Lemon macarons are my absolute favorite! If you’re new to crafting this delicate French pastry, first check out how NOT to make macarons here. Once you’re an ace at meringue and macaronage, give these lemon babies a whirl. This method and recipe call for punching up the lemon flavor at every step, and explains how to do so without compromising the beauty of your macarons.
First came the cupcake craze, then French macarons and remember the lines for cronuts?? Bonkers. Especially when you consider the sugar-high the price tags. Cha-ching! And that’s when it hit me – almost three dollars for one silly little macaron? You can bake them yourself for a fraction of the average $3 price tag. Yes, even this lemon macaron recipe.
Shh… My lemon macaron recipe secret
If you see a recipe for lemon macarons that doesn’t call for lemon zest in the meringue mixture, run the other way. You can add zest to buttercream or lemon curd all you like, but the road leading to the ultimate lemon macaron (the Husband’s fav) includes miles of bright, sour, beautifully tart grated lemon peel.
My favorite method for infusing lemon macarons
The only way to achieve French macarons with a divine lemon flavor is to infuse both the filling AND the shells with lemon. You can do this artificially with expensive lemon extract, but I prefer the Real McCoy. My favorite technique – that blasts your macarons with 🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋 and keeps the shells ultra-smooth – is adding a bit of lemon zest to the dry ingredients.
Lemon macarons without a food processor
If a food processor isn’t part of your kitchen arsenal, simply whisk the grated lemon peel into your dry ingredients after sifting. You may see specs of the zest in your finished shells, but this is a small price to pay for macarons that taste amazingly lemon.
Lemon macarons with a food processor
If you do own a food processor get ready for some serious zing AND beautifully smooth macarons. Simply grind your dry ingredients in a food processor with the grated lemon peel for ten to twenty seconds. Then sift the dry ingredients before folding them into your beaten egg whites.
The oils from the peel – the literal lemon essence – will transfer to the almond flour and sugar. Sifting the lemon peel out will prevent the oil from messing with those frilly feet and smooth domes. Yes, like all those crazy ones you see on Instagram. I seriously wonder when those people sleep.
The perfect acid for ensuring stable meringue
Don’t forget the juice! If you are new to whipping meringue or baking macarons at home, you’ll notice almost all recipes suggest adding cream of tartar to the egg whites. Cream of tartar AKA tartaric acid, helps stabilize the whipped whites. But guess what (insert drum roll), lemon juice acts the same way!
When whipping egg whites, add the lemon juice after a few minutes of beating to stabilize your meringue. If you’re worried your whites need extra insurance, you can still pinch a little cream of tartar, too. I personally forget half the time, and my macarons work out just fine.
Add Limoncello for an adult macaron experience
If you really want to have a good time with lemon macarons, seek out a little Limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur) and whisk it into your buttercream or curd. One or two shots should do it. It may blow the budget, but this is one time I’d say macaron money well spent.
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- 180 grams confectioner’s sugar
- 120 grams almond flour or blanched almonds
- 90 grams fresh egg whites (absolutely no yolk)
- 45 grams granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- zest of one large lemon
- yellow food coloring, plant-based recommended
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- zest of one lemon (at least a tablespoon)
- 6 egg yolks (about 3 ounces)
- 1–2 tablespoons Limoncello
Cook + cool lemon curd
- Combine half of the butter, half of the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Combine egg yolks with remaining half of sugar in a heat-proof bowl.
- When the lemon juice mixture boils, slowly drizzle it into the egg yolks while whisking continuously (this is called tempering).
- Return mixture to pot, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until it boils.
- Once large bubbles break the surface, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in remaining butter.
- Strain the curd into a clean bowl through a mesh sieve to remove any curdled egg yolks. Add Limoncello now, if using.
- Press plastic wrap on top, and chill.
- Keep curd refrigerated, but serve room temperature.
Bake macaron shells
Without Food Processor
- Sift confectioner’s sugar and almond flour twice. In a large bowl, whisk lemon zest in sifted dry ingredients. Proceed to Step 2 below.
With Food Processor
- Grind almonds/almond flour, confectioner’s sugar and lemon zest for a couple minutes. Stop to scrape the bottom at least once. Sift dry ingredients after grinding.
- Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Combine the egg whites and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (hand mixer works, too) and whip on high speed with a whisk attachment to a stiff meringue (resembles shaving cream).
- Add the lemon juice, and whip on high speed 30 seconds more to incorporate (add food coloring here).
- Fold in the dry ingredients in several additions. Once all the dry ingredients are incorporated, folding the batter gently until it ribbons off the spatula. Once you can make a “figure eight” with the spatula and the batter keep flowing, stop mixing.
- Transfer to a piping bag (or large plastic bag) fitted with a small round pastry tip.
- Pipe batter into 1.5 to 2-inch circles onto baking mats or parchment paper. If your piped shells could use a little settling out, very lightly tap the pans on the counter. Tapping hard will cause air bubbles to pop through the surface, and all your hard work will deflate in an instant.
- Let the piped batter rest on the counter for 20-30 minutes. The shell will turn from shiny and sticky to smooth and dull. You should be able to gently brush your finger over the top of the shells without causing an indentation.
- Bake @ 300° F for 15-17 minutes, until tops are hard and do not pull away from bottoms when very gently lifted. Rotate pans halfway through baking, after 8 or 10 minutes.
- Cool completely before removing from baking mat or parchment.
Once the curd is cool, pipe or spoon a small amount in the middle of half the macaron shells, then top with another gently. Store in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving for a more intense flavor. Time spent together allows the lemony goodness of both elements bloom!
If you’d like to fill your lemon macarons with buttercream instead of curd – or even both! – use the vanilla buttercream recipe found here, whisking in two lemon’s worth of zest and a couple tablespoons of Limoncello if you dare!
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