Macarons are petite pastries made from almond-meringue cookies that are uniquely crisp and chewy then filled with a variety of fillings. These Vanilla French Macarons have sprinkles on top with a filling of whipped vanilla buttercream.
The allure of the macaron is real. They are cute, colorful, dainty, and delicious. With their little “feet” around the edges, colorful shells, and an assortment of fillings, you will easily and quickly fall in love with them.
The texture of a French macaron is unlike anything else that you will ever experience. The shells have a thin, crisp top and chewy middles
True, they can be a bit finicky to make at home, but still within reach for the home baker following these macaron tips and tricks.
- Almond flour
- Confectioners' sugar
- Egg whites
- Granulated sugar
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
See recipe card for quantities.
Tools and Equipment
- Electric mixer
- Large mixing bowl
- Kitchen scale
- Flexible rubber spatula
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Piping bags
- Piping tips
- General kitchen tools (measuring cups, spoons, etc)
The most important part for making successful macarons at home is to know how to fold together the batter. This part is called the macaronage and should be done efficiently and without over-mixing.
- Macaronage - The process in which the meringue and almond flour are folded and combined together into the macaron batter.
- Feet - The ruffle that develops at the base of each baked macaron shell.
First, combine part of the egg whites with the almond flour to form a paste.
Begin folding the meringue into the almond paste mixture.
Test the macaron batter - it should be thick enough for the spatula to split in half without the sides flooding back in too quickly.
Pipe mound of macaron batter on a lined baking sheet.
Hint: As you fold, smear some of the batter against the side of the bowl to knock out some of the air and smooth out any lumps. Periodically scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of unincorporated almond flour hiding at the bottom.
Steps for Making French Macarons
- Blend the dry mixture - grind down the almond flour and confectioners' sugar together in a food processor.
- Boil the sugar - cook the sugar and water until soft ball stage
- Create a French meringue - pour the sugar syrup into half the egg whites and whip
- Mix the remaining egg whites with almond mixture
- Macaronage - fold the meringue into the almond paste
- Pipe the macarons
- Tap - pat the bottom of a baking sheet to deflate any trapped air
- Rest - to form a skin on top of the batter
You will hear that this is the most important step for making macarons at home. It's true. So let's go over some pointers for getting it done right!
Using a cooked meringue makes the mixture much more stable. Adding half at a time to temper the batter makes it easier to fold the light meringue and dense almond paste together.
To fold, slide the spatula down the side of the bowl until it reaches the bottom then scoop up the mixture and turn it over on itself - bringing the batter from the bottom of the bowl to top. Rotate the bowl 90° and repeat.
The goal is to fold the batter with as few folds as possible. Go slow, do not stir, and use deliberate, confident folds.
The batter is done mixing when you can lift up a small portion with the spatula and slowly wave it back and forth, like a ribbon, without it breaking. The “ribbon” should melt back into the batter in about 30 seconds.
Pipe and Tap
To pipe the batter, hover the piping bag above the baking pan as you pipe so the batter has room to escape the tip. At the end, release the pressure on the piping bag and give it a tiny swirl with a flick of the wrist to release the batter from the piping bag. Continue to pipe one full baking sheet at a time.
After one full baking sheet is piped, it is time to tap the bottom of the pan. This releases any trapped air bubbles and helps any peaks left from piping settle flat. Tap the bottom of the pan against your work surface a few times.
Alternatively, pick up the baking sheet and tap the bottom of the pan with an open hand, rotating around until each corner gets a good whack (this is my preferred method).
Keep tapping until the macarons are smooth on top (if they are already very smooth, then only tap the pan a couple times - this means your batter is likely overmixed and you will want to keep them from spreading as much as possible).
Why Rest the Macaron Shells?
While the oven pre-heats, rest the macarons until a skin forms on their tops, 20 to 45 minutes. They are ready to bake once the oven is preheated and the tops are dry and not sticky when gently touched with a finger.
It is important for a skin to develop on top of the shells before baking.
This way, the shells rise and the heat escapes out the bottom and creates “feet” instead of bursting through the tops.
- Serve the macarons at room temperature. Store them in an air-tight container at room temperature overnight. If you’re planning to eat the macarons more than one day after assembly, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- The shells are fragile, so take care when storing and do not tightly pack them into the container.
- Some recipes recommend that the macarons “mature” before serving. This means they are stored in the refrigerator overnight before serving. In this case, the filling has a chance to soften the shells. If the shells accidentally get over-baked, then I recommend maturing the macarons for better texture, but it is not necessary otherwise.
Do not over-mix the macaron batter. Make deliberate, effective folds when mixing the meringue and almond paste together.
Use egg whites from fresh eggs. Unless you have a reliable brand of carton egg whites that you trust for making meringue, then make sure to use egg whites from whole eggs. Save the yolks for another recipe.
The oven was too hot or they were not mixed properly.
There was no rest period. It is important for a skin to develop on top of the shells before baking. This way, the shells rise and the heat escapes out the bottom and creates “feet” instead of bursting through the tops.
The egg whites were likely over-beaten or the meringue mixture was mixed too long. This could also be a result of the shells resting too long before baking.
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Vanilla French Macarons
For the French Macarons
- 1 ¼ cup (145g) almond flour
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons (145g) confectioners' sugar
- 105 grams egg whites
- ⅔ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter softened
- 1 ½ to 2 cups (188 to 210g) confectioners' sugar
- 2 teas pure vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoon milk as needed
To Make the French Macarons
- Line two to three baking sheets with non-stick silicone baking mats or parchment paper and set aside. Fit a large piping bag with a round tip, ¼ to ½-inch wide in diameter, and set aside.
- Place the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor. Grind until fine, 30 to 60 seconds. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the almond flour mixture into a large mixing bowl. Press any clumps through the sieve with a rubber spatula.
- Place the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan and gently swirl together. Heat the sugar mixture on the stove over high heat. Without stirring, bring the sugar mixture to a boil. Keep boiling until the sugar syrup reaches 238°F on a candy thermometer, or soft ball stage.
- Meanwhile, place half of the egg whites (about 52-53 grams) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Once the sugar syrup reaches 230°F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed until they turn white and hold soft peaks - like wispy clouds.
- Once the sugar syrup reaches 238°F and the egg whites are whipped to soft peaks, very carefully pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites with the mixer running on high speed. Pour the hot syrup in a steady stream - not too slow that it dribbles and spills, and not too quickly that you lose control or shock the delicate egg whites.
- After the sugar syrup has been added to the egg whites, continue to whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and the meringue returns back to room temperature, 6 to 8 minutes. Add gel food coloring to the meringue during the last minute of mixing.
- Meanwhile, add the remaining egg whites (about 52-53 grams) to the sifted almond flour mixture. Stir the ingredients together with a rubber spatula until the mixture turns into a paste. Press and smear the paste against the side of the bowl to remove lumps.
- Add about ⅓ of the meringue to the almond mixture and mix until they just start to combine. You don’t need to be as delicate here. Stop before the two mixtures are fully combined.
- Continue to fold all of the meringue into the batter (see Macranoge for more info). Do not over-mix. The batter is done mixing when you can lift up a small portion with the spatula and slowly wave it back and forth, like a ribbon, without it breaking. The “ribbon” should melt back into the batter in about 30 seconds.
- Fill the prepared piping bag with the macaron batter. Holding the bag straight down, pipe small, uniform mounds on the lined baking sheets. The macarons should be 1 to 1 ½-inches in diameter, piped about an inch apart. Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles, if desired.
- After one full baking sheet is piped, it is time to tap the bottom of the pan. This releases any trapped air bubbles and helps any peaks left from piping settle flat. (See Pipe and Tap).
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and set the piped macarons aside to rest. Rest the macarons until a skin forms on their tops, 20 to 45 minutes. They are ready to bake once the oven is preheated and the tops are dry and not sticky when gently touched with a finger.
- Bake one baking sheet at a time (or two small sheets, if they fit on the same rack) for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool macarons completely on their baking sheets set over a wire cooling rack.
To Make the Vanilla Buttercream
- Place the softened butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in bowl with a hand mixer, and mix on medium-low until creamy. Stop the mixer and add about half of the sugar. Mix on low speed until combined.
- Gradually add in the remaining ingredients until incorporated, then turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes.
- To assemble, find similarly sized shells and set them down in pairs on a clean baking sheet, one shell facing up and the other facing down. Pipe the vanilla buttercream on the bottom shells, leaving a very small border around the edge. Place the matching shells on top of the filling and gently sandwich together until the buttercream presses out to the edges of the feet.