The Search for the BEST French Macaron Recipe

April 11, 2020
Over the Christmas break I became obsessed with baking macarons; the perfect sweet and chewy concoction that simply oozes French elegance in a few small bites. I haven’t had a lot of macarons in my lifetime, but I have never forgotten the taste of my first real macaron I bought for 1.20 € in a small Patisserie in Montmarte on the way of seeing the Sacré-cœur.

The problem : I don’t particularly have a sweet tooth, and most macarons are way too sweet for my liking. Furthermore, macarons are notorious for being hard to make and highly finicky. The smallest mistake, and you may as well start over. I have tried to dip my toe in the macaron baking world by trying to make one from the bake-mix-box I bought in Lidl, but they weren’t all that great.

So I went on a macaron tutorial watching binge on Youtube as well as reading no less than 10 different blogs on their recipes and troubleshooting guide. And though they were all relatively similar, their recipes and ratios differ slightly from each other. Hence, my mission to find the best recipe the internet could offer. Here, I will be discussing the 3 main versions of the most common macaron recipes. Check out my last blog post for the general how to make a french macaron and recipe discussion.

Criteria :
  • Easy to handle batter, i.e. consistent across multiple trials, and can handle the mistakes my untrained hands are apt to make
  • Not too sweet
  • Develop the distinct macaron feet
  • Be chewy and crisp at the same time
Ground rules :
  • Use the same brand of ground almond (I got mine from Netto) double-sifted but not refined with a food processor (since I don’t have one) and powdered sugar
  • Use only the french meringue
  • Use only baking paper-lined baking tray

Version #1

If you're just looking for the perfect recipe, let me save you the trouble : stop here. This version is my tried and tested best recipe for a perfect foolproof macaron.

Chocolate buttercream macaron / onbudgetbeauty
Chocolate buttercream macaron
The 1:1 ratio of the almond meal and powdered sugar resulted in a strong almond taste, and yet this macaron has just enough sweetness to signal that you are eating a dessert without reminding you of the guilt you should feel when eating it. However, this can also mean that the surface will not be as smooth as you might have seen on pinterest, especially if you don't use food processor. However, that's not to say that it's grainy -it's just that you can see some specks of almond if you look really closely.

Because of the high egg white : almond ratio, the batter does seem to dry faster. It will even develop skin in 15 minutes (in 50% humidity when I made it), however, this doesn't mean you should stick it in the oven right away, let it rest for at least 45 minutes after piping! The 15 minutes-skin can fool you into safety, and leave you disappointed with a collapsed macaron instead.

This ratio will also shield you somewhat from over-folding during the macaronage, since it will err on the thick side, it will not be "runny" when over-folded, instead it will start to set and look "gluggy" instead, but it will take a while to get there. Just remember : stop when you can make the figure 8!

I've noticed the tendency that my macarons are hollow when I use this version, but I think it's mainly due to my amateur macaronage technique. Besides, nobody will notice them much, and they look and taste magnificent anyway.

In addition, due to its less sugary taste, I will give this version bonus points, since this means you can go wild with the filling, since the macaron will not give an extreme added sweetness to the traditionally sweet buttercream fillings. Pro tip : leave it in an airtight container overnight, and it will taste even better!

Peanut butter buttercream macaron / onbudgetbeauty
The best recipe = perfect, consistent macarons!
Pictured : macarons with peanut butter buttercream

Version #2

This recipe is very easy to remember because of the simple ratios. You mix the sugar and egg whites (1:1), and the same follows for almond meal and powdered sugar. This seems to be a popular recipe on youtube, especially amongst the korean baking channel, and it does wield good looking and consistent macarons across the board, however, there are some things I would like to point out.

vanilla buttercream macaron / onbudgetbeauty
Vanilla buttercream macaron

Due to the very high egg white and sugar ratio, it will almost be impossible for you to over-whip the meringue. However, this also means that the whipping process takes quite a long while to reach the stiff peaks stage, which is crucial to making macarons. This leads to a lot of air being incorporated into the meringue, and in turn, makes it quite a finnicky and long process during macaronage, since you would need to knock out a lot of the air (I know, it's kind of confusing). 

Unless you're a pro already, you will tend to be scared of over-folding the batter, and though under-folding means okay macarons, this is fine! But just note that the macarons will have really tall feet that can collapse into a "protruding feet" (see pictures) that aren't as pretty, and will most likely be hollow inside.

Since the recipe also calls for a higher amount of sugar, the macarons are sweeter compared to the first version, however, it's not sickly sweet just yet.

What I dislike about this version is how the shell becomes very crunchy, it's verging on brittle. And while most bakers agree that macarons are at their best after 1-2 days of maturing, this is not true when you're using this recipe. After one day of maturing in the fridge, the macarons becomes very hard instead of softening to have its signature heavenly chewy texture. 

vanilla buttercream macaron / onbudgetbeauty

Version #3
This last version seems to be the most popular version in general, and I can see why : when done correctly, it will yield the smoothest looking macarons ever due to the high powdered sugar : almond ratio. 
This version yield smooth, but domed macarons

However, this was actually my least favorite recipe, and it came down to two things. First, as I've mentioned above, I dislike the overly sweet taste of macarons, and this, dear readers, is the standard macaron recipe, which means it is overly sweet for me. When you fill it with buttercream (especially american buttercream), it tastes like pure sugar cubes, and it'll soon be too much. However, if you have a sweet tooth, this may sound great; in which case, good for you!

Inconsistent results across the batch

However, my main issue with this version is the results. To my unpracticed hand, this was quite a hard batter to mix. It gets very loose very quickly, which means it can take just one fold too much to ruin it. In return, that will yield an inconsistent batch (see picture). Some are cracked, and doesn't develop any feet, some are lopsided, some looks okay, but all are domed.

Personally, I think macaron shells should be more or less flat with cute feet, hence minus points for appearance for this recipe. But generally, the batter is a highly temperamental compared to the other two versions, which can be because of the less stable meringue (lower sugar to egg white ratio) combined with the high (2:1) powdered sugar to almond ratio, creating a perfect storm of sensitivity. When I tried this recipe, I understand completely what people have been saying about macarons baking; it's really hard!


Macarons have always sound like the holy grail of baking to me since everyone says that it's really hard to produce, and harder to master, and I have to say, it's true. However, with the right recipe, I think it will make the experience a slightly less terrifying one to us amateurs. That's not to say that you are going to master it in one go, but here's something not everyone will tell you : even if they don't look perfect, they will still taste delicious, so don't worry about making mistakes, just bake!


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