Homemade French Macarons

Iowa State Fair "Best Cookie" Winner

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Blue Ribbon French Macarons

Homemade French Macarons are made easy with this best ever macaron recipe using almond flour, powdered sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, almond extract, and superfine sugar. The blue ribbon “best cookie” winner has just 6 main ingredients for the cookie part (plus your favorite food color). You make the Italian buttercream with just 4 more ingredients: egg whites, granulated sugar, unsalted butter, and pure vanilla extract.

Perfect Texture, Perfect Taste

You’ll love the smooth and crisp outside “shell” these cookies have. Their chewiness inside is also key to their deliciousness. And the Italian buttercream? To die for!

Recipe credit goes to Marianne Carlson who won “best overall cookie” honors with it at the 2015 Iowa State Fair. That means the judges ranked this cookie better than hundreds of others, 453 to be exact. That’s how many entries there were that year: 454! Wow. One taste and you’ll know why they won.

Piping French Macarons

Given how intimidated people can be about making macarons, we were pleasantly surprised with how simple they were to make. My niece Crystal came to visit and she took the lead in re-creating Marianne’s winning cookie. It was the first time either of us had attempted them. The hardest part perhaps was getting the cookies a consistent size so they look good once “sandwiched” with the filling inside. I think templates are the secret to success for size consistency. With macarons in general, I also think practice makes perfect. You are off to a great start with Marianne’s recipe.

Flavor & Color Variations

You can easily make these your own by changing the filling and colors. We did some blueberry macaron simply by switching the food coloring gel and adding blueberry jam to the buttercream. I see many more brightly colored ones in our future come spring and summer. Homemade French Macarons are marvelous. You can find a wonderful chocolate macaron recipe here. It is the most popular cookie we’ve shared to-date. It also happens to be another blue ribbon winning recipe.

Best Blueberry French Macarons

Winner Tip:  Marianne believes her winning French macarons taste best after being refrigerated 4 days, then served at room temperature. I bet that’s true…but our batch was gone in less than a day. Next time we’ll do a double batch.

Definitely give these French macarons a try. They’ll win you over too!


Note: Midwest Living Magazine and Gold Medal Flour sponsored this Iowa State Fair best cookie competition in 2015. This is an edited repost from our former website,



French Macarons

Cookie / Shell:

1 2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 cup almond flour

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup superfine sugar

2-3 drops food coloring gel


Italian Buttercream:

2 egg whites

3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


In large bowl, sift almond flour and powdered sugar together; set aside. In medium bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and almond extract until foamy. Beat in sugar until shiny stiff peaks form. Add food coloring if desired. Gently fold egg white mixture into almond flour mixture. Spoon into a pastry bag (with a 1/2-inch tip). Pipe 1 1/2-inch circles onto parchment paper on baking sheets. Bang the cookie sheet 3 times on the counter (lightly drop from one inch height onto countertop). Let sit 30 minutes to form a hard skin on top. Preheat oven to 295 degrees F. Bake cookies in 12-14 minutes. Let cool.

For Italian buttercream: combine egg whites and sugar in a double boiler (heatproof mixing bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water). Whisking constantly, cook until sugar dissolves and mixture is at 160 degrees F. Beat until stiff peaks form. (A stand-up mixer with whisk attachment works great.) Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes. Set aside. In large bowl, cream the butter and vanilla. Add the egg/sugar mixture. Mix until smooth. Spread on the flat sides of half the cookies, about 2 tablespoons each. Top with second half of cookies. Makes about 20.

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