This post will show you how to make foolproof French macarons. This detailed guide is full of tips and tricks, a list of tools, and reader FAQs, to help you to be as successful as possible at making homemade macarons! This easy macaron recipe makes a great base, so you can mix and match with whatever macaron fillings you like to make your own perfect French Macaron.
Original post from March 2018. Updated July 2021.
Table of contents
- Sprinkle French Macarons / Hundreds and Thousands Macarons
- Macarons vs Macaroons
- How to make flavoured Macarons
- Ingredients in French Macarons
- Steps for making French Macarons
- French Macarons with American Buttercream
- How to get Feet on Macarons
- Silicone mat vs parchment for baking Macarons
- Why did my Macarons Crack?
- Correct Batter Consistency for French Macarons
- How to tell when Macarons are baked
- Can Macarons be made without Almond flour?
- How to pipe Macarons
- How to Troubleshoot French Macarons
- Why are my French Macarons Hollow?
- What Sprinkles to add to French Macarons
- Can Macarons be Frozen?
- How to store Macarons
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Recipe for French Macarons
Sprinkle French Macarons / Hundreds and Thousands Macarons
Hi hi! Just popping in to share this French Macarons recipe with you. I have loads of macaron recipes on my website, but this was the first one that I posted. I have turned this post into the ultimate guide to French Macarons. It is full of tips and tricks to help you to be as successful as possible at macarons!
I worked really, really hard to get to this place with my macarons - it certainly isn't easy. They are sensitive and finicky. There are many things that can go wrong. It took endless videos and eventually watching a friend make them to finally get it right.
Macarons are intimidating. I am not going to pretend they aren't. But once you nail down the base your options really are endless. So I hope this post can serve as a guide for you - the ultimate post on how to make french macarons! As always please let me know if you have any questions - I am so happy to help!
Macarons vs Macaroons
I often see people referring to macarons such as these French Macarons as 'macaroons', and while the words are similar, they are very different things.
Macarons are an almond flour and meringue based cookie, sandwiched together with a filling. They taste nutty and have a chewy texture, with the filling being the super flavourful part.
Macaroons are something different and are a coconut and condensed milk based cookie. Both are super delicious, but they are definitely not the same thing!
How to make flavoured Macarons
The great thing about making homemade macarons is that it is super easy to mix and match the fillings to give different flavours of macarons. The shell recipe stays the same every time, and you just vary the colour and the filling flavour. You can add a little cocoa to the shells to make chocolate macarons, and fill them with whatever you like.
Sometimes I keep it simple with a plain buttercream, such as in these strawberry macarons, or you can add a sharp citrus filling surrounded by something creamy to make lemon macarons, or a jam filling for Raspberry macarons. The options really are endless here. Macarons are a great way to use up leftover buttercream that you have frozen.
Ingredients in French Macarons
French macarons differ slightly to Italian Macarons, which use a sugar syrup. I have tried both options and find French a little easier to make as there is no need to worry about making a sugar syrup to add to the meringue. With French macarons you add the sugar directly to the egg whites, and make a French meringue. Macarons have quite a small ingredient list, it is the technique that is important:
- Egg whites. Some recipes will ask you to age your egg whites. I have found no difference in aged vs unaged, just make sure that they are at room temperature.
- Sugar. I use granulated sugar. It is important to make sure that the sugar dissolves in the meringue when you are making it.
- Almond Meal. Also called almond flour, almond meal is made from ground almonds.
- Powdered Sugar. The almond meal and powdered sugar act as the 'dry' ingredients in the macarons, and are mixed in once the meringue has reached stiff peaks.
- Food Colouring. If you want to colour macarons, it is important to use a gel food colouring so that you do not introduce too much moisture into the mixture.
Steps for making French Macarons
Macarons take practice. Don't get discouraged by them - it took me a long, long time to get to the point I am at now, and even now I still have fails. Read the recipe right through, make sure you have enough time set aside to really focus in, and don't worry if they don't work. They will still end up delicious and you will have amazing homemade macarons. Here's the basic Macaron step by step process:
- Prep your ingredients. Usually I don't do this for recipes, but it really helps to have everything ready to go. Dry ingredients sifted twice, your template made, egg whites at room temperature etc.
- Make the meringue. These are French Macarons so are based off of a French meringue. Whip until stiff peaks form. Add colour if using.
- Incorporate the dry ingredients. Do this in two goes. Mix the first half in, then mix the second to incorporate.
- Mix the macaron batter. This part is important and takes technique. You want to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl. Pick the batter up and spread it against the side, then scrape off and repeat. Watching a video on this technique is helpful.
- Pipe out the batter. Using the template you made, pipe the batter out.
- Bang the shells. Rap the pan hard on the counter in order to get rid of any big air bubbles in the batter. This will spread the shells out a little too and help to smooth the tops.
- Add sprinkles. If you are adding sprinkles, now is the time.
- Dry the shells. This step is also important as it is what helps to avoid cracked shells. Dry the shells until they are no longer tacky.
- Bake the macaron shells. Bake until the shells peel cleanly off the parchment paper.
- Pair and fill. Once the shells are baked and cooled, pair them up and fill with your choice of buttercream.
- Leave to rest. Ideally macarons will be left to rest overnight in order to let their flavours meld. I won't tell anyone if you skip this step.
French Macarons with American Buttercream
I wanted the first macaron recipe that I posted to be a wee nod to my childhood. These sprinkle French macarons are inspired by a biscuit (cookie) I ate growing up - hundreds and thousands biscuits. They are a vanilla biscuit, covered in a pink icing, and loaded up with hundreds and thousands (nonpareils). They don't really have a distinctive flavour aside from just being sweet, which I think is probably half the appeal. I replicated the biscuit with a pink shell, and added some sprinkles just after I piped them out. I then filled them with an American buttercream, also "pink" flavour.
Usually I wouldn't use an American buttercream in almost any situation. However, the slight crust that it gets is perfect for replicating the texture of the biscuits. So here we have it - a hundreds and thousands macaron! Or, a vanilla macaron, coloured pink, with sprinkles. You decide what to call it.
How to get Feet on Macarons
I have found that there are a few factors that come into play here. The main one that helps is making sure that the tops of your macarons are dry before you put them in the oven. This means when the macarons bake, the steam escapes out the sides of the cookies and not the tops, causing them to puff up and get the feet. Preheating the baking sheet can really help to give the macaron shells a lift too.
Silicone mat vs parchment for baking Macarons
I know that some people prefer silicone baking mats, but I much prefer parchment paper when making macarons. I find that shells on silicone mats tend to get over baked, don't have as pronounced of a foot, and can have issues with sticking. Pre-cut parchment is super helpful here as you can just slide the template onto the pan and then place the parchment over the top, pipe the macarons, and move onto the next tray.
Why did my Macarons Crack?
The most common cause of cracking macarons is the dryness of the shell. If you do not dry out your shells enough when you pipe them, then when you bake the shells, the steam escapes out the top of the shell rather than the sides. This will cause your macarons to crack. Make sure that before they go into the oven the surface of the shell is only just tacky, or is not sticky at all on your finger.
Correct Batter Consistency for French Macarons
This can be a tricky one to check. If you over mix your macarons, they spread everywhere and bake up flat. However if you under mix them, they can have bubbles and not have a nice smooth top, and can have points on them.
The best way to get this right is practice. The consistency I like to look for is when you lift your spatula up, the batter flows like lava. You want to be able to draw a figure 8 with the batter flowing off of the spatula without it breaking.
You are best to err on the side of under mixing your macaron batter than over mixing. Remember it will continue to get mixed as you add it to the piping bag and pipe it out onto the trays. If your batter is super runny and flowing everywhere, you know you have over mixed.
How to deal with macarons sticking to the parchment: I also had some issues with the macs sticking a little to the parchment paper (I have had much better luck with paper than silpat), even though they were baked through. My friend who is a pastry chef suggested that if this happens, then you can freeze them, still attached to the paper, for 5-10 minutes, and they usually peel right off!
How to tell when Macarons are baked
It can be a little tricky to check if French Macarons are properly baked or to know how long to bake macarons for. There is a fine line between having the shells set, and the feet set and stable, and overbaking and giving them colour, which you don't want. I like to very gently press on the top of one of the shells, and if the foot stays stable, then I know that it is well on the way to being done. If it is not quite there, I give it extra time, checking every minute.
Can Macarons be made without Almond flour?
Almond flour is the main base of a macaron - it is the reason that macarons are gluten free. I have not tried making macarons without almond flour before so I cannot speak to a good substitute.
All-purpose flour is not a substitute for almond meal.
How to pipe Macarons
Piping macarons takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can pipe a lot of trays in one go. The key is to use gentle pressure and make sure that your piping bag is straight up and down. Using a macaron template helps a lot too. To pipe macarons, hold the piping bag directly over the circle on the template, and pipe a blob of macaron batter onto the parchment. End with a little 'flick' of your wrist.
Remember that when you bang the pan of macarons the batter will spread out too, so do not make them too big. Only fill the circles on your template.
How to Troubleshoot French Macarons
All kinds of things can go wrong with macs. I have experienced almost all of them, so if they happen to you don't sweat it, you're not alone. I used this site to troubleshoot, but the main solution was just to keep at it and keep trying. This video from my friend Erin is also amazing to learn all things macaron!
Why are my French Macarons Hollow?
I have had some issues with my macarons being hollow in the past. Eventually, I discovered that it was from over whipping the meringue (Which I didn't realise that I was doing!). You want it to be nice and stiff, but not too dry. If it starts to dry out and clump up in the whisk then you have gone too far. If your macarons do come out hollow don't worry - just fill them as usual and then leave them overnight in the fridge. The filling will soften the shell down and then the hollows won't be as noticeable. They will still taste great!
What Sprinkles to add to French Macarons
Adding sprinkles to macarons is a super easy way to fancy them up a little. Sprinkle macarons are my absolute favourite to make - I love grabbing whatever is on hand and using it to reflect the flavour of the filling. You do have to be a little selective about your sprinkles. Non-pareils, or what we call "hundreds and thousands" work best. Jimmies (the longer rod sprinkles) tend to melt in the oven, so avoid them. The confetti style round sprinkles work great for sprinkle macarons too as they don't melt in the oven. Avoid anything with sugar balls in it as these will melt in the oven, causing holes in your macaron shells.
Can Macarons be Frozen?
Macarons freeze super well. I usually will freeze the empty shells layered in an airtight container with parchment, but depending on the filling, you can freeze buttercream based ones too. However I prefer to freeze components separately and then assemble.
How to store Macarons
I like to store filled homemade macarons in the fridge in an airtight container. Macarons need an overnight rest to allow the flavours to meld and to let the shell soften slightly. If your macarons have a filling that is temperature sensitive, then you will need to refrigerate them. Bring them to room temperature before you serve. Filled macarons will last 3-4 days in the fridge if stored correctly. If you make the shells ahead, they can be stored until you are ready to fill.
- Store unfilled shells at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- Store unfilled shells in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Once filled, store filled macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make different flavoured macarons?
This is essentially just a vanilla macaron recipe! You can colour it any way you like, leave off the sprinkles, or fill it with whatever flavour you like!
Why are macarons so hard to make?
Macarons are tricky. They take practice. Don't feel disheartened if they don't work the first time (or even the second time!), they still taste super yum. Take lots of notes. Work out what works for you. Play around with baking time and oven temperature. Its all about finding the good balance. This is the recipe that works for me - hopefully it works for you too! There's so many different recipes floating round on the internet.
Why are my macarons browning too much?
Invest in an oven thermometer if you haven't already. I calibrated my oven a while back and it's made a huge difference to the consistency of my oven.
How to tell when macaron batter is ready
When your macaron batter is ready, it will 'flow like lava'. There are a lot of videos online you can watch, or the way I like to test is is with the 'figure 8 test' - where if you can draw a figure 8 with the mixture with your spatula without it breaking, you know you are ready to pipe them.
Are macarons gluten free?
Yes - because they are almond meal based, macarons are gluten free.
For more macaron recipes, check out:
- S'mores Macarons
- Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Praline Macarons
- Rainbow Macarons
- Vanilla Bean French Macarons with Strawberry Buttercream
- Christmas Macarons
- Find all other Macaron recipes here!
❤️ Made this recipe and love it? ❤️
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Recipe for French MacaronsPrint
Review this guide to French macarons, tips, and troubleshooting, FAQs, and read the recipe right through. Also make sure you have enough time set aside to really focus in! This recipe for vanilla French macaron shells pairs perfectly with American buttercream filling. You can colour this recipe any way that you like, leave off the sprinkles, or fill it with whatever flavour of filling you prefer.
- 170g ground almonds
- 300g powdered sugar
- 180g egg whites, at room temperature
- 160g sugar
- A few drops of pink gel food colouring
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Hundreds and Thousands Sprinkles, (Nonpareils) to finish
American Buttercream Filling
- 225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- pinch of salt
- 500g (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
- 2-3 Tbsp whole milk, as needed
- Pink gel food colouring
- Preheat oven to 300˚f / 150˚c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about ¾" between each circle.
- Combine the almond meal and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Sift the mixture twice, to ensure there are no large lumps and that the mixture is properly aerated. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Add pink gel food colour a few drops at a time, until the desired colour is reached. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks (there is a good example here).
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the ground almond and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and ground almond mixture.
- Add the remaining ground almond mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Again, this video does a good job of explaining it. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much).
- This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.
- Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.
- Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly.
- Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth. Sprinkle the tops of the macarons with the hundreds and thousands sprinkles.
- Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity.
- About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven.
- Bake for approximately 18 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done.
- Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that! Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before
- peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.
- If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper.
- Store cooled macarons in an airtight container until ready to use.
AMERICAN BUTTERCREAM FILLING
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter, vanilla bean paste and salt until pale and creamy. Sift in the powdered sugar, and mix on medium speed until well combined. If needed, add milk a tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy, and a pipeable consistency. Add gel food colouring until the desired colour is reached. Transfer to a bag fitted with a large french star tip (I used an ateco #866).
- Pair each macaron shell with another of a similar size. Pipe a circle of buttercream on one half, and then sandwich with the second shell. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Keywords: macarons, gluten free, hundreds and thousands, sprinkles, american buttercrea