French Vs Italian Macarons – What’s The Difference?

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Macarons have taken the world by storm! The two main types you will find on the internet are French macarons and Italian macarons.

Unfortunately, while everyone is going on and on about the macarons themselves, nobody actually bothered properly explaining what each of these is!

So, what are the differences between French and Italian macarons? First, the meringue used differs entirely. French macaron uses uncooked French meringue while an Italian macaron uses cooked Italian meringue. The type of meringue causes French macarons to be less stable, chewier, and less sweet. Italian meringue creates a crispier macaron that is much more stable to work with and generally sweeter.

Neither of these is better than the other and it all comes down to personal preference!

Today, we will be looking at every difference between French and Italian macarons, including how they are made, their flavor, texture, and appearance, as well as the benefits of each.

What Are Macarons?

In short, macarons are small round cakes made from a meringue-based batter. It consists of two baked shells which contain a deliciously and intensely flavored filling.

This filling can be anything from a jam, custard, frosting, or cream-based filling.

Macarons are made from egg whites, sugar, ground almonds, and some additional flavorings like extracts or essences. They can also contain powdered food coloring to lend a hint towards the flavor of the macaron itself. 

Making perfect macarons is quite a skill and extremely difficult. The shells should be light and airy, have a perfectly round shape to them, and a perfect ruffled “foot” or edge at the bottom of the shell.

The base of the shell should also be completely flat and smooth with no stickiness.

There are a few different types of macarons you get, the two most popular being French macarons and Italian macarons. Let’s have a look at the exact differences. 

What Are French Macarons?

French macarons refer to recipes that use French meringue to make the batter. To make a French meringue, the egg whites are whipped with some sugar until you get a very fluffy and stiff consistency.

All of the sugar should be completely dissolved before the egg whites are whipped to the correct consistency.

French meringues are uncooked, which has some debate surrounding them. It is however a much easier method that doesn’t require as much work.

French meringues are however much more unstable and people tend to easily overwork the batter when combining the wet and dry ingredients. This instability is caused by the uncooked egg whites.

In terms of looks, French macarons usually appear flatter and don’t have much rise. This, again, is due to the unstable meringue used that cannot support the weight of the other ingredients and therefore doesn’t rise much.

The feet of French macarons are more ruffled and generally have bigger air pockets (spaces in the crack).

Lastly, French macarons are chewier and much less sweet. French macarons generally contain more almond flour, so naturally, the almond flavor will be more prominent.

What Are Italian Macarons?

Italian macarons are made using Italian meringues. To make an Italian meringue, first, the sugar is melted to make a sugar syrup (which should be completely colorless).

While the uncooked egg whites are being whipped, the sugar syrup is slowly poured into the egg whites, which cooks them.

This method naturally takes more work and more time to do but has its benefits. For one, and arguably the most important, Italian meringues add a ton of stability.

When the dry and wet ingredients are combined, this is usually where most peoples’ macarons fail.

But, because you are using a stable Italian meringue, it increases the odds considerably!

Italian macarons also have the tendency to have a higher rise, a very beneficial characteristic for authentic macarons. The feet are also much cleaner and finely textured because of the way the macarons rise.

When it comes to taste and texture, Italian macarons definitely have a more crumbly or crunchy texture. You will also definitely note that they are generally sweeter because of the syrup used.

What’s The Difference?

The main and biggest difference between French and Italian macarons is the meringues used to create them.

French macarons use a French meringue that is made using uncooked egg whites. Italian macarons are made using a simple syrup and egg whites that are cooked.

The differences in meringues naturally affect the final product. First and foremost, in terms of making the actual meringues, French meringues provide a lot less stable structure and can lead to more failed attempts.

Italian meringues on the other hand are a lot more forgiving and create a stable batter that can be worked a lot more.

The Italian meringue also causes the macarons to rise higher, creating a smoother foot with a fine texture, and a sweet, crispy, airy cookie.

French meringue generally produces flatter macarons with small feet and large air pockets. They have a more almond-like flavor and have a chewier texture.

CharacteristicsFrench MacaronsItalian Macarons
Meringue UsedFrench meringue technique
Uncooked egg whites
Italian meringue technique
Cooked egg whites 
Sugar usedFine sugar (castor sugar)Colorless sugar syrup
StabilityLess stable
Prone to over mixing
More stable
More likely to be successful in making perfect macarons
Smaller feet
Ruffled feet
Higher rise
Higher feet
Fine-textured feet
Taste and textureChewier
Less sweet

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    1. Thank you in that roundabout way of Internet I saw an Italian complaining about the French stealing macarons so of course I had to find it the difference. Thanks for the clear explanation. I’m going to try making the Italian ones now.

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