Learn how to make macarons with this easy, complete guide to make perfect, foolproof macaron shells. Which recipe to choose? Tips and tricks for success. How to color them? The best fillings and more for making macarons at home.
What is a Macaron?
The macaron is a French pastry made up of 2 small shells in a sandwich with a crunchy and soft texture and which enclose a sweet filling.
Macarons are made from a meringue made with egg whites whipped with sugar which is then mixed with almond flour and powdered sugar.
This mixture is piped onto a baking sheet using a pastry bag in the shape of a round ball, which, after baking, produces smooth meringue-like shells with a crown base called in french "la colerette" which we rather call feet.
There is so many different recipes for macarons, in all possible flavors and tastes, with both sweet as well as savory fillings, in different sizes and shapes.
French macarons have become a classic in worldwide pastry, which is made for all occasions, as a cake for a birthday, as a macaron tower for a wedding, as a macron layer cake, in the shape of hearts, bears, and more.
Which meringue to choose?
This is the big question, which meringue recipeshould you choose to make macaron shells and get those famous and perfect macaron shell feet
There is no right or wrong way to make homemade macarons, there is just the one that suits you best, and once you have found your perfect recipe, keep it!
French Meringue: Egg whites are whipped with sugar and mixed with almond flour and powdered sugar. This is the simplest method because it requires fewer preparation steps, but it is also the most delicate because the meringue is more fragile and more likely to be missed.
Also, French macarons need a crusting time so it's also the longest process.
Italian Meringue: A syrup of cooked sugar is incorporated into the whipped egg white, resulting in a shiny, firm meringue or we incorporate the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture. It's the most stable meringue, it gives smoother and shinier shells.
The advantage is that there is no crusting time, it's just more technical because of the preparation of the sugar syrup which requires a cooking thermometer and an extra step.
Swiss Meringue: The egg whites are heated in a double boiler with the sugar until the sugar dissolves and then whipped into a meringue and incorporated into the other ingredients. This gives macarons more like soft cookies, and like the French meringue, you must also let the shells crust.
>> In my opinion, the best recipe is the Italian meringue one, even if it seems more intimidating for beginners, there is less risk to fail. It's a sure value even if it's more technical, it's the one I advise you to try and it's also the one I share with you in this post.
Ingredients for macaron shells
Here are the ingredients needed and possible substitutions to make Italian macaron shells, scroll down the page to see the whole recipe and the quantities in the recipe card.
- Almond: Use almond flour or ground almonds or almond meal, preferably blanched almonds.
- Powdered sugar: Simply use powdered sugar that you usually buy at the store, it's the same as icing sugar or confectioners sugar.
- Eggs: No need to age the egg whites to make this recipe. The whites and egg yolks separate better when cold and the whites rise better when they are at room temperature.
- Sugar syrup: A mixture of water and granulated sugar, use a cooking thermometer to control the temperature to be cooked to a soft ball (about 118°C).
Useful materials: Use a stand mixer to make the meringue, a candy thermometer for the syrup, a perforated baking sheet, a Silpat silicone baking sheet or a special macarons mat, and a pastry bag with a 10 mm round tip.
- Chocolate: Bitter, unsweetened cocoa powder is added to the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture.
- Other nuts: You can replace the almonds with ground hazelnuts or ground pistachios.
- Coloring: To color the shells use gel or powdered food coloring, avoid liquid coloring.
- Flavors: vanilla beans, vanilla extract, instant coffee, almond extract, lemon, or citrus extract.
- Spices: cinnamon ground, gingerbread spices, chai spices etc..
⚠️ You will find the quantities and instructions in the recipe card at the end of the page.
How to make Easy Macaron Recipe
1 - Almond flour mixture
- In a bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and the almond flour until the mixture is homogeneous.
- If possible, blend the ingredients in a food processor for a few moments to obtain a fine powder.
Tip: It is not necessary to sift together the dry ingredients in this recipe of Italian macarons, but I advise you to mix them to have a very fine powder that will give very smooth shells.
2 - Add egg white
- Add room-temperature egg whites to the almond and powdered sugar mixture
- And mix with a tablespoon until you get a homogeneous and compact preparation.
Tip: At this point, you can also add your flavoring or food coloring gel or powder.
3 - Italian Meringue
- Place one room-temperature egg white in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium-low speed until frothy.
- Meanwhile, place water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat to make cooked sugar syrup.
- Check the temperature with a cooking thermometer which should read 118°C.
- Reduce the speed of the stand mixer and add the cooked sugar syrup in a drizzle on the edge of the bowl where the egg whites are.
- Continue mixing at high speed for about 10 minutes until the meringue is smooth and shiny and until stiff peaks form.
Tips: The meringue is ready when it is bright and white and almost completely cooled. When you lift the whisk, it forms stiff peaks that does not fall back.
4 - Macaronage "Folding"
- Add a small amount of Italian meringue to the sugar and almond flour mixture and quickly add it with a spatula to loosen the mixture.
- Add the rest of the meringue and gently fold with a rubber spatula in circular motions until you obtain a homogeneous macaron batter with a soft but still firm texture.
Tip: The macaron batter is ready when it forms the famous ribbon of dough when you lift the spatula. A continuous ribbon that does not break. Be careful not to overmix the mixture, as the dough may collapse too quickly and have flat macarons
5 - Baking
- Preheat oven to 160°C and line a perforated baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Fill the macaron batter into a large piping bag fitted with a 10 mm round tip.
- Pipe balls, holding the piping bag vertically and spacing them about 5 cm apart.
- Hold the baking sheet with one hand and tap the bottom of the sheet with the other hand to release the air bubbles.
- Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, for about 12 to 14 minutes.
- Remove macaron shells from the oven and let them cool a bit on the baking sheet before trying to peel them off gently and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Download and print: Macaron template
No macarons without fillings, and to go with these shells you have a wide choice of fillings to flavor as you wish, a dark chocolate ganache, milk chocolate, or white chocolate, but also a buttercream, a jam, a curd and more.
Just remember that your filling should not be too wet or it will soften the shells and should be firm enough to hold in a sandwich.
Ganaches fillings :
- Dark chocolate ganache
- Whipped chocolate ganache
- Milk chocolate ganache
- White chocolate ganache
- Coconut ganache
- Kinder ganache
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Italian Meringue Buttercream
- Russian buttercream
- French buttercream
Aother fillings :
- Salted Caramel sauce
- Lemon curd
- Mousseline cream
- Diplomat cream
- Almond and hazelnut praline
- Mascarpone frosting
- Chocolate mascarpone frosting
- Cream cheese frosting
Frequently Asked Questions
They have almost the same name but they are totally different, macaroons are soft almond cookies while Parisian macarons are 2 smooth cookies sandwiched with a filling.
Macaron shells can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container box for 1 week and up to 3 months in the freezer. Filled macarons can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in a storage box and up to 3 months in the freezer.
Tips and Tricks
Mix the dry ingredients
Either mix or sift, but I recommend mixing the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a food processor for a few seconds to have a fine homogeneous powder, and if you wish it is possible to sieve them afterward.
Very often almond flour still contains small pieces of almond and the mixing step allows to avoid lumps that could be visible on the macaron shells.
Beware of fat
Any grease in your bowl or on your whisk could ruin your meringue and prevent it from rising properly. Clean your utensils with hot soapy water or simply wipe with a cloth soaked in white vinegar.
Eggs at room temperature
Many recipes advise using aged egg whites of several days by separating the egg white from the yolk and letting the egg whites rest for a few hours or several days in the refrigerator.
This reduces the moisture in the egg whites, which relaxes the protein in the egg whites and increases their elasticity, resulting in a better meringue.
But to have tested the two, I didn't see any difference, I always make my macarons batter without worrying about using aged whites or not, the only thing that matters is to use tempered egg whites because they rise better and give a more voluminous meringue.
The macaronage step(folding) is a crucial part of the preparation of macarons, too beaten or not enough mixed will give failed macaron shells, macarons crack, and even flat.
We look for the famous ribbon of batter when we lift the spatula, the batter must be homogeneous, flexible, and form a continuous ribbon that does not break, and to achieve this nothing better than to practice.
It's during the baking process that all your little mistakes in the preparation will show up on your shells! You didn't whip the meringue enough, or you mixed the dough too much, you didn't pipe the balls properly, you didn't tap the tray to evacuate the air bubbles 😫.
We don't forget that a failed macaron is still a delicious macaron 😋 !
Bake one sheet at a time in the oven, set halfway up, macarons bake at a low temperature, and high temperatures can cause cracks in the shells, which is why you should always prefer lower temperatures and longer baking times, and once you have found the right combination of temperature and time, repeat for the next few times.
More macaron recipes
- Raspberry macarons
- Chocolate macarons
- Raspberry and chocolate rocher macarons
- Vanilla macarons
- Strawberry macarons
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