One of the most common questions I get from you guys is how to make macarons!
Macarons are the most technically difficult dessert I have ever made and learning to make them consistently and without fail has taken me about 4 YEARS. Over those years I have learned so so much and have been able to troubleshoot to where now I know exactly what went wrong just by looking at the baked shell.
Now I want to share all of my tips, tricks and troubleshooting issues with you so that you can easily make this macaron recipe.
Macaron Methods: French vs. Italian
You might have heard of French or Italian macaron methods before.
I can say I personally have tried both methods and had success and failure with both of them.
When I work at the bakery, we always have made the Italian method.
The Italian Macaron Method
- A sugar syrup is boiled to 240 degrees and then added to half of the egg whites.
- The other half of the egg whites are added to the almond meal and powdered sugar.
Because this method uses a sugar syrup, it is supposed to be a more stable meringue which can give you more consistent results. It is also very hard to over whip the meringue with this method, which can help if you don't know exactly when the meringue has reached stiff peaks.
I have tried this method various times at home and have had inconsistent results. When I'm at the bakery, it works every single time. So freaking bizarre and one of the reasons why macarons are so dang irritating for some people, especially when you're first starting out.
How to Make the French Macaron Method
The French method is my personal choice and favorite. I started off using this method and could never get a perfect shell, until I really learned how to whip the meringue.
The meringue is the most important part of making macarons. Knowing just when its done is hard to gauge, but once you get it you know exactly when it's ready.
Under or over whipping your meringue can be detrimental to the outcome of the shell.
Macarons are so deceiving that its really hard to tell if its right until after they are piped and then even more so after they're baked.
This method is slightly different from the Italian method:
- Egg whites are whipped with granulated sugar added while they whip.
- The dry ingredients are added in 1/3 at a time to the whipped egg whites.
Ok so before you start ANY batch of macarons you always want your 'mis-en-place'. This is the Frenchs' fancy term for everything in its place. This is a super important step specifically for this dessert.
The worst thing you can do when making a macaron recipe is be unprepared for the next step. Macaron batter is not one to wait around for you to find your spatula!!!
Heres what you want to do before you even think about starting to make them!
- Scale out your almond meal and powdered sugar into a bowl. Sift them together and then set it aside so that it's ready to go when you need it.
- Scale out your granulated sugar and place it right next to your mixing bowl. Again, then its ready to go when the eggs start whipping, it all will happen fast!
- Wipe down your mixing bowl and whisk with white vinegar. This step seems silly and unimportant but trust me when I say that you don't want to skip it. The vinegar will get rid of ANY fat residue that could have come from a previous recipe or the soap from washing the bowl!
- Prepare your piping bag and tip. Once the batter is ready, you need to pipe it straight away. Place it next to your sheet pan so you're ready!
- Grab at least 2 sheet pans and flip them both upside down. Lay parchment paper or silicone baking mats on each one. Turning them upside down allows the shell to bake without getting so much heat from the bottom of the oven.
- If you're using any colors or sprinkles/toppings on your shells, have those ready to go by your mixing bowl!
How to Make French Macarons
- Sift the almond meal and powdered sugar together into a large bowl. If there are any large pieces of almond meal, discard. Set the bowl aside.
- Add your room temperature egg whites to a stand mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. Begin whipping on medium speed (3-4) for 1 minute until foamy.
- When the whites are foamy, add the cream of tartar.
4. After adding the cream of tartar, start sprinkling in the sugar. Do not add too much at once or it will deflate your egg whites! Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium high (5-6) for 6-7 minutes, or until the whites get glossy, shiny, and hold a stiff peak! The photo above is an example of medium peaks, which means we need to keep beating them!
5. Using a rubber spatula, add the whites to a large bowl. Sprinkle in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and gently fold them into the whites. Try not to fold too aggressively, you want to preserve as much air as possible in this step. Continue adding the dries in thirds until all of it has been added.
6. Once all of the dry ingredients are added. Add any food coloring if using. Then use the spatula to scrape the batter against the sides of the bowl. Every few scrapes test to see if the batter is ready. Pick up some of the batter and let it flow back down into the bowl. If it flows slowly and looks like ribbons, try to form a figure '8' . If you can make a figure 8 without the batter breaking, its ready! Another key sign that its ready to pipe is the batter will just barely look shiny.
7. Fill your piping bag with a #12 round tip. Better to have a smaller tip than a larger one! Flip a sheet pan upside down and lay down your parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Pipe directly from above into desired size.
8. Grab your pan and firmly tap it on the counter. Make sure you tap all sides of the pans. This will release any air bubbles to the surface and will flatten our your shell so there is no piping lines.
9. Use a tooth pick to pop any bubbles that come to the surface for the smoothest shell possible.
10. Let them sit at room temperature (make sure they are not under any vent or fan this will cause the shells to bake lopsided!) until they form a skin. You should be able to touch the top of the shells with your finger and it shouldn't leave a mark.
11. Bake the macarons at 275-300 for 13-14 minutes. Do not open the oven too soon. 10 minutes into their baking, open the door and touch the top of the shell. If it moves from the feet of the shell, bake it for a few more minutes. The top should not move from the feet when they're ready!
12. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before removing.
What Does a Stiff Meringue Look Like?
There are two technically difficult parts to making macarons, that ultimately affect the outcome. First is the meringue. You want to beat your egg whites to stiff peaks, but what exactly does that look like?
When you're whipping the whites, they will continue to get fluffier and fluffier as they whip. After about 5 minutes, they will get very shiny and white.
Stop the mixer. Pull the whisk out of the meringue and look at it in the whisk.
- Is the meringue clumped inside the whisk?
- Does it hold a thick stiff peak?
- If you turn the bowl upside down, does the meringue move at all?
If you answered yes to all of these questions then you have successfully achieved stiff peaks and are ready to start the macaronage!
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make Macarons
- Why are my shells wrinkly after baking?
- is it raining today? humidity plays a big role in how the shells bake and can cause this.
- are your shells also bigger than you piped them and flat? You could have over-mixed your batter. Try mixing it less next time. Under-mixed an be better than over-mixed!
- The top of my shells are cracked!!
- I ALWAYS recommend getting an oven thermometer to check the true temperature of your oven. Personally, my oven reads 300 but when you look at the thermometer, its actually only at 275!!
- If your oven is too hot, the shells will rise too fast and will explode, thus causing the cracks.
- Can I use almond flour instead of almond meal?
- absolutely! The terms almond meal and flour are used interchangeably but are basically the same thing. Almond meal is a pale yellow color and is made from blanched almonds. Almond flour is made from the entire almond including the shell, so it's white in color and has brown speckles. If you choose to use it, just be mindful that it will give your shells a speckled look to them!
- What kind of coloring can I use?
- always use power or gel color. Any liquid base coloring will add more moisture to your batter and the shells will get wrinkly in the oven.
- Why is there a range of oven temperatures?
- everyones oven can vary greatly. For example, my last apartment 300 degrees was the perfect temperature to bake my macarons. In my current apartment 300 is WAY too hot and my feet always explode! I now bake them at 275 which is PERFECT. My best advice to you is to pipe your macarons on two pans and bake each at different temperatures. I know most people 300 is the best temperature, but you won't know until you bake them!
Helpful Tips While You're Baking
- Don't do any dish washing, laundry, running of the dishwasher while your macaron shells are resting. Any hot water will turn into humidity in your kitchen and could potentially affect your shells and make them not want to form a skin! Or take an entire day to form a skin...
- Don't make macarons on a rainy day! Again, that humidity is a game changer for these temperamental cookies!
- Always pipe your macarons directly above the tray, otherwise the shells will bake crooked and lopsided.
- Make sure the almond flour and powdered sugar are well mixed after they're sifted together.
- If using and liquid coloring, shake the coloring really well before using.
- I don't recommend halving or doubling the recipe, it can lead to inconsistent results!
My Favorite Macaron Flavor Ideas:
- Oreo crumb macarons- made with a homemade chocolate crumb
- Sweet tart macarons- filled with a sweet tart inspired buttercream
- Mint chocolate chip macarons- filled with a minty chocolate ganache
French Macaron Shell Recipe
- 124 grams powdered sugar about 1 1/4 cup
- 140 grams almond meal about 1 2/3 cup
- 110 grams sugar about 1/2 cup
- 107 grams egg whites, room temperature about 3 large eggs
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Dry Ingredients For Chocolate Shells
- 120 grams powdered sugar
- 138 grams almond meal
- 8 grams cocoa powder
- In a medium bowl, scale the 140g almond meal and 124g powdered sugar***. Sift both of them into a larger bowl and discard any large pieces. Set aside.
- In a stand mixing bowl, add the 107g room temperature egg whites and begin whisking on medium speed (speed 3-4) for 1-2 minutes. When the whites get foamy, add the cream of tartar.
- Very slowly, begin adding the 110g sugar by the spoonful, sprinkling it into the whites as they whip. When all of the sugar is added increase the speed to medium high (speed 5-6). Whip for about 6-7 minutes or until stiff peaks have formed. Stop mixing.
- Add the whipped egg whites to a large bowl.
- Add 1/3 of the almond meal/sugar mixture to the whites. Fold very gently with a spatula until combined. The add the next 1/3 and fold to combine. Continue until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Using your rubber spatula, scrape the batter against the side of the bowl. Every few scrapes, pick up the batter and let it fall into the bowl. The batter should flow slowly in ribbons. Try to make a figure 8 with the batter. If it falls without breaking, its ready!
- Line an upside down pan with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and fill a piping bag and round tip with the batter. Pipe directly over the top of the parchment. When the pan is full, rap and drop the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. You can use a tooth pick to pop any bubbles that come to the surface.
- Preheat your oven to 300. (If your oven in on the hotter side, lower temperature might be better ie: 275-285)
- Allow the macarons to sit out to dry and form a skin. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the level of humidity in your house. They are ready to bake when the shell can be touched without it sticking to your finger or leaving an impression.
- Bake each tray for about 13-14 minutes. The macarons are done baking when you gently touch the top of the shell, it should just barely budge from the foot. Allow to cool completely before filling!
- ***if making chocolate shells, sift together 120g powdered sugar, 138g almond meal, and 8g cocoa powder.