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. Thank you so much for your thorough tutorial!  I have tried multiple times to make macarons and have had little success.  With your step by step method I am happy to say they look beautiful!  Thanks again!

  2. OK my maccaroons came out airy in the middle almost transparent. The edges were soft and every thing else was crunchy and airy and crumbles. Now I forgot to mix the salt with the eggs. After mixing the eggs I sifted SOME of the flour and powdered sugar with a tiny sifter and used my fingers to break up some of the clumps. When I finished with that I went to mix in the egg whites and saw that at the bottom of the bowl wa’s liquid did I over mix? I folded it together any way with the sifted sugar then folded it in the flour and powdered sugar,then realised I forgot the guesstimated 1/8 salt so I added it in and folded again. What was the main problems for such hollow maccaroons?

  3. Hi Sally!

    I really want to try this recipe but my mum is allergic to almonds! Can I substitute coconut flour? Or some other type of flour?? Thanks!

    1. I’ve never made macarons with anything besides almond flour. I fear coconut flour wouldn’t work. Let me know if you try anything.

  4. Tried out this recipe today, I failed. Mine turned out really thin and spread way more than yours. Gonna give it another try on Friday. I think I need more practice haha. I’m pretty sure I over mixed my egg whites also.

  5. Hi Sally, thanks for this great recipe and your helpful instructions! I tried the recipe today and it was successful, although the macarons weren’t perfect. I couldn’t get them to rise like yours did, and it took about 20 minutes instead of 10 to bake each sheet of macarons until they were done. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  6. Hi Sally,

    this recipe sounds great! I was just wondering if I could use liquid egg whites from a carton for this?
    Thanks 🙂

  7. Hi Sally, I wanted to first say I love all your recipes! Whenever I am looking to try something new, I tend to gravitate to your very detailed and wonderful recipes. Your vanilla cupcakes that are paired with the vanilla frosting you recommend for the filling is my absolute go to recipe. Delicious!!

    I just have one question. My macarons are a little chewy but have a nice top hard/airy shell. Is this chewiness due to not cooking enough? The signature feet were there and the tops looked shiny and done. A few of my macarons did stick to my silicone mat, but not all. Thanks in advance!

    1. They may be underbaked, but keep in mind that macarons are supposed to be chewy! Thanks so much Nicole, I’m happy you love my recipes!

  8. I just finished my second attempt and am not sure what I’m doing wrong! Most of them don’t fully peel off the silicone baking mat. Instead the center of the cookie, stays stuck to the mat. Out of my whole batch, only about 6 or 8 came off completely. They also seem a little hollow. The only things I can think of are either overbeating the egg whites or I need to press the dough against the wall of the bowl when adding in the flour. Any other thoughts on what to change? I’m going to try rounds 3 and 4 tomorrow!

  9. I just attempted to make these for my first time. They didn’t rise as much and they have a  very chewy/sticky texture. I’m assuming I overbeat my egg whites. Thoughts? 

  10. I’m so disappointed I obviously didn’t bake  them long enough. So when I went to remove the macarons they all fell apart. At least now I can eat all the frosting I made.

  11. Hey Sally! Quick question -I’m trying my first batch of macarons on Friday. Do you have any thoughts on using cream of tartar in the batter? Maybe just a pinch?

    1. Hi Nouda! I never use cream of tartar for macarons, but people often use it if they have trouble getting volume in the beaten egg whites. I would add 1/8 teaspoon per egg white before adding the sugar if you want to use it.

      1. Thanks for the response Sally! I love that you explained the reasoning behind it. I think I’ll follow your recipe to a T then go from there 🙂 I’ll report back when they’re all done!

  12. I made another batch again this morning after having trouble yesterday. But I’m still having problems removing macarons from mat after cooling. Any suggestions??

    1. Hi, You may have to leave them in the oven a few more minutes. When you take them out, lift the pan and spray a spritz of cold water onto the metal and then let the cookies sheet back down on top of that. That will help release them. Also, wait until they are cool before sliding them off. I use a dinner knife sometimes to help them along.

  13. hi sally, if i have a tiny oven and i only have one oven tray, there would be leftovers of the macaron batter in the piping bag, will it make a shell?

  14. Hi Sally, I have tried many times and never seem to have “feet” on my macarons.  The top surfaces were all full of holes instead of smooth and crunchy.  10 mins of backing didn’t seem to be long enough as the bottom of the marcorns were all stocked on the sheet.  But if I baked them longer they just turned brown at the bottom and no feet at all.  I even let the piped rounds sit for over 2 hours and the skin just hardly dried. The cookies just looked flat and holey after baked.  Any suggestion what went wrong?  When you said “age” the egg white,  do you mean leave the egg white “out of the fridge” in room temperature?  I really need help with the “feet”.  Thank you.

    1. Hi Karen, let me help as best I can: first, aging the egg whites just means leaving them out at room temperature. Make sure you aren’t baking these on a humid day. The skin should be dried out before going into the oven. And I wonder if you didn’t whip the egg whites long enough?

  15. Hi Sally! I have been admiring your passion to baking.. i have a question.. there are lots of opinions in positioning the french macarons in the oven during baking. my question is, which position in the oven is the best in baking french macaron? or do i have to just bake it in the middle rack?

  16. Hi Sally!

    I want to try these macaroons soon but I am in need of new baking sheets first, do you have any recommendations?

    Thank you!!

  17. Hi, Sally! I just made my first foray into macaron making this weekend and am pretty happy with the results, BUT I am not sure what went wrong with the first batch I tried. The first batch (straight up almond with the very vanilla buttercream filling) turned out shiny and a little flatter than I had hoped. Still tasted good and had good chewy texture, but not as crispy on the outside. I don’t understand what happened. Any insights?
    The second batch (slight variation in the recipe with a bit less confectioners sugar and a bit more superfine, lemon in the cookie and lemon buttercream) turned out much prettier, with the trademark dry looking puff and feet half the height of the cookie.
    I did’t let the second batch sit quite as long, since I kind of had the hang of it by round two, but still a good 30 minutes of rest. Closer to an hour on the first batch. I also thought the first batch might be slightly undercooked, so I tried an extra five minutes on the second. Do you think that might have been it?

    1. Underbaked could definitely be the culprit! I’m glad batch #2 turned out better and the lemon flavor sounds incredible. 30 minutes of rest seems to be the magic number for you!

  18. Hi Sally,  I’m up for a challenge and  want to attempt making macarons.  However, I have two kiddos with nut allergies. What, if any, alternate flour can I use? 
    Thanks! 

  19. Raquel — Folding the almond mixture into the whites is not a fluffy cake batter fold.  You want to produce a batter that will fall off the spoon in a thick,  glossy ribbon. If it does not, you have too much air still in the batter and you get the results you describe.  Also, make sure that almond flour is really, really fine.  Large bits of almond in the batter will also make them break apart. 

  20. Tried a couple other recipes but failed miserably…. Yours is the one that worked best after reading up on the tips! Thank you for your well laid out instructions 🙂 I did find that with my newer oven, I needed to crank the temp down low… To 275f at bake convect for 17 mins. However, these were perfect. I don’t dare with the food colouring again until I find some dry colouring. I am a pro now thanks to you! xo

    1. I do not. You can if your almond flour appears to have larger chunks. But it shouldn’t since you are processing it in step 1. The only thing I sift is the sugar, as noted.

  21. Hey Sally! I decided that yesterday was finally the day to attempt French Macarons. I followed your recipe exactly (at least, I tried to) and the macarons actually came out way better than I expected for my first try. Two things happened though –
    1. My batter was very thin. I “piped” circles as best i could, but the batter was so thin that I use the term piping loosely. Despite this, the flat puddles puffed up quite a bit in the oven and my macarons actually had feet! They were just wider and flatter than I would have wanted. Any idea what I might have done wrong that made the batter so thin?
    2. The macarons took way longer than 10 minutes in the oven, actually closer to 20. I used an oven thermometer so I know the temp was correct but there was just no way the macarons could have been done after 10 minutes. The problem was that the longer I baked them, they started to get brown without the tops getting crisp. I ended up taking them out of the oven when the tops were still not quite crisp because I didn’t want them to get any darker. Have you heard of this happening before? 

    Thank you for your recipe and for helping my first try at these go relatively smoothly! I will definitely be trying them again, and can’t wait to experiment with other flavors =)

  22. Thank you so much for this recipe. My finally came out right except for a few that stuck to the pan but still good. Almost all were so nice, I tried several different recipes with not much success but by far yours is the best especially making the meringue. I think your version is the best ever so easy & im not pulling my hair out because my cookies didn’t even rise. Thank you again I’m trying this again soon!! Here’s a happy camper!,

  23. Hi Sally
    I set myself a New Year’s resolution (aka obsession) for 2016 to master the macaron. I’ve tried 5 batches now, and your recipe is most definitely the most successful! I do want to try a pistachio version though, and with pistachio shells as well as the pistachio filling. Averaging out lots of recipes and research, it seems like using a mix of 1/3 ground pistachios to 2/3 ground almonds could work. What do you think?
    Thank you!

    1. Though I’ve never tried it– off the top of my head, that seems to be the best sounding ratio. I may have to try it!

      1. I’ll give it a go and report back!
        Thanks Sally for the inspiring blog and this very bestest macaron recipe 🙂

  24. Hi Sally,

    I’m making these macarons as we speak… question: Do you know what Wilton tip is 1/2 inch? I think it might be the #12 but I can’t seem to find that info anywhere. I have a baking kit that includes a couple round tips, one is tiny and one is definitely larger but by no means 1/2 inch in diameter. Just wondering!

    Here is a link of the kit I have, just for you to see. I wonder if the largest round tip in the front of the photo is the one I need? Thanks! http://www.wilton.com/53-piece-cake-decorating-set/2104-2546.html

    1. Ok, made do with my Wilton #12 (which is NOT 1/2 inch but it worked)! Also, thank you for the recommendation to take notes… my macarons needed to rest three hours (I’m currently in south Texas) and cook for 15-17 minutes and then cool at least 30 minutes. I piped your vanilla bean frosting inside. I am COMPLETELY IMPRESSED that I pulled this off on the first try so THANK YOU! I’m feeling bold enough to add food coloring and flavors for next time. I now understand why these little gems are so pricey… I’ve almost spent 8 hours on them today!

      1. Alright, I officially feel like a stalker BUT we are now about 12 hours from the end product and OMG! These macarons are wonderful. I want people to know that you really just need patience. I never in a million years thought these would turn out on the first try but they did so thank you again!

      2. Congrats, Elizabeth! And I apologize– I’m seeing your comments all at once now. But I’m happy you took notes and everything worked wonderfully. What a great feeling nailing these on the first shot!!

  25. I DID IT!!!  I followed the completely basic recipe and did the very vanilla buttercream though substituted sieved strawberry jam in place of the vanilla.

    For a first attempt at these babies I think they are pretty awesome, but after a couple of hours they seem a little “wet” when I bite into them, if that makes any sense. 

    Here is what I did differently/had issues with:

    1. I used ready-ground almonds (you can get them like that in the UK) and pulsed them with the powdered/icing sugar, and then sifted the whole lot together.

    2.  In step 2 of the recipe I beat the egg whites and salt for only 30 seconds, and the high beating only took 1.5 minutes to reach stiff peaks – I had read elsewhere that you were finished when you could turn the bowl over and nothing fell out and that’s how long it took so I stopped.

    3.  I had also read that it would take about 30-50 “strokes” when folding the almond/sugar in, and I did about 40.

    4.  It is best to put the mixture in the piping bag while the bag sits in a glass – my mixture was oozing out of the bag almost faster than I could fill it.

    5. Not having silicone mats I used two sheets of parchment on each baking sheet, having drawn 20 circles 2in wide on each sheet. I found each circle I piped was 1in wide but drawing the wide circles gave me plenty of room around each circle for spreading. They came easily off the parchment with a palette knife.

    6. After 10 min they were a little browner than I expected – I don’t have a reliable oven thermometer but cakes usually come out fine, but still maybe I will reduce the temp a little next time and cook a little longer. As I said after a couple of hours they seemed almost a little wet – maybe a little too chewy.  They were definitely “done” as the tops were completely hard and they had beautiful, almost pedicured “feet”

  26. Finally tried these after years and what a disaster. They got tall and feet and then collapsed and they only had the upper crust no middle plus they wouldn’t come off the pan any idea? 

  27. OHMYGOSH!! I can’t believe it, I just finished making my first batch of macaroons ever! they turned out perfectly! I’m making them for Easter and my entire family told me that I shouldn’t even try because they’re so difficult to make and opt for cupcakes instead. Despite their doubt I pereserved on following the directions to the T. 
    1) My almond flour had shells in it although I processed it, so next time I’ll buy the more expensive finely grounded almond flour.
    2) my Sill pad was flimsy and rolled up so I recommend the kitchen aid one or the newer Sill pads
    overall great recipe and can’t wait to share with my family! Also I’m only 15 and I was able to do it, so don’t doubt yourself!!

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