These lemon macarons are perfect balance of sweet and sour. Bursting with zesty flavor, these macarons are incredibly fun to make!
I bought this wavy serving dish at a local thrift shop years ago, but here’s a similar dish on Amazon.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Master your basic macaron skills with my easy macaron recipe. Then experiment with this recipe for lemon macarons. It’s a perfect way to step into the world of flavored shells.
You’ll love these lemon macarons, because they are…
- pleasantly chewy with a soft, creamy filling
- beautiful and impressive treats for celebrations
- way more affordable than store-bought
- and perfect make-ahead treats!
All you need is a solid recipe and a bit of practice to master these dainty treats!
Measure the macaron ingredients in grams with a kitchen scale. This intentional step leaves no wiggle room for error, maximizing your success!
For the macaron shells:
- Almond flour – Use high-quality fine almond flour, preferably freshly opened package. Old almond flour tend to be oily, causing issues like, thin wrinkly shells. Also, if it smells rancid instead of nutty, toss it and buy a new bag.
- Powdered sugar is another crucial ingredient. And I highly recommend store-bought one, as they have cornstarch mixed in.
- Egg whites – You don’t need to age egg whites for making macarons. Both freshly cracked egg whites and carton egg whites work perfectly fine.
- Cream of tartar – The dry acid is totally optional, but it helps to stabilize your meringue. Stable meringue is the foundation of beautiful macarons. If you don’t have cream of tartar, simply omit it.
- Granulated sugar – Super fine sugar quickly dissolves into the egg whites to create a thick and silky foam. The sugar stabilizes the tiny air bubbles for a sturdy meringue.
- Lemon zest & juice – I highly recommend using a whole lemon.
For the lemon buttercream:
- Unsalted butter – Room temperature buttercream is crucial for fluffy texture!
- Powdered sugar – Thickens and sweetens the buttercream! Powdered sugar is finer than white sugar for a smooth and silky frosting.
- Salt is the secret to well balanced flavor!
How to make this recipe:
Follow this lemon macaron recipe exactly for perfect macarons! Resist the urge to skip steps or substitute ingredients.
1. Make the meringue
Beautiful macarons start with a sturdy meringue!
- Slowly whisk the egg whites until foamy and stir in salt and cream of tartar.
- Then slowly add granulated sugar, a tablespoon at a time, while whisking the meringue until it reaches soft peaks.
- Add lemon juice and yellow food coloring and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Check the meringue. You want to see a nice defined ridges as pictured below. Add lemon zest and beat for about 30 seconds to incorporate it.
Adding lemon zest too early on may deflate your meringue due its oil content. Be sure to add it after the stiff peaks form!
2. Make the macaron batter
- Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar 3 times. Third time, you may sift it directly into the meringue.
- Then using a large silicone spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. Run your spatula down the side of the bowl to the bottom, and then cut through the center of the batter. You don’t have to be too gently, but also don’t rush through the process.
- When the batter flows of the spatula, start testing the batter. Scoop some batter with your spatula and slowly drop it back into the bowl into a ribbon.
- Slightly tilt the bowl and observe the batter that you just dropped. If the edges of the ribbon dissolve into the rest of the batter within ten seconds, the batter is ready!
My “10-Second Test” for macaron batter consistency:
- Scoop some batter with your spatula.
- Slowly drop it back into the bowl into a ribbon.
- Then slightly tilt the bowl and observe the batter that you just dropped.
- If the edges of the ribbon dissolve into the rest of the batter within ten seconds, the batter is ready!
3. Shape and bake the macarons
- Transfer the batter into a large piping bag with a round tip. ( I prefer Wilton 2A tip.)
- Pipe the macarons onto parchment-lined baking sheet about an inch apart. Hold the piping bag straight at 90°. Then gently squeeze the batter from the top until the batter spreads into a 1.5-inch circle. (TIP: Download my FREE macaron template.)
- Once all the batter is piped, tap the sheet pans onto the counter to remove any air bubbles. Use a toothpick to pop any bigger bubbles. This will give you beautiful, smooth tops! Let the macarons rest and form a thin skin on top.
- Bake the macarons at 300°F (conventional, top and bottom heat) for about 18 minutes, one sheet at a time.
- Let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet before peeling them off the parchment paper.
4. Make lemon buttercream:
While the lemon French macarons bake and cool, make the lemon buttercream.
- In a bowl with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy.
- Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well combined. Transfer the buttercream into a pastry bag.
5. Fill and mature the macarons:
- Once the macaron shells are completely cooled, carefully peel them off the parchment paper and pair the shells by size.
- Pipe a dollop of buttercream on one shell and place the second shell on top. Gently squeeze so the filling reaches the edges.
- Arrange the filled macarons in an airtight container and refrigerate for 24 hour to mature.
- Once macarons are matured, bring it to room temperature for about 30 minutes and enjoy!
Macaron Tips for Success:
- Be sure to use gel food coloring, excess liquid can mess up the meringue!
- Don’t over-mix the macaron batter. Over-mixed batter is runny and shells won’t hold its shape. Check the consistency often!
- French macarons taste the best 1-2 days after making them. This process is also called maturing.
- For more macaron tips, check out my Macaron Masterclass page.
Since macarons taste better on day two, making them ahead is preferred. You can store them ready-to-eat or ready-to-fill.
- Refrigerate the filled macarons for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- You can freeze filled macarons for up to 3-6 months. (3 months tops, if you’re selling macarons. And if you’re consuming yourself, you can freeze for up to 6 months.)
- You can also freeze plain shells and fill them later, as needed. Lemon pairs well with vanilla, blueberry, and pistachio buttercream.
- Store the filled macarons in a dry, airtight container. If there’s any moisture, it will transfer to the macarons and make them soggy.
- Remove the macarons from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Macarons are best at room temperature!
- Don’t store these delicate cookies in bags. They are more likely to crack or break this way.
There are several potential causes for macarons not developing feet. For example, excess moisture in the batter, weak meringue, humid environment, shells weren’t rested long enough, or low oven temperature. Check out my macaron troubleshooting guide on how to fix this issue.
If your lemon macarons crack on top, you may need to check your oven temperature. If your oven runs hot, or if it has hot spots, it could cause cracking. Read my troubleshooting steps for cracked macarons.
Lemon French Macarons
For macaron shells:
- 100 g super fine almond flour Note 1
- 75 g powdered sugar Note 2
- 70 g (1/3 cup) egg whites at room temperature Note 3
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar optional Note 4
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 75 g super fine granulated sugar Note 5
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice Note 6
- Yellow gel food coloring
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
For lemon buttercream:
- 80 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 130 g powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Pastry bag with Wilton Extra Large Round Tip #1
To make macaron shells:
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or teflon sheet, or silicone mat. (TIP 1: For even air circulation, flip the baking sheets upside down.)
- To prepare dry ingredients, sift together almond flour and powdered sugar twice. Note: If you have up to 2 tablespoons of chunky dry ingredients left in the sifter, you don't have to replace it. Simply discard those chunky bits.
- To make meringue, in a clean mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium low speed until foamy. (I set it to speed 2 or 4 on my KitchenAid stand mixer.)
- When egg whites are foamy, add cream of tartar and salt and continue to whisk.
- Then slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time, while mixer is still running. Allow the sugar to dissolve after each addition.
- When the meringue reaches soft peaks, add lemon juice and a few drops of yellow gel food coloring.
- Continue beating the egg whites on the same medium low speed until hard peaks form. Visual cues: Meringue should ball up inside the whisk, and when you lift the whisk, the meringue should hold a pointy end and have sharp ribs. (See pictures above or watch this meringue video for more information.)
- Once meringue reaches hard peaks, add lemon zest and whip for another 30 seconds or so.
- To make batter, sift almond flour mixture into the meringue. Using a silicone spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until fully incorporated. Then continue to fold the batter until it’s runny enough to draw a figure eight. To test, take a small amount of batter and drop it into the bowl. If the small peaks dissolve into the batter on its own in about 10 seconds, the batter is ready. If not, fold couple more times and test again. Be careful not to over-fold the batter. (TIP: Making french macarons is all about the technique. This is one of the most crucial step. Let me try to describe the folding motion as best as I can: run the spatula clockwise from the bottom, up around the sides and cut the batter in half. If you’re beginner macaron-baker, I suggest to count every fold. It takes roughly about 50 folds to reach the proper consistency. After 50 folds, start testing the batter, and continue testing after every couple folds.)
- To pipe macaron shells, transfer the batter into a pastry bag, fitted with a round tip. (I used this Wilton 2A tip.)
- Hold the pastry bag at straight 90° angle and pipe about 1.5-inch rounds about an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. (TIP 2: Download my free macaron template. Simply pipe the batter to fill inner circle.)
- Tap the baking sheets firmly on the counter (or using your hand) a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. You can also use a toothpick to burst some large air bubbles. This step ensures smooth tops.
- Let the macarons sit out on the counter for at least 15-30 minutes, maybe up to couple hours, depending on humidity. When you lightly touch the macarons and the batter does not stick to your finger, then it’s ready to go into the oven.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Note: I don't use convection settings. I set my oven to heat from top and bottom.
- To bake, working one baking sheet at a time, place one tray with macarons on the middle rack. (TIP: To prevent browning, place an empty baking sheet on top rack to shield the heat.) Bake for about 15-18 minutes. It’ll take longer for larger macarons. To test for doneness, touch a macaron lightly and try to move it. If it slides and wobbles, bake a minute or so longer. The cooked macarons should be firm to touch and the base shouldn’t move. (TIP: It’s always better to slightly over-bake macarons than under-bake them!)
- Cool macarons complete and then remove the shells from the parchment paper. (TIP: Don't remove the shells while warm, you may risk breaking the shells, or the bottom might get stuck to the baking surface.)
To make lemon buttercream:
- In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until fluffy. Then add powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and beat until well combined.
To assemble macarons:
- Pair the cooled macaron shells by size and arrange them on a wire rack. Line them up so that bottom shells are upside down.
- Pipe a dollop of filling on bottom shells. Place the top shell over the filling and press lightly so the filling spreads till the edges.
- Store the filled macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 24 hours to mature, which allows the filling to soften and flavor the shells.
- To serve, bring the macarons out about 30 minutes prior to serving.
- Store the macarons in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 6 month.
Tips & Notes:
This recipe was originally published on May 5th, 2014.