing and folding too much? All will be lost!
  • Avoid making your macarons on a particularly humid day. Right now in the summer, look for the day of the week with the least humidity. Cool, dry weather is best.
  • Macaron rounds should be dry going into the oven. That is why letting them sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes (the longer the better) is imperative.
  • Take notes as you go. I suggest this because if you run into any problems, you can refer to your notes to make adjustments such as, letting the egg whites age longer, turning up/down the oven temperature, using a different baking sheet, etc.

Carefully explained and photographed tutorial for delicate French macaron cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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Ever wondered how to make French macaron cookies? Here's how to do it!

252 Comments

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  1. My hat is off to you. Last summer I decided I was going to make them. I tried three times, read every tutorial, weighed the ingredients, same exact Bob’s almond meal you used, used a Silpat, used ‘old’ eggs for one batch b/c I read that older eggs work better than newer, and I never succeeded. 3 strikes and I was out, never to try again. Sniff. You make it look so easy…sigh. They’re gorgeous and I’d love a dozen 🙂

    1. Hi Averie,
      Where do you live?  Humidity can really cause havoc with Macaron baking.  I too tried more than a few times to get these right and now, finally I can, but I do not try if there is a drop of humidity in the air.  jus a thought…
      Cathy

  2. What a great and in-depth tutorial! My sister and I made s’mores macarons a few weeks back, and I must say they were quite a challenge to make, but totally worth the effort. French macarons are total divas with all of their rules and stipulations, but a successful end result is definitely worth it!

  3. Hi Sally!

    The majority of the French cooking blogosphere is obsessed with macarons! I tried making them twice and they were pretty ugly but still tasted delicious so I’m not giving up. 

    I see you use the French meringue method (which is simply beating the egg whites with sugar). You may want to try them with Italian meringue too! (adding a sugar syrup to the eggs whites as you beat them).

    I heard the Italian meringue method gives slightly sturdier macarons, while the French meringue method gives fragile and delicate macarons. The Italian meringue method is also more complicated as it requires a thermomether (for the sugar syrup) but it’s supposed to be give more reliable results. 

    I used French meringue for my first two tries with macarons so I think I will check out Italian meringue next.  Both methods certainly have their fans. 

    One thing surprised me in your recipe : the weight of confectioner’s sugar is twice the weight of powdered almonds. In all the recipes I’ve seen, it was always the same weight. I think it’s supposed to be one of the main features of the macaron : you use “tant pour tant” (as much powdered almonds as confectioner’s sugar) to make them. 

    Your macarons look perfect so maybe the difference doesn’t truly matter. It may simply be a recipe suited to American tastebuds. I noticed that American sweets are significantly sweeter than French ones, and I’ve always adjusted your recipes accordingly (by removing 1/4 up to 1/3 of the total amount of sugar). 

    All the best, 
    Elizabeth

    1. Sorry for my intrusion, but you are right – Italian meringue is more reliable! I am by no means a baker, but I attempted to make macarons both ways (with very litle practice) and the Italian meringue method gave me more presentable results :). And yes, weigh all your ingredients – almonds, sugar, egg whites, all of it. 

      And Sally they look great!

    2. I’ve never attempted the Italian version, but I’ve never been more intrigued. Thanks Elizabeth– I’m going to try it sometime! And I practiced with a traditional base of tant pour tant and didn’t have much luck both texture and appearance-wise. Sigh! This recipe works like a charm for me. Loved reading this!

      1. Another point that was highlighted in every recipe I read was to leave the macarons in the fridge for at least 12h before eating them. Some recipes even recommend 24h! 

        Apparently, it’s very important to let the flavours of the filling and cookies mingle before eating them. I did notice that the macarons that spent a night in the fridge were better compared to the one I ate straight after making them. 

        Elizabeth

  4. My hats off to you!   They are finicky!  My tip is to bang the piped shells on the counter to release trapped air bubbles.  I think it makes for smoother tops.  

    They look gorgeous!

  5. I WOULD JUST LIKE TO SAY… I can attest to the perfection of these cutie pie treats as I was fortunate enough to taste test them from Sally herself! 

    Well worth the blood, sweat, and tears, my friend! Bravo for this beautiful tutorial!

  6. You finally did it!! I’m so glad you used the almond meal, too. I always dread having to grind almonds on top of doing everything else needed to make these temperamental but completely amazing little cookies!

  7. Amazing! I was in Zurich this summer and majorly enjoyed the famous Sprüngli macarons.. I’ve been wanting to learn how to make them since then but have been quite intimidated. This might just be the inspiration that I needed 🙂 thanks for sharing!!

  8. I’ve never had a macaron, but we love the simple meringue “cookies” or shells to put fruit/cream cheese and stuff in…. So will definitely have to give this challenge a go.  They are beautiful!!  I’m just curious… does humidity mess with these?  Since this summer has been incredibly humid, I’ve ended up blaming that for some of my cookie problems because I’ve been very careful with everything I can control… even though our AC does work (!), it still can’t completely keep up with the worst days.  For July 4th I made a lemon meringue pie for a lady and the meringue fell, embarrassingly, like never before.  Thankfully they were more concerned with what was between that and the crust!!  🙂

    1. Yes! Humidity is the kitchen’s worst nightmare when it comes to most sweets. Particularly candy and most definitely meringues and these delicate macaron cookies. Pick a summer day with the least humidity– and/or, when the weather cools down, have at it!

      1. Thank you!!!  Suspicions confirmed.  🙂  I’ll just save myself the nightmare and try these in October! 

      2. Isn’t humidity good for other baked goods? I always grew up learning that fudge is the very best thing to make on humid days – or even when it’s raining at that moment! I hope that’s true, cause I always make fudge when it’s raining!

      3. Ahh I never have luck with candy on humid days– usually those involving cooked sugar syrup like toffee, brittle, or taffy, so not necessarily fudge. Hey if it works for you– that’s great!

  9. Sally – The first time I tried to make macarons, they came out horrible. I was afraid to try again, but with a step-by-step guide just like this, I was able to make them with a lot less sweat and tears. Thank you for sharing this with us. I want to make them again soon. I love how easy it is to manipulate the flavors. 😀

  10. YOU ARE MY IDOL. haha. I’ve tried making french macarons quiiiiite a few times, and eventually threw in the towel because I could just NOT get them to work. Tears might have been shed lol. BUT I think you’re inspiring me to give them a shot once more with all of your amazing tips and tricks. Thanks Sally, for just the kick in the pants I needed 🙂

  11. Hi Sally!

    If you’re having trouble with lifting the macaron straight off after baking, definitely try the Italian method! It does involve an extra pan since you have to dissolve the sugar in water at a certain temperature, but I found it’s a lot more consistent and reliable with my end results. Apparently, you don’t have to wait for a resting period of age your egg whites, but I still do. With macarons, you just never know!

    Also, I know Bob’s Red Mill is cheaper, but do check out Honeyville. I find that their almond flour is a lot finer than Bob’s and easier to sift with less chunks. 

    Check out BraveTart as well. She says humidity doesn’t matter… weird. 

    Glad to see you finally mastered the macarons! 🙂

    Best, 

    Linda

    1. I’ve personally never had luck on particularly humid days! Any type of whipped egg white-based goodie (meringue, marshmallow topping, macarons, pavlova) never sets up properly.

  12. HALLELUJAH!!!!! 🙂 I have been hoping you would do a post on this! Now I’m so excited!!

    Also, do you have a good recipe for Cool Whip frosting? 

    1. Sally,

      Is it possible to substitute the almond flour with confectioners sugar or something else? My husband is allergic to almonds and pecans. I have read on other recipes that you could do this, but I would love your opinion. I trust what you say 🙂 I’ve been waiting on you to post a recipe for these for a while now! 🙂 thank you!! 🙂

      1. Lindsey, I do not recommend it. The cookies would be mostly all sugar. Maybe you can find a different recipe suited for the substitute?

  13. Hi Sally,
    First of all, a million thank yous. You have no idea how long I have been waiting for this recipe. I was one of those who was pestering you for this recipe. I had myself convinced that maybe Sally will post it in her cookie palooza in Dec. But this came sooner.

    Thank you for all your pictures and tips. even though I have Paris to look forward to in Nov, I can enjoy these now.
    Just for fun sakes (I might be totally off, I want to guess the macaron flavor you will post in a couple of days, I say salted caramel)

  14. Gorgeous post Sally! I never ever considered macarons until now. I love how you explain everything in such detail; it really is like a class. You are so generous. Thank you!

  15. Oh my god. Sally! Thank you so much for this! I’m addicted to macarons, but they get really expensive, especially when some of them are almost $2 for one. I’ve always wanted to try making macarons, but they seem so intimidating because they have to be so precise. But your step by step explanations make it seem less scary to do. Can’t wait to give these a try! Now I just have to buy all the ingredients.

  16. Wow! These look delicious! I once visited Paris with my family and tried some macarons – I instantly fell in love. Your macarons look perfect – just like the ones I bought in Paris. I can’t wait to try these! 🙂

  17. Sally, I’ve made macarons only twice, I need more practice.  One thing that has been pretty tricky for me is the sifting of the almond flour/sugar mixture – it is a major, major pain, and I always end up with a big amount of stuff that will not go through the sieve.

    However, I see that in your recipe you don’t even bother doing that, you just process both things together and use it –  I am tempted to try it.  Have you made macarons both ways and opted for non-sifting?

    great post!

    1. Yup– I’ve done both ways. Pulsing the almond flour takes the need for sifting out of the equation in my opinion. Give this method a try and let me know!

  18. Amazing job! I can’t wait to try them! You make it look so easy. I was going to ask if these were difficult to bake in humid weather but then I saw you wrote about that. I live on a Caribbean island… Am I doomed? It’s super humid here year round, should I even attempt these?

    1. Worth a shot, right? Even if they aren’t “beautiful” I’m sure they will taste plenty yummy. PS: jealous of your permanent location!!

  19. These have been on my bucket list as well. Love your detailed descriptions. Looking forward to your other  macaroon recipe later this week!!

  20. Sally!!!!!!!!!! You just made my day by posting a recipe for these! I have been wanting to make these for so long but haven’t found a recipe that seemed trustworthy… but one coming from you I know will work for me! THANK you sososososososo much!

  21. Kudos Sally! Not only have you inspired me to add this challenge to my baking bucket list, but I think I’m finally convinced a kitchen scale is a must have addition to my kitchen. I always thought they were far to pricey and inconvenient. Thanks for the purchase tips! I will definitely let you know when I have a attempted the French macaron challange!

  22. These are so pretty! I’m going to have to try your method. I’ve made macarons a few times but have never been 100% happy with them. Time to break out my kitchen scale I guess!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

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