This step by step French macarons recipe can make a believer out of anyone thanks to a detailed guide and delicious result! This tasty macarons recipe will produce delicate cookies with a sweet, creamy filling you’ll adore. Plus, you can use this macaron recipe as a base for a ton of other flavors!
What is the difference between a macaroon and a macaron?
Before we talk about how to make French macarons, it’s important to note that macaroons and macarons are different.
While you’ll hear many use the two interchangeably they are completely different desserts.
Macaroons are coconut cookies made with shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Macarons are almond cookies made with meringue and almond flour.
The two look and taste completely different. They’re also made differently, with French macarons being more on the advanced end of baking and macaroons being on the easy end.
Are macarons hard to make?
Ask anyone who’s ever attempted to make a French macaron whether they thought it was difficult or not. Most of them will probably answer that, yes, they can be pesky little buggers!
One of the reasons why macarons are hard to make is because of the meringue component of the dessert. Meringue is a temperamental thing on it’s own, but then the act of combining it with the almond flour (also known as macaronage) is another feat in itself.
While I say this not to discourage you from attempting macarons, I share this information so that you go into making macarons with a serious curiosity and the upmost care and patience.
Why are macarons so expensive?
So, you know how I just explained that macarons are tricky to make? Well, that’s part of the reason they’re so expensive to buy.
While an experienced pastry chef may find making macarons a breeze at this point, that doesn’t mean the average person shares the same sentiment.
In fact, many people who love macarons have no idea how to make them or just don’t want to commit to the delicate nature of making them. This makes for an ideal item to sell at a higher cost.
Tricky, but SO worth it
For a long time, I passed on eating macarons because I had never enjoyed my first experience with them. Whether it was a strawberry macaron recipe or a chocolate macaron recipe, I wasn’t thrilled with the texture or taste of the macarons I had tried from the shops.
It wasn’t until I tried freshly made French macaron cookies from Ladurée in Paris that I began to understand why everyone seemed to have a love affair with this French treat.
I tried a classic vanilla macaron recipe and was in heaven. I knew if a basic vanilla flavor tasted that good, the rest of their flavors would be fantastic too.
Since jumping on a plane to Ladurée every other week isn’t quite realistic, the next best thing is making French macarons at home. I say the same thing about French baguettes too!
You can recreate the same great results as a professional macaron recipe right at home with a step by step French macarons recipe like this.
What is macaron filling made of?
The texture of a macaron is crisp, yet chewy and light. It’s a texture entirely unique to macarons, one where you bite into the cookie and it sort of sticks to your teeth because it’s so chewy.
French macarons are also normally made with a dreamy filling sandwiched in between. A macaron filling recipe can be made up of flavors like caramel, chocolate, and raspberry, just to name a few.
After experiencing the best macaron recipe I’d ever had at Ladurée, including a delectable cream filling, I embarked on a quest to make macarons myself.
I wanted to create a basic macaron recipe, something akin to a vanilla macaron recipe, that could easily be played around to incorporate other flavors. I also needed a recipe that could be repeated by someone else with success, including a beginner baker.
How to Make Macarons for Beginners
Making macarons can be a daunting task; whoever searched the web for an easy French macaron recipe hoping they could recreate them as easily as macaroon cookies was fooling him or herself.
That said, making French macarons is totally feasible. Not to toot my horn here, but the first time I made macarons, they came out perfect.
When I ventured off and tried some other macaron recipes in an effort to get fancy with flavors, I ran into problems even though I was following the recipes exactly as they were written.
I share this because I want you to know that the process of making French macarons requires more technique and pastry know-how than simply following a recipe card.
While a recipe card can give you directions for making macarons, there are some visual elements and techniques you need to keep in the back of your mind as you actually execute the recipe instructions.
French macarons aren’t chocolate chip cookies, although, they may be just as coveted.
As a culinary instructor, it’s one of my favorite classes to teach because it’s such a visual process. If you’re a part of the French Culinary Experience, then you’ll definitely be learning how to make these with lots of detail.
As mentioned earlier, creating beautiful and delicious macarons has a lot to do with macaronage, or the act of mixing the dry ingredients with the whipped egg whites.
Macaronage is such a delicate act and is done by feeling and eyeing the batter. This is where those ninja pastry skills come in hand, and thanks to my trials and tribulations with French macarons, you’re going to learn those skills without having to learn the hard way.
Before I share a few tips on how to get perfect macarons, I want to briefly elaborate on why macaronage is so integral to creating perfect macarons.
You see, if you get really vigorous in the batter-mixing, you’ll get pancake macarons that may never grow their “feet” (the ruffled edges on the bottom of the shells).
If you under mix the batter, meaning you stop mixing the batter a little too soon and your batter ends up being too thick, then your macarons may never even themselves out into the flat, smooth looking shells they’re known to be.
They’ll just look puffy, fat, and won’t have the right texture.
A practiced eye can help you get that perfect batter consistency every time. But even if this is your first time making macarons, you can achieve that consistency (and gorgeous macarons) with some helpful tips.
Getting Perfect Macarons:
After you’ve gently folded the meringue into the almond flour in the macaronage step, you’ll want to test your macaron batter’s consistency. Give the batter a fold and lift some of it up with your spatula, then let the batter fall off your spatula.
- If your macaron batter is falling off your spatula so slowly that it’s falling off in big chunks, or globs, or you’re sort of waving the spatula around to encourage the batter to fall off, then you need to keep folding (i.e. mixing). Your batter is too stiff.
- By the same token, you also don’t want the batter falling off your spatula faster than you can blink like runny crepe batter. If you’re at this point, then unfortunately you’ve over-mixed your batter and will have to start over.
- When your batter falls off the spatula in a slow, but continuous and steady manner, forming ribbons on top of the batter in the bowl, then you’ve achieved the perfect consistency. Macaron batter is a bit like pancake batter in that way, where you want that in-between consistency that’s just right – not too thick, not too runny.
All this is to say that patience is a virtue when you’re making macarons and practice makes a perfect macaron. I don’t intend to scare you away from making macarons, but rather give you all the possible information I can so that you don’t shed any tears (or waste pricey almond flour) like I’ve done in the past!
In fact, I hope you feel much more knowledgable about making French macarons and feel encouraged not to give up with these cookies.
Because French macarons are so worth the hassle and effort. Not only will your wallet thank you, but so will your palate. Homemade macarons are 10x better than the stuff they sell at bakeries outside France.
Branching out with other flavors and colors
These French macarons are made from a basic vanilla macaron recipe, sans the vanilla paste. I simply omitted the teaspoon of vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder) that I’d normally toss into the meringue in favor of food dye.
I wanted to give these macarons a light pinkish/peach hue to match the apricot filling I’ve created.
This macaron recipe can be tweaked to reflect whatever macaron color you desire, just as the macaron filling can be tweaked to your personal flavor preferences too.
Note: If you want a darker macaron color and are tempted to use more food dye, make sure you use the powdered kind to avoid the risk of over-liquifying the batter; macarons can be that temperamental to extra ingredients.
Classic macaron fillings tend to be some kind of jam, ganache, or buttercream. You could use Nutella, or mix Nutella into softened butter for a chocolate buttercream.
You can also just smear some raspberry jam between some bright, pink macaron shells and call it a day.
I wanted to make the filling for these French macarons a little bit more decadent by adding some mascarpone cheese to my apricot buttercream mixture. The cheese gives an extra creaminess to the filling, subduing the overt sweetness that can sometimes arise with a buttercream filling.
They also say that macarons are better after they’ve been refrigerated for a day, which is entirely true. It makes the macarons chewier, and in this case, it also made the filling that much creamier.
Normally, when you bite into a macaron like this, you feel the chewy texture of the shells and taste the slightest hint of buttercream as it quickly dissolves in your mouth.
With these mascarpone filled macarons, the taste of the filling is preserved in your mouth just a second or two longer as the creaminess of the cheese is slower to dissolve than simple buttercream.
The apricot preserves also add a slight fruity essence to the filling, adding depth of flavor to the sugar-based cookie.
I tried to be as detailed in the recipe notes as I could to help you create your French macarons at home. Some other tips you want to keep in mind are to:
- Measure your ingredients using a food scale whenever possible. I know not everyone has one, but if you’re serious about making macarons, invest in the $10 to get one.
- Don’t over-mix your egg whites. Wait for your egg whites to get past the shaving cream stage so that when you lift your whisk, the tips can actually produce a stiff curl. Just make sure you don’t whip the whites to the point where they’re super stuff and glossy (they should still look matte).
- Be very gentle when you fold your egg whites into your macaron batter. It’s hard to mix the whites into the dry ingredients (especially in the beginning), but be patient and gentle.
- Your macaron batter should fall off your spatula in slow, steady, velvet-like ribbons. You shouldn’t have to shake your spatula to get the batter falling, nor should it whizz down in the blink of an eye.
- When you pipe your macaron batter out, it should slowly and slightly spread out to be a flat mound rather than a completely flat pool that doesn’t hold it’s round shape very well.
- Buy a macaron mat to help you make evenly sized macarons.
- Drop your baking sheet onto the counter a few times once you’ve piped out your batter. This will help with air bubbles.
- If you see any lingering air bubbles in your piped out macaron batter, you can poke them with a toothpick.
- Let your macarons dry before baking. In some cases, this can be 20 minutes, but most places (especially those with high humidity) can need an hour or two. Your macarons should feel dry to the touch before going in the oven.
If you’re deciding between almond flour or almond meal, I always say go for almond flour.
Trader Joe’s sells almond meal for an inexpensive price compared to the almond flour brands I see at regular grocery stores, however, if you use the almond meal, you’re going to have to do a lot of sifting with your flour sifter.
This is because almond meal tends to contain a coarser texture with bits of almond skin in the blend. The French macarons photographed for this recipe were made with almond meal, so you can see the little specks from the almond meal in the macaron shells.
The end flavor and taste will be the same regardless of what you use, but like I said, if you can save yourself the labor of extra sifting, do that.
Some have asked whether you can make a macaron recipe without almond flour, presumably because they have some kind of nut allergy. And the answer is yes, you can.
There are some tutorials out there for making macarons with raw sunflower seeds instead of almonds, but I’m no expert on that as I’ve never attempted it myself.
If you have any other questions about making French macarons, please feel free to ask below or send me an email. You can also always join my online membership the French Culinary Experience too for high-definition, detailed video tutorials.
If you’re feeling pretty good about macaron-making and want to explore some more flavors, why not check out my recipe for chocolate macarons? These cocoa-infused cookies are little bites of chocolate-y heaven!
for the macaron shells
- 90 g almond meal or almond flour
- 175 g powdered sugar
- 45 g granulated sugar
- 3 egg whites
- gel food dye
for the mascarpone filling
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 oz mascarpone cheese
- 1/3 c powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp apricot preserves
- Begin by adding your almond meal and powdered sugar to a food processor. Pulse for 10 to 15 seconds, until the two are combined well. Pour the mixture through a flour sifter to break up any clumps and catch any unwanted scraps from the almond meal; set aside. If you're using almond flour, then you skip the food processor step and go straight to adding the flour and sugar to the flour sifter.
- In a large stainless steel bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk your egg whites on high speed until they lose their yellow tint and become extremely frothy.
- Gradually add the granulated sugar in and continue mixing on high speed. Continue whisking until the egg whites have obtained stiff peaks. You want to keep checking on the egg whites during this entire process so that you don’t over-mix them. They should look stiff, meaning when you hold the whisk upside down, the tip of the egg whites are stiff and pointy; the egg whites should be past that shaving cream stage but they should not be over mixed so as to form big clumps of egg whites that don't form any tips.
- Now, with your egg whites ready, fold in the gel food dye. To add the food dye, poke a toothpick into the dye and add to the whites. Gently fold to incorporate and add more dye using the same process until you obtain the hue you desire.
- Add 1/3 of the egg whites into your bowl of dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to fold the whites in. You don't have to be super gentle at this point as you are just trying to help loosen up the batter at this point. It will feel really tough to incorporate the whites in at this point, but just be patient.
- Add another 1/3 of egg whites in, and this time, very gently fold them in to combine.
- Now, add the remaining egg whites and very, very delicately fold them into the batter. There should be no visible clumps of egg whites. The batter should also fall off your spatula slowly and steadily, dropping into the bowl in ribbons as it falls on the batter in the bowl. If it’s falling way off way too slowly in globs, continuing folding a few more times and check again.
- Line a baking sheet with a macaron-stenciled silicone mat, or a piece of parchment paper. Place a large pastry bag fitted with a small (not tiny) plain tip into a large, tall glass. Then, fill the pastry bag with your macaron batter. The batter will probably just begin to ooze out of the tip. Holding the pastry bag straight above the stenciled circles (or just piece of parchment paper), pipe out batter to the rim of the stenciled circles (or 1 inch wide mounds). After 15 seconds, the batter should smooth out a bit on the top. Space the macarons about 3/4” apart if you're not using a stenciled mat.
- Give the baking mat a gentle tap on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles. Then, let the macarons dry on the mat until they're dry to the touch. If you live somewhere where the humidity is greater, they may need up to two hours to dry. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Once ready, bake at 325°F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 285°F and continue baking for another 7 minutes.
- Let the macarons cool on the sheet. While the macarons cool, create your filling. Beat the butter and mascarpone on medium speed until they’re combined and creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and apricot preserves and mix until combined.
- Once the macarons are cool, use a knife or offset spatula to apply the filling to a macaron shell. Grab another shell that matches in size and gently press down onto the filling to create a sandwich. Place in airtight container and refrigerate overnight for best results.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 16 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186