Master the Art of Making French Macarons
With a few simple tips and tricks, you can learn how to make macarons that are as pretty and delicious as a French patisserie. After your lighter-than-air macarons are complete, use our Test Kitchen tips on decorating macarons as well as how to store macarons.
Anytime I go to a French bakery, I'm immediately drawn to the window display of macarons. The rainbow rows of French macarons are always so neatly lined up and it's hard to decide which flavor(s) to get. You might think making cookies like that should be reserved for professional pastry chefs. While the process takes a bit of time and patience, you can learn how to make macarons at home. Follow our tutorial for making French macarons step by step to nail down the delicate cookie-making basics. Soon you'll be on your way to creating all sorts of French macaron flavors for your friends and family.
How to Make Macarons
A tiny French cookie that requires several steps might seem intimidating, but trust us, you'll quickly get the hang of making macarons. Let's get started on some delicious homemade macarons. You can use any macaron recipe with this method, but here's a great basic macaron recipe to get you started.
Make your own double boiler
by placing the metal bowl of
a stand mixer over simmering
water. (If you have a double boiler, you can use and then add to the bowl of your stand mixer, but we like eliminating the need to dirty an extra pot.) Stir the egg white mixture constantly until sugar
dissolves and the mixture becomes glossy and opaque.
Test Kitchen Tip: To avoid breaking the yolks when separating eggs, carefully crack one egg into a bowl. Use clean hands to carefully remove the yolk. Transfer the whites to a separate bowl. Continue cracking and separating eggs one at a time. Wash your hands well when you’re done.
Use a stand mixer to beat the
egg white mixture until stiff peaks form. The meringue will take a few minutes to whip, so use the time to measure the remaining batter ingredients while the mixer is running. This is also the step to add your food coloring to tint the macarons if desired. Use gel food coloring ($13, Amazon) or paste colorings only (not liquid) to prevent breaking down the ingredients.
Stir together the almond flour, powdered sugar, and remaining egg whites to form a thick paste.
Test Kitchen Tip: Check the baking aisle or natural food/gluten-free section of a large grocery store for almond flour ($8, Target). It is typically made from blanched almonds (without skins). Almond meal, on the other hand, often has the skins ground in and may be a coarser grind.
When the meringue and paste are folded together and adequately combined, the batter will be thick. It will flow off the spatula in a thick ribbon, and you can draw a figure 8 in the batter.
There are special silicone baking mats for macarons ($13, Amazon) out there, but there's no need to go buy one just yet if you're not ready to commit. To achieve the perfect macaron size without a mat, simply draw 1½-inch circles on a fourth sheet of parchment paper. Place the parchment with circles drawn on it under a plain sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet ($25, Target). Pipe the batter to nearly fill the circles. Slide out the parchment pattern so you can use it again.
Once the macarons are piped, firmly tap cookie sheet five to 10 times on the counter to release air bubbles in batter. If any air bubbles remain after tapping the baking sheet, use a toothpick to gently pop the bubbles.
Are macarons gluten-free? You bet they are! Your friends with allergy restrictions can also enjoy these gluten-free cookies without worry.
After 10 to 12 minutes of bake time per sheet, the tops of the macarons should be firm and not slide when gently touched. A proper macaron will have a frilly base (foot) after baking and a smooth, unblemished top. Slide the parchment off the cookie sheet and onto the counter to cool completely. Fill your cookies with buttercream frosting, ganache, or jam. Decorate as you wish and enjoy!
Make Your Macarons Pretty!
Customize your sweet sandwiches by piping fillings into the centers of the macarons using a different pastry bag tip (such as a large star tip) or rolling the edges of the fillings in sprinkles or crushed candies. You can also top the cookies with edible glitter ($10, Michaels) or a paste of edible luster dust mixed with a drop or two of vodka. Use a small, clean paintbrush to brush the paste onto the cookie tops (the alcohol will evaporate).
How to Store Macarons
Macaroons vs. Macarons
If you grew up in the United States, there's a chance you found this article and were thinking of those coconut sweet treats found on the holiday cookie table. Not only is the French macaron (mah-kuh-ROHN) pronounced differently than macaroon (mac-uh-roon), they're made of different ingredients. The French macarons we made here are crispy, slightly chewy cookies made from beaten egg whites mixed with sugar and ground almonds with a ganache or buttercream filling. The macaroon is a dense drop cookie made with shredded coconut, egg whites, and granulated sugar.