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.

This entry was posted in Desserts & Cookies, Macarons. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Troubleshooting Macarons

  1. maggie says:

    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. tan says:

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

  3. boutet says:

    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.

    • joepastry says:

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

      - Joe

  4. Sandra Araya says:

    I like that my macs have more thick , the chewy part.

  5. Radhika says:

    I’m really enjoying your blog!
    Radhika

  6. gdubs says:

    Absolute. Best.

  7. charchar says:

    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.

    • joepastry says:

      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

  8. charchar says:

    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.

    • joepastry says:

      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

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