Troubleshooting Macarons

Macarons wouldn’t be macarons if they weren’t fussy things. Though they are at their core very simple little cookies, a variety of things can go wrong during their preparation, preventing them from achieving the Platonic ideal. Me, I don’t see why that’s the end of the world. However I confess that if mine didn’t come out as I expected, I’d want to know why. So here are a few common macaron problems and their solutions.

1. No feet. This is very often the result of not allowing macarons to rest long enough before baking. Note here that macarons made via the Italian method don’t need to be rested. If your Italian macarons don’t have feet, it could be that your oven temperature is too low. Another possibility, of course, is over-mixing. Too many bubbles popped and the macarons didn’t have the lift they needed.

2. Cracks. Very often the result of under-mixing. In other words, too many bubbles — too much air — in the macaron. The meringue gets dried out in the oven and cracks appear. Steam escapes and little if any rise occurs. However cracks can also result if there is too much moisture in the batter. If the air is too humid, say, or the egg whites were a little too big. Try cutting your moisture back a bit, by maybe 15%.

3. Runny batter. A result of over-mixing. This isn’t necessarily a catastrophe. It might simply mean a thin cap with feet underneath. That’s well within the bounds of a successful macaron. Bake, cool, fill and declare victory.

4. Feet that protrude sideways. This occurs when your oven is too hot. The batter at the edges of the macaron heats and expands too quickly, then explodes outward. Put the net batch on a lower rack. Some folks like to prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon. The result is more even heat than the typical hot-cold cycling that goes in inside a closed oven.

5. Large spaces under the cap. This happens when bubbles in the foam pop. Try cutting back on your resting time a little. Another tactic might be to add a bit more sugar to your batter to help shore up the bubble walls.

6. Lopsided macarons. There are a couple of possibilities here. First, lopsidedness can occur from too much resting prior to baking. The exterior begins to harden on one, side so the interior pushes out the other as the macaroni expands. Another possibility is under-folding…uneven distribution of the air bubbles. But try solution 1 first.

Those are the biggies. Should you experience any other problems not covered here, send me an email and I’ll do my best to help.

26 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Macarons”

  1. I’ve been making macarons with this method for a couple years now and am about 99% successful these days. However, an issue I’ve occasionally had is that the macs will look fine WHILE they’re in the oven (nice tops, perfect feet), but as soon as I take them OUT of the oven then kind of “collapse” and the feet spread out.

    I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what might be going on there, except the possibility of runnier than usual macaronage.

    Any thoughts?

  2. you got the same issue as me… is your ground almond oily?? and also try adding more white into the recipe..

  3. Not troubleshooting, just praise. Thanks so much for this recipe! Mom is going to be beside herself when I whip these out for her birthday tomorrow. My sizes are not exactly consistent and my second pan has extruding feet, but I don’t care! They’re cute, they’re yummy, and she hasn’t had them since she went to culinary school nearly a decade before I was born.

    1. Wonderful work, Boutet! I’m so glad they’re working for you. Happy birthday to your mom from me!

      – Joe

  4. hi Joe,
    I made macaron many times until i lost counts.
    My macaron feet always spread out to the side. I lower the temperature to 120C, but still the feet didnt grow vertically below the shell. I tried italian and french method same result.
    If i bake at 120C the bottom didnt really cook. Could you tell me how to fix it?
    Thanks.

    1. Hello charchar!

      Sorry for the long wait. I’ve had quite a lot of questions lately. If you;re having the same problem with both types of macarons, I wonder if you might be over-whipping the egg whites. That could very easily produce that result. Do you think it’s a possibility?

      Get back to me, we’ll get this figured out.

      – Joe

  5. Hi Joe,
    I didnt over whip the egg whites. I dont know what is the problem. The feet always spread out to the sides. The bottom never cook, if i bake longer the top become brownish. I tried all like let the door open with a wooden spoon, cover the top with alumunium foil etc.
    Still my macarons failed.

    1. Hey char char!

      Could your oven be running a bit cold I wonder? Maybe try raising the heat a touch for the first few minutes of baking to set the “shell” a bit more. At that point the only place the rise could go is up! That might help solve the under-cooking problem as well.

      – Joe

  6. Hi Joe,

    I’ve been making all types of macarons with different recipes and they always turn out great, WITH the exception of chocolate macarons! It’s frustrating. I’ve followed all rules there are to be followed but these chocolate devils seem to fail 80% of the times. Could it be the cocoa powder? Thanks!!! Cheers!

    1. Hello Zuriati!

      I think that it is indeed the cocoa powder. It’s a difficult ingredient in that it is both fatty and very absorbent. You might try adding a little more egg white and see if that helps!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

  7. Hi Joe

    I’ve made about 12 batches and my macarons always come out with the feet too high and hollow on the inside- right under the top shell…
    I’m using
    1 large egg white
    1/4 + 2tbsp Almond flour
    1/4 +2tbsp of icing sugar
    2 tbsp of granulated sugar

    I bake at 300 F… I’ve tried different temperatures – 270-310 and they are all hollow…
    do you have any tips or suggestions that can help me and my macarons

    thank you!

    1. Hi Samantha!

      If you’re getting too much volume or overly large bubbles then the solution is to whip a little lighter. I know that’s easier said than done, but right now your bubbles are too big and they’re combining with one another. A little easier on the elbow grease!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

  8. hai chef ,i use pasteurized egg albumin liquid ,made macrons but my problem is macarons not feet what can i do?

    1. Hello chef!

      That’s a difficult problem to solve. Low-heat pasteurization has the effect of “cooking” some of the egg proteins. You could try adding a little extra egg white (maybe only about 10%) to compensate. If it helps, you could add a little more. Just be careful of the stirring process, because the batter with get thinner faster. Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  9. Hi Joe,
    I’ve baked macarons few times before and they have turned out beautifully. I used the Italian meringue method for it. But recently for the past two weeks my macarons have been either lopsided or cracking on top like lava c ok ming out.. i don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I made both italian and french way. Both ends up been lopsided most of the time or else it cracks like lava coming out.. i recently started grinding my almond meal in the food processor and seive it. It tends to be very slightly oily.Because of this issue i thought ill do a bactch without grinding and just passing through a fine seive. But same issue happened. I dont know what I should do.

    1. Hey Pav!

      It seems to me one of two things is happening: either there are too many bubbles, or the top is weak. If the problem is too many bubbles, then all you need to do is stir a little more and that should fix it. If the top is weak, then it could be that all you need to do is turn the heat up a bit to “set” the outside shell a bit more so that it doesn’t crack when the bubbles start to push upward. That’s my best guess at any rate!

      Cheers,

      Joe

  10. Hi!

    I tried to make macrons and the bottom exploded. It’s like the top still had what looked like a macron on it but the bottom was just exploded and baked together.

    1. Hey Nicole!

      You’re getting a good hardening of the top, but then a late expansion of the interior batter, leading to…you know. That says to me your oven temperature is too high. Try lowering it by 25 degree or so and see what that does.

      Keep at it!

      – Joe

  11. So my first attempt at macarons didn’t go as planned, which I expected for the most part. Any help at all on how I could improve would be much appreciated. My macarons went very unexpectedly, but it didn’t go wrong the way I thought it might. My batter simply never reached the consistency you described. It was just way, way too thick. As a fair warning, I didn’t use the recipe you provided, but a slight modification of it. Here were my ingredients:

    3 ounces almond flour
    3 ounces powdered sugar
    2 ounces egg whites
    1 ounce granulated sugar

    I followed your procedure pretty closely, but once I got to mixing in the dry ingredients, everything went off the rails. I must’ve been stirring that thing for ten minutes, but it never seemed to loosen up at all. I have no idea what might be wrong. The only thing I did differently was hand-whisking the meringue. And I don’t see a problem there because it was stiff before adding the dry ingredients.

    1. Sorry to hear that Wilson! But that’s rather odd considering your formula has much less powdered sugar than mine. I wonder if the almond flour might be old, in which case the oil in it tends to dry up. Any thought if that could be the case?

      – Joe

      1. How old is old? I’m not sure when the almonds were picked and ground, but the flour was bought less than a week ago.

        As a side note, I just ended up dolloping the batter on a baking sheet and making little amaretti. They expanded pretty significantly in the oven, which surprised me a little. They ended up tasting great because of all that sugar and also had a nice almond flavor.

        1. Hm. It’s possible the product itself was old, but obviously it’s hard to know. We’re missing some liquid/lubrication somewhere. Is it possible the egg whites were small or some got lost along the way?

          It’s all very strange. You might just trying using a formula closer to mine. It could simply be that more sugar simply created more syrup. Either way you’ll want to try this again, no?

          I hope it works better the second time around! Cheers,

          Joe

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