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. In Canada confectioner’s sugar typically has sugar and cornstarch as ingredients. Is your confectioner’s sugar 100% sugar, or the sugar/cornstarch blend? (It is possible to find pure sugar confectioner’s sugar in Canada, but a bit harder! Most people aren’t aware of the difference)

      1. Sugar with coronflour?? I didn’t even know this was a thing! Our icing sugar (powdered/confectioner’s sugar) is only sugar in the UK!  Maybe this is why they didn’t come off the mat very well… I’d even cooked them for slightly longer than your recipe already.. Looked perfect on the mat tho! 

  2. I want to try my hand at these SO.BAD. I need a kitchen scale and the temperatures to go down. I have NO IDEA how you conquered this considering we are now approaching our THIRD heat wave. Mother nature needs to give Philly a break!!! For Macaroon’s sake! 😉

  3. Hi Sally! Just wondering, have you tried the Italian merengue method of making macarons? If not, I highly highly highly recommend Thomas Keller’s recipe! The macaron cookies come out perfect every single time (no, I’m not kidding! haha), and I’m not even an “expert” in baking. Love your blog and can’t wait for your new cookbook

  4. Bravo to you! These have been on my baking bucket list and I vow to try them this fall.
    I was lucky enough to try macarons at Laduree this summer when visiting Monaco. We tried the chocolate and vanilla and they were incredible to say the least. Thanks for the step by step instructions. I just bought almond meal from Trader Joe’s to make your cashew coconut bars (with the dates), would this be appropriate to use for this recipe? BTW – we love those bars, I have made them twice! 

    1. Maria, is your almond meal quite coarse? Some small chunks here and there? It should be fine because you are further grinding it up, but you can try sifting it before measuring it.

  5. Greetings !! I made these macaroons  (macarons) the day your post went out and they turned out exquisite !! I did have one problem…. they stuck to my silicon sheets. Several halves were broken taking them off the sheet.  Would spraying the silicon sheets with oil before hand help them to not stick?  Otherwise they were perfect !  Thanks in advance.  Michael in Orlando

    1. It sounds like they could have been underbaked– they shouldn’t stick to a silicone sheet at all! If not, you could try very lightly spraying the sheets.

  6. Ah, I was going to make lemon squares and brownies, but now I desperately want to try these for my grandmother’s upcoming tea/birthday, but they look intimidating 🙁 plus, I don’t have a food scale. I think I’ll try making these as a test, sans-food scale, sometime this week and keep the squares and brownies on a back burner in case something goes wrong! I’ll let you know how these turn out 🙂 

  7. So glad I found your blog… I love to bake and after going to France a few years ago I was determined to learn to make French macarons .  I’ve  have had hit or miss success with with different batches I’ve made.  My recipe is similar to yours but it calls for the superfine caster sugar instead of granulated sugar and a specific measurement of egg whites.   I am quite happy that I found the packages of ground almond flour  as the first couple of times I made them was with the almonds I had to grind in my food processor.     I suspect that the batches that have not turned out well for me have something to do with the high humidity that is common where I live in the South.  I am looking forward to trying your recipe when the less humid days of summer have passed. 

    1. Oops… noticed after I printed the recipe that you did give the measurement in grams for the eggs as well and included the caster sugar as an option.. Have you noticed a difference when using granulated versus caster sugar?

      1. Hi Carla! Not much difference, actually. I sift the granulated sugar, which helps rid any larger granules in the batter.

  8. it’s my friends birthday on Saturday and her favorite thing in the whole world are macaroons. She loves them SO much! Thanks for this recipe she will be so happy!

  9. I’ve always struggled making macarons they never turn out quite right. I made this recipe for the first time yesterday and they look amazing! Thank you Sally for all the little tips and tricks on how to perfect a macaron. I will definitely be making more of these in the future!

  10. Hi Sally! I just made these macarons. I read your tutorial probably twenty times and followed everything to a T! The macarons were wonderful however they didn’t develop the trademark feet like yours… Any reason for this?! It isn’t humid here at all.

    1. Suzanne, I recommend letting the macaron shells sit at room temperature for longer– maybe close to 1-2 hours before baking. This should help.

  11. I probably need to follow these directions 🙂 I have tried so many times to make macarons and they just fail! Eek yours are so cute and pretty 🙂 do you mind me asking where you got your copper measuring cups?! 

    1. Thanks Julie! It definitely takes practice. I got the copper cups from Target! It was earlier this year, so I’m unsure if they’re still around. But worth a try!

  12. Hello, I love your sites and recipes! 

    I have a question. I have a nut allergy and I was wondering if I can substitute the almond flour with regular flour?

    1. I’ve seen a recipe online before where they substituted cooked quinoa flakes for the almonds… Not sure where tho! Try a Google 🙂 

  13. Had egg whites in my fridge to use up, then this popped up in my inbox this morning – it was meant to be! I’ve never made macarons before, but they were on my baking bucket list. The recipe was really helpful and they turned out really good! I was really stoked with the outcome seeing as macarons are a fairly hard recipe to perfect (or so I’ve heard). Thanks for the tips Sally, all the way from New Zealand (:

    Ps I used ground almonds also, and thought it was a bit coarse at first but once they’re blended and cooked they turned out smooth and lump free

  14. These look amazing Sally! I’m sure that a lot of people will find this really helpful. 🙂

    Quick question – Would you ever consider developing a recipe for nut-free macarons? I have a tree nut allergy and have tried some before, but they didn’t quite work out. I would love to be able to find a recipe that tastes as close to the real thing as possible, and yours are always amazing. 😀

    1. Thanks Mabel– which recipes have you tried? I don’t think I’ll make nut-free version, but maybe I can help you find a trustworthy recipe.

      1. I tried one a couple months ago that use ground crisp brown rice (like whole wheat sugarless rice krispies) in place of the almond flour. The batter turned out much thicker than normal macarons, and the crisp brown rice’s flavor was overpowering. (This might have been due to the lack of flavoring – I left them plain. However, I feel like even if I had added flavoring, the brown rice’s flavor still would have been prominent.)

        I have seen some recipes around the web that use coconut flour and things like that, but since that would require an extra trip to the store and I never use coconut flour, I feel like that would be a waste and not worth the trouble. A recipe that uses all-purpose flour would be ideal, but I’m pretty much open to anything else. 😀

        (Thanks again for the lightning-quick response! You’re amazing. :))

  15. Very, very useful instructions, Sally! I’ve made myself French macarons several times and I managed to make them good eventually. But once I completely ruined a batch of perfect macarons just by choosing a wrong, very moist filling: they simply melted in the box! After that I didn’t dare to make macarons again for a long time… You listed a great choice of filings which are also so important for the success of these cookies. Now I feel inspired to make macarons again 🙂

  16. Sally, I just have to say that this post gave me the push I needed to make these wonderful cookies! After reading your instructions thoroughly as well as watching a ton of videos on Youtube I set out to make my first ever macaron…they turned out AMAZING! Beautiful little feet, nice smooth top, and awesome taste. I undercooked the first tray and while they looked perfect the little tops just peeled off, but I wasn’t deterred since I expected to run into some trouble. The second tray was perfect! I have now made about 6 batches of different flavors (including PB and Chocolate!) and I think I have it down a little more consistently now. 

    I thought I would post here for others that may have some trouble. I follow the actual recipe exactly except I find that if you sift your almond flour well, mix with the sugar, and then sift again there is no need for putting in the food processor. I like taking out that step as it saves on cleanup. 

    The one other thing that really differed from the recipe was cooking time. Even smaller cookies turned out after more than 12 minutes, and bigger ones up to 18! 

    Anyway, you’re amazing Sally and I am hoping to try and catch you in Denver on your tour! 

    1. So happy you had macaron success and I could help push you in the right direction. Thanks Erica! And I would love to meet you on Sunday.

  17. What food processor would you recommend for making nut flours? I’m getting one for my birthday and haven’t a clue which brand/power intensity/etc. that I should look for. Can’t wait to try and make your macarons when I get one!

  18. Hi Sally.

    I’ve tried quite a handful of your recipes and I must say all was a success.  So kinda keen to try this macaron recipe to see if I can make them cos I failed miserably before..haha

    Need to clarify in point 2 of the directions.  You state “Gently fold in the sifted granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time”.  So do I fold using a rubber spatula or with the mixer?  I’ve read many other macaron recipes and most had the sugar whisked into the egg whites using the cake mixer till stiff peaks are formed (just like making a meringue).  

    Thanks Sally.  Love from Singapore 🙂

  19. Hi Sally, 
    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe but did have one question. If you only have one baking sheet is it ok to let the macaron batter sit in the bowl at room temperature while the piped cookies rest on the cookie sheet or do you need to pipe and rest all of the macaroons at once?

    Thank you!

  20. Hello, Sally! 

    These macarons look amazing and I’ve been wanting to try them since the day you posted about them! I plan on making them next Monday and I wanted to make them lavender flavored. However, making them lavender flavored would require me to use ground lavender leaves. Since the leaves could be considered a dry ingredient, when should I add them into the batter and how much should I use? 

    Thank you very much in advance! 

    Teresa

    1. Teresa, I’m unsure. And I don’t want to tell you the wrong thing. Search for lavender macarons; I’m sure a recipe out there will guide you better as to when to add them.

    2. I took a class at Sur la Table and we did Lavender macarons using lavender extract.  Check to see if they sell it there.  We filled them with a champagne buttercream.

  21. For your French Macarons, you have 2 measurements for sugar….I know where I use the 200g but where am I using the other 40g?

  22. Hi Sally!

    I’m so excited to try making these. I’ve always been intimidated, but your detailed steps will be very helpful!

    How long do these cookies last for? I’m planning to include them in my holiday cookie gift, making a couple batches in green and red 🙂 Want to ensure once they’re mailed they won’t be stale!

  23. Hi Sally! I only have a small blender, and the entire almond flour/confectioners’ sugar won’t fit inside at once. Is it okay to blend half together at a time in two separate batches, then mix it together in a bowl? I hope that’s not a silly question, I only ask because these cookies are so finicky! Thanks!

  24. Just a little tip:
    I went to this baking school and they taught me that to know if egg whites are whipped right, you should be able to turn it upside down without it falling off, it’ll stay in place.
    They demonstrated it over my head, so I’ve had experience

  25. Hi Sally! I want to ask about this part (In fact, separate the egg whites in advance. Then, let them sit out for a few hours or even overnight. They need to “age.”) Do I need to let it “aged” uncovered ore not? And one more thing. Do I need to let “aged” in the room temperature? Thanks!

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