Vanilla Panna cotta is a traditional Italian dessert that has gained popularity worldwide for its rich, silky smooth, and creamy texture. It’s a simple dessert made with only five ingredients, but its decadent flavor and silky texture make it a crowd-pleaser.
My panna cotta recipe is not only a creamy and delicious dessert, but it’s also easy to make ahead of time. You can prepare this classic Italian dessert a day or two in advance and keep it refrigerated until it’s ready to serve. This makes it a great dessert for dinner parties or other special occasions.
Panna cotta is a versatile dessert that you can customize to your liking. Try adding coffee, tea, chocolate, or spices to make flavor variations your friends and family will enjoy. White chocolate panna cotta and lemon panna cotta are two of my favorites.
My creamy panna cotta is best served with fresh fruit, raspberry sauce, caramel sauce, or chocolate sauce.
If you love creamy desserts, check out my creme brulee recipe.
Table of Contents:
Ingredients to make panna cotta
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Panna Cotta. In Chef Speak, this is called the “Mise en Place,” which translates to “Everything in its Place.”
Not only does setting up your ingredients ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
Made with basic ingredients
- heavy cream
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract or split vanilla beans
- unflavored gelatin
Can I substitute ingredients?
- use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar to make this dessert.
- whole milk, half and half, creme fraiche, coconut milk, almond milk, or any of your favorite milk substitutes can be used instead of heavy cream.
- agar-agar powder or cornstarch can be used instead of gelatin.
How to make Panna Cotta
- Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin powder (or gelatin sheets) over the surface of the water in a single layer. The softened gelatin will dissolve and be ready to use in 5-10 minutes.
- Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract to a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a light boil to allow the sugar to dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Stir in the gelatin mixture and immediately begin to whisk until the gelatin mixture is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. *If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat gently over low heat. Stirring constantly, not allowing the mixture to boil.
- Pour the hot cream mixture into four serving dishes to make individual portions of this custard-like dessert.
- For perfect results, refrigerate the dessert for at least 3 -4 hours to give the hot panna cotta time to cool and set up. Unmold the desserts after they have completely cooled.
*Using wine glasses is an elegant way to serve this classic dessert.
Serve with fresh berries and garnish with mint leaves for a simple yet elegant presentation.
You’re going to love the silky texture of this custard-like dessert, and I guarantee my panna cotta recipe will become a family favorite and a dessert you’ll be making time and time again.
Panna cotta is a traditional Italian dessert that translates to ‘cooked cream.’ This delicious dessert originated in the Piedmont region of Italy. It’s a simple dessert consisting of a mixture of sweetened cream and gelatine.
This dessert has a silky, creamy texture and a sweet milky taste with hints of vanilla.
Yes, you can. While heavy cream is the traditional choice for this dessert, but you can use other milk types, like coconut or almond milk. However, keep in mind that the texture and flavor may be slightly different, and it won’t be as rich as it would be using heavy cream.
I love panna cotta but always been scared to make it myself. It was easy to make and so delicious!
I love that you can make this panna cotta ahead! It made it so much easier for me to make it for our party this weekend along with everything else. Everyone loved it!
This truly was the most beautiful and silky panna cotta I could imagine – such a delicious classic dessert! I will be making this again for the finale to my next dinner party – I know everyone will be crazy impressed!
Enriqueta E Lemoine
Hi Chef, I love panna cotta, and yours is really delicious and silky. Thanks for the recipe.
This Panna Cotta recipe was amazing! I loved the smooth and creamy texture and everyone in my family raved about it.
This turned out delicious and I made it with honey instead of sugar. It was simple and I would definitely make it again.
This was so easy and very good. Can this be frozen? I am afraid we won’t be able to enjoy it all in just 3 days!
Chef Dennis Littley
Yes it can be frozen.Just make sure to cover it well or place it in an airtight container.
This panna cotta is so easy to make all of our dinner guests were super impressed. Thanks for a great recipe.
I absolutely love panna cotta. I made this for dessert for my friends the other day and they loved it as well.
Easy and elegant. Presentation perfect. It was a great way to impress my guests at our last dinner party.