15 Tips for Making & Troubleshooting Macarons

15 Tips for Making & Troubleshooting Macarons

Learn the best tips for making macarons, and troubleshooting the ones that don’t turn out correctly!

Frustrated with making macarons and having them turn out ruined? This is the ultimate guide for making and troubleshooting macarons. With a step by step video tutorial for beginners, you’ll be able to pin-point the exact step you’re messing up. From hollow macaron shells, to cracked tops, you’ll quickly be able to resolve your macaron problems!

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with macarons?!

If you’ve ever tried making macarons at home, you know they can be tricky and sometimes really frustrating! But don’t worry! Today, we’re talking all about tips for making macarons. From troubleshooting steps like ‘why are my macarons wrinkled’ to tips for making sure you get the perfect batch of macarons.

Macarons are not for the weary of heart. They take time, patience, and practice. So, if you don’t see the answer you need in this post, feel free to leave a comment so I can try to help you out! I promise we can figure it out together!!!

Tips for Making Macarons

1. Know the Qualities of a Good Macaron

There are some qualities that good quality macarons have. You’ll want to try to achieve these within your own macarons:

  • Crispy (not too soft) top. You don’t want the top to crack when you touch it.

  • Small feet with a slight vertical rise. You don’t want lopsided or ruffled feet that are spread out on the sides.

  • Full, slightly chewy interior. You don’t want a large hallow gap in between the top and bottom, although this is one of the hardest things to get correct and can take some practice!

  • Equal sized top & bottom shells. You don’t want small and large shelled paired together to make one full macaron.

2. Do Not Stray from the Recipe

Macarons are already finicky. Let alone you trying to make changes to the recipes because you don’t have the correct ingredients, or don’t have the patience to wait. But trust me, you need to follow the recipe exactly as it is written.

Some recipes are not written as well as others, so make sure you are using a quality recipe that walks you through the specific steps with lots of indicators of what to look for in each step. I have a recipe for French macarons you can check out as an example.

A common question I hear is can I substitute almond flour when making macarons? No. Similar to other baking products, you cannot simply sub out the flour. Each type of flour has a specific texture, protein percentage, and purpose. You need almond flour for this recipe.

Additionally, you should not use liquid egg whites. Make sure you use whites that have been separated by yolks.

3. Always Measure Ingredients By Weight

Measuring the ingredients by weight is an absolute necessity for making macarons. You cannot get a consistent batch of macarons by measuring with volume (with measuring cups). Measuring by weight is really the only way to get the same amount of each ingredient every single time!

Kitchen scales are a very cheap investment and will definitely be used in future baking projects.


4. Always Use An Oven Thermometer

Oven temperature plays a huge role in your macarons. You’ll notice in the troubleshooting guide below, that oven temperature can make the difference between a crappy macaron, and an amazing macaron. If your oven is too hot, the macarons will crack, become brown, or develop large ruffled feet.

There’s really no way to know exactly how hot your oven is getting without a thermometer. Oftentimes, the digital reader on the oven is not 100% accurate. In addition, it takes a while when preheating the oven for it to reach the proper temperature. An oven thermometer will get you the exact temperature you need every time!


5. Play Around with Oven Temperatures

Now that you know how important oven temperature is, I have to warn you that you might need to play around with the temperature for your specific oven. Unfortunately, due to the capabilities of home conventional ovens, you have to test and play around with the temperature to get your macaron shells perfect.

Most recipes suggest baking macarons anywhere from 275°F (135°C) – 325°F (163°F). I’d suggest starting out with 300°F (149°C) and adjusting from there. You can always test out baking a few macarons so you don’t ruin a whole batch. Remember to always use an oven thermometer to ensure the oven is heating properly.

I should also mention, fine-tuning your oven temperature is one of the best ways to prevent hollow macarons. However, this is something to worry about once you’ve already mastered the basics. Some experts suggest venting your oven by slightly propping it open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Play around to see what works in your home oven.

6. Make Sure There is No Oil On Your Bowls

Did you know that any residue or oil on your bowls or beaters will ruin the meringue? Since meringue is such an integral part of macarons, you HAVE to get this step right to make a successful macaron shell.

Plastic bowls tend to hold oil. So instead, opt instead for a glass or metal bowl. And just to be sure there’s no oil, wipe everything down with white vinegar before you begin using it. Acids are not bad for meringue. In fact, they actually help stabilize the egg whites.


7. Sift the Almond Flour & Confectioners Sugar

The key to smooth macarons is sifting the almond flour and confectioners sugar. Without this, you’ll get lumpy macarons with raised dots on top instead of a nice, smooth shell. Some people like to sift the mixture up to three times even to ensure a smooth finished product. You’ll need a sifter for this process.

If you need help pushing the almond flour and confectioners sugar through the sifter, you can use the silicone spatula to help push it through! Just don’t force big lumps through the sifter. Those are the pieces we are trying to weed out during this process – those go in the trash.

8. Set Yourself Up for a Successful Meringue

In order to make a successful meringue, make sure to start out with room-temperature eggs. Also, make sure you add cream of tartar into the egg whites before you begin beating the mixture.

So you may be wondering what cream of tartar does? Cook’s Illustrated has the perfect explanation: “When egg whites are whipped, the protein strands within begin to unwind and form a network that holds water and air bubbles in place. But egg whites contain sulfur atoms, which form strong bonds that can over-strengthen this network. Acidic cream of tartar slows the formation of the sulfur bonds, preserving the stability of the network so that air and water stay put.”

If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can play around with substituting lemon juice or white vinegar.

9. Always Get to Stiff Peaks

You’ll notice that many problems with macarons come from under whipped meringue (cracks, soft shells, hollows) as well as from over whipped meringue (ruffled feet, hollows). That’s why it’s so important to get to stiff peaks.

If you’re a visual learner, you can check out this video for an example. There are also so indicators that you can look for to know you’ve reached stiff peaks:

  • When you pull the whisk out out, a stiff peak should stand straight up (no curl at the tip). See image below for an example.

  • The meringue will begin to ball up inside the whisk.

  • You’ll see noticeable striations from the whisk within the meringue.

  • If you fully flip the bowl over, nothing should move or fall out.

10. Don’t Over Macaronage

Macaronage is the process of working the batter until everything is fully incorporated.

During this stage, we’re looking for a lava like consistency (see my video for an example). You can test this by lifting your spatula and seeing if the batter drops off, almost like lava. Once it drops off the spatula, the batter that was dripped should fade back into the batter within 15-30 seconds.

There’s really not a set time for how long you need to macaronage. It all depends on the recipe, your specific ingredients and environment, and even the amount of batter you are baking. It’s all about the feel of the batter.

When in doubt, it’s better to undermix a little bit. Overmixing causes more detrimental mistakes that are more noticeable (cracking, no feet development, etc.). You can take a look at this video for a good and bad example.

11. Always Use Gel Coloring

In order to color or dye your macarons, you’ll want to use gel food coloring. The liquid based food coloring will not work as it will cause your batter to be the incorrect consistency.


When you’re adding in gel food color to your macaron mix, be sure to do so slowly. Too much food color can cause your macarons batter to be ruining. Be sure to only add in a few drops at a time until the desired color is reached.

12. Remember to Release Any Air Bubbles

Air bubbles can form in the macaron shells simply from the mixing and piping process. It’s completely normal. The air bubbles can cause the macaron shells to burst and crack during the baking process.

To fix this, gently tap the sheet pan down the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick.

13. Always Allow the Macarons to Rest

An important step to making macarons is the drying process. Meaning, the macarons need to sit for around 30 minutes until they develop a “skin”. You can test this by touching the tops. If you can touch the top without ruining the macaron or making a dent, you’re probably good to go!

Lack of allowing the macarons to dry long enough will result in cracked shells. The resting time will vary depending on the humidity level. More humidity means it will take a longer time to dry.

If your macarons aren’t drying, it’s likely because it’s too humid. Many people often run dehumidifiers or run the air conditioning in their kitchen to help if they live in a very humid environment.

14. Test Out Parchment vs. Silicone Mats

Both of these tools help to ensure even heat distribution. Play around to see which one you prefer. You will get different results with each of the products, so test them out and see what gets you the most consistent results with your oven.

Personally, I’ve found that parchment paper gets me the most consistent results in my oven.


If you use parchment paper, you’ll also want a macaron template to help you make the perfect sized macarons every time! You can grab a free printable macaron template here.

15. Allow the Macarons to Sit Before Eating

It’s best to allow your macarons to sit in the fridge overnight with the filling. This allows the macaron to slightly soften and develop a deeper flavor. In some cases, allowing the macarons to sit will even slightly help with hollows.

If you’re not going to eat them right away, you can also store the macarons in the freezer for up to a month.

French Macaron Troubleshooting Tips

If your recent batch of macarons turned out incorrectly – small feet, cracked, or even hollow, try these troubleshooting steps to help you remedy the specific problem you’re having.

Why are my macarons wrinkled and flat?



The oven is too hot. Ovens that are too hot (typically anything over 325°F, although even that can be too hot for some macaron recipes like this), can cause flat wrinkly macaron shells. Try bringing the temperature down 5-10°F at a time.


You over macaronaged your batter. The batter should be a lava like consistency (see my video for an example). You can test this by lifting your spatula and seeing if the batter drops almost like lava. Once it drops off the spatula, the batter that was dripped should fade back into the batter within 15-30 seconds. When in doubt, don’t overmix.


Why are my macarons cracked?



You didn’t rest your macarons long enough. To fix this, you’ll need to make sure a “skin” has formed on the macaron. You can test this by touching the tops. If you can touch the top without ruining the macaron or making a dent, you’re probably good to go! Resting time will vary depending on the humidity.


You have air bubbles in the macarons that burst during the baking process. To fix this, gently tap the sheet pan down the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick. 


Your meringue is under whipped. French meringue needs to be properly beat in order to form a strong macaron. Make sure that you’re fulling beating your meringue to stiff peaks. To test the meringue stiffness, pull the whisk out. A stiff peak should stand straight up (no curl at the tip). Signs that you’re ready to test the stiffness include seeing lines left from the beaters in your eggs. In addition, the meringue starts to almost ball up inside the whisk beater attachment. You’ll also know it’s ready because you can fully flip the bowl over and nothing moves or falls out.


The oven is too hot. To fix this, make sure you have an oven thermometer to measure the exact temperature of your oven (it should be placed in the middle of the center rack of your oven for a proper reading). Try lowering the oven temperature by 5°F at a time. Test until there is no more cracking.


Why do my macaron tops break easily (soft shells)?



Your meringue is under whipped. French meringue needs to be properly beat in order to form a strong macaron. Make sure that you’re fulling beating your meringue to stiff peaks. To test the meringue stiffness, pull the whisk out. A stiff peak should stand straight up (no curl at the tip). Signs that you’re ready to test the stiffness include seeing lines left from the beaters in your eggs. In addition, the meringue starts to almost ball up inside the whisk beater attachment. You’ll also know it’s ready because you can fully flip the bowl over and nothing moves or falls out.


The macaron shells are underbaked. If you don’t give your macaron shells enough time to bake in the oven, a sturdy outside will never develop. Make sure to check that the macarons are done before putting them out of the oven. If you tough the shell and it wiggles or is still sticky/wet, you know they need longer to bake.


Why do my macarons have large ruffled feet?



The batter was over mixed in the macaronage process. This will cause the macarons to spread out wide, rather than rising up vertical. To fix this, work on the macaronage process. The macaronage stage which refers to working your batter to the proper consistency is a technique that takes a while to master. The batter should be a lava like consistency (see my video for an example). You can test this by lifting your spatula and seeing if the batter drops almost like lava. Once it drops off the spatula, the batter that was dripped should fade back into the batter within 15-30 seconds. When in doubt, don’t overmix.


Your meringue is over whipped. Over whipped meringue will produce almost too much air in your macrons, thus causing them to rise and expand outward, creating these ruffled feet. Make sure to get just to stiff peaks, and not further. Over whipped meringue tends to be a little dull (not as shiny). Watch out for this!


The oven temperature is too hot. Similar to the flat and wrinkly macaron shells, a hot oven will cause the macarons to spread out too much. Temperature can be a cause for ruffled feet, along with not using parchment paper or a silicone mat to help evenly distribute heat.



Why are my macarons browned?



Your oven is too hot. To fix this, make sure you have an oven thermometer to measure the exact temperature of your oven (it should be placed in the middle of the center rack of your oven for a proper reading). Try lowering the oven temperature by 5°F at a time.


The macarons are baking too long. Turn on your oven light (but don’t open the oven door) to keep an eye on the macarons while they’re baking.



Why are my macarons hollow?



This is the last troubleshooting problem you should worry about. Before perfecting your macarons so they don’t have hollows, make sure all the other properties are correct.


The meringue is over/under whipped. In order to prevent hollows, you need the perfect consistency of meringue before starting the macaronage process. Oftentimes, adding in an acid, like cream of tartar, can help stabilize your meringue and allow more time for the air to get incorporated. Check out my video for a visual guide.


The batter was over or under mixed in the macaronage process. The macaronage stage which refers to working your batter to the proper consistency is a technique that takes a while to master. If you’ve worked the batter to a lava-like consistency and you’re still getting hollow shells, try working it a tad less.


Your oven temperature is too high/low. Oven temperature plays a big role in hollow macarons. Unfortunately, due to the capabilities of home conventional ovens, you have to test and play around with the temperature to get your macaron shells perfect. Most recipes suggest baking macarons anywhere from 275°F – 325°F. Test these temperature ranges out with your home oven and an oven thermometer to see what works best.



Need more help?

Macarons are a delicious dessert, but they can be tricky to master. If you’ve tried macarons once, twice, or even three times and they didn’t turn out well, don’t worry! You can also always leave a comment below and I will get back to you with some personalized help!

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P.S. Don’t forget to try out my French tie-dye macaron recipe.







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