Packed with warm fall spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, chai macarons are bound to be a hit with any chai lover. Tea-infused macaron shells are paired with an easy chai-spiced buttercream for a delectable French macaron.
These chai spice macarons have black tea ground into the shell for a true tea flavor. When matched with the chai spice buttercream, the result is a macaron that tastes like a strong chai tea latte, much like my Earl Grey macarons taste like an Earl Grey latte. Chai macarons are one of my favorite fall desserts, and I’ve made a lot of macarons (including pumpkin spice macarons!).
If you’ve never made macarons before, I recommend reading (or at least skimming!) the blog post to ensure you know what to expect. Macarons are particular and can take a while to master, but I have loaded this blog post with tips and tricks for your success!
Ingredients for Chai Macarons
French macarons require only four ingredients to get right; it’s the fillings that add to the list here! Chai macarons are made with a simple mix of almond flour, powdered sugar, meringue (made from egg whites and granulated sugar), and black tea. Warm chai spices add an extra depth of chai flavor.
- Chai spiced black tea. Black tea with chai spices gives these macarons a delicious hint of tea. Both bagged and loose leaf teas work well—use your favorite!
- Granulated sugar. Sugar helps to stabilize the meringue, allowing you to fold in the almond flour mixture and rest the macarons without worrying about the meringue collapsing.
- Almond flour. Almond flour provides necessary structure for the macaron shell.
- Powdered sugar. Powdered sugar helps to thicken the macaron batter and provide structure.
- Egg whites, from four large eggs. For best results, use eggs in a shell rather than egg whites in a carton. Carton egg whites are pasteurized and may not whip into a meringue.
- Chocolate brown gel food coloring (optional). Please do not use liquid food coloring—it will not work! If you don’t have any gel food coloring, I recommend this kit from Americolor. It has all the colors you’ll need!
- Unsalted butter. Unsalted butter makes up the body of the spiced chai buttercream.
- Powdered sugar. This thickens and sweetens the buttercream.
- Vanilla bean paste or extract. I prefer to use vanilla bean paste in buttercream, but extract will also work!
- Chai spices: ground cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. This combination will flavor the spicy chai buttercream to perfection.
How to Make Chai Macarons
You can watch how to make these chai macarons on my YouTube channel.
My Number One Tip for Making Macarons
The most important thing to remember is that macarons are finicky. Even if they don’t look perfect, they’ll still taste great!
The number one tip I have for making French macaron shells is to be patient. It can take a number of tries to get a perfect batch. My first batch of macarons came out well enough with only a couple cracked shells. However, it took me quite a few months to feel confident that each batch I put in the oven would turn out, and I started right back at square one after moving to a new kitchen.
Recommended Supplies for Making Macarons
Each oven and home variables vary. I have had success with dark baking sheets and aluminum baking sheets in different ovens. With my current oven, a light-colored aluminum baking sheet placed in the lower third of the oven is essential for turning out macarons.
In my old house and old electric oven, I could use a dark nonstick pan and parchment paper on top of silicon macaron mats with no issues. In my new house and new gas oven, I have to use aluminum pans with silicon macaron mats. For making macarons in my countertop oven, I use those same type of pans and mats with my Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro. It’s a great option if you’re looking into baking macarons with a small electric oven.
If you are following all the steps and your macarons still aren’t consistent after five batches, I would look into your supplies. Try changing one variable at a time to determine what the problem is.
Making the Spiced Chai Sugar
The most important part of the chai macaron shells is the spiced chai black tea! I tested this recipe a few different ways, with and without spicing the macaron shells. I much prefer the flavor of the macaron as a whole when black spiced chai tea has been ground together with the granulated sugar and then added to the meringue.
The French meringue still forms perfectly with the ground chai sugar, and you can actually taste the tea portion of the chai, rather than just spices (like in the buttercream). And, a very important note: Because the tea is finely ground, you won’t bite into large pieces of tea leaves.
To make the chai sugar, grind the tea and granulated sugar together in a mortar and pestle until the tea is well-ground and the sugar resembles a coarse powdered sugar.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use your food processor or a high-powered blender. Keep in mind that the tea won’t be processed quite as well, and you may have larger pieces in your macarons.
The Perfect Meringue Base for Macarons
A good meringue is key for a good macaron. French macarons generally call for aged or at least room temperature egg whites, but because of the way I mix up my meringue, I can use eggs directly from the fridge without a stabilizer.
I adapted this technique from Cenk Sönmezsoy’s The Artful Baker (though he recommends room temperature egg whites). If you’re newer to meringue, I would recommend using room temperature egg whites, as they are a bit more elastic (read: forgiving).
For a perfect French meringue every time, start by whipping the egg whites on low in a stand mixer, just to incorporate. Once the whites begin to foam, increase the speed to medium. The whisk will begin to leave trails in the foam; at that point, sprinkle in the sugar about a teaspoon at a time.
When all the sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to high and whisk until you begin to see the whisk leave deep indents in the meringue (anywhere from three to five minutes).
Test to see if the meringue has stiff peaks by removing the whisk and flipping it upside down. If the meringue stands straight up or curls into itself lightly with a sharp point, stop whisking. (See photo below.) If the point is soft and looks like it has a lot of tiny bubbles in it, whisk for another 10 seconds, then test again.
Sprinkle the chai spiced tea sugar into the egg whites about a teaspoon at a time. Once the meringue has stiff peaks like in the picture above, add the almond flour and powdered sugar.
The Perfect Macaron Batter Consistency
Macaron batter needs to be a certain consistency in order to develop feet. The consistency and process is so important that it has its own name: “macaronage.”
The top descriptor I have read for testing macaron batter consistency is it “flows off the spatula like hot lava…” I have never seen hot lava in person, much less seen it being picked up with a spatula. That phrase does not personally help me figure out how to macaronage, which is one of the most important things for beginners to understand.
A more fitting description for the perfect macaron batter consistency is to think of macaronage as a process, not an end result.
Macaronage Is a Process
The egg whites start out as liquid with no air in them. Then you whip in lots of very tiny air bubbles to transform the egg whites into a meringue. You have added so much air into the egg whites that now they essentially function as a solid instead of a liquid.
Then, you fold in almond flour and powdered sugar. As you fold the batter with a spatula, you are knocking the air out of the meringue. That helps to transform our previously solid meringue back into a liquid batter. The more folds you give the batter, the more liquid the batter becomes. (My husband says this is called viscosity, but that’s a bit technical.)
The perfect consistency of macaron batter will look grainy as it flows off the spatula in one long, stacking ribbon. Then, it will begin to look shiny and absorb back into the rest of the batter within 10-15 seconds.
If your batter takes more than 15 seconds to absorb, you need to knock more air out of the meringue. Too much air in the macarons will make them crack in the oven.
If your batter takes closer to 5 seconds to absorb, it’s likely overmixed; however, it will probably still turn out decent macarons. Unfortunately, if your batter absorbs immediately, there is not enough air left in the meringue to form proper macarons. I recommend starting over.
Piping the Chai Spice Macarons
I recommend using a silicone mat or template under parchment paper. The batter can be a little tricky to pipe neatly until you know how it flows.
Using a small round piping tip (#10), gently squeeze out the macaron batter about one inch (3 mm) in diameter at a 90° angle from the pan. To break the flow of batter, quickly pull up the piping bag in a small circle, then move immediately to the next circle to pipe. The macaron lumps will spread a little bit as they settle.
Once the whole tray has been piped, pick up the pan with one hand and bang the heel of your other hand against it in various locations under the macarons until you see air bubbles rise from the bottoms of the shells. Alternatively, bang the pan against the counter a few times.
Let the macarons rest until they are dull and don’t leave a residue when you lightly run your finger across the top.
Quick Tips for Prepping Chai Spiced Buttercream
This buttercream is balanced, but it has a lot of chai spice in it! If you like a more subtle flavor in your macarons, I recommend combining all the spices in a small bowl and adding only ¾-1 teaspoon of the spice mix to the buttercream at first.
Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl first, then add in the powdered sugar about half a cup at a time. (You’re welcome to add it all at once, but it may result in a cloud of powdered sugar hovering in your kitchen for a few seconds.)
Beat the buttercream together for about a minute to ensure the powdered sugar is fully combined and fluffy.
Add the teaspoon of chai spice mix and beat until fully combined, then taste the buttercream. If you like the subtle chai flavor, continue beating the buttercream for another two minutes until light and fluffy.
For a stronger chai flavor, add the remaining spices, then beat the buttercream for another two minutes until light and fluffy.
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag with a tip of your choice, and you’re ready to fill your chai spice macarons!
How to Fill Chai Macarons
Filling the macarons is my favorite part! You can use a larger piping tip and pipe one dollop in the center of a macaron shell or a drop flower tip like I used here.
For a professional look, pair similarly sized macarons together. Line them up with one side face up and one side face down for easy filling.
On a macaron shell with the flat bottom facing up, pipe a swirl of chai buttercream in the center of the shell, leaving a little room on the edges. Repeat with the rest of the macarons, then place the matching macaron shell on top.
FAQs for Chai Macarons
YES. I typically include both volumetric (cups) and mass (weight) measurements on my recipes, but because macarons are so finicky, I have only included mass measurements. This recipe requires a kitchen scale, but it is worth it to get perfect macarons every time. Kitchen scales are relatively inexpensive as far as minor appliances go, and they will last you forever. I have this kitchen scale from OXO and love it.
No, absolutely not! Start with parchment paper and a printable template underneath it. If you learn that you like making macarons, invest in silicone macaron mats down the road.
There are so many variables when making macarons that it can be hard to narrow it down. I’m happy to help you troubleshoot in the comments or in direct messages on Instagram (where you can send me pictures!).
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
Fall is rapidly approaching, and I can’t wait for all the baked goods with warm fall spices!
- Looking for more fall macaron flavors? Try my pumpkin macarons, made with a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake filling and pumpkin spice French macaron shells. See a full list of macaron recipes here.
- Mini apple pies are always a favorite, especially when they’re filled with salted caramel!
Dish Cleanup: Gonna Take a While
I rate my recipe cleanups on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is only a handful of dishes, and 5 is everything including the kitchen sink.
My chai macarons recipe has a cleanup rating of a 4. This is standard for many macaron recipes, as they require one mixing bowl for the batter and one for the buttercream, along with mixer attachments and spatulas. This recipe also includes a mortar and pestle to grind the spiced black tea for the shells, but the buttercream has hardly any extra dishes!
Chai Macarons Recipe
For the Chai Macaron Shells
- 1 teaspoon or 1 tea bag of chai spice black tea
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 120 grams egg whites, from four large eggs
- 120 grams almond flour
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 2-3 drops chocolate brown gel food coloring
For the Chai Spice Buttercream
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (85 grams)
- 150 grams powdered sugar (about 1¼ cups)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (2 grams)
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (2 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (1 gram)
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of ground cloves
Making the Chai Macaron Shells
- Prepare two baking sheets with macaron silpats or parchment paper. Prepare a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I use Wilton #12 or Ateco 808), and set aside.
- In a mortar and pestle, grind the black chai spice tea with the granulated sugar. A mortar and pestle works best to really break down the tea leaves, but a food processor will work, too, if you don't have one. Transfer into a small bowl and set aside.
- For perfectly smooth shells, process the powdered sugar and almond flour together in a food processor for a superfine consistency. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs, reserving both the egg whites for the macaron shells. Save the yolks for ice cream!
- Weigh out 120 grams of egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, then mix on 2 (or low) until frothy. Increase speed to 4 (medium-low). Once the whisk begins leaving a trail in the egg whites, sprinkle in the chai spice tea sugar about a teaspoon at a time. Once all the sugar is incorporated, increase speed to 6 (medium) and whisk until stiff peaks form. The meringue will look gray from the tea.
- Add in 2-3 drops of chocolate brown gel food coloring, if desired. Whisk on medium for just a couple of seconds to fully incorporate.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and pour half of the almond flour mixture into the meringue. Fold together until fully incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the remaining almond flour mixture and fold together. The mixture will be thick, but as you continue folding, it will lose some air and thin out. Continue folding and pressing the batter into the sides of the bowl until the batter is the correct consistency (covered in the next step).
- To test the consistency, scoop the batter up, and let it flow back into the bowl. Continue folding until the mixture flows in one solid ribbon off the spatula. It should look a bit grainy as it flows off the spatula, then dissolve back into the batter in 10-15 seconds and look glossy instead of grainy.
- Pour the batter into the prepared piping bag. Holding the bag at a 90° angle to the pan, gently squeeze out the macaron batter into lumps about 1-1.5" (3 mm) in diameter. They will spread as they settle.
- Once piped, pick up the pan with one hand and bang the heel of your other hand against it in various locations under the macarons until you see air bubbles rise from the bottoms of the shells. Alternatively, bang the pan against the counter a few times. Use a toothpick to pop any remaining bubbles for a perfectly smooth top. Notice how shiny the surface looks now; it will dull as the macarons rest.
- Set the macarons aside in a well-ventilated area to dry for about 20-30 minutes. On particularly humid days, this may take up to an hour.
- While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 320°F/160°C. The macarons are ready to go in the oven when the tops are no longer reflective, don't leave a residue on your finger when touched, and feel like skin when you lightly run your finger across it.
Baking the Macarons
- Once the macarons are dry, bake one tray at a time in the lower center rack for 16-18 minutes or until the macaron is set. Test to see if the macarons are set: Try to gently wiggle a macaron back and forth from the center of the pan with your thumb and forefinger. If the top moves at all, put the tray back in the oven for another minute or two until the center of the macaron is set and does not move when prompted.
- Let each tray cool completely before removing the macarons from the mats, about 10 minutes.
Making the Chai Spice Buttercream
- Cream the butter in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste or extract and beat for three minutes until fluffy.
- This makes a balanced but strong chai buttercream. I recommend combining all the spices in a small bowl and adding only ¾-1 teaspoon of the spice mix to the buttercream. Beat until combined, then taste. For a stronger flavor (the way I like it), add the remaining spice mixture and beat until light and fluffy.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with the piping tip of your choice. I used Wilton 2D.
Assembling the Macarons
- Pair similarly sized macarons together and line them up with one side face up and one side face down.
- On a chai macaron shell with the flat bottom facing up, pipe a swirl of chai spice buttercream, leaving a small border around the edges. Repeat with the rest of the macarons, then place the matching macaron shell on top.
- The macaron shells will soften and the flavors will develop after maturing in the fridge for one day, though you may eat them any time you'd prefer after assembly.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week for maximum freshness.
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Serving Size:1 filled macaron
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 111Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 17mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 2g
The nutrition facts are estimated and may vary based on specific ingredients used.
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