Macaron Troubleshooting Guide

This post may contain affiliate links. Read full disclosure.

A comprehensive macaron troubleshooting guide with photos, possible causes and how to avoid the most common macaron issues!



 

Since 2012, I’ve made thousands of macarons in my home kitchen with many trials and errors, as well as picture-perfect macarons! And yes, I’ve had pretty much every problem imaginable!!

In the process, I’ve gained lots of tips and tricks to solve those frustrating issues and, most importantly, how to avoid them in the first place.

Remember, sometimes, macarons fail for no apparent reason and leave us scratching our heads.

But I encourage you to never give up on macarons. The joy of watching your macarons grow those ruffled feet and pulling out perfectly round macarons with shiny smooth tops is simply priceless.

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!

What’s a perfect macaron?

Perfect macaron is very subjective. To me, a perfect macaron has the following characteristics:

  • Smooth shells
  • Ruffles feet
  • Full inside
"Macaron 101" cookbook on a marble background.

Macaron 101: A Comprehensive Guide

Master the art of French macarons and create your signature flavors!

Macaron Troubleshooting Video

Watch How to Make This Below!

Visual Macaron Troubleshooting Guide

Ok, let’s discuss each of the most common macaron issues, their causes and how to fix or prevent them!

Visual Macaron Troubleshooting Guide with Images and Possible Causes and Fixes, Part 1
Visual Macaron Troubleshooting Guide with Images and Possible Causes and Fixes, Part 2

Pin this now to find it later

Pin It

Possible causes:

  • Too coarse almond flour
  • Dry ingredients weren’t sifted
  • Batter was under-mixed

how to fix grainy shells with nipples:

  1. Make sure to use fine ground almond flour.
  2. Don’t skip sifting the dry ingredients! Toss large almond pieces left in the sifter. You shouldn’t have more than 1/2 tablespoon of almond bits.
  3. Under-mixed batter also causes grainy shells with nipples. When mixed right, the nipples should melt back into the batter after tapping the piped shells on the counter.

don’t do this!

Never use wet fingers to push the nipples down. Instead, use a toothpick to encourage the batter even out.

Possible causes:

  • Too much air in the shell
  • High humidity
  • Shells weren’t rested
  • Weak meringue
  • High oven temperature, or hot spots in the oven

HOW TO FIX cracked macarons:

  1. Be sure to tap the baking sheet right after piping macaron shells. And use a toothpick to pop large air pockets visible on the surface.
  2. When it’s too humid, the shells don’t develop good skin, which leads to the next point.
  3. When the shells haven’t rested long enough to develop skin on top, steam releases from anywhere cause macarons to crack on top.
  4. Take your time to make nice and sturdy meringue, especially when you’re making French meringue. Watch my video on French Meringue 101 to learn all the tips to make the most stable French meringue.
  5. Too hot oven can also cause cracks in macaron shells. Make sure to get an oven thermometer to double check the temperature inside the oven without relying on what oven says.

Possible cause:

  • Touched the shells with wet finger to push down a pointy nipple

How to prevent erupted volcano macarons:

Never touch your unbaked macaron shells with wet fingers to push down pointy end. Instead tap the baking sheet well. And if the pointy end doesn’t melt into the batter, you can either baking them as is, or scrape the batter back into a bowl and mix for a little more until the batter is at correct consistency.

Possible cause:

  • Shells were over-baked

How to fix too crispy shells:

If you over-baked your macaron shells and now they’re super crispy throughout, don’t fret! 2 easy fixes:

  1. Use wet fillings, like jams, caramel sauce, or lemon curd in the center.
  2. Simply brush on milk on the bottom of the shells before piping a filling of choice.

don’t miss this important step

Mature the filled macarons for 24 hours. The shells will absorb the moisture from filling and macarons should soften nicely.

Possible cause:

  • Batter was over-mixed

Over-mixed batter is too loose and the shells don’t hold its shape well, instead it spreads out too much.

How to prevent flat, spread out macarons:

Once macaron batter is over-mixed and it’s too runny, there’s no way to salvage it. So it’s important to prevent this from happening.

Make sure to check the batter often for the correct consistency. It should slowly run off the spatula into a ribbon, and the edges should melt back into the batter within about 10 seconds.

Possible cause:

  • Issue with meringue
  • Over-mixed batter
  • Improper piping technique
  • Too high oven temperature
  • Under-baked macaron shells

How to fix hollow macaron shells:

Hollow macarons are so common, and I personally battled with this issue for a long time. Now, I consistently get full, meaty macarons straight from the oven.

Since it’s a complex issue, I dedicated a separate post on how to fix hollow macarons.

Watch How to Make This Below!

Potential causes:

  • Batter is too wet
  • Humid weather
  • Weak meringue
  • Batter was over-mixed
  • Shells weren’t rested before baking
  • Shells were rested for too long, weakening the meringue structure
  • Too low oven temperature

How to prevent no feet macarons:

  1. When the batter is too wet, macarons don’t develop those ruffled feet. The most common causes for wet batter: excess liquids, like extracts, lemon/lime juice, liquid food coloring, too much gel food coloring, etc.
  2. In some cases, especially in humid climates, aging egg whites might be beneficial. During aging, egg whites loose some of its moisture.
  3. When the meringue isn’t whipped to stiff peaks, it doesn’t have strong enough structure to lift macarons. Watch my French Meringue 101 video for visual cues for proper meringue.
  4. When macaron batter is over-mixed, there’s not much air bubbles left to give the shells lift during baking. Therefore, they come out flat without feet.
  5. Also, if macarons weren’t rested to form a skin before baking, it could cause no feet macarons. And if the shells were rested for too long, it can also negatively affect the batter, because meringue loses its stability when sat for too long. Keep checking the shells every 15 minutes and put them in the oven as soon as they don’t stick to your fingers.
  6. If the oven is not hot enough, macarons won’t rise as air bubbles in the meringue need heat to expand to lift the shells, creating that pretty feet at the base.

check the accuracy of your oven

Make sure to get an oven thermometer to double check the temperature inside the oven without relying on what oven says.

Potential causes:

  • Too high oven temperature
  • Silicone mat

how to prevent bulging feet:

Some may find it ugly when the ruffled feet extends out of the macaron shells. I’m not a huge fan, but it’s not the worst!

  • This happens when the oven is a bit too hot, causing the macarons to rise too high and then collapse slightly, making the feet bulge out.
  • And another reason is silicone mat might be the culprit. I certainly happens to me with thick silicone mats, but I know some people have gorgeous macarons with silicone mats.

Possible causes:

  • Too much liquid (moisture) in the batter
  • Meringue is under-beaten
  • Oily almond flour

How to prevent soft, wrinkly shells:

Excess moisture and/or fat is the #1 cause for soft, wrinkly shells. And there’re number of culprits for excess moisture/fat in the batter:

  1. Adding liquid extracts, juices or liquid food coloring
  2. Adding cocoa powder, freeze-dried fruits, etc.
  3. Under-mixed meringue also contains too much moisture
  4. Oily almond flour, or almond flour that has been opened for too long

Cocoa powder contains fat which could potentially cause soft, brownie-like macaron shells. And freeze-dried fruits absorb moisture from the air fast and could cause soft, wrinkly shells as well.

how to store almond flour

Store opened almond flour in an airtight container in a cool place. You can also store in the freezer for long-term storage.

Typically, when you add dry ingredients into meringue, it starts out pretty thick and that’s totally normal. As you fold the batter, it thins out and gets runnier.

In rare occasions, the batter never loosens and it stays thick.

Possible causes:

  • Improper ratio of dry and wet ingredients
  • Oily almond flour
  • Too much cocoa powder or freeze-dried fruits
  • Overbeaten meringue

how to fix and prevent thick batter issue:

  1. Be sure to weigh the ingredients carefully. I strongly recommend weighing all the ingredients, including egg whites, with a kitchen scale.
  2. Oily almond flour could cause thick batter. Make sure to use fresh almond flour and avoid processing it in a food processor.
  3. Too much cocoa powder or freeze-dried fruits can throw the ratio of dry and wet ingredients.
  4. When meringue is over-beaten, it gets dry, throwing off the ratio as well.

I don’t have a photo of this issue, but basically it looks like greasy stains on the shells.

Possible causes:

  • Oily almond flour
  • Batter sat out for too long before piping

how to prevent blotchy macarons:

  1. Use fresh almond flour that’s not oily. To test, squeeze some almond flour in your hand and see if it holds its shape. If it holds its shape like wet sand, then it’s too oily.
  2. Make sure to pipe the shells right away, especially with French meringue batter.

Possible causes:

  • Uneven air circulation in the oven/ Hot spots
  • Convection setting (fan forced) may have too strong fan
  • Improper piping technique
  • Shells were dried for too long

how to prevent lopsided macarons:

Main culprit for lopsided shells is poor air circulation. This could be due to uneven heat distribution and hot spots in the oven, convection settings with too strong fan. Here’re a few things you can do in this case:

  1. Flip the baking sheet upside down before piping macarons, so that there’s no edges around the sheet to block any heat circulation.
  2. Bake macarons one sheet at a time.
  3. Turn the baking sheet around half way through baking.
  4. If possible, bake on conventional setting, heat coming from top and bottom.

The next reason for lopsided macarons is improper piping technique. Pay close attention to following:

  1. Hold the piping bag with macaron batter straight at 90° and squeeze the batter from the top to one spot until the desired size reaches. Watch my macaron video for better illustration.
  2. Pipe the shells at least half an inch apart to give the shells enough room for air circulation.

And lastly, don’t dry your macarons for too long. Too thick skin may cause lopsided macarons.

Possible causes:

  • Low oven temp/ low heat from bottom
  • Under-baked shells
  • Not cooling the macarons before removing from parchment paper

How to prevent concaved, or stuck macarons:

  1. Make sure your oven is hot enough. Most of the time, ovens need good 30-45 minutes to preheat properly. Even if it beeps when it’s preheated, I highly recommend double checking with an oven thermometer.
  2. Be sure to check the macarons for doneness before taking them out. To test for doneness, gently touch the top of one macaron with your index finger and try wiggle it. If it wobbles side to side, they’re not ready. keep baking for another minute or so. The cooked shells should wiggle ever so slightly and firm to touch. When in doubt, cook a bit longer. In my opinion, it’s better to over-bake them than under-bake them.
  3. Make sure to cool the macarons on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before removing from parchment paper/silicone mat.
"Macaron 101" cookbook on a marble background.

Macaron 101: A Comprehensive Guide

Master the art of French macarons and create your signature flavors!

Yellow and pink macarons filled with white chocolate ganache arranged on a dark surface

Whew, are you still with me? Thank you!!! I hope this macaron troubleshooting guide answers 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.

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

331 Comments

  1. You have been a great inspiration for making macarons. I’m on my journey yet to master, so thank you. I also just bought your macaron e- book. Great!
    Could you answer a question? I have a small oven but make double batches of macarons. How can I prevent the second tray from drying out too much while the first batch is baking?
    Thanks for your help!

  2. Very detailed troubleshooting. Yesterday I tried to make some macarons, but they came out to be super soft like a chewy american cookie, and were wrinkly and cracked. Could I have a detailed explanation about what happened? Ty 🙂

  3. I refuse to give up!!
    I think my latest batch started out the best. I was watching the feet rise and they looked perfect. Then they fell! The feet almost completely disappeared!! Any ideas??

    1. Hi, Flint. I think your meringue isn’t stable. Watch my meringue video and try my low and slow meringue method. Hope it helps! And please keep us posted.

      1. I followed the meringue instructions and it took over 1:30 to get to stiff peaks (any ideas there?? That is a long time!). The macarons are better, but the feet still fell a little on my first pan. The second pan, I raised the rack and put another pan on the lower rack to see if the bottom of the oven was too hot. That seemed to help more. I’d be happy to send pictures.