With real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and cream cheese, pumpkin spice macarons are a fall staple. Each macaron is bite-sized, making them an easy dessert to serve at Halloween parties and Thanksgiving gatherings. Pumpkin macarons are a great pumpkin pie alternative to bring to get-togethers.
If you’ve never made macarons before, rest assured! I have plenty of tips and tricks in the body of this post to make you feel confident in the kitchen. I highly recommend reading through (or at least skimming) through the tips. Macarons are finicky creatures, and the more certain you go into making macarons, the better they’ll pop out of your oven. Let’s get started on how to make pumpkin pie macarons!
Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice Macarons
- Egg whites, from four large eggs. For best results, use fresh eggs rather than egg whites in a carton. Those egg whites are pasteurized and may not whip into a meringue.
- Granulated sugar. Sugar helps to stabilize the meringue, allowing you to fold in the almond flour mixture and rest the macarons without worrying about a collapsed meringue.
- Almond flour. Almond flour provides structure for the macaron shell and a nutty flavor.
- Powdered sugar. Powdered sugar helps to thicken the macaron batter and provide structure.
- Orange gel food coloring (optional). Use gel food coloring to give pumpkin macarons a signature orange hue. Regular food coloring will not work! If you don’t have any gel food coloring, I recommend this kit from Americolor.
- Cream cheese. Cream cheese and pumpkin pair beautifully together, and there’s just enough for that distinct cream cheese flavor without it being overpowering.
- Unsalted butter. When added to the cream cheese, the unsalted butter makes for a perfectly pipeable buttercream.
- Pumpkin puree. Absolutely necessary for pumpkin spice macarons!
- Pumpkin pie spice. Again, absolutely necessary for pumpkin spice macarons! If you don’t have a pumpkin pie spice mix on hand, you can substitute a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. See the section labeled “I Don’t Have Pumpkin Pie Spice. Can I Still Make this Recipe?” below.
- Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Both the extract and vanilla bean paste add a depth of flavor to this fall macaron.
I Don’t Have Pumpkin Pie Spice. Can I Still Make this Recipe?
Yes, as long as you have a handful of warm spices in your pantry! Simply mix together ½ teaspoon of cinnamon with ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Stir to combine, then use only one teaspoon total in the buttercream. Any more than that will be too strongly spiced.
How to Make Pumpkin Spice French Macaron Shells
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, though there were a few cracked shells. It took me quite a few months, though, to feel confident that each batch I put in the oven would turn out.
Recommended Supplies for Making Macarons
Each oven and home variables vary. I can’t guarantee that these supplies will turn out perfect macs for you. I have used dark baking sheets and aluminum baking sheets and had success in different ovens. With my current oven, a light-colored aluminum baking sheet is essential for turning out macarons.
In my old house and old 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 oven, I have to use aluminum pans with silicon macaron mats (affiliate links).
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.
The Perfect Meringue Base
A good meringue is key for a good macaron. French macarons generally call for aged or at least room temperature egg whites—I can use eggs directly from the fridge without a stabilizer because of the way I mix up my meringue.
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.
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 as 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 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. 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.
Do I Really Need to Weigh the Ingredients for Macarons?
YES. If there was ever a case for all-caps, this is it. 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. Yes, this 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.
Quick Tips for Prepping Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling
Cream together the room temperature cream cheese and butter, then add in 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 minutes.
Beat the buttercream together for about a minute to ensure the powdered sugar is filly combined. The buttercream will be really thick, but that’s intentional.
These pumpkin spice macarons use real pumpkin in the filling for a true pumpkin flavor. Pumpkin has a high water content, which needs to be absorbed or countered. That’s where the thick buttercream comes in.
Add in the pumpkin puree and mix together until fully combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure everything is mixed well. Then, add in the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla bean paste or extract and beat for another two minutes for a light and fluffy filling.
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag with a tip of your choice, and you’re ready to fill your pumpkin macarons!
How to Fill Pumpkin Spice Macarons
Pair similarly sized macarons together and line them up with one side face up and one side face down.
Use a piping bag filled with your pumpkin buttercream for easy filling. I used Ateco’s 808 tip to fill these.
On a macaron shell with the flat bottom facing up, pipe a dollop of pumpkin spice filling in the center, about 2/3 the size of the macaron shell. Repeat with the rest of the macarons. Place the other macaron shell on top and twist while pressing lightly to form a nice seal.
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.
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 pumpkin spice 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. You can easily cut down on the dishes by combining a few ingredients into the same bowl. As long as the ingredients are added to the recipe at the same time, there’s no need to wash three little bowls when one would do.
Pumpkin Spice Macarons Recipe
Pumpkin Spice Macarons
Full of warm spices and pumpkin, these chewy French macarons have a spiced pumpkin cream cheese filling that tastes like fall in a macaron!
For the Macaron Shells
- 120g egg whites, from four large eggs
- 50g granulated sugar
- 120g almond flour
- 210g powdered sugar
- 4 drops orange gel food coloring (optional)
For the Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Filling
- 4 Tablespoons cream cheese (56 g), at room temperature
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (56 g), at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar (300 g)
- 2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (30 g)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (3 g)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Making the Macarons
- 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.
- Process powdered sugar and almond flour together in a food processor or blender for a superfine consistency. This is necessary for perfectly smooth shells. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and 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 sugar about a teaspoon at a time. Once all the sugar is incorporated, increase speed to 6 (medium) and whisk until stiff peaks form. Add in gel food coloring if desired. Whisk on high 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 about 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" 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. The macarons are ready to go in the oven when the tops are no longer reflective and you can lightly touch the top of a macaron without it leaving residue on your finger.
Baking the Macarons
- Once the macarons are dry, bake one tray at a time in the center rack for 15-17 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 center 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 Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling
- Cream together the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Add in the powdered sugar half a cup at a time, pulsing after each addition to prevent powdered sugar clouds. Whip for one minute to fully combine. The buttercream will be very thick; that's intentional.
- Add in the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and whip for three minutes for a fluffy buttercream.
- Transfer into a piping bag prepared with the piping tip of your choice. I used Ateco 808.
Assembling the Macarons
- Pair similarly sized macarons together and line them up with one side face up and one side face down.
- On a macaron shell with the flat bottom facing up, pipe a dollop of pumpkin spice filling in the center, about 2/3 the size of the macaron shell. Repeat with the rest of the macarons. Place the other macaron shell on top and twist while pressing lightly to form a nice seal.
- If the filling starts to get runny while piping, chill the piping bag with the filling in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. The warmth of your hand can heat up the buttercream as you pipe, which can make it a little runny.*
- 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.
*If you store the filling in the fridge until it's hard (over 30 minutes), the filling will be full of air pockets and difficult to pipe. Let the buttercream soften for a few minutes at room temperature before beating in a mixer for 30 seconds to reincorporate air for a fluffy buttercream.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 134Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 23mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 2g
The nutrition facts are estimated and may vary based on specific ingredients used.
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Other Recipes You May Enjoy
Mini caramel apple pies are another great fall finger food to bring to gatherings and get-togethers. Each pie is a single serving, which makes them easy to serve and even easier to eat!
Made with warm spices (just not the pumpkin kind), my caramel chai muffins are always a hit. They’re flavored with salted caramel, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger for all the fall spice goodness.
If macarons are your jam, I have all of my macaron recipes available in one convenient location on my blog.