Healthy Homemade French Macarons

I have made (failed) macarons over thirty times.  Yes, thirty.  The number of trials is quite laughable to me now, but looking back I remember the frustration of each and every failed batch.  I was hopeful when I folded the batter perfectly, I was anxious as I let the macarons dry on the trays for thirty minutes to an hour, I was let down when I checked on the macarons baking in the oven without any sign of the classic “feet,” and then I was crushed as I set the hot pans on my counter…  yet another failed macaron.  It’s like a slap in the face, a shattered dream, a total defeat.

Here are a couple of my failures:

pistachio macarons with strawberry filling

Pistachio Macarons with Strawberry “Buttercream” Filling

almond macarons with salted caramel filling

Almond Macarons with Salted Caramel Filling

In the beginning, I set myself up for failure by using powdered coconut sugar.  The coconut sugar turned the batter brown and they flattened completely in the oven (to ~2 millimeters in height!) into gooey caramel-like discs of sugar.

Here is some background info of my failed trials:

  • I have tested real white sugar to erythritol to sucanat to coconut sugar (some batches using all granulated sweetener, some using all powdered, some using both and one batch using a stovetop cooked syrup… I even tested out different powdered sugars, one 100% cane sugar and another laced with starch)
  • I have used almond flour, almond meal and pistachio flour
  • I have used cold egg whites, room temperature egg whites and aged egg whites
  • I have tested batches with no added flavorings or food colorings along with batches with some of both
  • I have undermixed, overmixed and mixed perfectly
  • I let the macaron batter rest on the pans from zero minutes to more than an hour
  • I tested a range of temperatures, from 200-330 degrees Fahrenheit (I always use an oven thermometer to be sure)
  • I baked the macarons on both Silpats and parchment paper
  • I have baked these trials over a span of two years, from cold weather to warm weather (neither of which is humid)
  • Some batches of macarons spread into thin wafers, some poofed up into what looked like sugar cookies, some were crunchy throughout, some never solidified and stayed chewy and bendable.  My closest batch looked like macarons but without the feet and had huge air pockets in them, despite tapping the pans on the counter and witnessing air pockets rise to the surface (grrr)
  • I seem to fail at French Macarons despite how much research I have completed, videos I have watched and recipes I have tried…  ugh!


After years of failure, I finally perfected a French Macaron recipe.  And they’re amazing.  They are light, petite and sweet.

*falls to knees and bows down to the baking gods*

Naughty or Nice Cookbook: The ULTIMATE Healthy Dessert Cookbook – Jessica Stier of Desserts with Benefits


Find the recipe in the Naughty or Nice Cookbook!

With 70 secretly healthy dessert recipes, full-color pages and photos for every recipe, you’ll soon discover what heaven feels like.  See this page for more information on the book, including the Table of Contents, some sneak peaks, and sample images.

Naughty or Nice Cookbook: The ULTIMATE Healthy Dessert Cookbook – Jessica Stier of Desserts with Benefits

Get your copy from Amazon here!

28 comments on “Healthy Homemade French Macarons

  1. I admire your persistence Jessica! I’ve never succeeded in baking any kind of decent macarons (even using all the classic ingredients). Your wannabe macarons look really nice, you should be proud of yourself! I once tried to make protein macarons ( and they looked like little dog poops!

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Thanks Elise! I checked our your macarons and they look amazing, I think I’m going to bake those if I feel like trying out the macaron thing again 😉

  2. You talk about sugar like it’s the definition of an “unhealthy” food. But I respectfully disagree. I think, eaten in moderation, it’s a perfectly acceptable part of your diet. The problem is that people often eat too much, and I respect that fact. But boesn’t using artificial “no calorie” “healthy” sweeteners *create* the idea that you can eat sweet things infinitely? Perhaps another path to health would be to do something about the culture of “sweet treats”?

    Just trying to get your thoughts on this.

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Hi M, I don’t think all sugar is bad, just bleached/processed/refined-to-the-bone white sugar which has no benefits, only detriments. Sucanat, coconut sugar, date sugar, pure maple sugar and natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dates are perfect sources of sweetness and natural sugar. I definitely agree with you that people eat too much, but the reason behind that is because white sugar is very addicting to the human body… I was addicted years ago and if I kept eating chocolate bars at the rate I was going I’m pretty sure I would have some serious health problems right now.
      Erythritol is not artificial, despite how it sounds. Erythritol is a natural product. I am definitely starting to use date sugar a lot since it is 100% dates, however it has a strong flavor which doesn’t pair well in certain applications and adds a dark brown sugar color. I only use erythritol now where a light-colored sweetener is used (like sugar cookies or red velvet cake)

      • I love the sweetness of your personality displayed in your comments. It comes from your “naturally” and gracefully.  
        I’m going to buy your book simply for the Macarons.  I don’t eat sugar, and I’ve never tasted a macaron till today.  I was so curious that I purchased one at a bakery.  I took one nibble and that was enough.  I though “too bad”.  So cute and yet so unhealthy.  I googled a healthy Macaron recipe and found your post.  I was impressed with your story and accomplishment.  You go!  Congratulations on making our lives a little sweeter.   

        • Hey Teresa! I’m so sorry for not updating this post to the best of my ability, gahh! So, I originally posted a sugar-free Macaron recipe here on the blog but they weren’t “true” macarons.
          The macaron recipe in my cookbook isn’t sugar-free, but it IS refined sugar-free… The macarons are very sweet too, so a dark chocolate ganache filling is great too to cut down on the sweetness 😀
          Sure hope that isn’t a deal-breaker, because the book has got a ton of other sugar-free recipes 😉
          Even if you don’t end up getting a copy of the cookbook, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for leaving such a kind and thoughtful comment. I just realized last week that I really want to open up my own bakery, and it’s all because of people like you. Have an awesome week!

  3. Please do not ruin another dessert with you sugar fear. You are disrespecting dessert around the world. BY associating guilt with sugar you are keeping all women guilty for eating.

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Didn’t mean to disrespect you with this post, H! I don’t have a fear of sugar, I used to eat chocolate bars and Oreos and Pop Tarts on a daily basis for about 17 years of my life … I was hooked and sugar causes serious health problems (diabetes, increased blood sugar, cancer, obesity, headaches, addiction, weakened immune system, etc etc etc). It is solely MY choice to remove bleached/processed white sugar from my diet and women can make their own choices on what food they eat.
      You can certainly make macarons with sugar if you want, this post was just about my failed trials in macaron-making, WITH and WITHOUT sugar :)

  4. I’m totally on your side Jessica: sugar is extremely addictive. “Everything in moderation” does work for many people, but personally it doesn’t work for me. Eating one cookie and leaving the rest in the box is something I just can’t do.

    I don’t think it’s because of weak self-control or a culture of sweats during my childhood. It’s just that sugary foods (even in small quantities) create a kind of irrational reaction in my brain that makes me crave for more.

    So I’d rather eat a couple of cookies made with erythritol that go on the sugar roller coaster. It’s not about avoiding calories or guilt, it’s just about avoiding mood swings and feeling lethargic after the sugar high is over.

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Thanks Elise, I’m totally the same way. There is no such thing as one Oreo for me, it’s the entire package and then some. It has been scientifically proven that sugar is addictive to the brain and there can be withdrawals. And eating ten healthified macarons instead of three unhealthy ones is always a plus 😉

  5. M, while I see where you’re coming from, and generally everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb to abide by (You can eat pounds of lean chicken breast, oats, and all things healthy, but if you eat too much of them, you’ll still store more fat than you need, although usually healthy/nutritious foods keep you fuller longer and make that hard to do), I would like to go ahead and say that sugar isn’t healthy, I’d even go as far as saying it’s “unhealthy” in the sense that it lacks healthy qualities. While natural sources of sweetness/”sugar” like fruits are perfectly healthy (a package deal, comes with fiber, vitamins, etc), sugar is just empty calories devoid of any nutritional merit/value, not only that, but it spikes your blood sugar among other things. While there exist sweeteners like coconut sugar that have a low GI, and have trace amounts of nutrients/minerals, refined sugar has none of these benefits, and it’s refined sugar that’s traditionally used in making macarons.

    Getting back to the main point though, I will agree with you that it’s an acceptable part of your diet, so long as you’re aware that it has no nutritional merits (and is actually detrimental), and thus eat it sparingly, hopefully not in large quantities on a daily basis. Eating a cookie every once in a while isn’t going to do you any harm and shouldn’t be a source of guilt, eating half a dozen cookies on a daily basis though, is probably not good for your health.

    As for the sweet treats on a daily basis, I think it’s perfectly acceptable so long as you find a way to create these sweet treats such that they’re actually healthy and nutritious (as opposed to adding zucchini or some veggie to a butter/sugar-laden cake and slapping on a healthy label). If they’re made with these objectives in mind, they’ll often be filling and keep you sated anyways, controlling the rate at which you eat them.

    Lastly, kudos on your perseverance, Jessica! Most people wouldn’t have given it nearly as many tries, thorough tries changing all variables thinkable, at that.

  6. Hi, I don’t know if you still want to make macarons but I would like to put a little bit intake. I myself has made it 3 times before finally having feet the 4th time. It does take lots of patience and some experience u learn by mistakes. With your batch, my guess is, you undermixed the mixture. It was too stiff, so that’s why you still see the pointy part. Next time maybe mix it 5 or 6 time more? Drying them is extremely important too, otherwise there will be no feet and they will crack. A complete “shell” must be formed, so I think you should dry them 1.5 hours just to be on a save side. I messed up my earlier macaron batch because I did not dry them properly. I do hope u will try once again though, it feels like a big establishment once you can make it!

    • dessertswithbenefits

      I am taking a bit of a macaron-hiatus because I gave it another three tries and I got REALLY close on one… I got feet! But they were way too sweet and weren’t chewy in the center.
      I agree, I think my batch was undermixed. I tend to overmix so I was afraid to do that. I also overmixed one batter and it was too thin to pipe into perfect little circles, however, this was the batch that was the closest to perfection I mentioned above… not sure why!
      Next time I try I will let the macarons rest for a longer period of time.
      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR LOVELY COMMENT, it gave me new hope in macaron-baking :)

  7. I have a couple tips for when you make macaroons again: rather than almond meal or flour, take slivered almond and put them in a food processor; don’t under or overmix the batter; before you let them set for about 15 minutes, rap the tray the macaroons are on a few times on the counter; take the tray with the macarons on it and put another one beneath it while cooking. Good luck!!!

  8. It’s disappointing to see all these critical comments on this point. You know why? Because I googled “almond flour sugar free macarons” and I actually found a recipe! Wow! I was excited. A bit turned off at the sugar debate. “Sugar isn’t bad for you in moderation?…” I’m here because sugar was bad for me. I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia after a major physical crash. My doctor set me on a path of healthy eating and helped me find ways to heal my body. Sugar free, gluten free has become my new way of living. So to those of you who want your macarons with sugar, eat them with sugar…but don’t come down so hard on someone who put time and effort to create an alternative that people like me can enjoy. You should be ashamed! Great Job Jessica – thank you for your hard work! You popped right up on google with my search! :)

    • ajb-
      Awww, you just made my day!! :)
      I’m so glad you found a healthy lifestyle that works for you. Health scares (and diagnoses) are very serious and should not be taken lightly. I was at risk for type II diabetes but now I am not, simply because I omitted refined white sugar from my diet. I have had my fair share of sugar!
      Not only is sugar high glycemic and refined (causes spikes/crashes in blood sugar), but it is also genetically modified (one of the TOP GMO foods) and has promoted slavery for years and years and years. It’s terrible and frankly, just sad :(
      Anyways, off my rant… I’m so happy you found my blog and shared your story with me. Have a great week!

  9. Sorry but I would rather eat 3 “real” french macarons than 6 yours. I’m sure they taste good and they’re really healthier but they are NOT macarons. You know, we can’t make everything healthier and sugar-free but that’s okay! If you eat healthy and clean most of the time, a few macarons won’t make you fat or unhealthy. Please don’t take my comment wrong, I love your blog and your recipes but I just think that sometimes we all just need to live and not care about the nutrition facts :)

    • B-
      I totally get ya! :) I completely agree with you, I don’t think the world should revolve around calories and diets, I think we should aim for balance and moderation. I’ve just learned to make nutrition labels for every recipe of mine because in nearly every post that I don’t include one, someone will ask for it. It’s also helpful to compare my nutrition stats with the nutrition stats of “typical” recipes (in terms of trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, vitamins/minerals, etc)
      Also, I made this recipe for those who choose to avoid sugar for health reasons, ethical reasons, personal reasons, and so on. For example, diabetics who can’t consume sugar, people who do not want to support the sugar industry (due to the slavery/corruption), people on low-carb diets (diabetics, bodybuilders, or someone who just doesn’t want a lot of sugar in their nighttime snack…)
      And yes, I know these aren’t real macarons, that’s why the title says, “macaron ‘wannabes.'” :)
      PS: If you live near NYC, you should DEFINITELY go to the Dominique Ansel Bakery, they have THE BEST macarons!!

  10. Hi,
    I love your blog!!Beforehand I apologize for my bad english.I´m from Czech Republic and I´m crazy for (sorry, I don´t know correct preposition)clean eating and sport.I like your clean recipes and unhealthy healthy!
    This recipe looks great, but in CZ Erythritol is unavaiable. I have just Xylitol, Can I use Xylitol in place of Erythritol?
    Have you a beautiful day

  11. i have researched erythritol and it doesn’t seem the safest thing. is there any other substitute besides powdered sugar? i really want to avoid sugar and coconut sugar sounds good but you said it didn’t work, so i can’t use that. any idea’s ?

    • J. B.-
      Erythritol is all natural and safe. It’s just not good to consume extremely large quantities (like, 1 cup in a single sitting), which can cause stomach discomfort, and the same can be said about white sugar. All about moderation :)
      You can try sucanat or maybe date sugar?
      Hope this helps! :)
      PS: Here is a study done on erythritol:
      “The safety studies have demonstrated that erythritol is well tolerated and elicits no toxicological effects” with diets including erythritol in concentrations as high as 20% (!!!)

  12. I’ve tried sugar free macarons several times and the same issue. I’m wondering if the Italian method with erythitol might work better.

    • Tara-
      If the Italian method is the one where you cook a syrup and add it to the mixing egg whites, I’ve tried it and failed! It looked so perfect as I was piping the macarons but they ended up dry. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it again with a few adjustments, though! I think I better do that batch again. Thanks Tara! 😀

  13. I did notice comments that this can be a issue with Italian. If they actually looked like macarons they may be the answer. My thought was using erytritol powdered in French doesn’t change its true melting difference compared to regular sugar. I was doing research and the idea of cooking at a lower temp seemed interesting. I’ll be trying my next recipe.

    My last try at French resulted in flat cocoa brownie tasting cookies. After they flattened (kind of like the powdered erythritol just sucked the air out of the egg whites), I threw in 3 extra whipped egg whites (I am not throwing away that many ingredients) and 3 tablespoons coconut flour(they were really wet s so thought it would help). Despite not being macarons they are oddly brownie tasty cookies great hot from the cookie sheet.

  14. Wow! Amazing blog/post!

    Yeah, people don’t seem to get that just because you have a blog with a dietary theme doesn’t mean you perpetuate some pro-eating-disorder, sugar-shaming culture. I specifically googled this…I’m living in France right now and occasionally indulge, but I want to make macaroons that my autistic brother with digestive issues can eat when he comes to visit so he doesn’t feel excluded. Do I think the real stuff would kill him? No…but baking is fun, these are definitely healthier, and like, why take the chance? (plus, my mom put him on the strict diet. Can’t really go against her) And as for your patient, poised responses to some of these obnoxious comments, bless you. Seriously. Hahaha.

    • Thank you for being so understanding Laura! 😀
      I made these Macarons for people like me (who want to eat like, 50 macarons at once lol), and people who cannot have sugar (diabetics), and whoever is curious I guess, just like you and your brother.
      I made a PERFECT French macaron recipe, “feet” and all, for my upcoming cookbook, but it isn’t 100% sugar free like this one… it’s IMPOSSIBLE! I’ve probably made over 30 failed batches -_-
      ANYWAYS, I hope you and your brother like these little Macaron “things” 😉

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