Macarons filled with a lemon cream and curd that won't make macarons soggy. It's a mouthwatering and delicious macaron recipe made with REAL lemons - no artificial flavours.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Low-moisture lemon curd prevents macarons from getting soggy.
- Uses all natural ingredients, no artificial flavors.
- Uses simple ingredients that can be found at most grocery stores.
- Mouthwatering and delicious. Cuts down the sweetness of the macaron shells.
How To Prevent Soggy Lemon Curd Macarons
I don't know about you, but I found that every macaron filled with lemon curd I've had in the past has been soggy since fruit curds are higher in moisture than other fillings. So in this recipe, I created a lemon curd recipe that would not cause the macaron shells to become soggy. The curd itself is low in moisture so it won't start eating away at the macarons shells (get my Best Macaron Recipe here). A lemon curd is made first and then added into a Swiss meringue buttercream to create a lemon buttercream. The buttercream is piped into a ring shape, creating a dam, which will then be filled with the low-moisture lemon curd. The end result is a very sturdy and lemon-y curd that holds up inside the macaron for days. I'm so pleased with the results and I hope you will get a chance to test out this new recipe. It's perfect for those who are looking for a macaron that is "less sweet".
How To Make Macarons Less Sweet?
One of the most common complaints about macarons is that they are "too sweet", I am from the camp that you should take macarons as they are. Either you like them or you don't and forgo manipulating the sugar level in the shells to make it less sweet. Sugar is one of the few but basic ingredients in the shells and you need a certain amount of it for it to be stable. There are still ways to get around the perception of it's sweetness and one of them is to consider the fillings that it's being paired with.
The type and flavour of the fillings can greatly impact how sweet the resulting macarons will be. An American Buttercream - one that is made with icing sugar and butter - will be considerably sweeter than the Swiss or Italian version. Learn more about different Macaron Filling Types here. My personal preference is to never use an American buttercream with macarons. It may be a sweet indulgence on cupcakes but it's sugary taste can be too much when paired with an already sweet macaron shell.
Tart Lemon Filling Cuts the Sweetness in Macarons
Another quick remedy to reduce the sweetness in macarons is to fill it with a tart fruit filling. The acidity in fruit fillings is a perfect mouthwatering contrast to the sweet shells. One of my favourite fruit fillings is the lemon buttercream with a lemon curd center. I really appreciate how this flavour can be achieved entirely with the fruit itself without the need for artificial flavourings.
Ingredients and Substitutions
For the Lemon Curd and Buttercream
- Organic Lemons - This recipe requires using the zest of the lemons so organic lemons will be preferable.
- Eggs - large size.
- Butter - Use unsalted. For use in the buttercream, ensure that the butter is at room temperature. This is crucial for it to incorporate into the meringue mixture.
- Granulated sugar
For the Basic Macaron Shell
- Almond flour - it should be ground from blanched almonds. Some brands are more "oilier" than others so for the most consistent results, I like to make my own homemade almond flour. Alternatively, many readers have had good results with this brand.
- Powdered sugar - this is also known as icing sugar or confectioner's sugar. The type sold in North America usually contains a bit of corn starch as an anti-coagulant.
- Castor sugar - this is also known as extra fine granulated sugar or berry sugar. It's a finer granulated sugar that dissolves readily into the meringue making it ideal for macarons, which is heavily dependent on a strong and healthy meringue. If you can't find castor sugar, just use regular granulated sugar. Do not try to pulverize regular granulated sugar in the food processor to make castor sugar, it results in "chopped-up sugar crystals that will not perform well." (Source: chsugar.com)
- Egg whites, aged - egg whites that have been separated and let to "age" in the fridge have more relaxed proteins which makes it easier to whip to volume without overwhipping. It's recommended for the beginner macaron baker but is not absolutely necessary. Most carton egg whites are not intended for whipping into a meringue, check the back of the carton. A few (but not many) readers have reported success with carton egg whites.
- Cream of tartar - is an acid that is added to the meringue to make it more stable. It is usually found in the baking aisle next to the spices. If you do not have cream of tartar, you can substitute it with another acid like lemon or vinegar in double the amount. You can skip this ingredient if you can't find it. Make sure your bowls are clean and dry and whip carefully with room temperature aged egg whites until it reaches still peaks. If your egg whites take too long to whip or breaks apart, reconsider using cream of tartar.
- Gel food color - this is a more potent form of food color that doesn't add unwanted moisture into the macaron batter. Some brands perform better than others, I prefer this brand for its color stability, it doesn't fade after baking.
Tips for Success
- Have a cooking thermometer ready to measure the temperature of the lemon curd and swiss meringue buttercream. Heating the ingredients to the correct temperature is crucial. If you don't have a thermometer, you can check the readiness of the curd by running a spoon through it. If it coats the back of the spoon, it's ready. For the Swiss meringue, feel the mixture to see if all the sugar granules have dissolved.
- Use non-reactive tools and bowls as they can react to the acidity in the lemon juice, imparting a metallic taste. Non-reactive materials include: silicone, glass, ceramic and rust-free stainless steel.
- During the the heated bath step when making the curd and Swiss buttercream, avoid placing the mixture bowl on the hot water directly as it will cook the ingredients too quickly or over-cook it. Use a smaller pot of hot water and let a larger bowl hang over the top without touching the water. Make sure to move the mixture around gently to keep it moving and not over cook.
- This lemon macaron filling requires a Swiss buttercream as a base. If you need a more detailed instructions in that area, please read this dedicated post on: Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
How to Make
To make the lemon curd: Zest the organic lemon, set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until incorporated.
Add egg and beat until incorporated. If not already using, move mixture into a heatproof glass bowl, add lemon juice and beat until incorporated. (Some metal bowls can react to the acidity in the lemon juice.)
Place over a pot of boiling water. Do not let the bottom touch the water. Whisk gently to keep the mixture moving as it heats up. Occasionally, check the temperature of the mixture. You should see the curd thicken up and it will coat the back of your spoon. Allow the mixture to reach 180F-185F. It might take a while (10-15 min), so be patient.
Take the mixture off the heat, add the lemon zest into the hot mixture to release the oils and mix until combined. Pour through a sieve into another bowl for a smooth curd. Let it cool down then place in the fridge. It will set up into an even firmer and thicker curd after you've chilled it in the fridge.
To make lemon buttercream: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place egg whites and sugar into a heat proof bowl. Stainless steel is light and safe. Whisk the whites & sugar mix over the boiling water. Pay attention to whisking the mixture when it starts getting hot, you don’t want to cook the eggs.
Whisk the mixture until the temperature reaches 160F. Pour the mixture into the Kitchenaid mixer and whisk on low with the balloon whisk, then turn it up to medium.
Once the mixture is stiff and the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, stop mixer. Change the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment.
Add butter a little bit at a time while beating with the paddle attachment at medium speed.
The mixture might look curdled or separated for a while but keep mixing. It will all come together. Keep 200 grams of the buttercream for use in our current recipe. Freeze the rest of the buttercream for use at a later date.
Add 8 tablespoon of the curd into the buttercream, a tablespoon at a time and beat until incorporated. To Assemble: pair two similar sized shells together. Pipe a ring of lemon buttercream as a dam then fill it with the lemon curd. Assemble with other shell. Place in an airtight container in the fridge and give it 12-24 hours to mature before eating. Enjoy!
Lemon Macarons with a Sturdy Low-Moisture Lemon Curd Filling
Macaron-Perfect Lemon Curd
- zest of two organic lemons (Note 1)
- 76 grams organic lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 50 grams butter, unsalted
- 180 grams granulated sugar
- 65 grams egg whites
- 130 grams granulated sugar
- 195 grams butter, unsalted at room temperature
Basic Macaron Shell
- 240 grams almond flour
- 240 grams powdered sugar
- 185 grams egg whites, aged, room temperature
- 165 grams castor sugar (Note 2)
- ½ tsp. cream of tartar
- Gel food color (Note 3)
Macaron-Perfect Lemon Curd
- Zest the organic lemon, set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar together until incorporated.
- Add egg and beat until incorporated.
- If not already using, move mixture into a heatproof glass bowl, add lemon juice and beat until incorporated. (Some metal bowls can react to the acidity in the lemon juice.)
- Place over a pot of boiling water. Do not let the bottom touch the water.
- Whisk gently to keep the mixture moving as it heats up.
- Occasionally, check the temperature of the mixture. You should see the curd thicken up and it will coat the back of your spoon. Allow the mixture to reach 180F-185F. It might take a while (10-15 min), so be patient.
- Take the mixture off the heat, add the lemon zest into the hot mixture to release the oils and mix until combined.
- Pour through a sieve into another bowl for a smooth curd.
- Let it cool down then place in the fridge. It will set up into an even firmer and thicker curd after you've chilled it in the fridge.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
- Place egg whites and sugar into a heat proof bowl. Stainless steel is light and safe.
- Whisk the whites & sugar mix over the boiling water.
- Pay attention to whisking the mixture when it starts getting hot, you don’t want to cook the eggs.
- Whisk the mixture until the temperature reaches 160F. This temperature is generally accepted to be able to kill salmonella in eggs.
- Pour the mixture into the Kitchenaid mixer and whisk on low with the balloon whisk, then turn it up to medium.
- Once the mixture is stiff and the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, stop mixer. Change the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment.
- Add butter a little bit at a time while beating with the paddle attachment at medium speed.
- The mixture might look curdled or separated for a while but keep mixing. It will all come together.
- Keep 200 grams of the buttercream for use in our current recipe. Freeze the rest of the buttercream for use at a later date.
- Add 8 tablespoon of the curd into the buttercream, a tablespoon at a time and beat until incorporated.
Basic Macaron Shell
- Set aged egg whites out at room temperature.
- Pulse almond flour and powdered sugar together in a food processor to further break down any large pieces of almond flour.
- Sift dry ingredients: almond flour, icing sugar. Discard big pieces of almond that can't be sifted.
- If you are new to macaron baking, please read the instructions to my BEST MACARON RECIPE before attempting to follow the rest of the instructions since it is condensed for the advanced macaron baker.
- With the balloon whisk attached, whip the room temperature egg whites on low-medium speed.
- Add cream of tartar when it becomes foamy.
- Turn up the speed to medium.
- Once the whisk starts to leave tracks in the egg whites, add sugar a little at a time.
- Turn the speed up to medium-high and whip until firm peaks, stop mixer and add gel food color if desired. Continue whipping on medium-high until stiff peaks.
- Fold the dry mix and meringue together until the batter becomes a "lava" or honey-like consistency.
- Transfer batter into a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip.
- On parchment paper or silicone mats, pipe out round shaped macarons.
- Rap the tray hard on the counter to remove any excess air bubbles. Use a toothpick to pop any remaining bubbles.
- Wait until the shells become completely dry before baking.
- Bake at 325F for 12-14 minutes. Every oven is different, you may need to adjust your own temperature settings. Please read How to Use Your Home Oven Properly for Baking Macarons if you are unsure.
- Macarons are done when the foot doesn't push back and the tops don't move when you wiggle it.
- Once baked, let cool completely before removing from the baking mat/parchment paper.
- Pair two similar sized shells together.
- Pipe a ring of lemon buttercream as a dam then fill it with the lemon curd. Assemble with other shell.
- Place in an airtight container in the fridge and give it 12-24 hours to mature before eating. Enjoy!
- Organic lemon was used in this recipe since it requires the zest. Most of the pesticides on citrus fruits can be found on the peel.
- Castor sugar is also known as extra fine granulated sugar or berry sugar. Granulated sugar can be used by castor sugar is preferable.
- Americolor Lemon Yellow was used here.
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Ateco Disposable Piping Bags, 12-Inch, Pack of 100
India Tree Superfine Caster Baking Sugar, 1 lb. bag
Gel Food Coloring AmeriColor Junior Kit, 8 Colors.75 Ounce Bottles
Regular Sized Silpat Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat
Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Gluten Free Almond Flour, 3 Pound
Anthony's Almond Flour Blanched, 2lb, Batch Tested Gluten Free, Non GMO, Vegan, Keto Friendly
Serving Size1 grams
Amount Per Serving Calories 71Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 20mgSodium 41mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 0gSugar 7gProtein 1g
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although indulgewithmimi.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
Hi Mimi, I attempted to make the curd and buttercream from this recipe, but my curd came out having a gross aftertaste- it tasted eggy. Even the small portion I put into the buttercream made the buttercream taste bad. I followed the instructions exactly though and used organic lemons and a glass bowl. My curd never got too hot either and is very smooth, and the initial taste is nice. This is the first time I've had curd though so maybe this is just how it tastes. Any tips for cutting down on the egginess?
Thanks for the feedback. I haven't had any negative feedback on the taste of this and know of one very successful baker who sells her macarons use this recipe with no problems. It should not taste grossly eggy as you described. It might be due to the eggs used or maybe too high heat applied. Cook it slowly on even heat. Did you use a thermometer? If you are really sensitive to the egg taste, bring it to 160 degrees instead.
I hope that helps.
Loved this recipe and made these for a charity cake sale. Thank you so much for such clear instructions. Glad to read here that you can freeze any leftover filling with or without the curd incorporated!
I live in the UK, so luckily do not need to worry about salmonella in supermarket eggs. Do I need to heat the curd mixture to 180-185F in that case? I found the curd thickened at around 170F, and it was quite difficult to get it to go much hotter - maybe it was the size or shape of my bowl, too big a surface area or something.
Hi Mimi, first and foremost thanks for such clear and detailed explanations and even a video instruction. It's gonna be my second time making macarons and I really want to nail it 🙂 Is it okay to use just a hand mixer as I don't have that fancy Kitchen Aid device? And how long the lemon curd (w/out the butter cream) can be refrigerated for, and is it freezer friendly? Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us 🙂
Yes you can definitely make macarons with just a hand mixer. In fact, you can whip the meringue entirely by hand if you want, no fancy tools needed! 🙂 Here's a tutorial on how to make macarons without a mixer.
lemon curd can be refrigerated for up to 5 days in the fridge and it IS freezer friendly! (Not all curd recipes are but this one is). I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for the kind words.
Haidyn Ogg says
I was wondering if grade B eggs are okay for making macaroons or if the difference in whites make them ill suited?
I haven't tried so I can't say from experience. If you have, come back and let me know the difference 🙂
Hi Mimi, Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I’m having a terrible time making the Swiss Butter Cream. I can’t seem to get to the stiff peaks even beating for 15-20 mins in my KA. I’ve followed the recipe accordingly many times, I’ve even wiped down all bowls and utensils with vinegar. The only thing I could think of is I’m using eggs from my backyard chickens? Is that even a thing?
You don't necessarily need it at stiff in order to add the butter. A firm looking meringue will work too. Make sure it's cool to the touch so it doesn't melt the butter. That is where most of the problems derive, when the butter melts into the mixture.
I hope that helps.
I made these to take to a chili cook off. I almost won. 😆
It was my 2nd time making macarons, and they were all a little different sized, and I think I undermixed because they all had nipples. But no one noticed the shape was weird because the taste was so divine. Soooo divine. To go with them I also made your 30 minute panna cotta, also a big hit. Thanks for the awesome recipes that made me look all fancy. ❤️
So lovely to hear about your results! You sound like you're having a lot of fun baking and cooking! Happy New Year!
Are you adding the 8 tablespoons of curd to the reserved 200g of buttercream or the entire batch?
the 8 tbsp is to be added to the 200 grams which is needed for this recipe (as denoted in step 10). Hope that helps.
corby smith says
Does this recipe make enough lemon curd to have the 8 Teaspoons for the BC and to fill the centers? Also, can I just add the curd to an American Buttercream instead? That is my go to bc haha. Does this make the butter cream more stable than say making lemon buttercream with fresh lemon juice instead of the curd? I sometimes have problems with my lemon buttercreams or lemon filled macs coming out of the freezer, thawing and then looking broken. Thanks!
I have been making macs for about three years now and am contemplating a booth at the fm this spring. I am most concerned with the heat and humidity here in Charlotte!!
Yes, you will have enough lemon curd for both 🙂
Yes, you can most likely add the curd to American Buttercream. depending on your recipe. Just add a tablespoon at a time and watch out that it is incorporating and stop if it starts to look like it can't support anymore curd. This particular combo of Swiss Buttercream and lemon curd has no issues being frozen. I do it all time time, which is one of the reasons why I love this curd. It won't separate easily like other ones I've tried. Hope you have good luck with these tips 🙂
Can macs with this filling be exhibited in a bakery display with no refrigeration?
I believe that the farmer's market type rules apply here. This filling contains eggs so no, it will not be food safe to do so.
Hello! I made the lemon curd and am going to make the buttercream tonight, the lemon curd tastes really good but unfortunately I didn't have lemons (and am quite frankly afraid of using lemons because of the pandemic.) In any case, I have a question: Is it okay to use the bottled lemon juice? I ask this because honestly I have anxiety and I don't know if there's some kind of science to this where you absolutely need to use organic lemon with lemon zest.
I hope you are doing well, thanks!
I haven't tried it myself but a quick google search tells me other have used it successfully for other recipes. If you have tried it with this recipe specifically, let me know how it goes 🙂
Sanaz Naeimi says
Thanks me for this delicious recipe. Just a quick question. I love SMBC but in my experience, it squishes out when you bite into themacaron. Is yours the same?
I do find all Swiss Buttercream can be a little soft on hot summer days but otherwise, it is not a problem for me. This also tends to happen if the macaron shells are too hard. If your shells are a bit on the hard crunchy side, brush it with a bit of milk or syrup to help them mature. If you live in a hot climate, try to use the white chocolate filling as a damn instead. Here's a recipe that features it: Lemon Lavender Macarons.
NT Nguyen says
Hi there! I discovered your blog while looking for lemon flavored fillings for macarons. and checking out your posts. The aesthetics are great! Quick question for this recipe - do we use salted or unsalted butter?
For this recipe it's unsalted butter! Thanks for checking.
When making the curd, it calls for two eggs; could I just use the egg yolks left over from making the shells, or does it have to be the whole egg? I have no idea what to do with all of these yolks, I've just been trashing them so far.
Yes for this recipe, the whole egg will be needed. I totally understand your situation though. You can make a French Meringue filling with the extra yolks 🙂
Hi, first time visiting your website, I like what you have here, very detailed information 🙂
Just made this filling today and I have two questions that perhaps you can help me with?
1. I noticed that you left out corn starch in this lemon curd. If you want a thicker filling, wouldn’t cornstarch be a good solution? Is there any specific reason why you left it out?
2. I didn’t want to have egg whites in my buttercream so I made this with the “American method”. Though I’m really picky with sugar so I reduced the sugar by more than half and ended up with a good balance of sweetness and a very buttery filling. Is there a reason why American buttercream is so sweet aside from people add sweetness to reduce the buttery taste?
Thanks in advance if you see these questions!
There is no need to use corn starch to thicken the lemon curd. The proteins in the egg will be enough to do that, just follow the directions closely for temp and timing etc. I hope it worked for you!
Meg Stegbauer says
Hi, Mimi! I'd like to make the macarons with the lemon curd filling and buttercream for my daughter's bridal shower in a month and make them ahead of time. Can I freeze them after I fill them or do they have to be filled with the buttercream and curd just before serving? Thank you in advance.
I have made and frozen macarons made with this exact recipe successfully. Good luck with your bridal shower!
Meg Stegbauer says
That is great news! I plan to make them tomorrow so they'll be done and I won't have to worry about rushiing around to get them made. I will be transporting them to the shower location so that'l be about 45 minutes to an hour travel the morning of the shower to help setup.. I was afraid I'd have to wait on the lemon curd and buttercream until the day before, which is really gonna put limitations on my time with other things to get done. Thank you so much! Can't wait to make them!
That's so wonderful Meg. How did they turn out? Congrats to your family!
Meg Stegbauer says
Hi Mimi! I'm actually making them today! Busy days until now so I have a week now before the shower. I am wondering if I have to allow the macarons to mature in the fridge for 24 hours before putting them in the freezer or if I can put them directly in the freezer? I'm not sure when you'll get a chance to respond, so I think I'll just go ahead and put them in the fridge for 24 hours and then in the freezer tomorrow. Thank you again! I can't wait to try them!
Yes, that is my preferred method. Maturing and then freezing. Here's a post about the different ways to freeze macarons.