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How to make vanilla macarons

Make picture perfect French macarons for an elegant afternoon tea. These colourful bite-size treats wouldn't look out of place in a patisserie window, but our simple step-by-step recipe shows you how to easily make them at home. There's a handy ingredients list at the bottom of the page so you're ready for that next grocery shop, too.

  1. Prepare the baking trays

    Line 2-3 large baking trays with nonstick baking paper. Using a small round cookie cutter and a pencil, mark out 50 circles roughly 3-4cm (1½in) apart. 

  2. Make the meringue

    Weigh out 125g egg whites (about 3-4 medium eggs) into a large, spotlessly clean bowl (any fat or grease in the bowl will stop the eggs reaching their full volume when whisked). Add ½ tsp dried egg white powder (optional), and a pinch of salt and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add 75g caster sugar and whisk until the mixture resembles a thick, glossy meringue that holds stiff peaks.

    Use a little of the mixture to secure each corner of the baking paper to the tray, then gently fold in ½ tsp vanilla extract and a few drops of a food colouring of your choice until it reaches the desired pastel colour.

    Make the meringue
  3. Add the almonds

    In a separate bowl, combine 200g sieved icing sugar and 100g ground almonds. Add to the meringue mixture, using a spatula to fold everything together until smooth – use a spatula rather than a wooden spoon (as this will deflate the mixture) and mix for just 1 min to keep it light and airy. 

    Add the almonds
  4. Pipe and bake

    Fit a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle. Spoon the meringue mixture into the bag and pipe out 50 discs into the circles you have drawn on the baking paper. Set aside to dry for 1 hr – check by gently touching the tops of the macarons, they should have a slight skin that feels dry to the touch.

    Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 170°C, fan 150°C. Bake the macarons for 10-12 mins, until just set and crisp. Remove from the oven and gently slide the baking paper, along with the macarons, off the tray. Sprinkle the empty, hot tray with cold water, then return the baking paper and macarons to the tray and set aside to cool. The cold water will make removing them from the paper easier when they’re ready. Once cold, peel off the paper and transfer to a wire rack.

    Pipe and bake
  5. Assemble

    Make a buttercream filling by whisking together 100g softened butter, 200g sieved icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract until combined and creamy. To assemble, spread a little buttercream onto the base of one macaron half, then sandwich together with another half. Repeat with the remaining macaroons and leave to set.

  6. Serve

    Enjoy the macarons straight away, or if not eating immediately, store in the fridge for 1-2 days. These would also make a pretty edible gift, just put in a small box lined with tissue paper to help protect the fragile shells.

    Vanilla macaroons HERO

    Calories 133 (7%), sugar 20.2g (22%), fat 5.6g (8%), saturates 2.2g (11%), salt 0g (0%), based on 25 servings.

  7. Ingredients

    We've prepared a simple shopping list so you can easily get all you need to make these pretty macarons. Be sure to note down the ingredients or take a screenshot before heading to the shops.

    200g icing sugar
    100g ground almonds
    125g egg whites (about 3-4 medium eggs)
    ½ tsp dried egg white powder (optional)
    75g caster sugar
    ½ tsp vanilla extract
    few drops food colouring

    For the buttercream filling
    100g softened butter
    200g icing sugar
    vanilla extract, to taste