How To Make Macarons

If you've never made French macarons, this guide will help you make batch after batch successfully.

Macarons - Southern Living
Photo:

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Yield:
24 macarons

Macarons are known for being deliciously delicate sandwich cookies that come in various colors and flavors, but they also have a notorious reputation for being tricky to create at home. With a few essential kitchen tools on hand, you’ll soon find that these incredible French delicacies can be made easily in your own kitchen.

Precision is important for this recipe, so if you have a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients, it will help keep each batch of macarons as consistent as possible. Be sure to read through the recipe, including the helpful notes below, to gain all the insights and advice to help make your batch of macarons a success.

Macarons, Not Macaroons

This recipe is for French macarons, not coconut macaroons . The extra O makes a big difference. Macarons are delicate sandwich cookies. They're usually brightly colored and come in a variety of flavors.

Coconut macaroons , on the other hands, are little balls of chewy coconut goodness. They're both made with egg whites, and sure, they're both cookies, but these little treats couldn't be more different.

Macarons - Southern Living

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

What Do French Macarons Taste Like?

Macarons are made with crispy macaron shells. These outer cookies can be colorful. When cooked perfectly, the macaron shells have a slightly crisp texture when you first bite into them. They give away to a cooke with a nougat-like chewiness.

The macaron shells sandwich a macaron filling. The filling can be any type of frosting, ganache, jam, or caramel you like.

In this macaron recipe, we're calling for a classic buttercream frosting . This makes for a classic macaron, with a lightly sweet cookie with a delicate almond flavor and a creamy, sweet filling.

Once you master the cookies, the filling can be whatever you want. Get creative!

Macaron Ingredients

The classic French macaron calls for five ingredients. We've added food coloring and of course buttercream filling to complete the recipe:

Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar, or confectioner's sugar, adds bulk and sweetness to the macaron batter.

Almond flour: Macarons are made with almond flour. Otherwise, they're not macarons. Be sure to look for super-fine almond flour, not almond meal. Almond flour is made with blanched, skinless almonds, and it makes for the glossy, perfect macaron shell.

Egg whites: The majority of macaron batter is whipped egg whites. It's very important that your egg whites do not have any trace of yolk in them, and that they're at room temperature when beginning the recipe. Both of these help the egg whites hold their volume when whipped into a meringue.

Granulated sugar: Sugar helps the whipped egg whites hold their shape so the cookies are perfectly shaped and rise beautifully.

Cream of tartar: Think of cream of tartar as an insurance package. It doubles down on keeping the egg whites firm by holding air.

Food coloring: If you decide to color your macaron batter, be sure to use gel food coloring, which is more concentrated than regular liquid food coloring. It's important to only add as much color as you need to get the color you want—add too much, and that can make the batter too thin.

Buttercream frosting: Macaron fillings can be a variety of frosting, caramels, or jams. We particularly like vanilla buttercream for macarons.

Southern Living Macarons ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Supplies To Make Macarons

Be sure to gather your ingredients and equipment before starting the recipe. In addition to the ingredients above, you'll need:

  • a piping bag
  • piping tip - A large, round decorating tip works well for piping the macarons (look for an Ateco 806 or Wilton 1A ). If you don't have one, cut the opening of your decorating bag to about 1/2" in.
  • silicone baking mat or parchment paper
  • stand mixer or hand mixer with a deep glass or metal mixing bowl
  • a flat baking sheet
  • food scale
  • fine mesh sieve

If using parchment paper, you can trace one-inch circles on the back of the parchment to use as a guide when piping the macarons. To keep the corners of the parchment paper in place, pipe a tiny bit of the macaron batter at each corner on the back of the paper and press to adhere to the baking sheet.

How To Make Macarons: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Prepare yourself. You need to read and reread the directions, gather your ingredients, let egg whites come to room temperature, and get all your supplies ready. Patience and precision pay off in perfect macarons.

Step 2: Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar. Don't skip the sifting! This step is important to ensure your macaron batter won't have lumps of sugar or almond flour later on, which can lead to misshapen macarons.

sifted almond flour and powdered sugar for macarons

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 3: Add 2 tablespoons egg white. Most macaron recipes have you blend the dry ingredients with the whipped egg whites, but baker Nik Pugmire, who developed this recipe, prefers to add a bit of egg white to the dry ingredients first.

Step 4: Whip egg whites, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar until they form a peak. This will take a while even with a stand or hand mixer. Don't attempt to do this by hand.

whipping egg whites in bowl with hand mixer

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 5: Add food coloring if you want to make your macarons a beautiful hue. Otherwise, the cookies will be a light beige color once baked.

Step 6: Fold egg whites into batter in three separate additions. Keep mixing and folding until the batter is well combined but not too runny. Read below about macaronage and how to know when your batter is perfect for piping.

Step 7: Fill piping bag. Place a reusable or disposable piping bag with tip in a large drinking glass. Fold the top of the bag over the glass, and scoop the batter into the bag. Once filled, pull the piping bag out of the glass, and twist the top to secure the batter in the bag.

Step 8: Pipe macarons on baking sheet. Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the baking tray and pipe the batter into circles. If you're using a sheet with circles, follow the pattern. Or place batter circles about one-inch apart. They'll spread slightly after they're piped, so you need to leave room around each macaron shell.

Step 9: Bang pan on counter to pop any large air bubbles. Use a toothpick to pop any small ones that remain on the surface of the macaron shells.

Step 10: Let macaron shells dry for 30 to 45 minutes. This resting time is imperative to create the lift and "feet" that signify a perfectly baked macaron shell.

Step 11: Bake 12 to 14 minutes until the macaron shells are no longer soft. Then let them cool about 15 minutes on the baking sheet. Move to a cooling rack after that and cool completely. If you try to move them too early, macaron shells will stick to the paper or silicone mat.

Step 12: Add filling. Sandwich your choice of filling between two macaron shells, and sore in an airtight container.

What is macaronage?

Macaronage is the process of working macaron batter to the perfect consistency and flowing smoothly for piping. It requires you to not overmix or undermix the batter.

Undermixed macaron batter will be lumpy and thick, and will produce macarons that are possibly hollow and dense.

Overmixed macaron batter will be too thin. They'll sink during baking and crack.

The macaronage test: Macaron batter is ready for piping when it's the consistency of honey and you can do the "figure 8" test with perfect results. To do this:

  • Scoop up a bit of batter on a spatula. "Draw" a figure 8 as the batter drizzles off. Watch as the drizzle sinks back into the batter. Perfect macaron batter will take about 10 seconds to "dissolve" back into the batter. If it takes long than that, the batter is too thick. Keep working the batter. If it disappears faster, you've already overworked the batter.

How To Fill a Piping Bag With Macaron Batter

When you're ready to pipe the macaron batter into individual cookies, you need to fill a piping bag. The easiest way to do this is to put the piping bag with tip in a tall drinking glass, then tuck the top of the bag around the glass. Scoop the batter into the bag. When it's filled, lift the bag out of the glass, and twist the bag closed at the top. Then you're ready to pipe.

Why You Must Rest Macarons Before Baking

Always let your macarons rest before putting them in the oven! This allows a thin skin to form on the top of the macaron, which helps them hold their shape during the baking process and gives them their characteristic "feet."

macarons - southern living

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How To Tell When Macarons Are Finished Baking

If you think your macarons are ready to come out of the oven, first conduct a quick touch test: Gently touch the top of one of the macaron shells. If it's still soft and wobbly, you'll need a minute or two more. If they're hard to the touch, the macarons are done and can come out of the oven.

Macaron Fillings

Feel free to get creative with the filling. We've used our favorite vanilla buttercream frosting , but you can fill with lemon curd , strawberry jam , or even peach buttercream frosting !

Troubleshooting Macarons

Here's a quick guide to what's probably gone wrong if your macarons aren't perfect:

  • No feet? Did you skip the resting stage after you piped the cookies? That's the most likely answer. If you did that, the next likeliest culprits are over-whipped egg whites or over-mixed batter that couldn't get enough lift. Another possibility? Humidity. If it's too humid out, it'll take too long for the shells to dry, which will probably prevent feet from forming and lifting the cookie.
  • Cracked tops? Air bubbles are probably to blame. You need to bang the pan once you pipe the macarons, then pop any other small bubbles with a toothpick. Overbaked cookies will also crack.
  • Runny batter? You've overmixed and removed too much air. These cookies will spread too much and not rise at all. Better to start over.
  • Hollow cookies? Macarons should have a bit of lift, but too much means you left too many air bubbles or undermixed the batter. Learn the macaronage test to get just-right batter.
  • Circles are a little misshapen? That's fine! Next time, use a template or a baking mat with pre-printed circles.
macarons - southern living

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Are Macarons Worth the Effort?

Macarons are a bucket list baking item for many Southern cooks. They're adorable and beautiful, but they are also a bit of a project, and it's unlikely you'll get them right on the first go.

But if you have the time and the energy to bake a batch and learn, macarons are a special treat. Then you'll be faster and better the next time and can start to explore flavors and fun fillings.

More Darling Cookies:

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (125 grams) powdered sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) almond flour

  • 3 large egg whites (about 5 tablespoons or 86 grams), at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. ( 125 grams ) granulated sugar

  • 1/4 tsp. (1 gram) cream of tartar

  • Gel food coloring (optional)

  • 2 cups buttercream frosting , for filling

Directions

  1. Prepare oven and supplies:

    Line a flat baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325°F with the rack in the center position.

  2. Sift flour and powdered sugar:

    Sift together powdered sugar and almond flour in a large mixing bowl.

    Southern Living macarons sifting into a mixing bowl

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  3. Add some egg whites to flour and sugar:

    Add 2 tablespoons of egg whites to the almond flour and powdered sugar, and mix until well combined. The texture will look similar to thick cookie dough.

    Southern Living Macarons almond flour mixture

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  4. Whip egg whites, add color:

    Whip the remaining egg whites, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar in a stand mixer at a medium-high speed for 8 minutes or until the egg whites turn into a thick, white meringue and have a soft peak consistency.

    Southern Living Macarons egg white meringue mixture

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    If adding food coloring gel, add it to the meringue and blend well.

    Southern Living Macarons egg white mixture with color added

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  5. Make batter:

    Add the meringue to the almond flour mixture in three separate stages by folding them together. Make sure during each step of mixing that the batter is well combined before adding more meringue to the batter. When macaron mixture is fully combined, it should be evenly mixed, but not mixed so long that it becomes runny.

    Southern Living Macaron batter in mixing bowl

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  6. Add batter to bag:

    Fill a piping bag with the macaron mixture. Tip: Putting your piping bag in an empty liquid measuring cup or drinking glass helps stabilize the bag as you fill it.

    Southern Living Macarons batter in piping bag

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  7. Pipe macaron shells:

    With your piping bag at a 90-degree angle, pipe the macaron batter on the prepared baking mat, with each macaron about an inch in diameter. The batter will spread slightly, so space the macarons apart by a little more than an inch. Tap the pans lightly on the counter to release any large air pockets. Use a toothpick to pop any small ones.

  8. Let shells dry:

    Let the macarons rest at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes until a skin forms on macaron tops.

  9. Bake:

    Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. If your oven has hot spots, it may be necessary to rotate the pans halfway through baking.

    Southern Living Macarons baked on baking sheet

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  10. Cool shells:

    Let the macarons cool completely before pairing the shells. Pipe your favorite choice of filling onto the inside of one side of the macaron shell with your choice of filling and sandwich the two sides together.

    Southern Living Macarons filling the macarons

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

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