A Professional Baker's Insider Tips for Making the Best Macarons

January 25, 2018

All this month, the Food52 Baking Club is baking through Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery. Today, Club member and professional baker Timmy Gibbons shares why the book's recipe for macarons is his favorite and reveals his secrets for making perfect macarons, every time.

When I first started baking, few things really, truly intimidated me. (Maybe I was just naive, but I thought that if I loved it and followed directions, things would just turn out.) But I do remember being mildly intimidated by macarons. I really just had no idea how they worked, what they tasted like, or what the hoopla was. Blindly, I gave them a go and was amazed that my first batch turned out flawlessly.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Beginners luck? It appears to have been, because the next 539 batches were the ultimate test of my love for this craft. They leaned, they cracked, they spread, they sank, they browned, they bubbled, they failed. What's worse? I felt like I was flying blind. Back then (in 2010—gasp), there wasn't much literature on how macarons worked or the techniques that could make them successful, and there certainly were no YouTube videos.

I tried so many different things and was about to give up until I picked up a copy of Bouchon Bakery. The Bouchon recipe (along with a little interpretation from a pastry chef friend), really helped me hone the basic technique, and understand how simple they really are. (Simple, not easy!) I've used the Bouchon recipe countless times to create thousands of these little ladies, and, over the years, I've adapted it as well, to simplify the steps.

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Top Comment:
“That is also what we advise in our Online Macarons Classes. But the resting time BEFORE the oven vary depending of your area, whether it's humid or not. Hopefully that helps! Au revoir! Anthony. French chef at”
— Pastreez

Regardless of which macaron recipe you use though, I have some takeaway tips to make sure your next batch is a great one:

Photo by Timmy Gibbons

Ingredients & Equipment

I use really finely-milled almond flour, so I can dispense with the food processor and just sift my dry ingredients. (I haaaateeee cleaning the food processor, so I avoid using it at all costs.)

I sift everything through a fine mesh strainer into a large, shallow, stainless steel bowl. I got mine at a restaurant supply store, but you can get them online. I use it for everything from macarons to cake batter to salads. It's my most used bowl. Lightweight, and easy to clean. Love it.

I use a plastic bowl scraper to mix in the smaller amount of egg white into the dry ingredients, smearing the mixture along the sides of the bowl, scraping it back up again and mixing, smearing, scraping, until the mixture is homogenous and every last bit of dry is smoothed out and there are NO lumps. Lumps will make the piping of these so difficult, you will want to cry.

Set that aside. Unless you're planning on taking another hour to finish the recipe, you don't have to worry about covering it.


This next part always seems to stress people out, but it shouldn't! I get the egg whites mixing in a stand mixer on low-ish speed while I cook the sugar syrup. In my opinion, it's easier to get the sugar syrup to sit for a moment while the egg whites beat, instead of getting the delicate egg whiles to wait for the sugar syrup. But I don't fret about getting them ready at the exact same time, just roughly the same time.

When the egg whites are soft and fluffy (like wispy clouds), I pour in the syrup. I don't do this quickly, but I don't do it slowly either. Just relax and pour in a thin, constant stream, like you would do if you were trying to pour it through the opening of a water bottle. Not slow enough so it dribbles, but not fast enough that you lose control.

Adding Color

This next bit everyone seems to have a different opinion about. Some people whip the meringue until its absolutely, 100% cool, others use it right away. I split the difference. I give the mixture a mix on medium-high speed—I very, very rarely push my mixer to the highest speed—for just a minute or so and then use it. It's not cool, but it's not hot. I also add my coloring here.

Keep in mind that the color of your meringue will be lightened further by the addition to the almond mixture, and it will also take on a slightly golden hue. Sometimes, I add the color I'm looking for, and then also a teensy, tiny bit of violet color as well. It's a color-correction technique to get yellow-y undertones out. Either way, I stay pretty pastel when making macarons, as I feel like it's more inviting.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Final Folding

From this point on, I use my plastic bowl scraper to mix the ingredients. It is delicate when I need it to be, but I can use it to scrape the paste off the side and bottom of the bowl with less effort. I just feel like I have more control because It's more of a firm extension of my hand than a regular spatula.

I mix a third of the meringue in vigorously to lighten the mixture. Again, I make sure everything is extra smooth. You don't have to be gentle here, just get it smooth. I then dump the rest of the mixture in when I'm ready to do the delicate folding. Bouchon Bakery has you add the meringue gradually and tells you that you may not need all of the meringue, but I always always always use all of the meringue, and I always just dump it in.


The next step seems to be a well-kept French secret—it took me years to stumble across it. Macaronage is the technique where you continue folding the mixture past full incorporation until you've achieved the perfect consistency. "Hot lava" is one phrase I often see used to describe that consistency, but I just like "ribbon." The batter shouldn't plop, it should flow.

You have some room to play here—slightly less mixing and you end up with a taller shell, slightly more mixing and your shells are a bit more streamlined. I personally don't think either is better than the other—don't fret the small stuff! Bruno Albouze has a really good video on macaronage if you want to see this step in action.

Photo by Bobbi Lin


I pipe the shells freehand. Some people like their templates, but I find that if I'm careful, they're all pretty even...and for some reason, every shell always has a twin. If you're not confident, make a template and save it—it can be reused. (I've seen people put masking tape tabs on the ends so that they're easy to slide out after piping so you don't have to put them in the oven.)

Regardless, I use a medium-sized round tip. I don't use a big ole 1A. I think mine is #12. Either the #12 or the 2A should work. What you want to do, though, is pipe a mound that flows gently from the not trace a round circle. I hold the tip about 1/4 inch from the surface and pipe. It takes practice, but its so satisfying when you get it.

After piping out the macaron batter, tap the sheet pan up and down rapidly on the counter FLAT (don't tilt the tray as you do it), then rotate the pan 180° and repeat.


Bouchon Bakery tells you not to rest the piped macaron, but I do. It's an extra insurance policy and it adds to the fail-safe nature of this method. I rest them for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the humidity level in the room, but I've rested them for hours before. There's probably a point where they get over-rested, but I haven't gotten there yet.

Photo by Timmy Gibbons


I bake them, one sheet pan at a time, in my oven at 300° F. I don't fool around with temperature changes and they always get volume for me. This step is where so many things can go wrong, though—so check your oven temperature accuracy! If it's off, you won't get good macarons, that's just that.

I bake macarons for 20 to 25 minutes (in my oven, they usually take 25), or until they don't move when I poke one. If there's any wiggle, keep baking. They should be set, but there should be no color. Rotate them a few times if necessary, as long as they've been in there long enough to set their outer shell after they rise, a rotation or two should not affect them.

When they cool, they should come cleanly from the parchment. If they don't, they're underbaked. Your first few batches might just be a test in how well you know your oven, but persevere.

If you don't have a copy of Bouchon Bakery yet, here are a few other macaron recipes to get you started:

All in all, if you've never made macarons before, have an expectation that they won't be perfect and then be thankful if they do turn out.

Ready to try your hand at macarons and bake through Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery? Join us in the Food52 Baking Club today!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Pastreez
  • AutumnL44
  • victoriahart
  • Patricia Morrish
    Patricia Morrish
  • NicoleRN10
    NicoleRN10! (really, 60 characters max?)


Pastreez October 25, 2021
Very interesting tips. I'm the French chef at Pastreez. I would add few tips:
- For your oven temperature, to make sure the temperature is ideal, do NOT trust your oven thermostat. Buy a small oven thermometer and place it in the center. It's the only way to know the exact temperature.
- Humidity plays a strong role with macarons. I see the writer advise to bake at 300°F. That is also what we advise in our Online Macarons Classes. But the resting time BEFORE the oven vary depending of your area, whether it's humid or not.

Hopefully that helps! Au revoir!
Anthony. French chef at
AutumnL44 April 23, 2021
Mine set out for too long when my other ones are in the oven. Are there any tips on how to not let them sit out too much when the other pan is in the oven?
Jacquie April 23, 2021
So what i do is just pipe one pan at a time. my pastry bags are big so what you can do is, if you dont overfill your bag, after you pipe one pan fold your bag in half so the top is lined up with the tip and set it in a cup or a bowl. That will keep the extra batter in your bag contained, if you still have batter also in the bowl then just cover it with cling wrap so it doesnt dry out. I hope that makes sense
victoriahart December 29, 2020
Would you be willing to share your favorite products to use when making macarons?
Patricia M. February 21, 2020
Well I have baked literally a thousand of these things and I am still hollows. I have tried aged whites and fresh room temp whites. I don't think I am under or over beating the whites-- I have stiff peaks, glossy. My macronage is perfected-- looks just like every video I have ever seen. I have tried every possible oven temp/time combination, convection vs no convection, silicone mats vs parchment paper. If the oven is too low they slide or "baseball cap" off the base; oven temp too high they brown too quickly and are raw in the centers. I've tried powdered colors instead of gel (thinking it was impacting the meringue stability), I've tried freeze dried fruit powders. Still hollows. Baked a little less time thinking I had collapsed them with too much heat and still hollows. They look amazing-- smooth, great frilly feet, uniform color-- but hollows. What's going on?
Marc February 21, 2020
Patricia, if there’s one thing that would kill the macarons is high humidity. Do you live in a dry climate or a humid environment. When I lived in California I would not make Macarons on cloudy days due to the humidity. Maybe this would help.
spatulajedi May 22, 2020
Italian meringue method, Macs piped at exactly 3.5 cm, baked @ 350°F for 12-13 minutes finally worked for me. Just pushing browning on tops. I had suffered from hollows for years and this finally worked. Opened the door at 8 minutes and 10 minutes for 10 seconds to let out any excess steam. Next, I will try exactly the same and bake one rack lower in my oven to prevent browning. Best of luck to you! It's hard. One day it just happens like magic, I'm convinced.
Jacquie April 23, 2021
I wonder if the opposite is true as well, i live in a very dry climate (my shells form a skin if they sit for just 5 minutes) and i also have a problem with hollow shells, ive tried as many things as possible but recently found a tip for high altitude macarons to let the batter sit in the piping bag for like an hour for everything to hydrate. Hoping it works 🤞🏼
NicoleRN10 August 19, 2019
My first ones turned out looking great actually but didn’t taste great. What sort of flavor do you use for the cookie itself? Extract? How much when do I add?
Thanks in advance!
Jacquie April 14, 2019
I live at a high altitude, nineteen 3 and 4 thousand and in wondering if I should change anything to the recipe because of this? Please let me know, also do you age your egg whites? I didnt see anything about it. Thank you
Carol April 15, 2019
Hi, sorry, I have no tips about high altitude baking of macarons , except to call the toll free Sur la Table number or the King Arthur Flour company number for their advise. They are both excellent,and give good advice, on the spot, when you need the answer now. About the egg whites, yes, I do age them a day or so. Whenever I use just yolks, I save the whites in the fridge a day or more, until the urge for baking comes.Otherwise, I save them in the freezer, adding to them until I have enough for one or more batches in the container, Label it so that you know what it is. Defrost in the refrigerator the day before.Happy baking!
GrammaSusie May 14, 2019
Jacquie I live at 6200 feet and I've made no changes to my macaroons, I also do not age my eggs, but that's an individual choice.
Peg February 12, 2019
Hi, mine almost always lean...sometimes the ones in the middle lean, sometimes the ones on the side lean. But always some good ones and some bad ones in one pan. I bake one sheet at a time. The temperature is accurate but not consistent throughout the cycle, as mine is not a convection oven. Wonder if it’s only because of the oven temperature of some other things that is affecting it?

Otherwise they are ok, they don’r have hollow shells, they have feet, I use a silicone mat so they don’t brown on the bottom...but the leaning is really driving me crazy. Any help?

Thanks so much!!
Bea March 25, 2019
Hi Peg, there can be a couple of reasons. First do you hold your piping bag straight up? You need to. Are you using a fan in oven? That also can cause them to lean. Try those two things first. Let me know.
jonajim January 17, 2019
The Bouchon Bakery Recipe is my go to recipe for Macarons also! For the past few years I’ve used it and it’s the best. The baking is the tough part, I have a tendency of wanting to remove them sooner than later.
jonajim January 17, 2019
Also, for my electric stove the syrup does take a while to get up to temp so I usually start the syrup and start beating the egg whites when they reach 215F. Otherwise the whites are over whipped .
Marji May 16, 2018
I have a Wolf oven and it has settings for either convection or just regular. I do keep a thermometer in the oven to monitor temperature, but do you know if the fan blowing causes them to brown more? Mine seem to always have some browning.
Carol April 25, 2018
Hi,Clarita,hope this answer helps you.I use Wilton concentrated gel icing colors.I bought a box of 8 half ounce jars.It is perfect for deep colors.I use a toothpick to take some color out of the jar.Mix it in and if you want more,use the clean ,other end of the toothpick to add more color.NEVER put a used toothpick into a jar, it will contaminate the jars and germs will incubate forever.This gel is perfect because it is not a liquid so it will not water down your meringues or icings either.I bought mine at Sur la Table’ when I took my class,but you can get it at Michael’s Craft stores or at Joanne’s.Spring hued macarons sound perfect!
Clarita April 25, 2018
My colors appears to be pale, How can I make it so vibrant like these?? Pls Help! Thank You!
Carol March 18, 2018
Oh,my, that is surely something I do not know anything about.Maybe a call to a Sur la Table’ ,might give you some answers.They are really good and that is where I took their macaron class.Also,the King Arthur Flour Company has all the answers. They readily give answers to cooking and baking questions.Actually, it is their almond flour that I use., and that is the brand that Sur la Table ‘ uses also. It is a very fine grind.Bob’s Red Mill is a bit coarser. when you call them, it sounds like Sir la Tab.Just saying..
Kathy March 18, 2018
I live at 5000 altitude. They never come out right. Do I need to adjust for altitude?
Lesley H. February 26, 2018
My biggest problem is that I always get hollow shells. I've played around with mixing more, whipping the egg whites less, and I still seem to have only half the shell filled. They come off the mat nicely, so I don't believe they are underbaked. I've even tried several different oven temperatures. Any advice?
Carol February 7, 2018
We really slapped the pans on the counter after the macarons were piped. Any trapped air bubbles would also contribute to hollows too.
Heatherashby712 February 6, 2018
Definitely going to try this technique on the meringue. I have attempted macaroons a few times now and almost every time they have hollows. Thanks for posting easy to follow directions!
Carol February 3, 2018
Oh,the class I took was metal pans and parchment paper,those in the class who used the silicone in the past, at home, were unsuccessful,so they took the class.I do recommend the classes at Sur la Table.They are fun,full of the “whys” of the processes, located around the country,a fun place to go with friends,many topics,and you eat what you make. I don’t know the sugar stage answer.
Marc February 2, 2018
Is softballing the sugar best done in the stainless steel pan as opposed to a non-stick? I always wondered if there was a difference of the finished product between the two.
Carol February 2, 2018
Sorry... yes, after it is finished baking.let it cool on the pan a bit and then dribble the water Under the parchment. The warm pan warms the water...a dribble ,I lift both sides of the parchment a tiny bit and sprinkle the water.The class I took was at Sur la Table in Boston.
Carol February 2, 2018
Trick learned in a macaron class,dribble a very small amount of water UNDER the parchment paper for a minute of two and the macaroons can be removed carefully with a spatula.
Lena February 2, 2018
Do you dribble drops of water under the parchment paper after your macaroons done baking?