Dessert/ easy/ Featured/ few ingredients/ Fruit Desserts/ no mixer/ No-Bake Desserts/ quick/ Trifle & Glass Desserts

Panna Cotta

January 19, 2018

This is a classic recipe for easy, rich and creamy Italian panna cotta. I make this every time I need an impressive, quick dessert!

Best classic panna cotta recipe! It's super easy!

Here’s a fact you may not know about me. When I quit my job in the cooperate world, I went on a journey to find myself (whatever that means) and started selling mini baked goods for events. It wasn’t quite as glamorous as I had anticipated, but it paid the bills. Well, barely. With a tiny kitchen and fridge, mini desserts were all I could offer. While that seems so long ago now, there are a few things I remember vividly. One of them is how people went crazy over the mini panna cotta served in shot glasses and topped with berries, and since it was the easiest thing on my menu, I couldn’t have been happier.

Perfect traditional panna cotta, super quick and easy to make!


What is panna cotta?

Panna cotta means ‘cooked cream’ in Italian. It includes very few ingredients, and is basically a simple mixture of cream, sugar, and vanilla. Gelatin is added to set the mixture and create a custard-like consistency. The final product is rich and silky smooth. This is best classic panna cotta recipe I know! I’ve made it dozens of times. Despite the heavy cream, this dessert is perfect as a light not-too-sweet dessert after a heavy meal. If you wish to make an even lighter panna cotta, you can replace some of the heavy cream with a lighter cream or milk. I tried it that way a few times and it was still very much delicious.

Perfect Panna Cotta |

The Ultimate Easy Panna Cotta

What is gelatin and what is it doing in my panna cotta?

I’m here to save you guys. There’s no need to fear the word “gelatin”. Just because it might be unfamiliar doesn’t mean it’s complicated – and it really isn’t.

Gelatin is made of tiny granules that have no color or flavor, and is used as a thickening agent. Depending on your area, gelatin may be sold in boxes that contain 2 or more envelopes. One envelope usually contains 1/4 – 1/2 oz. (7-14g) of gelatin.

To use gelatin, we first sprinkle it over cold water (or another liquid) and let it sit for a few minutes to soften. In the meantime, we prepare our cream mixture by heating cream, sugar, and vanilla together in a saucepan until hot and the sugar is dissolved. Once hot, we add the softened gelatin and immediately whisk until smooth. Adding the gelatin to a hot mixture is what activates it. Make sure the mixture is completely smooth and that there are no little crystals remaining. If there are, bring the saucepan back to the stove and heat very gently without letting the mixture boil (this is very important!) until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

The gelatin can’t be omitted from the recipe, because without it the panna cotta won’t set. Panna cotta takes a minimum of 4 hours to set, but that depends on the size of your cups. If you use mini individual cups, it would set rather quickly.

Perfect Panna Cotta |

Can you freeze panna cotta?

Yes, you can! It keeps well in the freezer. Leave it overnight in the fridge to thaw throughly before using.

Dress up your panna cotta!

You can top the panna cotta with berry sauce , caramel sauce, lemon curddark chocolate ganache, or white chocolate ganacheFor a simple strawberry panna cotta, place strawberries with some powdered sugar in the food processor and process until smooth, then top your panna cotta (after it has set in the fridge) with the strawberry sauce and small pieces of fresh strawberries. This is my favorite version of panna cotta!

Only 5 ingredients in this super easy panna cotta recipe

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4.89 from 9 votes
Perfect Panna Cotta |
Panna Cotta
YIELD: 4 servings

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water or milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 g/0.25 oz.) unflavored powdered gelatin*
  • 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 g/1.8 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the surface in a single layer. Be sure not to pile it as that will prevent the crystals from dissolving properly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to soften.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat cream, sugar, vanilla pod, and vanilla seeds on medium heat and bring just to a boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Stir in gelatin and immediately whisk until smooth and dissolved. If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat gently over low heat. Stir constantly and don’t let the mixture boil.
  3. Pour cream into 4 individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours, or until completely set.
  4. If you like, top with fresh fruit, berries, berry sauce, or lemon curd.
  5. Panna cotta can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Recipe Notes

* If using sheet gelatin, use the same weight (7g). Add the sheets to a bowl filled with 2 cups water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then remove the sheets and stir them into the hot panna cotta as directed in the recipe (you don’t need to add it along with the water, such as in powdered gelatin - add the sheets only).

The best classic panna cotta recipe. It’s quick and easy!
How to make the best classic panna cotta recipe. A perfect light dessert after a heavy meal that's easy to make!

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  • Reply
    Brittaney @ Sips and Snacks
    February 19, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    These are beautiful! I haven’t made Panna Cotta since culinary school, but I think I should soon!

    • Reply
      February 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      I think you should too 🙂 Thank you!

  • Reply
    [email protected] eco friendly homemaking
    February 20, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Oh this looks so delicious! I love berries so this is just right up my ally.

    • Reply
      February 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you Alicia!

  • Reply
    Connie the chocoholic
    February 21, 2015 at 1:15 am

    i started catering for events too just last summer. While you can earn quite a bit if the event is big one, the profit margin is so small. People are always trying to haggle on prices when really they should understand how much ingredients and time cost!

    lovely panna cotta btw, and i learned something new bout gelatin!

    • Reply
      February 22, 2015 at 4:26 am

      I know exactly what you’re saying Connie! I’m a perfectionist so it was very hard for me. I wanted every single cupcake to look just right and it didn’t pay off eventually, since it took so much time. That’s how customers are though, and it’s something you just have to be patient with 🙂 I used to be the same, always trying to get the best price, but now that I understand what it’s like to have your own small business, I almost never do that. Having my business was still fun though, and so many of my customers were nice and easy to work with! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 22, 2015 at 3:49 am

    אחת המנות הכי אלגנטיות שיש
    פשוט נראה נפלאאאאאאאאאאא

    • Reply
      February 22, 2015 at 4:16 am

      Thank you so much Winnie! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 22, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Great recipe!!I prepared it yesterday and ate it just a few minutes ago…AMAZINGLY GOOD! Thank you!!

    • Reply
      February 22, 2015 at 7:18 am

      Thank you so much Carolina! 🙂

      • Reply
        February 25, 2015 at 7:43 am

        it looks so beautiful&delicious!!Thanks for sharing the recipe!You inspired me,thank you!

        • Reply
          February 25, 2015 at 8:46 am

          Thank you so much Sophie! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 25, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Thanks, wonderful recipe, my pennacotta didn’t set,I used China grass but I didn’t cover with plastic wrap. It was in liquid state what’s the reason, can you tell please

    • Reply
      March 27, 2016 at 4:47 am

      Hi Indu, did you use China grass before or know how to use it (for example that it needs to be dissolved in water and then later brought to a boil)?. Do you know how to substitute it with gelatin? Did you give it enough time to set in the fridge? I don’t have much experience with this product but it should give same result as gelatin.

      • Reply
        March 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

        Hi Shiran,
        Thanks for your reply, I searched online but no adequate info for how to use china grass in pannacotta, I never knew the info you shared, I used 2 tsps of china grass for 250 ml of cream and same amount of milk, I let it set for more than 12 hours, I get veg gelatin in nearby sainsburys so I can use it instead but can you teach how to use china grass ( for anything) .

        • Reply
          March 28, 2016 at 4:34 am

          Hi Indu 🙂 An online search (China grass is also called agar agar) would give you a lot of information on how to use it (in general, not necessarily in panna cotta). It seems like it needs to be dissolved in water and then brought to a boil. Since I haven’t tried this product myself, I can’t tell you exactly how to use it, but it should be quite simple!

  • Reply
    January 5, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    This recipe is amazing! I made it for a large crowd and it was a hit. Thank you!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2018 at 11:21 am

    I just made this to my mom’s birthday and everyone L-O-V-E-D it! I added strawberries on top to add a pop of color, I recommend you all do the same.
    I’m not a great cook but this was really simple and delicious.
    Thank you Shiran for yet another easy recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 6:20 am

    I made these for a dinner party, and they were a huge hit! Super impressive-looking despite being so easy to make!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 1:34 am

    It looks delicious. I was looking for an original and easy dessert to bring to a baby shower and I think I found it. I loved the addition of berries on top.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2018 at 10:21 am

    This recipe sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it ! Just one question- can I pour the mixture into 8oz ramekins so once it’s done refrigerating I can take them out of the ramekins so they will stand on their own?

    • Reply
      February 25, 2018 at 6:25 am

      Hi Lily, yes, you can! If you’re having trouble removing it from the ramekins, try to use this method.

  • Reply
    Hayley Barry
    March 30, 2018 at 3:38 am

    Hiya, I’m making this recipe today, do I add the milk that I dissolved my gelatin in to the recipe too or do I try to extract the gelatin from the top of the milk to add in? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      March 31, 2018 at 3:14 am

      Hey Hayley, you need to add all the gelatin mixture – milk and gelatin. You don’t need to separate them.

  • Reply
    Heather M
    April 18, 2018 at 3:30 am

    Hi Shiran,

    This may be a silly question – but if I am making this mixture for 12 people would it be safe just to multiply all ingredient measures by 3 or does gelatin not work like this?
    Also I love a rosemary and thyme panna cotta could I just infuse along with the vanilla for the same length of time?
    Thanks! Your recipe looks awesome and gives me some courage to try panna cotta again!


    • Reply
      April 18, 2018 at 5:22 am

      Hi Heather! Yes, you can multiply the amount of ingredients, it will work fine. Before removing from heat, you can leave the ingredients to soak for several minutes, or let the mixture simmer for five minutes on low-medium heat, to get a stronger flavor, then strain the mixture. Good luck!

  • Reply
    April 25, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Hi I’ve tried a few different receipes , what cream would you recommend ? I’m in Sydney would Bulla double cream work ?

    • Reply
      April 29, 2018 at 8:46 am

      Hi Odette, I’m not familiar with this brand, but you need to use heavy/whipping cream – one that is good to make whipped cream. It should be liquid.

    • Reply
      May 17, 2018 at 6:19 am

      Odette I’m in australia too and yes bulla double cream is what I use

  • Reply
    June 11, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Hey, your recipes and blog is amazing.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2018 at 6:37 am

    My daughter tried your panna cotta receipe and I had my doubts if she will make it properly.. it was out if this world!! She made it quickly and easily. We couldn’t have enought of it😊 thank you very much for sharing your amazing receipe with us!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2018 at 3:24 am

    very cool panna cotta is always a easy winner

  • Reply
    June 21, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Hi! I’m interested in doing this for about 20 people. How many servings is the recipe? And should I double it for more or will that screw up the recipe? thank you so much!! Looks wonderful!

    • Reply
      June 24, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Hi Jessica, it depends on the size of the serving. I usually make this for 4 people (about 1/2 cup per serving), but you can make smaller servings. You can double, triple, or make more of the recipe, it would work just fine.

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