How to Make French Macarons in 9 Simple Steps

pink and brown macarons
Photo: Bryan Gardner

Macarons are French almond meringue cookies, sandwiched around a filling. Don't confuse them with macaroons, the ooey-gooey, often coconut-forward mounds—while equally tasty, they are a different treat entirely. French macarons are made from almond flour, egg whites, and sugar so they are light, delicate, and gluten free. They look like a treat best left to pastry chefs, but they're not difficult to make; you simply need to be precise and nail the technique (by following our recipe).

French macarons are also fun to make, impressive, and endlessly variable. You can flavor the cookies and fillings (buttercream, jam, or chocolate ganache perhaps?) and customize the colors, so they can speak to the décor for a party or look appropriate as a gift.

Ready to get your macar-on? Our simple step-by-step guide shows you how to make these French treats, from combining the almond mixture to beating the meringue to sandwiching the cookies. You'll feel like a master pâtissier when you make these colorful, dainty dessert sandwiches.

01 of 09

Organize the Ingredients and Grind the Almonds

Linda Pugliese

Mis en place your ingredients; that means measure everything out before you begin, since macarons require precision.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Place 2/3 cup blanched almonds in a food processor; process until as fine as possible, about one minute. Add 1 cup confectioners' sugar; process until combined, about one minute.

02 of 09

Sift the Almond Mixture

Linda Pugliese

Pass the almond mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer solids in the sieve to your food processor; grind and sift again, pressing down on clumps. Repeat until less than 2 tablespoons of solids remains in the sieve.

03 of 09

Whip the Egg Whites

Linda Pugliese

Whisk two large egg whites and 1/4 cup granulated sugar by hand to combine. Then beat on medium speed (4 on a KitchenAid) for two minutes. Increase speed to medium-high (6) and beat for two minutes. Then beat on high (8) for two minutes more.

04 of 09

Customize the Meringue

Linda Pugliese

The meringue is ready when the beaten egg whites hold stiff, glossy peaks as you lift the whisk out of the bowl. This is the time to add flavoring and food coloring if desired; beat the mixture on the highest speed 30 seconds after adding.

05 of 09

Fold in the Almond Mixture

Linda Pugliese

Add the almond mixture to the meringue all at once. Fold it in with a spatula from the bottom of the bowl upward, then press the flat side of spatula firmly through the middle of the mixture. Repeat just until the batter flows like lava, 35 to 40 complete strokes.

06 of 09

Prepare to Pipe

Linda Pugliese

Rest a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch round tip (Ateco #804) inside a glass. Transfer the macaron batter to the bag; secure the top. Dab some batter remaining in bowl onto the corners of two heavy baking sheets; line the baking sheets with parchment—the batter will prevent them from slipping.

07 of 09

Pipe Rounds

Linda Pugliese

With the piping tip 1/2 inch above the sheet, pipe the batter into a 3/4-inch round, then swirl tip off to one side. Repeat, spacing rounds 1 inch apart. Tap each baking sheet firmly against the counter two or three times to release any air bubbles.

08 of 09

Bake and Fill the Macarons

Linda Pugliese

Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until risen and just set, 13 minutes. Let cool completely before moving from the baking sheet as the cookies are very fragile when warm. Use an offset spatula to release the cookies from the parchment-lined sheet.

Pipe or spread filling on flat sides of half of the cookies; gently top each cookie with filling with another cookie. Wrap the macarons in plastic and refrigerate.

09 of 09

Make Macarons Ahead of Time

Basic French Macarons
Linda Pugliese

Macarons improve with time. Sandwich them, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Once you sandwich them around a filling, the insides of the cookies begin to soften, creating the contrast we associate with the best macarons. This can take from 24 to 72 hours, depending on the filling—something liquid like jam will be ready overnight, while a buttercream that firms in the fridge can take up to a week. The perfect macaron should have a crisp outside and a soft, chewy middle.

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