Want to make Perfect Macarons? Follow my easy macaron recipe and tips to make beautiful macarons the first time and every time!
Beautiful, delicate, melt in the mouth and delicious – macarons are the most elegant afternoon tea or after dinner treat and perfect for gifting.
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I remember the first time I tasted French macarons. I was in Paris with my husband (then boyfriend) and we were having the kind of carefree long weekend you can only have when you are young and in love and, crucially, child-free.
Needless to say, this was a looong time ago. The macarons were almost too dainty to eat, with their pretty pastel colours and adorable packaging. One bite and I was totally smitten!
Once I returned home to London I was determined to master homemade macarons… And after much trial and error I think I have landed on the perfect macaron recipe using Swiss meringue.
Take a look at my Chocolate Macarons Recipe and video for further tips, troubleshooting and demo of the macaron technique.
These delicate cookies have a crisp shell and a soft, slightly chewy, melt in the mouth texture. Macarons are made using only four ingredients: egg whites, sugar, icing sugar and almond flour. Let’s take a closer look!
• EGG WHITES: traditionally macarons are made with aged egg whites. This recipe can be made with fresh egg whites or egg whites from a carton. I didn’t find any significant difference using “aged” egg whites so I usually skip this step. Macarons are a great way to use up egg whites, along with Pavlova of course!
• SUGAR: granulated or caster sugar is traditionally added to the whisked egg whites to make the meringue for French macarons. I prefer to heat the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler (Swiss meringue method) before whisking to perfect peaks. You can use Swiss Meringue to make meringue nests and meringue cookies.
• ICING SUGAR (powdered sugar) – this is mixed with the almond flour.
• ALMOND FLOUR or ground almonds. You will need to process the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and then sift them at least once – ideally twice. I know this sounds laborious but it is an important step to ensure perfectly smooth macaron shells.
- Cream of tartar is sometimes added to the egg whites – useful but not essential
- Vanilla extract or other extracts can be added to flavor the shells
- Gel food coloring for creating beautiful macaron shades.
- Cocoa powder is added to chocolate macarons
- Sprinkles can be added before shells are baked
- Digital scales – for best results it is important to weigh the ingredients
- Fine sieve
- Silicone spatula
- Piping bags
- Plain round piping tip (Wilton 1A)
- Silpat Silicon Macaron Mats or similar
- Cookie sheets (without rims)
HOW TO MAKE MACARONS STEP BY STEP
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
STEP 1 Blitz the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor then pass through a fine sieve, discarding any bits that will not through. Sift once more for perfectly smooth shells!
STEP 2 Add half the egg whites (75g) into the sieved dry ingredients and mix together to make a paste. You will need to mix these quite vigorously with a spatula (bonus: good arm exercise!).
STEP 3 Put the remaining egg whites and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Set this over a saucepan of barely simmering water (double boiler) and heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t allow the bowl to be in contact with the water.
STEP 4 Whisk the egg whites /sugar until you have a glossy stiff meringue. This can take several minutes. Add any food coloring, if using, to the meringue once if forms soft peaks.
STEP 5 Add a third of the meringue to the bowl with the almond paste. Mix together to loosen, you will need to be fairly aggressive at this stage, you are going to get quite the workout!
STEP 6 Add all remaining meringue and FOLD it in, using a circular motion scraping the spatula across the bottom and sides of the bowl. This stage is called the “macaronage” and it’s the most crucial step in macaron making. The macaron batter it needs to flow when dropped back into the bowl spreading like slow moving lava.
STEP 7 Line your cookie sheets with Silpat mats. Transfer the macaron batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip. Hold the bag vertically over the mat and pipe the macarons following the template, filling only 3/4 of each circle (as the macarons will spread slightly). Lift the bag with a quick circular flicking motion before you pipe the next shell.
STEP 8 Knock the trays carefully but forcefully against your kitchen counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles. If your macarons still have little bumps on top you can tap them down, gently, with a wet fingertip. If any air bubbles are visible you can try to pop them with a toothpick. Add sprinkles, if using, before the shells dry.
STEP 9 Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Allow the macarons to dry out at room temperature until the shells lose their shine and become touch dry. This can take 20 minutes or much longer. Drying the macaron shells before baking creates the little “feet” as they rise in the oven.
STEP 10 Bake for 18-25 minutes or until the shells have a smooth dry top and are firm to the touch with no “jiggle” if prodded. Leave the macarons to cool down before gently peeling them off the mat. If you try to lift them before they have dried they will stick! Transfer to an airtight container or fill immediately.
Macaron Filling Ideas
The sky is the limit when it comes to macaron fillings! The easiest filling is probably chocolate ganache, but any type of buttercream can be used. You can also experiment adding clotted cream and jam, fruit curd, cookie butter, Nutella etc.
Use a piping bag or a silicone squeeze bottle to pipe the fillings then sandwich the shells together. The macaron shells mature and become softer once filling is added.
MACARONS TIPS, TRICKS AND TROUBLESHOOTING
Macarons have a reputation for being a bit tricky and they definitely take a little getting used to. Once you make them a couple of times I guarantee you will be hooked!
- Make sure your stand mixer bowl and whisk are free of grease otherwise your meringue will not whip! Wipe the bowl with lemon juice or vinegar to make it meringue ready.
- Don’t over mix the batter. Under mixing is preferable, especially until you get the technique down. If your batter is too liquid, the macarons will spread out into little puddles when you pipe them.
- Oven temperature is a tricky thing with macarons… I usually go for 150C (300F), but if your shells are colouring too quickly you may want to turn the oven down a touch and bake them for a little longer. If your oven has uneven temperature, rotate the baking sheet halfway through.
- Don’t rush to lift the macarons off the mat. I am so impatient I usually ruin half the batch trying to pry them loose before they are good and ready!
- EGG FREE MACARONS Vegan macarons can be made using the same recipe but using aquafaba instead of egg whites. Take a look at my vegan macaron recipe.
- CAN I MAKE NUT FREE MACARONS? Replace the almond flour with oat flour and follow the same method. The macarons will have a slightly different, drier, texture.
How to Make Perfect Macarons
- 200 g (1 cup / 7oz) icing sugar powdered sugar
- 200 g (2 cups / 7oz) almond flour
- 150 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp) egg whites divided (liquid egg whites or from 5 large eggs)
- 200 g (1 cup / 7oz) caster sugar superfine sugar or granulated
- few drops vanilla extract
- gel food coloring optional
- 150 g (scant 1 cup) dark chocolate chips
- 120 ml (½ cup) cream double /heavy cream
- 2 tbsp honey or golden syrup
- 1 tbsp Baileys optional
Make the macaron shells
- Put the almond and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz, in short bursts, to a fine powder. Sift into a large bowl and discard any bits that don't go through the sieve. Repeat once more for perfectly smooth macaron shells.
- Add half the egg whites into the bowl and mix vigorously together with a spatula until you have a smooth paste.
- Put the caster sugar and remaining egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer. Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to come to contact with the water). Heat the egg whites, stirring with a wire whisk, until the sugar dissolves.
- Fill the bowl to your stand mixer and whisk on high speed until you have a glossy stiff meringue that forms peaks. Add the colour and vanilla, if using, once the meringue forms soft peaks.
- Add a third to the meringue to the bowl with the almond paste and mix it together to loosen.
- Fold the remaining meringue, in a circular motion, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Mix until the batter drops slowly off your spatula and flows slowly like molten lava. I
- Line three cookie sheets with baking parchment or ideally use Silpat Macaron mats. Transfer the batter into a piping bag with plain round nozzle (Wilton 1A). Hold the bag at a ninety degree angle over the mat and pipe the macarons using the template, using a quick circular motion as you stop squeezing the bag.
- Carefully but forcefully knock the trays against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. If the macarons have little 'peaks' pat them down with a clean, wet finger. Leave the macarons to dry until the shells lose their shine and become touch dry.
- Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the macarons have a smooth, dry top and are firm to the touch. Allow the macarons to dry for at least 10 minutes before peeling off the mat.
Fill the macarons
- Put the chocolate chips, cream, honey and Baileys in a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds then stir until chocolate melts. Leave the ganache to cool down (or pop it in the fridge) before using.
- Pipe the chocolate on half the shells and sandwich them gently together.