One of the most enticing, bright, beautiful French macaron flavors to line the shelves of French pâtisseries are the raspberry. Filled with perfectly tart, sweet, and simple fresh jam, this raspberry macaron recipe is easy enough to take on and even easier to enjoy!
If this is your first time out whipping up a batch of French macs, I recommend starting with my flagship article for a classic French macaron recipe and troubleshooting. For a more in-depth, tailored tutorial on mastering French macarons, consider signing up for my free series, French Macarons: Simplified.
As I'm always harping, all French macaron recipes are similar, at least when it comes to the shells. The flavor power is in the fillings, and that's where recipes will differ (and where I spend the bulk of the word count here).
What gives these raspberry macarons their vibrant color isn't raspberries, but red food coloring (sigh). To get a deep-hued red macaron shell, it does take a few healthy dollops of color. And be sure to use a gel-based product (water-based colors can ruin your precious meringue). Artificial food coloring gel can be found online or at your local craft store.
If plant-based coloring is in your budget I always recommend it. But gel-based, natural brands can be hard to find and expensive. So don't fret as long as you're not eating the artificial stuff straight outta the jar. Humans have survived eating much worse.
The ingredients are straightforward, and they should be. Like I repeat, again and again, you can't get wild with variations in any recipe for the macaron shells. Meringue is a fickle friend and doesn't take well to outsiders, newcomers, and really any additional moisture.
- fine-ground almond flour
- confectioner's sugar
- egg whites
- granulated sugar
- pinch of salt, optional
- red food coloring gel, optional
- raspberry jam, chocolate ganache, or buttercream for filling
While I'm not an advocate for flashy, expensive, and superfluous kitchen tools, French macaron success does depend on a select few pieces. I highly recommend measuring your ingredients by weight. But if you don't have and don't want a kitchen scale, here's a standard macaron recipe in volume measurements.
- kitchen scale, digital recommended
- electric mixer, hand or stand mixer with the whisk attachment
- sifter or mesh sieve
- flexible spatula
- small, round pastry tip, ¼-½" wide opening
- disposable or reusable pastry bag, or large plastic storage baggie
- parchment paper (not wax paper)
You certainly don't need an electric mixer of any sort. I've watched French chefs whip meringue by hand with a whisk to stiff peaks. It can be done. But hand mixers are now fairly affordable, and well worth it, in my opinion. While I use a professional stand mixer now given my occupation, in the beginning, I whipped meringue with my trusty, red KitchenAid hand mixer.
Metal pastry tips are inexpensive, and you can find them at craft stores and even some grocery stores. I find a large mesh sieve easier to work with than a hand-cranked sifter. So if you have one, don't buy the other unless it makes you happy.
I don't list silicone baking mats because they are pricey and can harbor grease, Residual fat that lingers on the mat can also ruin your macarons.
Parchment paper is an easy-to-find, versatile supply for any kitchen. And I actually prefer it to the silicone mats. If you choose to invest in a silicone mat, especially a macaron-specific one, I recommend only using it for macarons to prevent any lingering butter or oil from compromising your efforts.
I order my favorite disposable plastic pastry bags from Amazon (not an endorsement), but there are many great reusable brands. A large plastic food storage baggie works in a pinch, but pastry bags are sturdier and easier to work with.
Success in French macarons is not reliant on meticulously following a recipe, but in mastering two techniques: meringue and macaronage. The latter is simply the French word for mixing macaron batter.
I highly recommend preheating the oven at least thirty minutes before you begin. In my experience cooking in-home culinary classes, home ovens are fickle and inconsistent at best. And where most of the trouble lies for home bakers pursuing macaron glory.
Preheating the oven for at least twenty minutes will give it time to level out, and for the oven's walls to really get hot. This will help the oven maintain the right temperature when you open the door.
Macaron Shell Steps
Mise en place! Everything in place! Man, if I had a dollar for every time a chef instructor yelled those words in culinary school. Gather and ready your equipment, preheat the oven and measure out all your ingredients before you begin, friends. That is all.
- Beat the egg whites until foamy, then with the mixer running slowly rain in the granulated sugar. Continue to beat on medium-high speed, until the whites reach firm peaks. On my KitchenAid stand mixer, this is speed 8. When using a hand mixer, crank it all the way up. The meringue is at firm peaks when you can lift the beater out of the meringue, and the whites hold mostly upright, but curve slightly like a bird's beak.
- If using red food coloring, scrape a few healthy dollops onto the bottom of the beater or whisk attachment using a toothpick or small knife. Beat the red food gel color into the meringue at high speed until dispersed, just a few seconds.
- Sift the dry ingredients directly into the bowl with the beaten meringue. Using a large, flexible spatula, mix the batter a bit vigorously at first to combine, then begin a gentle folding motion. Cut through the middle of the batter every other turn.
- Continue folding until the batter ribbons off the spatula, and settles into itself easily and quickly. It should not feel like an eternity, and should only take five to ten seconds for the batter from the spatula to disappear into the rest.
- Transfer the batter into a piping bag (or similar) fitted with a small round pastry tip. Pipe even-sized circles onto the parchment-lined baking pan(s). If you added a significant amount of food coloring to achieve a deep color like the batter above, the piped batter will benefit from a short period of drying out before baking. A resting time frame of 15 to 20 minutes is not a bad idea when you add small amounts of flavorings or more than half a teaspoon of food coloring.
- Bake the piped batter between 290° and 300° F until you can nudge the top of the macarons and the tops don't shift away from the bottoms easily. Another way to check doneness is to carefully lift a corner of the parchment or baking mat, and see how easily the nearest macaron lifts off. If the shells are still moist and sticking to the paper, more baking is needed.
- After removing the baked macaron shells from the oven, press up from underneath the parchment or baking mat to remove. Then fill with raspberry jam and enjoy!
The Classic Filling
Classic raspberry macarons are most often filled with fresh raspberry jam. And for great reason. A fresh, scratch-made jam is scrumptiously sweet, the perfect amount of tart if you play your cards right, and has a beautiful deep red hue.
The Jam Formula
For any from scratch jam, jelly, or preserve, the most important place to begin is by finding the ripest fruit in your tri-state area. Kidding, but you get the point.
However, always taste your fruit! If you are lucky enough to procure in-season, vine-ripened berries, that's a few tablespoons of sugar you can leave out. But you'll never know the secrets of your raspberries if you don't first taste, then cook.
As with the macaron shell ingredients, measuring the ingredients by weight is key! This will ensure a balanced jam that is not cloying as a result of too-much-sugar-not-enough fruit or visa-versa. One cup of fruit by volume is not always (if ever) equal to the same in weight.
Truth be told, a volume-based recipe will still taste delicious. All fruit contains at least a small amount of pectin, which is a fiber that acts as a natural thickener when it reaches boiling temperatures. But it might not set how you like or to a consistency conducive to piping or spreading.
2 parts ripe fruit + 1 part sugar + Lemon juice + Pectin or Gelatin
*Plan on one teaspoon of both lemon juice and pectin (or gelatin) for every 6 ounces of fruit. This is for a jam that sets and can be easily piped to fill macarons. Pectin is not always necessary when preparing jam for canning, depending on the natural pectin levels in the fruit.
The above jam formula calls for much less sugar than you typically see in recipes.
And for good reason. Americans especially consume way too much added sugar, and that's exactly what most commercial jam is made of. Check the ingredient list next time you reach for one on the grocery store shelf. Sugar will most likely be listed first (and food labeling regulations require ingredients to be listed by weight, most to least). Even more of a reason, reducing the sugar content allows the flavor of the raspberries to shine through.
Notes on Pectin
As a reference, the natural pectin content of any fruit depends on the variety of fruit itself.
Also how ripe it is.
And it's an inverse relationship.
So the riper the fruit, the lower its potential pectin levels.
Confused, yet? Take a moment to let that sink in and your brain unfreeze. If you really want to grasp the nuances and science of pectin, here's an in-depth article from The Guardian.
Fresh jam calls for only a few ingredients, most of which are pantry staples aside from the fruit:
- fresh raspberries (or frozen, thawed, and drained of excess liquid)
- granulated sugar
- pectin (or gelatin)
- lemon juice
- citrus zest, optional (but highly recommended!)
Now for the easy part. Let's make jam! Grandmothers will roll their eyes when they read the above heading. But it would be a disservice not to offer a primer for those on their maiden jam voyage. This technique is for a quick jam that doesn't require a lot of guesswork as to when it's done.
- Smash raspberries with a fork or potato masher in a wide saucepan or skillet. Cook the berries for a few minutes over low heat to allow the natural pectin to begin weaving its web of sticky fibers. If using gelatin, "bloom" or sprinkle the gelatin evenly into a small amount of cold water for a few minutes. Use about two tablespoons of water for every teaspoon of gelatin.
- Add the sugar, lemon juice, and if using pectin add it now. Then bring the jam to a boil over the lowest heat possible. Keeping the heat as low helps preserve the flavor and structure of the fruit.
- Cook the jam until the sugar dissolves and it begins to thicken, stirring as little as possible. Scientifically speaking, pectin-thickened jams are done once the temperature reaches about 220° F, depending on your elevation. For higher elevations, 217-219° F is often high enough. A basic digital thermometer works fine and is not entirely essential to success.
- You can also test the jam for doneness by placing a dollop from the pan on a frozen plate. If it thickens and wrinkles when you push with a fingertip, it's ready. Worse case, if it looks thick and not runny when you let a bit drop from the spoon, chances are it's done. If you are using gelatin, there is no need to fret extensively about the target temperature. Once the mixture is boiling and the sugar is dissolved, remove the jam from the heat and whisk the bloomed gelatin in until completely dissolved.
- Transfer the cooked jam to a bowl, and press plastic wrap against the top to prevent a skin from forming. Cool in the refrigerator until thick and set. Store chilled if making ahead.
Jams on a sugar high are beneficial for one reason, and that's storage. Sugar concentrations of 65% or more act as a preservative, and these jams can be canned and stored at room temperature (assuming proper process).
The jam recipe here is not formulated for canning or room temperature storage. Store the finished macarons and any extra jam in the refrigerator or freezer.
More Filling Ideas
A raspberry macaron for each mood! As with any baking adventure, the scrumptious possibilities are endless, but here are a few for inspiration.
Chocolate Ganache. For a more luxurious, dark chocolate-raspberry French macaron, pipe a ring of raspberry jam around the outside of half of the baked shells, and fill the middle with a dark chocolate ganache. Chocolate ganache is one of the fanciest sounding yet easiest dessert elements to concoct. Take equal parts by weight heavy cream and chopped dark chocolate, bring the cream to a boil, pour it over the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, let it sit five minutes, and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature before piping onto macaron shells, and store chilled.
Raspberry Buttercream. This simplest of all fillings but no less delicious, add mashed fresh raspberries to either an American buttercream or this French buttercream. In order to easily pipe a small enough dollop of filling onto the finished shells, be sure to mash the berries well. No need to purée in a blender or processor, but do create a smooth enough mixture that won't clog your piping bag.
Easiest Raspberry Jam. If you run out of motivation after laboring through the meringue and macaronage, a nice store-bought raspberry jam works in a pinch. It won't be as smooth and luscious as a homemade, but many artisan brands are delicious and not too sweet. To smooth a chunkier raspberry jam, bring it just to a simmer in a small saucepan, then strain the warm jam through a mesh sieve, and cool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to the nature of meringue - which is easily sabotaged by outside moisture -coloring macarons naturally to a deep hue is tricky.
The best ingredients that color naturally are also common macaron flavors: cocoa powder in chocolate shells and ground pistachios, which create light green shells. Fair warning, however, that when it comes to cocoa powder, it is only replacing a small amount of the almond flour in any viable recipe (about 10%). Too much cocoa powder and you'll end up with cute, little brownies instead of French macarons.
As for plant-based food coloring, widely available natural brands are much less intense than gel-based artificial ones. So in order to achieve a shade even half as bright, you need to use twice as much.
And this will add too much moisture to the batter, which will cause the egg white proteins formed during the whipping to collapse. In other words, all your hard work whipping the whites can be undone in one fell swoop of a teeny, tiny bottle of food coloring.
As previously noted, attempting to tint macaron shells with freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders can cause similar problems like too much cocoa powder. The color may deepen, but the meringue will suffer and you can end up with splotchy, sunken, or cracked macarons.
The best choices when it comes to coloring macarons are to proceed au natural as with vanilla bean or opt for a small amount (or sometimes more) of artificial gel food coloring.
When French macarons form huge pied or feet during baking, it is most likely a sign of too much moisture in the batter. Once in the oven, any moisture in the batter will turn to steam and force its way out. This is actually the reaction that creates le pied in the first place, but it needs to be tempered and happen slowly at a low oven temperature.
Two culprits of excess moisture in macaron batter are too much food coloring or wet flavoring and resting the piped batter for too long. Yes, you read that correctly! Contrary to a range of available (not so great) advice, you can rest the batter for too long.
The tops become very dry trapping moisture in between the batter and the parchment. Once in the oven the moisture can't escape easily. So, voila! What you get are huge macaron feet that rise high in the oven cracking the tops along the way. And cool splat on the baking sheet.
To hedge your bets for frilly, modest le pied, keep additions to the batter at a minimum and rest for no longer than twenty or thirty minutes. And mind your oven temperature!
Unless it's brand-spankin' new, your home oven is most likely lying to you. Investing in an inexpensive oven thermometer will reveal the truth. If your oven happens to run hot, it can surely be why your French macarons are not meeting expectations. Too high an oven temperature will encourage the macarons to rise too quickly, creating an explosion of feet that are unstable and eventually fall and spread.
No! Absolutely not, you don't need almond flour to bake French macarons. But you do need an ingredient that acts very similar in the batter.
The most common replacement for almond flour is ground pistachios, and this is also a very popular flavor. Other nuts to try are hazelnut, pecan, and walnut. Simply replace any almond flour in a recipe with the same amount, by weight, of the nut you choose. Then grind the nuts with the powdered sugar in a food processor, and sift before mixing into the whipped meringue.
Flour substitutions that don't work in place of almond flour are any kind of starch-based flour, whether wheat or gluten-free. The starch will absorb all the moisture in the batter preventing both the signature look and texture of a macaron from forming. While too much excess liquid in the batter is bad news, the process of creating the signature macaron look depends on a small amount of moisture.
Many bakers tout adding freeze-dried fruit powders to their batter for color and flavor. I don't recommend this, especially for beginners. It can cause disaster and frustration. The meringue needs a strict environment to succeed. And once you begin adding loads of additional dry ingredients - or worse yet - ingredients with residual moisture, the scales tip in favor of failure.
Adding ingredients with any possible moisture will degrade the strength of the protein bonds formed when you whipped the egg whites. This increases the likelihood of macaron shells that don't rise with the frilly feet, le pied. After all, we eat with our eyes first. And our salivating taste buds second.
Classic, beautifully red French macaron shells with a fresh, tart, and most importantly simple to whip up raspberry jam. The ingredient measurements for the shells are given by weight, which is the best practice in baking.
If you don't have a kitchen scale, this French macaron recipe offers measurement in volume. Add the red food coloring at the very end of the meringue stage. The recipe is for a smaller batch of macaron shells, but you can use the recipe form to easily double it.
- 180 grams confectioner's sugar
- 108 grams fine-ground almond flour (or blanched, slivered almonds)
- 3 egg whites (about 90g)
- 55 grams granulated sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar, optional
- about ¼-½ teaspoon red gel food coloring, or a small amount that fits on the tip of a butter knife
- 6 ounces/170 grams fresh raspberries (one small container from the grocery store)
- 3 ounces/85 grams/⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- zest of one orange
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pectin, OR 1 teaspoon of gelatin sprinkled evenly into ¼ cup cold water*
For Macaron Shells
- Line two baking pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Here are free printable French macaron piping templates to put under the parchment paper.
- If working with whole or slivered almonds: Grind almonds with confectioner's sugar in a food processor for a couple of minutes, until finely ground. Stop the processor once or twice to redistribute the mixture.
- Place the egg whites in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed until foamy.
- Rain in the granulated sugar while continuing to beat.
- Turn the speed up to medium-high (or high on a hand mixer). Beat the whites to a firm peak meringue. The meringue will be shiny and create pointy peaks off the beater or whisk attachment that curve over ever so slightly.
- If using red food coloring, with the mixer off, use the tip of a knife or a toothpick to scrape it onto the bottom of a beater or the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer back on high speed to distribute the coloring.
- Sift all the dry ingredients directly into the bowl with the meringue.
- Fold until the batter flows slowly and ribbons off the spatula. Mix slightly vigorous at first, then use classic folding strokes; scraping around the sides of the bowl, then up from underneath the mixture, and over through the top.
- Transfer to a piping bag (or large plastic bag) fitted with a small round pastry tip.
- Pipe 1- to 2-inch rounds of batter onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Hold the piping bag vertical, and about a quarter-inch above the pan.
- To help the tops of piped batter settle, lightly tap underneath the pan.
- Optional: Let the piped macarons rest on the counter for 10-20 minutes. The longer the piped batter rests, the less vibrant the color will be after baking.
- Bake at 300° F/150° C for 14-16 minutes, rotating the pan(s) once halfway through baking.
- Cool a few minutes before removing from baking mat or parchment.
- To fill French macarons with the raspberry jam (or any filling), transfer the jam to a piping bag or plastic baggie and snip a small hole in the corner. Pipe jam on the bottom of one macaron shell leaving a small amount of room around the edge. Top with a second macaron shell of similar size. Repeat with remaining shells. Eat any oddballs when no one is looking!
- Store filled French macarons in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks, serve room temperature. French macarons are best after 24 hours, when they've had time to mature with the filling.
Homemade Raspberry Jam
- If using gelatin, "bloom" (or activate) the gelatin by sprinkling it evenly over a small amount of cold water. Use two to three tablespoons of water for every teaspoon of gelatin. Let it bloom for at least five minutes. You will notice the water turns to a gel-like consistency.
- Smash raspberries with a fork or potato masher in a small saucepan or skillet. Cook the berries for a few minutes over low heat to allow the natural pectin to begin weaving its web of sticky fibers.
- Add the sugar, lemon juice, and if using pectin add it now, then bring the jam to a boil over the lowest heat possible. Keeping the heat low helps preserve the flavor and structure of the fruit.
- Cook the jam until the sugar dissolves and it begins to thicken, stirring as little as possible. Pectin-thickened jams are done once the temperature reaches about 220° F, depending on your elevation. For higher elevations, 217-219° F is often high enough. See recipe notes for other ways to know when the jam is thick enough.
- If you're using gelatin, there is no need to track the temperature of the jam. Once the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves, remove it from the heat and whisk in the gelatin until it is completely dissolved.
- Transfer the finished jam to a heat-proof bowl, and press plastic wrap against the top to prevent a skin from forming.
- Cool in the refrigerator until thick and set. Store chilled if making ahead.
On baking. I find my oven produces better macarons closer to 290° F, this element of macaron baking requires a bit of trial and error with your own oven. An inexpensive thermometer can help reveal if your oven is lying to you.
For vegan jam. For a plant-based jam, use pectin as a thickener since gelatin is animal-derived.
On Jam Doneness. You can also test the jam for doneness by placing a dollop from the pan on a frozen plate. If it thickens and wrinkles when you push with a fingertip, it's ready. Worse case, if it looks thick and not runny when you let a bit drop from the spoon, chances are it's done.
Jam Storage. Jams on a sugar high are beneficial for one reason, and that's storage. Sugar concentrations of 65% or more act as a preservative, and these jams can be canned and stored at room temperature (assuming proper process).
Keywords: raspberry macaron recipe, raspberry jam, gelatin, pectin