Gorgeous, naturally gluten-free, and exquisitely tender, these homemade, foolproof French Macarons are an excellent way to show off your baking skills. Melt-in-your-mouth almond meringues are filled with the ingredients of your preference!
- What makes these French macarons foolproof?
- A quick note about accurate measuring
- French Macarons vs. Coconut Macaroons
- Ingredients for making French macarons
- How to make macarons without almond flour
- Equipment needed for making Macarons
- Step by step directions for how to make foolproof french macarons
- Best food coloring for making macarons
- Adding paint to macaron shells
- How to fill macaron shells
- Tips for macaron shell success
- Macaron Troubleshooting
- How to Store Macarons
- How to freeze French Macarons
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Here are some other macaron recipes to try!
- Homemade, Foolproof French Macarons
What makes these French macarons foolproof?
I remember practicing macarons at home for the first time while I lived in Seattle. It took some time to really understand why my first few batches weren't turning out the way I expected. I would look online for tips, watch tutorial videos - anything I could get my hands on to help me develop a process that would work in my kitchen. Finally, I developed this tried and true recipe that I absolutely adore. All that being said - don't give up and have patience with yourself! Making macarons is a technique that takes a few tries to master depending on your experience! You got this.
A quick note about accurate measuring
When it comes to the science of baking macarons, it is imperative that you’re measuring your ingredients as precisely and accurately as possible. This is why I highly recommend that you invest in a kitchen scale! Dry ingredients in particular can vary widely in terms of weight vs. volume depending on how you measure them. Using a scale will also save you time; cut back on cleanup; and will allow for more consistent baking success - a total win!
French Macarons vs. Coconut Macaroons
Before we get started, I want to address a popular question: what is the difference between French Macarons and Coconut Macaroons? Aside from being spelled nearly identically and having short ingredient lists, the two are actually radically different.
Macarons (pronounced mah-ka-ROHNs) are made from two smooth meringue-based shells that are joined together with some kind of ethereal mixture like chocolatey ganache, bright jam, or luscious buttercream.
Traditionally speaking, classic French macaron shells are made with almond flour, egg whites, sugar, and little else; they’re somehow crisp, chewy and light all at the same time.
While macarons follow a strict template - usually two nut-based meringues stuffed with something tasty - the flavor options are nearly endless! While I have a tendency to lean towards dessert flavors like fruit, chocolate, coffee, or caramel, flavors like foie gras or ketchup with pickle are among the more savory interpretations I’ve seen.
Macaroons, on the other hand, are a chewy, heavily textured cookie that is made using shredded sweetened coconut usually held together with an egg white meringue or sweetened condensed milk. The flavor is always predominantly coconutty, though they may be dipped in chocolate for an added bit of flair.
Ingredients for making French macarons
Making homemade macarons takes fewer ingredients than you might think. Here’s everything you’ll need to make the macaron shells:
- Granulated Sugar - Regular or superfine sugar will do perfectly here. Please note that brown sugar has too much water content because of the additional molasses, so do not make the substitution.
- Egg Whites - Separating eggs is easier when they are still cold from the fridge, but they should be room temperature for making your macaron shells.
- Almond Flour - It might sound fussy, but opt for almond flour that has been blanched. This means the dark skins have been removed, which results in a smoother and prettier macaron shell.
- Confection’s Sugar - Also known as Powdered Sugar, this is an essential ingredient for getting the proper consistency in your macarons.
- Gel Food Coloring - While this is optional, I love coloring the macaron shells to match their fillings. Gel food coloring offers more pigment without adding too much moisture, which can happen with liquid food coloring.
How to make macarons without almond flour
If you have unfortunately had to avoid macarons due to a nut allergy, not to worry! There are a number of different ways to make macarons that don't require you to use almonds. Of course, French macarons are made with almonds, but you can use other ingredients such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or even ground tiger nuts!
Equipment needed for making Macarons
- Electric mixer with whisk attachment - If you have one, I highly recommend going the stand mixer route here; getting those elusive stiff peaks takes some time. In a pinch, a hand mixer will work, but you won’t be able to multitask as efficiently.
- Food processor - Ensuring that your ingredients are finely processed means you have a much better chance of having perfectly smooth, perfect macarons.
- Mesh strainer - Sifting is another step you don’t want to miss when you’re making these macarons; any large chunks that were missed in the food processor will not make it through the strainer, meaning you don’t have to worry about any unsightly bumps.
- Sheet pans - If you haven’t yet, I recommend investing in some good (read: unwarped) cookie trays.
- Piping bags and tips - Part of the allure of French macarons is their appearance, and piping bags and tips ensure that they are flawless. In a pinch, use a zip top plastic bag with the corner cut off!
- Immersion blender - Getting the softest, silkiest ganache around is much easier with the help of a stick blender. They’re also great for puréeing soups!
- Parchment or Silpat - I personally like to make myself a little template when I’m making macarons to ensure that they end up round and of the same size. I draw on a piece of parchment paper using a small 1” lid or biscuit cutter as my guide. If you prefer to have something ready to go, Silpat makes a macaron mat that has handy guides printed right on it.
- Use a scale! The French baking tradition is an exacting art; proper tools will ensure perfect results every time.
Step by step directions for how to make foolproof french macarons
These deeply luscious macarons can be a little tricky to make for the first time, but these detailed steps will easily guide you to macaron success:
Step 1: Make the meringue & sift dry ingredients. Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Slowly add the white sugar when it starts to foam. Keep whisking until stiff peaks form and mix in your desired food coloring. Meanwhile, pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor and sift into a medium bowl.
Step 2: Macaraonage! Pour your sifted dry ingredient mixture into the bowl with the meringue and slowly fold the two together. The batter should be thin, drippy, and slide easily off of the spatula. Overmixed macaron batter is impossible to salvage, so don’t fuss with it too much.
Step 3: Pipe the batter & rest. Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe it into circle shapes on the parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space in between each. Tap the baking sheet a few times to pop any air bubbles or use a toothpick. Allow the shells to set for about 30 minutes or until they feel dry to the touch.
Step 4: Bake and cool. Bake the meringues in a 310ºF oven for 9 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for 2 minutes more. Your shells are done when they’re dried out and firm. Let the shells cool completely before removing them from the parchment paper, and finding each matching half.
Step 6: Assemble, chill, and enjoy! Pipe a nickel size amount of filling onto each of the bottom macaron shells. Top each one with a top shell and place the assembled macarons in the fridge overnight. Then, enjoy the next day!
Best food coloring for making macarons
I recommend using gel food coloring for best results rather than regular food coloring for macarons; the pigment is richer and the liquid content is lower, so you can get more vibrant colors without disturbing the meringue.
How to color macarons
Add a few drops of your preferred gel food coloring to your French meringue once you've reached stiff peaks. Then, whisk it into the meringue with the whisk attachment to fully combine before moving on to the macaronage!
Adding paint to macaron shells
Adding a swipe of color to the tops of your macaron shells is a fun and simple way to decorate these little French cookies. To do this, you only need a few tools and ingredients…
Ingredients and tools you need to paint macarons
- French Macaron Shells
- Gel food coloring
- Vodka or Vanilla Extract
- Fine tip paint brushes (reserved for decorating food!)
How to paint French macarons
- First off, you'll want to create the color you'd like to use for painting! Mix together your gel food coloring until you have the color of your choice.
- Then, in a small cup or container, add a drop or two of vodka along with your desired paint color. You'll want to use alcohol because it evaporates really fast, whereas water or another lquid can make the shells soggy.
- Add the paint to your cooled macaron shells then allow them to dry for the next ten minutes or so before filling the macarons!
How to fill macaron shells
Filling Macarons with buttercream
The world of buttercream is an absolutely beautiful place! The texture and flavor options are endless - whether you choose to use a rich american buttercream, velvety swiss meringue or luxurious french buttercream we've only just begun. You can then pipe the buttercream through various types of piping tips to help achieve the design and aesthetic you're looking for! For example, I love using a french star tip to create the ridged design on these butterscotch toffee macarons.
Filling Macarons with Ganache
Essentially, ganache is defined as an emulsion of equal parts of chocolate and heavy cream! Let's break down a few tips to keep in mind in order to make a successful ganache.
- Chop that Chocolate- taking a few moments to roughly chop your chocolate into small pieces will allow for the hot cream to easily melt your chocolate leading to a lovely ganache texture and mouthfeel.
- Quality is Key - Since there are so few ingredients in ganache, I'd highly recommend using quality chocolate as the flavors and textures will shine through!
- Heat the Cream Thoroughly - The cream's temperature needs to be hot enough to gently melt our chocolate. Your cream is ready to pour over chocolate when it comes to a slight boil!
- Softened Butter - Ensuring that the butter is at room temperature will help during the immersion process. If your butter has not been softened, it will be quite challenging to incorporate it into the chocolate & cream mixture.
- Immersion Blender - Using an immersion blender to make ganache will help to make sure that all the ingredients are properly mixed together!
Tips for macaron shell success
A few tips to note before diving into the process of making a foolproof macaron!
- Use exactly ZERO yolks. The easiest way to separate eggs is by using cold eggs (cold yolks don’t break as easily) and the fingers of your non-dominant hand. Crack the egg open with your dominant hand, then pour the contents into the slightly separated fingers of your non-dominant hand; your fingers should catch the yolks, and the whites will drip through. An ounce of egg yolk can destroy the meringue, so it’s best to only work with one white at a time in case a yolk breaks.
- Don’t overmix. Getting the whites to stiff peaks takes a lot of time; don’t ruin all of that amazing levity by overmixing! Be sure to be gentle, stopping when the batter runs off your spatula slowly, with the drips resting atop the rest of the batter for a few moments before sinking in.
- Tap for smooth exteriors. Tapping the baking sheet firmly on a flat surface will knock any excess bubbles out of the macarons. You can also just hold the pan a few inches above your work surface and drop it flatly. Any remaining bubbles can be popped using a toothpick.
- Rest the batter. Once the macarons are piped onto your baking tray, it is absolutely imperative that you rest the batter. While the shells are resting, they develop a skin over the top. This means that any air that is forced out while cooking must go through the bottom, creating the signature “foot” on a French macaron.
- Use an Oven thermometer. Baking is always a scientific endeavor, and nothing could be more true of making French macarons. After living in a multitude of rented apartments, I can tell you one thing with certainty - most ovens are FINICKY. Get yourself a $7 oven thermometer so you can take the guesswork out of it.
There are a number of reasons why these delicate little cookies could come out less than perfect. Here are some of the most common macaron shell issues to keep in mind during this process!
Why do my macarons stick to the parchment
It sounds like your macaron shells needed to be baked a bit longer! When the shells are sticking to the parchment this means that the meringue likely was likely partially baked, and the underbaked portion has dried to the parchment. Pop them in the oven for 1-2 minutes longer and you should be good to go.
Macaron shells are not a perfect circle
Make sure to hold your piping bag pointed directly perpendicular to the parchment paper that you will be piping onto. If your batter is piped at an angle, the macaron shells will likely spread unevenly leaving you with shells that are not identical.
Tips for making macarons in humid weather
It's tricky to make macarons in the midst of an incredibly humid day. High humidity prevents your shells from drying during their resting period, which is an essential part of the process. To combat this, place your shells near your oven while preheating or place a fan on medium low near your macarons - this has helped me during those days where the macarons take a long time to dry.
My macarons don't have feet?
The rest period that I mentioned above? This is going to help you create the feet that a macaron is known for. The dried tops of the shells trap in the heat at the base of your macaron and push the edges upward, creating the iconic foot we know and love. Take the time to dry the tops of your shells otherwise, you won't get a distinguished macaron foot.
Macarons have cracked tops
There's a number of reasons why this could be happening. We talked about how dried shells push the heat through the bottom of the macaron above. When those shells are not dry, there is no barrier to prevent the air from exploding through the tops, causing cracks. Cracked tops could also be due to over-mixing your french meringue and potentially your batter as well, so make sure to be extra gentle during the mix!
Make sure that you are taking the time to properly sift and mix the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture into your meringue. If there are chunky, unsifted dry bits in your batter that have not been mixed well, the tops of your shells will be quite bumpy and uneven. Make sure to also lightly tap your just-piped shells to release any air bubbles as well as to prevent those bumps.
If you find that your macarons are hollow, this could be due to many reasons. First, you may have over-mixed your meringue! The egg whites and sugar should not have been mixed for such a long duration of time. In addition, the heat from your oven could have been set too high. Make sure to utilize an oven thermometer to ensure that you are not baking your shells at a higher temperature than 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, make sure your macaron shells do not rest for too long - the shells should be dry within 20-45 minutes.
How to Store Macarons
Technically, allowing your completed macarons to sit overnight in the fridge allows for the best texture for consuming! If you have the patience, place your macarons in the fridge overnight and enjoy the following day. In the fridge, filled macarons should be stored in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.
How to freeze French Macarons
Macaron shells or filled macarons can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a month and still taste as good as new! The image above depicts my freezer stash of frozen macaron shells that have yet to be filled. Take the frozen macarons out of the freezer and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.
Frequently Asked Questions
While traditional French macarons are made with almonds, you can certainly switch things up if you prefer. Pistachios are a great option, or you can use sesame seeds and ground tiger nuts if you prefer a nut-free version.
Generally speaking, simple is best. Use food coloring to brighten up the macaron shells to whatever color you like. You can also “paint” the baked macarons with some thinned-out food coloring, or use a bit of edible gold leaf if you’re into a little bling. Take a look at my Passion fruit macarons for tips on painting your macaron shells!
I’m so glad you asked! Yolks are an amazing ingredient. Use them to make custards and ice cream; add an extra yolk to your cookies for a chewier texture; use them to make lemon or passionfruit curd (which you can then use to fill other macarons)... The options are nearly endless!
Here are some other macaron recipes to try!
- Black Sesame Apricot Macarons
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Macarons
- White Chocolate Hibiscus Macarons
- Passion Fruit Macarons
As always, I love seeing your creations and hearing from you! If you try this recipe, please leave a review or share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest - for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
Homemade, Foolproof French Macarons
- Food Processor
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- Mixer with Whisk & Paddle Attachment
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Tray
- Piping Bags & Piping Tips
- Line each baking sheet with your prepared parchment templates and prepare your piping bags along with your piping tips. I like to use small, round piping tips for piping.
- Pour your egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer and start whisking on medium speed. Once they start to foam, slowly add your sugar and bring up your speed to medium for about three to four minutes.76 g Granulated Sugar, 90 ml Room Temperature Egg Whites
- While your meringue is whisking away, grind together your measured powdered sugar and almond flour using a food processor for one minute. Sift these dry ingredients into a large bowl with a fine sieve and set aside.80 g Almond Flour, 150 g Powdered Sugar
- Your meringue is complete when it holds stiff peaks - add desired food coloring and gently whisk for a few additional seconds to incorporate,Gel Food Coloring
- Now it’s time for the ever so important Macaronage! This is the act of mixing your dry ingredients into your french meringue and folding these ingredients enough to allow for the perfect desired consistency. To start, pour your dry mixture onto the meringue and slowly start to fold with a spatula. While rotating the bowl, continue to fold ingredients together. Press mixture on the side of your bowl until the mixture the batter flows off your spatula rather slowly and smoothly. You should see that the batter will drip off the spatula back into the bowl, and rest on top for a moment. Then, the batter from your spatula will slowly sink back into the mixture. One too many folds and your batter could be over mixed leading to it being impossible to work with, so be careful not to overmix!
- Pour your macaron batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe in circles onto your templated parchment paper. In order to get rid of any air bubbles within your piped shells and to even out your tops, tap your baking sheet firmly on a flat surface. You can always use a toothpick to gently pop any extra air bubbles that you see hovering on top of your shells. If you plan to add any toppings to your macaron shells, you'll want to do this before they dry.
- Allow the shells to rest for approximately 30 minutes. Once the top of your shells are dry to the touch they are ready to bake!
- Place your macarons in your oven that has been preheated to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 9 minutes, then rotate the baking tray and bake for an additional 2 minutes.
- You will know that your macarons are ready to remove from the oven when you gently touch the upper shell, and it barely moves, while the developed foot of the macaron stays set to the parchment paper. Remove from the oven to cool completely before removing shells from the parchment paper.
- Once cooled, the shells will peel easily off of your parchment paper. Find each shell’s matching half and pipe approximately two teaspoons of filling to the bottom shell, topping with the matching half.
- What is the best food coloring to use? I recommend using gel food coloring for best results; the pigment is richer and the liquid content is lower, so you can get more vibrant colors without disturbing the meringues.
- Do I have to use almonds? While traditional French macarons are made with almonds, you can certainly switch things up if you prefer. Pistachios are a great option, or you can use sesame seeds and ground tiger nuts if you prefer a nut-free version.
- What’s the best way to decorate macarons? Generally speaking, simple is best. Use food coloring to brighten up the macaron shells to whatever color you like. You can also “paint” the baked macarons with some thinned-out food coloring, or use a bit of edible gold leaf if you’re into a little bling. Take a look at my Passion fruit macarons for tips on painting your macaron shells!
- What should I make with my leftover egg yolks? I’m so glad you asked! Yolks are an amazing ingredient. Use them to make custards and ice cream; add an extra yolk to your cookies for a chewier texture; use them to make lemon or passionfruit curd (which you can then use to fill other macarons)... The options are nearly endless!
- How should I store my macarons? Technically, allowing your completed macarons to sit overnight in the fridge allows for the best texture for consuming! If you have the patience, place your macarons in the fridge overnight and enjoy the following day. Macaron shells can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a month and still taste as good as new! Take the frozen macarons out of the freezer and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before enjoying, In the fridge, filled macarons should be stored in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.