An easy, illustrated, step-by-step guide on how to make the basic macaron.

How to Make Macarons: An Illustrated, Step-by-Step Guide

I have gone through countless batches of maca-wrongs before finally achieving the desired result of fully formed feet, no hollows, and smooth shells. It was definitely a rough start for me in the beginning. Reading endlessly on how to make macarons, I gleaned information in hopes of being successful on the first try. Yeah, that didn’t exactly work out.

I learned the hard way with an inordinate amount of trial-and-error because it was difficult for me to substantially change what I was doing in fear of ruining a batch even worse than I had before. After making batch after batch, I slowly deduced what worked and what didn’t. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned along the way with the intention of helping others make great macarons.
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If you’ve never made macarons before, this will be perfect as a starter in learning how. And if you’ve already made them before but are still struggling (really, who isn’t), there’s still a lot of great information and tips that might help!

Basic Macaron Recipe

(adapted from Food Nouveau & Not So Humble Pie)

Makes about 34 shells/17 assembled macarons (1.5-2 inches in diameter)

A lot of recipes I’ve seen make double this amount and you can definitely just double the ingredients in the recipe I provide below if you’re in need of more macarons. However, I like to make just one pan at a time so that I can vary colors and flavors when gifting them. This will also save you on ingredients if you’re just starting out and learning how to make macarons.
I have also seen recipes that use almost the same amount of almond flour and powdered sugar with much more granulated sugar. These recipes produce macarons that have a more assertive almond flavor. They have thicker shells and are a bit heavier than the ones made from the recipe below. Unfortunately, though they might taste better, they’re more prone to crack as well.

I’ll be continuing to test out different recipes and temperatures to get the most reliable outcome.

edit– For my new, updated recipe click here. New recipe – same steps.

Ingredients

  • 50g egg whites (1.5 large egg) – There is much debate on whether you have to age your eggs or not. Aging the eggs seem necessary in achieving a better macaron for some. However, after trying out eggs fresh from the refrigerator to eggs aged up to 48 hours, I didn’t see any considerable differences in result. Now I just use them straight from the fridge. Just make sure you don’t get any yolk mixed in.–EDIT: The only difference I’ve seen is that the egg whites whip quicker if aged.
  • 105g powdered sugar
  • 60g almond flour/meal – I use Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour for ease of use. I’ve read about others grinding their own almonds to save money but I’ve also read that a drawback can be having excess moisture from freshly ground almonds.
  • 15g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2g dehydrated egg white powder or 1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional) – It is used to help prevent overbeating. Adding a small amount helps stabilize egg whites and reach their full volume; too much has the opposite effect.
  • food coloring (optional) – Use gel/powder food coloring rather than liquid to avoid adding more moisture to the meringue. Also, use a heat safe formula to prevent brown macaron shells. Wilton, among many other brands, don’t use a heat safe formula. They are labeled as an icing color which is primarily best for unbaked desserts.  I use Americolor gel food coloring. 

How To Make

(The posted pictures below are from two different batches; ivory and pink macarons. I used the same method and ingredients except for different food coloring.)

 

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  1. Measure out all ingredients with a kitchen scale and have everything ready so that you don’t have to stop to do so later on. Then place the silpat or parchment paper on the baking sheet with macaron template underneath.16619043762_57898b17d1_o
    – I use a silpat baking mat because I’ve found that using parchment paper creates wrinkles on the bottom of my shells. The paper crinkles from the heat of the oven which caused my macarons to slide and become mis-shapen. Using a template is a helpful guide when piping out shells; print one out and place under silpat or trace onto parchment paper. Remove template after piping out shells.
    – In the picture above: I taped two templates together, then taped a post it on the side so that I have something to pull the templates out with after piping my shells.
  2. Put almond flour and powdered sugar into a food processor/blender to blend well and finely grind any large pieces in the almond flour. If you don’t have a food processor/blender thats okay; just make sure to mix them thoroughly.
    -I use a blender because I found it to be much better at grinding down the small pieces which a food processor was unable to do.
  3. Sift the mixture to remove any remaining bigger pieces to ensure a smooth macaron shell.
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    – Depending on individual preference, you can keep sifting a couple more times to get a smoother shell.
    – If I feel a substantial amount hasn’t passed through my sieve, I’ll throw the pieces back in the processor and grind once more. I sift it again and throw out whatever remains in the sieve.
  4. Set the mixture aside. Put egg whites in large mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel, and have your granulated sugar at hand. (If using dehydrated egg white powder or cream of tartar, mix it into the granulated sugar.)16630162881_5a0f08921d_k
    – It isn’t necessary for the egg whites to be at room temperature because the mixer will generate enough friction to warm the whites to the right temperature for beating. Colder eggs may take a few seconds longer to beat, but they will achieve their maximum volume.
    – The composition of the bowl you use when beating egg whites can definitely make a difference. Copper is the ideal choice because the copper ions react chemically with the protein in the egg whites to create a more stable foam. This makes it harder to accidentally overbeat the egg whites. If using stainless steel/glass bowls, you can achieve this by adding cream of tartar/dehydrated egg white powder. I prefer stainless steel over glass because the slickness of the glass causes the whites to slip down the side of the bowl. Avoid using plastic or wooden bowls because the naturally porous surface attracts grease which deflates egg whites. Aluminum is no good either because it reacts with the egg whites and causes it to turn grayish.
  5. Beat egg whites on medium-low for about 1 and half minutes. You should see air bubbles forming at the start and then decreasing as it turns into white foam.
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     -I have a kitchenaid stand mixer and I start beating at level 4.
    – It is important to start beating your eggs at a low speed because if you start at a high speed the structure of the foam won’t be as strong and it will not beat as high as it should.
  6. Once you see the egg whites bubbling, increase the speed to medium (kitchenaid level 6). Wait another minute until the bubbles have decreased and become more foamy, “cappuccino foam”,  slowly add the granulated sugar mixture in a steady stream over the next minute while the egg whites continue beating.
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    – If you dump the sugar in all at once you put yourself at risk of deflating the egg whites.
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  7. After adding in the sugar mixture, increase the speed to medium high (kitchenaid level 8). Then add vanilla extract and food coloring if desired. Keep beating until you reach medium-stiff peaks.
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    – Be careful not to overbeat. You’ll know when its ready when it starts to get a bit denser but is fluffy. It will hold their peaks when you take the whisk out. If you turn the bowl upside down it should not slide out.
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    – If you overbeat them they will lose their gloss, become curdled and collapse.
    – I usually beat my whites for a total of 5 minutes from start to finish but ultimately, you’ll have to go by how it looks.
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  8. Now you’ll incorporate the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture in 2 parts. Add the first part and start folding it in. Then add the rest and make sure no dry pockets remain.
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    – With my right hand, I cut down the middle and spell out the letter “J” with my spatula while turning the bowl counter clock-wise with my left hand.
    – As you fold, it will get clumpy and look wrong but don’t worry because it will smooth out as you continue folding.
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    Do not overmix. Your batter will become runny along with a host of other problems. 
    – Your batter should resemble slow moving lava. Scoop the batter and let it run off your spatula in a ribbon-like manner as it falls. It should disappear back into the batter in 15-20 seconds.15997501804_e6a3721818_o
  9. Transfer the batter from the bowl into a pastry bag and pipe out on to the silpat/parchment paper.
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    -I use Wilton disposable 12in pastry bags with a #12 tip. However as a warning, when I first started using these, I did wish I had a bigger pastry bag because it’d make it easier to twist and hold the end of the bag once its filled. I’ve gotten used to it and it no longer is an issue though.
    -If you’re making a bigger batch you won’t be able to fill the bag and pipe out the shells in one go with a 12 inch bag. I’d recommend getting a bigger one unless you don’t mind refilling it and piping again.
     -To make the transfer easier, I open the pastry bag and put it in a pitcher so that it is held up for me while I scrape the batter out of the bowl with my spatula.
  10. Keep the tip of the bag close to the silpat/parchment paper. Hold the bag vertically and keep twisting the back end to continuously put pressure on the batter as you’re piping with one hand. Hold the tip of the bag to guide it with your other hand. Stop twisting and ease up on the pressure once you piped one shell. Move to another spot and repeat.
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    -This can be tricky at first and it will take some practice to get perfectly uniform shells.
    – If using a template, don’t fill the circle completely but leave a little room as the batter will settle and expand.
    – You’ll want to pipe these fairly quickly otherwise your hand will warm up the batter and cause the piped out batter to ooze and become runny.
  11. After piping out all the batter, lift your pan up and firmly bang it on a flat surface several times to get rid of air bubbles.
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  12. Pre-heat your oven to 300°F and let your macarons rest for at least 30 min. or at least until a thin layer has formed and they aren’t tacky to the touch.
    – Some say they don’t rest their macarons and they turn out fine. However, I’ve found that I consistently get good results when I do rest them and that it’s a bit of a gamble if I don’t.
  13. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 300°F.
    – The temperature is what works for me with my particular oven and it may not work for you. I have tested out temperatures ranging from 275°-350°F before settling with 300°F.
    – I recommend getting an oven thermometer to get an accurate read on the heat your oven is actually producing.
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Yay! Beautiful macarons 🙂

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Now you can make a filling for it with whatever your heart desires. For this one, I made a vanilla buttercream to keep it simple.
Here is the finished product!
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Making macarons may seem daunting at first but, don’t let that stop you! The end result is so rewarding and yummy regardless of what they look like. So even if your macarons don’t turn out beautiful, they’ll still taste delicious!
I tried to be as detailed as possible adding everything I could think of but I’m sure I’ve probably left out a few things here and there. I’ll definitely update this as I continue learning more about the process.

Here are some great resources for macaron troubleshooting:

Not So Humble Pie

Food Nouveau

Here’s a great visual illustration of what can go wrong in a macaron and what is expected in a good macaron:

Paris Patisseries

Happy Baking!

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Published by

Iris

Macaron food blogger 🍴

6 thoughts on “How to Make Macarons: An Illustrated, Step-by-Step Guide”

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