pohto of panna cotta and berries

Imagine a smooth, creamy, and delicate dessert that melts in your mouth. It has a subtle vanilla flavor and is topped with your favorite fruits or sauces. This is traditional panna cotta, a classic Italian dessert that is perfect for any occasion.

It’s made with cream, sugar, and gelatin. It’s smooth, creamy, and has a subtle vanilla flavor. It’s easy to make and can be customized with different flavors and toppings.

The word “panna cotta” literally means “cooked cream” in Italian. It is traditionally made with heavy cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and gelatin. The cream and sugar are heated until the sugar dissolves, then the gelatin is added and stirred until it dissolves. The mixture is then poured into ramekins or molds and chilled until set.

It can be served plain or topped with fruit, chocolate, or nuts. It is a popular dessert for special occasions, but it is also easy enough to make for a weeknight treat.

photo of panna cotta decorated with fruit

Traditional Panna Cotta Recipe

Panna cotta is a delicious and easy-to-make dessert that is perfect for any occasion.
It is also a relatively easy dessert to make, even for beginners.
It is also a great way to use up leftover cream. So next time you have some extra cream, why not try making panna cotta?
This recipe yields 6 servings and takes approximately 20 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to cook, and 3 hours to chill. It's a versatile dessert that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with fruit compote, preserves, or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
This recipe is one of the simplest, easiest versions of this traditional Italian treat.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 200 kcal


  • 6 ramekins or molds
  • A saucepan
  • A whisk
  • A measuring cup
  • A spoon
  • A refrigerator 🙂


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water


  • In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the gelatin softens.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin until it dissolves completely.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins or molds.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until set.


Nutritional Facts per Serving:
Calories: 200
Fat: 12 grams
Saturated Fat: 6 grams
Cholesterol: 30 milligrams
Sodium: 45 milligrams
Carbohydrates: 18 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugar: 15 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Keyword dessert, gelatin, panna cotta

The result of this recipe is a creamy, smooth, and delicate dessert that showcases the beauty of simplicity. The fact that it is set with gelatin, giving it a gentle jiggle when served.
The flavors of vanilla and cream are elevated by the addition of a hint of lemon zest, creating a well-balanced taste experience.
With its luxurious texture and understated elegance, this recipe is sure to captivate your taste buds and impress your guests. Whether you’re celebrating a milestone or simply indulging in a quiet evening at home, this timeless dessert is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Few desserts can be so simple and easy to make, and yet leave a lasting impression!

Some Occasions Where This Recipe Would Be Great:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Holiday parties
  • Intimate dinner parties
  • Family gatherings

Recommended Pairing Drink:

I would recommend pairing panna cotta with a light dessert wine, such as a Moscato d’Asti – A glass of this sweet and bubbly wine complements the creamy texture and delicate flavors of the sweet, creating a delightful balance of sweetness and acidity.

Useful Tips:

  • To avoid the panna cotta from turning out too firm or rubbery, make sure to use high-quality gelatin sheets and follow the proper blooming technique.
  • For added convenience, you can prepare the panna cotta mixture ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • Experiment with different flavor combinations such as adding a splash of liqueur like limoncello or rum, or incorporating other citrus zests like orange or lime.
  • If you don’t have ramekins or molds, you can also use glasses or bowls.
  • To make sure the panna cotta sets properly, make sure the cream and sugar mixture is hot enough, but not boiling.
  • This recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
phto of passion-fruit panna cotta


What is Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta is a traditional Italian dessert that originated in the Piedmont region of Italy, which is known for its rich dairy products. It is believed to have been created in the early 1900s and was originally made with cream, sugar, and egg whites. Over time, the recipe evolved to include gelatin as a thickening agent, which gave the dessert its signature texture.

The name “Panna Cotta” means “cooked cream” in Italian, which is a perfect description of this dessert (this is because the cream is heated until it thickens.). It is a simple yet elegant dessert made by simmering cream, sugar, and vanilla together and then adding gelatin to set the mixture.
The dessert is usually served chilled and can be topped with fresh fruit, caramel sauce, or chocolate sauce. It’s a versatile dessert that can be made in advance and is perfect for entertaining guests.

pohto of typical Italian village

What is panna cotta made of?

Panna cotta is an Italian dessert made from sweetened cream that’s set with gelatin. It’s a creamy, smooth, and delicate dessert that’s often flavored with vanilla or other fruits like strawberry or passionfruit.

Is panna cotta a custard or pudding?

Panna cotta isn’t really a custard or a pudding. Custards are usually made with eggs, sugar, and milk, and they’re cooked on the stovetop or in the oven until they’re thick and creamy. Puddings are similar, but they’re often thicker and more dense than custards. Panna cotta, on the other hand, is made with cream and gelatin, and it’s chilled until it sets. I guess between the two, you can say it’s more similar to a custard.

How is panna cotta different from custard?

Panna cotta differs from custard in a few ways. As we mentioned earlier, custards are usually made with eggs, whereas panna cotta is made with gelatin. They also have slightly different textures – custards tend to be firmer and more jelly-like, while panna cotta is softer and more spoonable. Oh, and did I mention that panna cotta is way easier to make than custard? Panna cotta is also typically served chilled, while custard can be served warm or cold.

Can I substitute heavy cream with half-and-half or light cream?

While you can use half-and-half or light cream, it will affect the richness and creaminess of the panna cotta. Heavy cream produces the best outcome.

How far in advance can I prepare the panna cotta?

You can prepare the panna cotta mixture up to 2 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. However, it’s essential to chill it for at least 3 hours before serving.

Can I use different flavors of gelatin?

Yes, you can use different flavors of gelatin. Some popular flavors include strawberry, raspberry, and chocolate.

Can I use powdered gelatin instead of sheet gelatin?

Sorry, no, unless you want to give up on it’s due (relative) firmness: powdered gelatin will not yield the same results as sheet gelatin. Sheet gelatin provides better texture and consistency in the final product.

How do I unmold panna cotta?

To unmold panna cotta, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin or mold. Dip the ramekin or mold in hot water for a few seconds, then invert it onto a serving plate. The panna cotta should slide out easily.

How long does Panna Cotta last?

Panna Cotta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It is best to keep the dessert covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing any odors from the refrigerator. If you want to make Panna Cotta in advance, you can prepare the dessert up to 2 days ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

Can Panna Cotta be frozen?

Panna Cotta is not recommended to be frozen as it can change the texture of the dessert. Freezing Panna Cotta can cause it to become grainy and lose its smooth and creamy texture. It is best to store Panna Cotta in the refrigerator and consume it within 3 days of making it.

Is Panna Cotta gluten-free?

Yes, Panna Cotta is gluten-free as it does not contain any wheat, barley, or rye. However, it is important to check the ingredients of any toppings or sauces that you use to ensure that they are also gluten-free.

Can Panna Cotta be made without gelatin?

Yes, Panna Cotta can be made without gelatin, by using agar-agar, a vegetarian alternative to gelatin. Agar-agar is a seaweed-based product that is used to thicken and set the dessert. Simply substitute the gelatin in the recipe with agar-agar and follow the same instructions for making Panna Cotta. Again, you’ll be sacrificing its expected firmness, as the texture will not be as firm as expected for this recipe.

What are some variations of Panna Cotta?

This is a versatile dessert that can be customized to suit your taste. Some popular variations include Chocolate Panna Cotta,
Coffee Panna Cotta, and
Fruit-flavored Panna Cotta.
You can also experiment with different toppings such as fresh fruit, caramel sauce, or chocolate sauce to create your own unique version of this classic Italian dessert.

Why is panna cotta so good?

So, why is panna cotta so good? Well, for one thing, it’s incredibly creamy and smooth. When it’s done right, it should have a silky texture that melts in your mouth. Plus, it’s super versatile – you can flavor it with pretty much anything you like, from vanilla to fruit to chocolate. And because it’s not cooked, it’s really easy to make. Just mix together your ingredients, pour them into molds, and chill until set. Easy peasy!

What is the best way to serve Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta is best served chilled and can be served in ramekins or molds. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the mold to loosen it, and then invert it onto a plate. You can also serve it in glasses or bowls and top it with your favorite toppings such as fresh fruit, caramel sauce, or chocolate sauce. It’s is a perfect dessert for entertaining guests as it can be made in advance and is sure to impress your guests with its elegant presentation and delicious taste.

What is the texture of Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta has a smooth and creamy texture that is similar to custard or flan. The dessert is firm yet delicate and melts in your mouth.
The texture can be adjusted by changing the amount of gelatin used in the recipe. Using more gelatin will result in a firmer texture, while using less gelatin will result in a softer texture.

Is panna cotta good or bad for you?

As for whether panna cotta is good or bad for you, that depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, it’s made with cream and sugar, so it’s definitely not a low-calorie option. But on the other hand, it doesn’t contain any gluten or nuts (unless you add them), so it’s a good choice if you have dietary restrictions. Moderation is key, as always!

Does panna cotta contain raw egg?

Traditional panna cotta does not contain raw egg. However, some recipes may call for raw egg yolks.

Is panna cotta made from cow’s milk?

Yes, it is indeed made from cow’s milk, since it’s essentially just sweetened cream set with gelatin. But, again, if you have dairy allergies or intolerances, you could try using non-dairy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, or coconut cream. Just keep in mind that the flavor and texture won’t be exactly the same.

Does panna cotta contain cream?

Yes, it does. The cream is what gives it its smooth and creamy texture.

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