Macaron making can be frustrating, brutal and at times impossible! I've listened as many have shared their macaron problems with me and a lot of these problems actually share a common theme so I wrote this post to help alleviate the toll that macaron baking may have taken on your wallet and sanity! Believe me, I had my fair share of macaron troubles so here are some of the methods I use in my own kitchen:
Use the right recipe
This is a no-brainer. The ingredients list is not the only thing that we're concerned about. The techniques used in making macarons are even more important. Make sure the recipe you use describes in detail what you need to do at every step. I would highly recommend that you follow ALL the steps carefully. That way, you don't have to wonder if the problems you encounter do in fact come from the skipped step.
My recipe also uses the smallest quantity of ingredients you can successfully use to make one batch of macarons, allowing you to practice many more times without wasting so much ingredients.
Get a Kitchen Scale
Get a kitchen scale and weigh out all your ingredients. So many things can go wrong and you don't want to know that your macarons didn't work due to something that is so simple and easy to do! Accurate ingredients are very important to ensure you don't have too much or too little of one thing. Ingredients can weigh differently depending on how you scoop it. This is the version I use in my kitchen:
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Dry & Clean tools
The meringue is perhaps the most important foundation element in macaron making and it does not like water! It won't form properly when it comes into contact with oil or water. So that means no yolks in the egg whites! And to dry your tools quickly, any metal utensils like metal bowls and balloon whisks can be placed inside a heated oven for 5 minutes. Make sure you use oven mitts to pull it out and don't use it right away since it will be scorching hot, you also don't want to cook your egg whites.
Buy Small Eggs
Unless otherwise stated, recipes that use eggs are generally referring to large sized eggs. My macaron recipe uses 50 grams of egg whites per batch that means you can use two small eggs instead of 2 large ones since small eggs contain approximately 25 grams of egg whites, this will eliminate the wasted overage from using 2 large eggs.
Save those leftover egg yolks for use in other desserts or make a French buttercream filling for your macarons with them. A French buttercream involves pouring hot sugar syrup onto egg yolks while beating. Here is a discussion of how the French buttercream stacks up against the other types of buttercreams for use as macaron fillings.
You can also freeze yolks for future use too. Beat your yolks with ⅛ teaspoon salt or 1 ½ teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per ¼ cup of egg yolks (approxinately 4 yolks), then freeze. Use salt in anticipation of savory dishes or sugar for desserts.
Perfect Your Meringue
Always start with aged egg whites. Some bakers don't, but why tempt fate? It's an added insurance that you can't afford not to have when you're starting out with macarons. This post will teach you how to Age Egg Whites for Macarons.
When you get to beating your egg whites, a meringue with a stiff peak is what you're ultimately looking for. Here is a post which will take you step-by-step to whipping up a perfect meringue for making macarons. You'll learn what speed to start at and what visual cues you need to recognize at each step.
You don't necessarily need to buy cream of tartar for whipping the egg whites. A half teaspoon of lemon juice works just as well!
Berry Sugar or extra fine granulated sugar can cost three times as much as regular castor sugar. I have now switched over to using granulated sugar and found no difference with my macaron making.
Make Your Own Almond Flour
Making your own almond flour will help cut down costs dramatically since almond flour is perhaps the most expensive ingredient you'll encounter while making the macaron shells. I actually prefer making my own almound flour since I can maintain a consistent quality. Some pre-made flours may be too oily and cause your macarons to become blotchy on top. Talk about a waste!
Learn how to make your own almond flour here.
Yes, it's enough. All my flour is only sifted once. Here are my macarons on the left. Not bumpy right? Simply throw out what you can't sift and grind a bit more almond along with icing sugar to compensate for the discarded amount. If you're left with an un-siftable amount of less than two teaspoon, I wouldn't bother.
Pre-sift and Pre-make Almond Flour
Measuring all the ingredients and sifting the dry ones can be so tedious. If you have extra time when you're making a batch of macarons, measure out 2 or 3 times the amount of almond flour and icing sugar you actually need. Sift them and store them away in portioned amounts in anticipation of each use. This will save you a lot of time since you don't have to measure, sift and clean up your food processor again. I always think of it as a little gift I'm giving to the future me who wants to make macarons without the fuss 🙂
Use a Stand Mixer
You can definitely whip the French meringue with a handheld mixer but your counter top mixer can act as your little kitchen helper. As the mixer beats the meringue, you can take that time to measure your ingredients, get ready piping tips and clean the dishes. If you don't want to splurge on an expensive mixer because you don't do any other baking (my question is why not hehe) then you can still buy an inexpensive lower-powered one. You can get away with it since you're only beating pillowy soft meringue. I use a Kitchenaid Professional version like this one:
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Use Disposable Piping Bags
I personally use recyclable multi-use ones since I find its quite easy to wash because meringues don't contain any oil. A quick rinse is all that is needed. But if you find you are already juggling a lot while baking macarons, use disposable piping bags until you're ready to take on a little more in the kitchen.
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Here is a VERY handy tool for piping macarons which is resuable.
Use Parchment Paper instead of Silpats
2 words - less cleanup. I do, however, prefer Silpats more for creating a more round shape. Paper will save you time but reusable Silpat mats will save you money. Here's a video on how to store and clean your Silpats if you do use them.
Here are the mats I use in my kitchen. You'll recognize them from all my macaron videos. Disclosure: these are affiliate links
Use a Template
Having a guide will help you pipe more deliberately and faster. Here's a template for you to use:
Know When to Stop Folding the Batter
This is probably the most "ambiguous" part of macaron making. Most instructions describe the finished batter as being able to flow like "molten lava." I've never seen molten lava in real life so here is what I do in my kitchen:
Rest Your Macarons
Your cracked macarons will usually be a result of this (and not banging out the air). Rest the shells until it is firm and the batter doesn't transfer to your fingers. Sure, there are some recipes that say resting is not needed. In those cases, you do not know the condition of their particular batter or meringue. Trust me, you won't regret having this extra insurance. Here's a post about why your shells aren't drying properly.
Use Your Oven Properly and Find the Right Oven Temperature
Your oven's temperature can affect how your macarons develop once baked. I would err on the side of using a higher temperature. You can test your oven temperature with a small tester batch first before baking the whole tray. Here are two detailed post about on using your oven for baking macarons:
♥How to Use Your Oven Properly for Baking Macarons
♥Controlling the Oven Temperature for Baking Macarons
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Annie Mellon says
Hi Mimi...I discovered your blog as i searched for meringue cookies to share at Christmas. I saw your red striped meringue kisses the on the internet but have been unable to find your recipe with the ingredient and quantity of each and the detailed instructions of making and baking the kisses. I cannot believe that I have missed it and would appreciate if you could send the link to me I hope to move on to your macaroons next as I have two grandchildren Katherine and Victoria ages 1 and 4 and I always make them character cakes for their birthdays but will try your macaroons next which I assume will tickle them.
Soraya Faiz says
Hi Mimi, I have been following you for a while on things about macarons, I have an issue that keeps occurring, when making my macarons even after sifting and following your exact steps I've noticed that after cooking, sometimes the cookies still look like the almond flour is very visible almost like you could see the grains of almond I'm not sure why? Also even though I use equal sugar and equal amount of almond, the feet are not as big as I would like them to be.. Your help is very appreciated
Thank you so much.
Have you tried extra fine almond flour? Sifters might be letting in too much of the bigger pieces. If you are positive your almond flour is fine, there might be an issue with the meringue causing the almond flour to not incorporate properly into the meringue so it ends up looking grainy. Make sure to whip it up to stiff peaks and then stop right away after that. This post might help: How to whip meringue for macarons.
Thank you so much for generously sharing your macaron knowledge; I learn a lot from you.
I grind my own almonds. I place it in the food processor with the powdered sugar, just as you’ve taught. I use a shell recipe like yours that calls for equal amounts of almonds and powdered sugar. You recommend making a big batch of sifted ingredients. Is it okay to store the almond and powdered sugar together? Say, if I need to use 65 g of almond flour and 65 g of powderef sugar, I just weigh 130 g from my pre-grinded/sifted mixture. Will that affect the macarons?
It's okay to keep them together. However, you will need to mix it up well before you use it again, the almonds will sink to the bottom and you might end up with the incorrect ratio of ingredients. Another alternative is to portion out the 130 gram into little bags in advance. That way, you know for certain that you have the correct amount on baking day.
Benjamin H says
I was thinking about pre-sifting and pre-making the almond flour like you suggest. My concern is that letting it sit could cause granules in the mix to stick together over time while sitting in the container, which means I'd have to put it through the processor again. Am I making up a non-existent problem or have you found this to be a concern at all?
I haven't had any problems pre-sifting and letting the mixture sit, when I need to use it, I just swirl the mixture around in a big bowl very well to make sure there are no clumps. This might depend on your own climate and ingredients. Good question though, let me know how it goes!
Hi Mimi! I stumbled upon your site during my quest to make the macarons to the best of my ability! I've been making smaller batches in order to save money and not waste. I was wondering if you can recommend a way to test different baking temperatures/times with the same batter. Baking only 4 macarons at time from the same batter would be ideal so I can figure out their relationship with my oven but my assumption is leaving the extra batter in the piping bag or in a bowl while I bake the first or second batches would have an effect on the result. Any suggestions?
Usually no, you can most likely bake these different macarons staggered and have no ill effects. If you're not going well over 2 hours, I don't anticipate there to be any problems. (btw, some bakers in humid environments actually leave their macarons to rest for hours at a time)
Hi. Thank you for your sharing. I have a question, can I use homemade powdered sugar for your recipe?
I think that would depend on how fine your powdered sugar is. There should be no lumps and bumps. Please note that commercially produced powdered usually contains a bit of cornstarch which works well for making macarons. XOXO, Mimi
I don’t have a sifter can I use a thin metal mesh strainer instead?
I think it should be okay. The goal is to separate out the big pieces of almonds. XOXO, Mimi
Can you whisk the egg whites by hand?
You can! In some pastry schools, they do teach by whisking by hand. It just takes much longer! XOXO, Mimi
I don't own a whisk attachment for my mixmaster, can I use the normal beaters?
I wouldn't recommend it. It won't be able to whip up enough air into the egg whites. XOXO, Mimi
Where should i store extra sifted almond flour and powdered sugar?
I would store sifted almond flour without powdered sugar in the fridge to preserve it's longevity and prevent clumps of sugar. But if the almond flour was ground with powdered sugar, it's best to leave in an air tight container at room temperature.
Hi (again) Mimi! Since my last comment, my macarons have taken a turn for the worse! They used to be just about perfect (with your help), but now they refuse to develop a crisp top! They are soft and wrinkly, and chewy! I suspect the humidity is to blame, but I'm not certain. I have tried leaving the oven door slightly open, baking the almond flour to dry it out, turning the temperature higher (preheat @ 350, 375, etc then drop to 325, & all variations in between) and baking longer. I have also tried using a fan to dry out the shells before baking. Do I need an AC in my kitchen? A convection oven? I'm pretty certain that my batter is mixed properly -I haven't had problems with it in the past. Any help would be very much appreciated! Thank you!
You may have overbeaten your meringue.
I do love the whole page ...it is amazing ...thank you very much for your tips...I will make them.Thanks again
Thank you Carol!
I have a question: what baking sheets do you use? Mine warp and then i get crooked feet! Thanks in advance!
You can find the exact pan I use in my SHOP.
I stumbled upon your site just recently and LOVE it! I especially love all the beautifully colored and designed macarons you make. I'm completely amazed at the wide spectrum of shades you've created! Do you happen to have a color guide on which gel food colors you used for all the wonderful macaron shells you've made?
thanks for your message. I don't have a color guide made up but I get all my gel colour from Americolor. Here are my best macaron supplies list.
Are macarons with chocolate ganache filling chewier than a butter cream filling?
Hmm... do you mean to ask if the ganache filling makes the shells moist therefore chewier? If so, then yes, chocolate ganaches are not as moist as other filling so they can appear to affect the shell in a way that makes it chewier.