Step-by-Step Guide to French Macarons

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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 caramel to curd and 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

Basic French Macarons

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

Ingredients:

  • 200g confectioners' sugar (close to 2 cups)
  • 100g almond flour (close to 1 cup)
  • 120g room temperature egg whites (around 3 large egg whites)1
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 40g sifted granulated sugar or caster sugar (3 Tablespoons)
  • flavoring or color2
  • your desired filling3

Special Equipment

Directions:

  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. Fill3 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.

Recipe Notes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Adapted from Les Petits Macarons and Mad About Macarons

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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. These macarons look like perfection, Sally! I use the Italian method to make my macarons but the appearance and finish of these macarons look exactly the same as the Italian, and there is no faffing with boiling sugar syrup! Pinned!x 

  2. Hi Sally,

    First off, I wanted to share my updated list with you. But before that, I have to tell you this.
    I have been sharing baked goodies with nerdy colleagues for a while and they are all also hooked on to your website 🙂
    One of my colleagues said I should try French Macarons and he makes killer macarons!!
    He loaned me a macaron book written by a PhD graduate working @ NASA.
    Yeah, engineering and science at the core of baking! It sat around @ my desk for a looooong time. I had to return the book to him. Somehow, the book and the thought of making these tiny little macarons intimated me!!! I was very disappointed…. UNTIL NOW!!!!!

    I had said “There was a survey a while ago @ SBA and I replied that Macarons were my favorite dessert and had asked her for the recipe. Hopefully, some day Sally will make it. I want to use only her recipe ONLY and I will wait however long it takes” 🙂

    So thank you for posting this recipe.

    I hope to make these and report back to you. But for now, here is my updated list.
    46. Jalapeno cornbread muffins
    45. 3 Ingredient Blackberry Yogurt Swirl Popsicles
    44. Salted vanilla toffee cookies
    43. Double chocolate zucchini bread
    42. Chocolate Cherry Almond Snack Bars ( 2 times)
    41. White chocolate Snickerdoodle blondies
    40. Chocolate crinkle cookies
    39. Dark Chocolate Orange truffles
    38. Mint oreo truffles
    37. Key lime pie squares
    36. Biscoff Chocolate chip Oatmeal Cookies.
    35. Dark chocolate key lime pie truffles.
    34. Chocolate Chip Cookie Granola Bars.
    33. Sally’s mom’s Gingersnaps (from the cookbook)
    32. Chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies
    31. Oreo Cake 
    30. Morning Glory Muffins 
    29. Classic Mint Chocolate Brownies
    28. Mighty mango muffins ( from the cookbook)
    27. Mocha chip biscotti
    26. Chocolate dipped almond biscotti
    25. Fresh strawberry cupcakes
    24. Death by chocolate brownies (from the cookbook)
    23. Brown sugar glazed Apple bread (from the cookbook)
    22. Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake 
    21.  Rainbow chocolate chip cookies (from the  cookbook)
    20. Vanilla Crepes (from the cookbook!)
    19. Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate cookies
    18. Banana chocolate chip cupcake
    17. Gingersnap molasses cookies
    16. Strawberry chocolate chip Cookies
    15. Soft pretzel bites with cheesy dip
    14. Red velvet Oreo brownies
    13. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies ( 2 times)
    12.  Double chocolate muffins (from the cookbook!)
    11.  Pineapple Upside Down Cake
    10. Triple chocolate scones supreme
    9.  Triple Layer Chocolate Cake
    8.  Skinny Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars
    7.  Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats ( 2 times)
    6.  Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread
    5.  Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars
    4.  Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. (2 times)
    3.  Brown Butter chocolate chip cookies
    2.  Homemade Pizza crust (many times!)
    1.   Homemade Chewy Fudge Brownies ( 2 times)

  3. I am so excited to try these. I have alway wanted to make Macarons but was to nervous to try. I have one question before I get started, do you need to measure the egg whites or will 3 large egg whites do?

  4. Awesome post! Tbh I’ve never even eaten a macaron before…, but I know they’re all the rage and I definitely want to try making them soon.

  5. Hi Sally! Have you ever tried making this with a sugar substitute, like Swerve or something similar? I’m curious to know how they would turn out.

  6. Yes!! I’ve always been so nervous to try these but since this recipe and these tips come from you, my #1 trusted baking source, I MUST give them a try….although, I may wait until the fall with my warm, summer kitchen. 🙂 

  7. these look amazing!  i will try them this weekend.  the way that you break the recipe into manageable steps is such a great way to present a difficult recipe.  thank you so much for taking the time to do it!

    i am making banana macaroons for my son’s birthday next month with freeze dried bananas.  i can’t wait to see how they turn out.

    i have made macaroons with hazelnuts and they turn out perfectly every time i have made them.  i use the hazelnut mocha macaroon recipe from the food network.  it’s amazing!

  8. Oh, I’m so excited you posted this!  Macarons are one of my FAV sweets and I tried to make them once and they were a total flop so since then I’ve stuck to just buying them from the bakery down the street.  I’ve been too scared to try them again…one of my best friends even bought me a pass to a macaron baking class for Christmas last year (which as amazing!) and even after that I haven’t attempted them again.  I think I need to buy a kitchen scale and try them this fall once the humidity dies down.  Thanks as always for your hard work! 🙂 

  9. I’m so intimidated by macarons, but I think this has tipped the scales – I’m going to give them another try!  Awesome guide and photos Sally!  (And P.S. I’m just catching up on Food Blogger Pro podcast and LOVED the interview you did. It was so much fun to hear you tell your story!)

  10. These look wonderful, I’ve been waiting for a macaron guide like this! It seems pretty simple, how come you say that making macarons is really hard?

  11. Those macarons look absolutely delicious!  I tried making them once a few years back and flavor wise they were good but they looked horrible.  I think it’s time to try again because I always have great success with you recipes.  You do all of research and take the guess work out, and then rest of us totally benefit!! 🙂

  12. My son works at Food Network.  They just finished taping the Kids Baking Championship and one of the projects was making these.  The kids were ages 9-12. There were a lot of tears and frustrations.  

    I’ve never tackled these although I have been tempted.  You just may have given me the push to make them!

  13. Thank you so much for creating this recipe and tutorial! I’ve always been intimidated by macaroons, but you’ve made it all seem much more approachable and I can’t wait to try it out! I also wanted to say thank you for making recipes much more approachable and provide step by step instructions. Thanks to your wonderful instructions and tutorials I no longer buy pizza dough or pie crust and I can’t wait to take a stab at making macaroons!! 🙂

  14. Sally,
    I have been working on perfecting my macarons all summer! I have made 15 batches thus far… my family is getting a little tired of them! The recipe you used is pretty much the exact quantities of the recipe I’m using but yours look very fluffy inside! I’ve had some inconsistent success with that but a lot of time mine deflate in the middle so that they are very hollow. They aren’t cracked and they have feet  but the feet climb up the sides of the cookie instead of spreading more out. It’s not humid here and I’ve tried lowering the temperature that I bake them at to 250F but am still getting mixed results. I’ve researched it a lot and everyone seems to have a different answer. Do you have any suggestions or ideas what could be causing this? 

    1. Kaitlyn, I understand the frustration! The temperature wouldn’t have much to do with it. Overbeating the egg whites will add more air, thus producing an airy, hollow cookie. Do not overbeat!

      1. Sally,
        I made 2 more batches … One with your recipe and one with mine but not beating the eggs so much. My recipe was only partly successful (I think the eggs were still overbeaten) but yours turned out perfect. I just wanted to ask though … when you beat your egg whites to a stiff peak, does it  look like a meringue? My recipe  adds the sugar before you whip the egg whites to a stiff peak so it’s very smooth and glossy but your recipe was quite foamy and bubbly. I just wanted to know if that is how it is supposed to look! Thanks for another full proof recipe! 

      2. So glad my version was great, Kaitlyn! Beat until stiff peaks form– not quite as stiff as a meringue. There’s a picture above– it might be a little hard to get an idea of the exact texture though.

  15. These are so beautiful! Macarons do look very intimidating. I really appreciate you breaking it down like this – it must have take you a while! Macarons are one of my very, very favorite desserts I will definitely be saving this for later 🙂

  16. I think I will just sit in a corner and eat the vanilla frosting by itself. lol! These are impressive cookies…and beautiful!

  17. Oh…I tried making macarons a long time ago, but they are so difficult to make. They either come out flat, or just not light and fluffy. It was definitely frustrating! it’s been a while now so my frustration has subsided, so maybe I will try again. I should make notes like you suggested – because these little bites are so finicky and probably minor tweaks here and there will do the trick and finally result in success! I hope it will work!

  18. Hi Sally,

    QUestion.
    you said:
    “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. Beat in the sifted granulated sugar on low speed, 1 Tablespoon at a time, making sure that each addition is thoroughly combined before adding the next.”

    So while adding the sugar am I not overbeating this?

    1. Hi Anu– that wasn’t worded properly on my part yesterday morning. Sorry about that. Rather, please gently fold in the sifted granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time.

      1. Thanks Sally.
        For #3, color is also folded in right?
        3. On low speed, beat in any flavor or color at this point.
        Only in Step4 you ask us to use a spatula to fold things.
        Just making sure.
        Thanks so much for your reply

  19. Yay I’ve always wanted to try to make French macarons! I remember someone brought in homemade macarons and they tasted even better than the backieries. And I got back from France about a month ago and this brings back good memories. You made my day thanks so much ;’)

  20. Sally – these instructions are incredibly spot-on. I first made French macarons two years ago and feel I learn something new each and every time since. You have shared some excellent tips and techniques such as adding color and the importance of “drying” time. The only thing I would add is – have a stress free kitchen! I swear my macs can sense my mood so a happy kitchen makes a happy mac! Thanks so much for sharing this with us all!

  21. Wow they look amazing i have really wanted to make these as well.  I see them everywhere but was some what affraid to try it.. But I believe with you recipes a helpful everything i can do it.  Just need that food processer i do t have one.  I keep saying im going to get one and havent.  Thanks Sally Janice

  22. Can’t wait to make these! Due to the sensitivity folding, stirring, etc., would it be okay to double the recipe and make 40 all at once?

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