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French Macaron 101

Attention, macaron-lovers! Check out my complete French Macaron 101 for detailed tips and tricks to perfect your macaron skills. Plus, visual troubleshooting guide to solve the most common problems!

Attention, macaron-lovers! Check out my complete French Macaron 101 for detailed tips and tricks to perfect your macaron skills. Plus, visual troubleshooting guide to solve the most common problems!

Attention, macaron-lovers! Check out my complete French Macaron 101 for detailed tips and tricks to perfect your macaron skills. Plus, visual troubleshooting guide to solve the most common problems!

Pictured above: Lemon Macarons and Sea Salt Chocolate Macarons

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I have a thing for macarons! Due to non-existence of any bakeries with fresh macarons in my area (I live in the middle of nowhere!), I was forced to learn to make these little treats at home.

And I have to tell you I’ve had many, many trials and errors, as well as picture-perfect winners in the last 3 years since I discovered these gems! Earlier this year, I tried the famous Ladurée macarons while in Paris, so now I kinda know what considers as a perfect macaron.

Over the years I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to perfect these finicky little delights. And today I decided to share an extremely long post to put together all the tips and tricks I know in one place. In order to bring you a complete guide, I even purposefully made the common mistakes like under-mixing and over-mixing the batter. (Remember that day back in August?? I know this post was in the making for very long time.)

By no means I claim I know everything about macarons. I’m just sharing my experience and what works for me. And although I tried to cover most of the common problems, I’m sure there are some I’ve never encountered. Sometimes, macarons fail for no apparent reason and leave me scratching my head. I encourage you never give up on making macarons though. There is no such joy as watching your macarons grow lacy feet as they bake in the oven and pulling out perfectly round macarons with shiny smooth tops and pretty ruffled feet out of the oven. I swear, every single time, when I see my macarons through the oven door puffing up and baking perfectly, I can’t help but do a little happy dance in my kitchen! Pure joy, I’m telling ya!

Ok, without further ado, let’s get started with some general tips.

Meringue

Good stable meringue is the foundation for perfect macarons. There are 2 different techniques to make a meringue: French and Italian. Italian meringue is made with egg whites and cooked sugar syrup, while French meringue is made with egg whites and sugar. Some argue that Italian meringue is the easiest and foolproof, but I find French version is much more approachable for us home bakers.

Here are my tips to make fluffy and stable French meringue:

  • Weigh the egg whites. All of my recipes call for large egg whites, which should yield about 30-33gr of egg whites per egg, or no more than 70gr of egg whites total.
  • Be sure to use crystal clean (read: completely grease-free!) bowl and whisk to whip the egg whites. Just a touch of oil has a power of ruining your meringue, preventing egg whites to reach perfectly fluffy and sturdy meringue. Some advise to wipe the utensils with vinegar, but I don’t go that far. Just washing and drying with a clean towel does the trick for me. Also, try to use stainless steel or glass bowl, because plastic bowls tend to absorb oil.
  • Along the same line, be careful not to include even the smallest drop of yolk in the egg whites. Egg yolk = oil.

Attention, macaron-lovers! Check out my complete French Macaron 101 for detailed tips and tricks to perfect your macaron skills. Plus, visual troubleshooting guide to solve the most common problems!

  • Start with room temperature egg whites. They beat faster and better than the cold ones. I don’t age my egg whites, because I don’t see much difference either way and I find it unnecessary. If you live in a humid climate, I do recommend aging the egg whites, as it helps to remove excess water out of the egg whites.
  • To achieve perfectly fluffy and stable meringue, start beating the egg whites on low speed and then gradually increase the speed as they start foaming. Also, when the meringue reaches hard peaks, slowly decrease the speed instead of shutting the mixer off right away.
  • Cream of tartar is not essential, but it helps to stabilize the egg whites for sturdy meringue.
  • Add any additional flavorings, such as vanilla extract, or candy oils, and food coloring once the meringue reaches soft peak, or closer to hard peak.
  • Once meringue reaches hard peak, stop! Overbeating will dry out the meringue, which will cause array of issues, like hollow macarons.

Attention, macaron-lovers! Check out my complete French Macaron 101 for detailed tips and tricks to perfect your macaron skills. Plus, visual troubleshooting guide to solve the most common problems!

  • I highly recommend using gel food coloring in the meringue, instead of liquid ones to minimize the amount of liquid introduced to the batter. You could use powdered food coloring, but I have no experience with it.
  • And lastly, stand mixer is helpful, but it’s not required.

Dry Ingredients

  • Weigh the dry ingredients. This is super important for the macaron batter ratio. If you’re serious about baking macarons (or baking in general), do invest in kitchen scale.

Attention, macaron-lovers! Check out my complete French Macaron 101 with tips and visual macaron troubleshooting guide to perfect your macaron skills.

  • Sifting the dry ingredients is crucial as well. There are a few reasons for sifting:
    • To aerate the dry ingredients.
    • To thoroughly mix the sugar and almond flour.
    • To get rid of any lumps and big chunks of dry ingredients for smooth and delicate macarons. It is normal to have about 2-3 tablespoons of excess large chunks of almond flour. Discard it, or add it to your cereal.

Macaronage

The most important aspect of making macarons, besides stable meringue and sifted dry ingredients, is the folding technique, aka macaronage. Although it might look pretty simple to mix the macaron batter, this step can make or break your macarons. Here are my tips on macaronage:

  • Unlike many recipes out there, I don’t incorporate the dry ingredients into the meringue in 3 batches. Instead I simply add all the dry ingredients right away, and gently fold the batter. At the beginning the batter is quite thick, but it’ll get thinner as you fold.
  • If you’re just starting to make macarons, it helps if you count each fold. It usually takes about 50-60 folds to get to proper consistency. I no longer count, but it helped a lot when I was just learning.
  • What is the correct consistency of the batter? The batter should be thick, yet runny enough to fall into a ribbon when you lift the spatula. And the edges of the ribbon should smooth out within 10 or so seconds.
  • Be careful not to over-mix, or the batter will get too runny and the cookies will spread too much. Over-mixing also results in hollow macarons, and other common problems, like no feet.
  • And don’t be tempted to under-mix the batter to avoid over-mixing, because then the macarons won’t have shiny smooth top and won’t have pretty ruffled bottom.

Shaping and Baking

  • I like using heavy-duty aluminum baking sheets. Unlike thin cookie sheets, these thick baking sheets bake the cookies evenly and prevent browning the bottom of the macarons.
  • Try to pipe uniform circles for even baking. Mine doesn’t always turn out perfect, but I do my best. I use this Wilton A1 large round tip. Its extra large plain tip helps to achieve the uniform shells. If you want to be precise, you can print out little circles and place it under the parchment paper for guidance.
  • I’ve baked macarons on both parchment paper and silicone mat. And I prefer the ones baked on parchment paper. Silicone mats are thicker and conduct heat differently. I find the macarons on parchment paper bake faster and more evenly, which helps to prevent excess browning on top.
  • Once the macarons are piped into rounds, tap the baking sheet on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles trapped in the batter. If you don’t release these air bubbles, they will expand during baking and crack the beautiful macarons shells.
  • Before baking, let the cookies rest for half hour or until they form a film on top. It shouldn’t stick to your finger when you lightly touch the surface. This helps to create that signature ruffled feet on the bottom. I’ve tested baking macarons without any rest time, and the result was fine. But keep in mind, I live in relatively dry climate, so if you’re in humid area, it’s best to stick with drying the shells before baking.
  • The accuracy of your oven temperature is important as well. Too high oven temperature is culprit for many popular problems, like hollow macarons, cracked top, and/or browned shells. Low oven temperature will prevent the macaron shells to rise and create the ruffled feet. If you suspect your oven might not be accurate, test it with an oven thermometer.
  • If you notice your macarons tend to brown easily on top, place another rack on the highest level and put an empty baking sheet to block the heat coming from the top of the oven.
  • If bottom of the macarons stick to the parchment paper, or silicone mat, it means they’re not cooked long enough, or you haven’t cooled the cookies enough before removing. Here is a trick from Ladurée Macarons book: “Remove the baking sheet from the oven, carefully lift the corners of the parchment paper, and using a small glass, pour a little water between the paper and the hot baking sheet. Do not use too much water or the shells will become soggy – the humidity and the steam produced will help remove the shells more easily when cold…”

Now, onto the macaron troubleshooting guide…

Attention, macaron-lovers! Check out my complete French Macaron 101 for detailed tips and tricks to perfect your macaron skills. Plus, visual troubleshooting guide to solve the most common problems!

Are you still with me? Kuddos to you. I hope this post answered your questions and helps you to perfect your macaron skills.

And if there is anything I haven’t covered, please leave me a comment below. I’d like us, macaron-lovers, connect and discuss various problems we face baking macarons. Let’s get the discussion started.

8 Tools You Need to Make Perfect Macarons

8 Tools You Need to Make Perfect Macarons

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50 comments

  1. Hi, I was wondering if you can share detail process of beating the meringue at the right consistency with your recipe? How long and at what speed? I continue to have hollow Macarons over and over again. Thanks for your help.

  2. Hi Shinee! I’ve been baking macarons for about 2.5 years now. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting macarons that are so soft on top to where they break so easily  and/or they looks like crinkled paper. They look perfect in the beginning while baking but around mid baking, they start to get little dips in them. I’ve noticed but don’t know if it’s coincidence that when my macarons turn out like that, but they take way too long to dry. Sometimes I’ll have 1 good tray but the other tray is crinkled and it’s from the same batch. I can send you pics if you want to see. Another thing is hollows. I tried turning up my temperature but they brown. I’m getting really frustrated, hope you can help! Thanks in advance. 

    • Sounds like an issue with humidity. Has anythinng changed with your house in the last couple of weeks? If the macarons don’t form a skin, they won’t have the strength to withstand the release of steam and the tops won’t be nice and shiny. Just a thought. I have a major issue with hollows so I’m no expert, but my house is quite dry and my piped macarons dry in less than 10 minutes. The dehumidifier is always running. Has your heat source changed? Some produce more moisture than others. I sure hope you can get it figured out…there’s not much out there more satisfying than seeing a perfect batch of these babies 🙂

      • Thanks for your response. The only change is the weather, it’s been super cold so we have the heater running off/on all day. On days I bake, I do turn on my dehumidifier. I do notice that my macarons take long drying but there were trays that dried for a longer time and was really dry and still turned out like that. I don’t add much to the shell. Just color. No flavorings at the moment. I’ve talked to other bakers and they all said different things, too much moisture  in my almond flour, too much moisture in my egg whites etc. I’m really lost. 

        • Shinee is the expert but I will throw a couple things out there just because I am experiencing hollows as well. Did you colour the two trays differently? Have you changed your food colouring? Some just aren’t good options and aren’t meant for baking, only icing. Did you change up bowls or your spatula to mix the batter? It may sound like small things but meringue whipped in say a plastic bowl won’t whip up the same as on a stainless steel bowl. Are you bringing your eggs to room temperature, aging them at all? Have you tried making a small batch with absolutely nothing else added? No colour, no flavouring, just the bare ingredients? This will help you exclude these other things. I also read somewhere that your house shouldn’t be too hot. Just warm and on the drier side. When I pipe mine and it’s really hot in the house, I’ll open the doors out to the deck for a bit, just to cool it down. A couple seconds of Northern Ontario air and the house isn’t insanely hot anymore. I have never had problems drying them, but I do get hollows so I feel your frustration. I certainly could never give pointers but thought it might be a goid idea to eliminate illiteracy those possibilites. Some people use a fan to gently blow air over them. Maybe that would help?

        • Have no isea where “illiteracy” came from in my post…lol. IPhone aito correct I suppose. What a pain…lol

    • Karen, that is one problem I have yet to figure out, but I know what you mean. Because I’ve encountered that once too! The same batch and totally 2 different outcome. That thin crinkly top though is usually caused by too much moisture in the batter. Like if you add a bit too much lemon juice, vanilla extract, or liquid food coloring… But why some batches have 2 different result, I have no idea. I was just baffled me when that happened to me. I was actually recording it, so you can watch it here. As for hollows, you may be overbeating the meringue, it’s often overlooked, but consistency of the whipped egg whites is just as important. Hope this is helpful.

  3. Omg. I hope you can help me. I tried making your basic French macarons for the first ever about 2 months ago and they came out perfect!!! I was amazed. I tried making them again, following your same recipe and when I popped them, they were sooo runny and I knew they were going to be bad. I still put them in the oven and they didn’t even raise or have feet or anything (took me over 2 hours to let them sit). I then re made them again…No feet, cracked and hallow. I’m not overheating the eggs or anything. I did it again today following the Italian method. Some were cracked, some hollow. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? I made them.oerfect the very first time. That’s why it’s sooo frustrating. Your buttercream is amazinnngggg. Help me please.

    • Sorry…Meant to say pipped them not popped

    • Hi, Rayhana! Thanks for trying my recipe, and sorry you’re having some trouble. It sounds like you’re over-mixing the batter when you add dry ingredients into the whipped egg whites. Runny batter is 1st indication that you over-mixed it. Again, no feet, cracked and hollow, all signs indicate over-mixed batter. So next time, fold the batter slowly and check often. The first time you made it, you probably were very careful and mixed the batter just right. 🙂 Also when you said it took over 2 hours to dry them, was it a humid (or rainy) day? Humid days will also affect the macarons. Hope this helps. Don’t give up, and try again.

  4. When I bake macarons on parchment, the parchment gets a little wavy from the moisture. Then, the macarons do not have a flat bottom. There are a few lines on the bottom and they stick to the parchment there (because they are not touching the pan in those spots, i think) unless I over bake them a little. I have tried three different brands of parchment and still get this. Have you ever had this problem?

    • Hi, Jean. Do you live in humid climate? I kind of know what you mean, but that wavy parchment isn’t so bad that causes uneven bottom for me. I’m in drier climate though. As for sticking, I read this tip in this Laduree Macarons book. When you take out the macarons from the oven, lift one corner of the parchment paper, pour a little bit of water (not too much, or the macarons will get soggy) between parchment and hot pan. The steam will help the macarons unstick easily when cooled. I’ve tried this tip once, and it works. But I don’t always use this trick because I rarely have issue with sticking. Oh and, I use Reynolds parchment paper, not sure if it makes any difference.

  5. Hi shinee, I love your recipes and how you make it so easy to understand the very daunting idea of making macrons. I’ve followed your recipe for lemon macrons exactly, however, they came out with cracked, rounder tops (yours are quite flat) and browning on the top and bottom, I’ve looked at your troubleshooting guide, but the problems seem to fit into many different categories… Help!

    • Hi, Cindi! It sounds like maybe your batter was slightly under-mixed? Rounded top sounds like the batter was still thick and prevented from spreading flat enough for smooth flat macarons. And as for cracks, I think since the batter was under-mixed, there were still lots of air trapped in the batter which could have cause cracks. Too much browning may indicate the oven might be running slightly hotter. Have you checked the oven temp with an oven thermometer? If it was only browning from the top, you could put an empty baking sheet on a rack above to shield the heat from the top. Hope this is helpful. If you need more help, feel free to send me an e-mail with a photo of your macarons, so I can help better.

  6. Hi! Thanks for sharing with us your macarons steps and how tos. I was intimidated at first, but find that you instructions are super clear and easy to follow along! My 2nd batch was a success! My first was running bc I added too much lemon juice but it was still good, chewy, and had feet- just runny and spread. My question is what to level to set the oven rack on? Bottom? Middle? Thanks again!

    • Hi, Tiffany! So happy to hear my recipes and instructions were easy to follow, that was my ultimate goal! And congrats on your macaron success. 🙂 I bake my macarons on middle rack one sheet at a time. If you make the macarons, I’d love to see a pic and feature on my blog here.

  7. HI Shinee, I made two batches today and they all turned out flat, no feet, and sticky. I’m sure I followed all the steps. However, the only thing I think could be a problem was that I changed the ratio as I don’t like overly sweet dessert so I cut the sugar by half. I compensated the shortage in sugar by adding more almond flour. Do you think that’s the problem?

    • Hi, Kristina! Yep, that’s the biggest problem. The sugar plays not only sweetening role, but it also plays an imperative role for proper structure. Macarons are finicky by nature, and you can’t change the ingredient amount whatsoever. My recipe uses much less sugar compared to other recipes, so I don’t recommend altering the recipe. Hope you give it another try.

  8. Shinee, thank you for the reply. I don’t use fan in oven and I have tried using both parchment paper and silicone mat on double pan.  Both ended with lopsided macarons.  I have managed to bake macarons with proper feet  using your recipe before  but the last few weeks  all batches have this exact similar problem.  Feeling so confused.

  9. Hi Shinee, I have been reading your macaron step by step guide repeatedly.  Thank you so much for all the details. I have done all the steps therein.  I have done several batches of macarons and I ended up with one similar problem. All the shells have feet only on one side (lopsided macarons). One side has full feet and the other side has absolutely no feet at all.  Any idea? I have attempted baking with temperature ranging from 120C to 150C without success.

    • Hi, Junee! That’s a tough one. A few questions… 1. What kind of oven do you use? Fan? No Fan? My oven doesn’t have fan, so if yours does have a fan, I’d turn it off. 2. Also what kind of baking sheet are you using? Thin ones, thinker ones? Parchment paper, or silicone mat? I have best results when I bake my macarons on parchment paper on a thick aluminum baking sheets.

  10. Ive been making macarons off and on for a few years with varied success. I’ve had the most success with the Italian meringue method. I get smooth shiny shells with reasonable feet. However I notice that while my first tray comes out of the oven looking great subsequent trays have issues: feet spread out more than up (especially with my fourth/last tray) and they brown more so don’t have the right color ( though I haven’t changed the oven temp).  Does the batter loosen up as it sits? Any thoughts?  

    • Hi, Alice! Do you have an oven thermometer? I think your oven might continue heating beyond the specified temp. I know my mom’s oven does that. I’d suggest getting an oven thermometer and check it. Otherwise the batter shouldn’t change its texture, unless you mix it more. Hope this helps.

  11. I’ve been trying to perfect my macarons for awhile now.. They come out looking perfect with smooth tops and pretty Ruffled feet, but then they’re hollow! I saw the trouble shooting guide where it could possibly be related to the meringue being over beaten.. Do you have any tips as to when the meringue is just right? 

  12. Hi shinee! Why did my batch of macaron. Some turned out nice but some had crack top

    • Hi, Han! It’s funny that you ask that, because I just had that happen to me for the first time. I was re-testing my chocolate macarons, and the first tray cracked, but the second tray (the same batter) turned out perfect. I’m still puzzled about it. The only thing that was different is that the first tray had a lot more macarons than the second one. No idea if it’s anything to do with it. I’d love to know more details (what recipe you used, were the macarons all on the same tray, etc) about your experience though before I make any guesses.

  13. Thank you so much, Shinee.  Can’t wait to see your new macarons!

  14. Hi Shinee,

    I have tried more than 20 batches of macarons with flat, bubbly, hollow, cracked tops and no feet… Finally, I found your recipe is the biggest success! Thank you so much for sharing such detailed processes of making Macarons so I could find out what I went wrong.  However, I am still struggling with beating the wright meringue.  My Macs turned out beautiful except for the crispy hollow shells. I seemed to over beat the meringue after realizing I under beat at my first 8 batches…  I have a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Would you please advise step by step how to beat the egg white to the right point?  What speed (4, 6, 8, or 10) and how long to beat the meringue to the right stiff peak form?  I am so close to get my macarons to be perfect like yours.  Looking forward to your help.  Thank you.  Karen

    • Hi Karen! So glad you’ve had better success with my recipe! I think hollow macarons are the biggest issue for all the beginners. I know I had that problem too! I’ll have to get back to you on the detailed instruction on beating the meringue, but just so you know, the length of beating can still vary depending on the temperature of egg whites. Room temp egg whites beat better and faster than cold ones. Next time when I beat the egg whites, I’ll take notes and I’ll send you an e-mail.

  15. i didn’t see a solution for what happened during my first venture! I got a shiny top and ruffled feet but the top was smaller diameter than the feet. I do think my batter was under beaten. I did let them rest for about 20 min and the tops were firm before cooking. I didn’t move the pans once they were in the oven. Any ideas?

    • Hi, Stacy! It sounds like your macarons had bulging feet. Check out my very 1st macaron recipe, scroll down to 5th photo, is that what you’re having?? If so, in my opinion there are 2 things that cause this issue: 1. Shells were dried for too long. 2. Whenever I bake my macarons on silicone mat, I get that. That’s why I prefer parchment paper. But I’ve seen people bake their macarons on silicone mat without issue. Not sure how though! Hope this helps!

  16. Great post! I’ve made 5 batches only, my first batch was a disaster but it would seem I did every step wrong lol. My second & 4th batch actually turned out pretty good, smooth tops, feet and everything. The things I’m having problems with are the colors, a few batches that I’ve done seem to have speckled tops, almost looks like an oil stain on paper, these have happened with the two batches that I tried making a flavoured shell, as well each of these batches have had soft tops, I wouldn’t suspect that they were undercooked as one batch seemed to brown rather quickly, could it have something to do with making flavoured shells? Thanx in advance. 

    • Hi, Kalyn! Yes, it might be due to flavorings you’re adding to macarons. What kind of flavorings are you using? Liquids, like lemon juice, or candy oils? I believe the soft tops might be due to excess liquid in the batter. But I have no idea about oil-stained look.

      • The first batch was a chocolate macron so i added cocoa, and the second match was ginger and I added just a ground ginger powder, but I’m simply adding these flavours to a very basic macron recipe that I already have rather than using a recipe for a chocolate macron or ginger macron so that may be the issue, I may be messing with the liquid to dry ratios by adding the flavours?

  17. I’ve started making these for my bakery.  I’ve made about 10 batches so far and have all the trials (cracking, hollow, browned, flat) and am getting to a rhythm now.  I need to freeze them and was wondering if there is any special requirements other than an air-tight container?  Also is there a specific way to thaw them?  Thanks!

    • Hi, Eileen! I’m glad that you’re getting hang of macarons. 🙂 Not much requirement for freezing other than airtight container. I personally just bring them out of freezer on the counter for half hour. But you could certainly transfer them into the fridge too. Hope this helps.

  18. When there is. a hollow interior and you say “meringue is over beaten” are you taking about the first stage of making the meringue or when adding the dry ingredients?  Mine were so tasty and pretty but were hollow inside.  Thanks!  

    • Hi, Amy! Yes, the 1st stage of making meringue, or beating the egg whites. I remember my first few batches always turned our hollow. Hope your next batch will be perfect! 😉

  19. WOW. This is a very helpful guide to a tricky but delicious treat! I have been wanting to make my own macarons for awhile now but I’m a bit intimidated. This post is quite empowering! I really appreciate the photos too. I CAN DO THIS!!! Lol! 

  20. Hi Shinee,

    I am wondering why some recipes use cream of tartar and some do not.  Can you please explain why?  Thank you!

    • Hi, Stephen! Cream of tartar isn’t required ingredient. When added, cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites and helps to reach the fluffy stable meringue. It’s like an insurance. I always add it, but I have made macarons without it too. Hope this helps.

  21. This is such an amazing resource! I haven’t tried to make macarons yet but my daughters are BEGGING me to try. I have pinned this and will definitely check back. 

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