These delicate cranberry macarons feature almond wafers filled with white chocolate buttercream and a dollop of cranberry jelly. Perfect for the holidays!
This recipe for cranberry macarons will help even the most inexperienced bakers nail the ever-elusive French cookie everyone loves to love. With a delicious filling of cranberry jelly and rich, whipped white chocolate, they’re festive enough to serve during Christmas and always such a crowd pleaser.
The Difference Between a Macaroon & a Macaron
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s first cover off on the difference between a macaroon and a macaron – two cookies with such similar spellings, they’re often mixed up. Macaroons are coconut haystack cookies, while macarons are traditional French sandwich cookies made with almond flour and an assortment of fillings.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for Making Macarons
Here find all our top tools for making macarons. The upside? You likely have most of them hanging out in your kitchen already if you’re a regular baker.
- Stand Mixer: A stand mixer makes making the meringue and batter so much more simple.
- Silicone Baking Mat: Silicon baking mats will prevent your macarons from burning and sticking to the pan.
- Piping Bags: You’ll need 2-3 piping bags for this recipe and a couple of different tips (a round tip for piping the shells and a star shaped tip for piping the buttercream).
Whipping up Cranberry Macarons from Scratch
If you follow the instructions closely, making these homemade cranberry macarons is a pretty straightforward and approachable process.
Preparing the Macaron Shells
- Prepare the Dry Ingredients: First, pulse the almond flour, powdered sugar and all-purpose flour in food processor and sift the ingredients into a large bowl.
- Beat the Egg Whites: Next, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until you get stiff peaks.
- Make the Cookie Dough: Combine the egg whites into the dry ingredients with a few drops of the gel food coloring. Using a spatula, fold the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth in consistency.
- Pipe the Cookie Dough: Next, transfer the batter into a pastry bag and pipe small, 1-inch dollops of batter onto parchment paper or silicone mat lined baking sheets. Tap the pans a few times of the counter to rid the cookies of air bubbles.
- Allow the Cookies to Rest: Let the piped cookies rest for 1 hour at room temperature. In an oven preheated to 320°F, bake the macarons for 18 minutes and allow them to cool completely.
Whipping Up the Filling
- Whip the Butter & Chocolate: Place the softened butter into a bowl and beat it with mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the melted white chocolate.
- Add in the Sugar, Vanilla Extract, & Salt: Next, mix in the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and salt on low speed and then crank the speak up on high until a buttercream forms. Add in a little cranberry jelly.
Assembling the Macarons
- Pipe the Buttercream & Jelly: Transfer the buttercream into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe a ring of buttercream onto a macaron half. Add a dollop of cranberry to the center and sandwich on the other half of the cookie.
- Mature the Cookies: Place the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 day to develop their flavors. Enjoy!
5 Tips for Making Cranberry Macarons
Arming yourself with the following tips will help you get the most of of these cranberry macarons.
- Use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients. A kitchen scale is highly recommended for this recipe. The batter needs to be just right for the macarons to turn out well.
- Whisk the egg whites until you get stiff peaks. Whisk the egg whites just until they reach stiff peak stage. Under mixing will result in a flat batter; over mixing can cause the cookies to spread while baking.
- Don’t over mix the batter. Fold the batter thoroughly, flattening the egg whites against the side of your mixing bowl. BUT, be careful – you don’t want to over mix the batter! That will also cause your cookies to be just flat, shapeless disks.
- Allow those cookies to rest. Let the cookies stand for an hour at room temperature, allowing a thin shell to form on the outside. This shell gives the cookies their shape so it’s crucial! If your macarons are cracking on top, you might need to let the cookies rest longer. If you live in a humid climate, extend the timing even more as humidity and moisture will prevent a shell from forming.
- Adjust the temperature where necessary. Start with 320°F but since each oven bakes differently, you may need to adjust this temperature. If the macarons spread, rise too quickly or brown, reduce the temperature by 10 degrees and increase the baking time by 3 to 5 minutes. If your macarons aren’t rising well and form wrinkly tops, increase the temperature by 10 degrees and reduce the baking time.
Cranberry macarons (like all macarons) get better as they set in the refrigerator – making them a wonderful make-ahead dessert. Here, find our top tips for keeping them fresh in storage.
- Refrigerator (Assembled Cookies): Keep your macaroons stored in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. They have such a long shelf life and should keep fresh for up to three weeks!
- Refrigerator (Shells): If you want to prep the cookies ahead of time, make the shells and store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks before piping them with filling.
- Freezer: To freeze assembled macarons, allow them to fully cool at room temperature and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop the baking sheet in the freezer for 1–2 hours. Place the frozen macarons in a freezer-safe plastic bag for up to a month. To thaw, place the cookies on a wire rack at room temperature or allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge. You can also freeze the shells in the same fashion!
Do macarons taste like almonds?
Even though macarons are made with almond flour, they don’t have a super strong nutty taste. Depending on the filling and flavorings you use, you might not even be able to tell.
Should macarons be chewy or crunchy?
Macarons should be a combination of a chewy center and a slightly crunchy top shell. Known for their unique texture nearly as much as their outrageously good flavor, these cookies are a texture journey in each bite.
Are macarons hard to make?
If you follow the recipe closely, macarons are actually not that difficult to make. They often get that reputation because of how unique the process of making them is against other baked goods.
Are macarons supposed to be soft?
Yes, macarons are supposed to be soft and chewy in the center. That said, you want the outer shell to keep its stiffness so there’s a nice contrast in texture with each bite.
Other Macarons to try:
- Coffee Macarons Recipe – Chocolate and coffee-spiked macarons
- Chocolate Macarons – Chocolate on chocolate macarons
- Perfect Macarons – Nutella filled macarons
- Dulce de Leche Macarons – Sweet caramel filled macarons
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For the Macarons
Making the Macarons
- Place the dry ingredients in a food processor (almond flour, confectioner’s sugar and all-purpose flour). Pulse the mixture for a few minutes and then sift the ingredients into an extra-large bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar. Beat the mixture on high speed for 3-4 minutes, or just until stiff peaks form. Be extra careful not to over beat the eggs.
- Add the egg whites to the dry ingredients, along with a few drops of the red food coloring. Using a spatula, begin to fold the flour into the egg whites. Keep mixing in a folding motion until the batter reaches the "lava stage" – the point where it drips slowly off the spatula.
- Transfer the batter into a pastry bag topped with a round tip. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Pipe 1-inch dollops of batter onto the baking sheets, spacing them about an 1 ½-inches apart. Once the baking sheet is full, tap the pan a few times against the kitchen counter to release any trapped air bubbles.
- Allow the macarons to rest for at least 1 hour, or until they form a thin, shiny shell on the outside. Preheat the oven to 320°F. Bake the macarons for 18 minutes. Allow the macaron shells to cool completely on the baking sheet.
Preparing the Filling
- While the shells are cooling, prepare the white chocolate filling. Place the softened butter into a medium-sized bowl and beat it with mixer for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the melted white chocolate. If the melted chocolate softens the butter too much, place the mixture into the refrigerator for 15 minutes and then mix it again.
- Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then mix it on high speed for 2-3 minutes until a fluffy buttercream forms. Add the 2 tablespoons of cranberry jelly last and mix for about 30 seconds, just until it’s incorporated.
Assembling the Macarons
- Transfer the buttercream into a pastry bag with a star tip. Pair the macaron shells by size and pipe a ring of buttercream onto one half, leaving a small space in the center for the cranberry jelly. Using a small spoon, add a small dollop of the remaining jelly into the center of each macaron. Sandwich the cookies together and place onto a wire rack. If desired, melt ¼ cup white chocolate chips, transfer it into a pastry bag, and drizzle it over the cookies.
- Place the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 day to allow them to mature. Take the macarons out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before enjoying.