How to Make Panna Cotta

Ah Panna Cotta! pan-nah- ko-ta is just one of those classic desserts that makes you want to roll your eyes with joy when you see it, let alone taste it *licking fingers & making silly noises*. Come in a little closer …  *whispering* it couldn’t be easier to make!

I know right! It’s amazingly simple & I’m going to show you how & just in time for VALENTINE’S DAY! Your sweetie is going to lurve you! And if you don’t have a sweetie, even bettah more for you!

Panna Cotta simply means baked cream in Italian. And that’s pretty much what it is! You can easily double this recipe if you’re entertaining or if you’re just like me and like BIGGER portions ; ) You can even make this way ahead of time so you’re not stressing about dessert. If you make it the night before just be sure to cover it with a plastic wrap so it doesn’t develop a skin.

If you don’t have a vanilla bean on hand you can use 1tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract in it’s place. Just add it AFTER you have cooked the cream/sugar & have taken it OFF the heat.

I like to top mine with macerated Strawberries (Gran Marnier and strawberries ~ oh me oh my) but any fresh berries would be fabulous OR even a drizzle of just plain honey is fantabulous!


How to Make Panna Cotta


  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • .25 ounce {1 packet} Knox gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons cold water


  1. Into medium size bowl add cold water and sprinkle gelatin package on top of water. Set aside.
  2. Place cream, sugar into a sauce pan over medium heat.
  3. With a pairing knife, slice down the middle of vanilla bean and scrape the seeds “caviar”. Place them into the cram mixture. Stirring often with a wooden spoon. Cook until it nears boiling. Remove from heat, remove vanilla bean (discard or save for other uses).
  4. WHILE the cream is cooking prepare your custard cups by spraying them lightly with cooking spray. When cream mixture is complete. Pour gelatin into cream mixture and whisk together to combine.
  5. Equally divide mixture into your prepared custard cups. Place in refrigerator to set up for a minimum of 2 hours or until firm.
  6. To plate, run a blunt knife around the edges of the cups and the panna cotta should release easily. Garnish with fresh fruits or topping of choice.




  1. 1

    OH YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY! Come to mama little panna cotta! LOVE that first picture. I’m totally drooling all over myself over here…it’s a little embarassing…

  2. 2
    Mylynka /


  3. 3

    This is a perfect choice for Valentine’s Day – your version looks beautiful.

  4. 4

    OMG! I absolutely LOVE this dessert and order it every time I go to my favorite Italian restaurant! Thanks for sharing this recipe with me! Can’t wait to make it!! 😉

  5. 5

    Mmm… yum! I’ve never had this- thanks for the recipe!

  6. 6

    I swear I can taste this icy treat right now! Love the first photo of the strawberry topping-exquisite!

  7. 7

    I made it last weekend and ate all 4 cups by myself 🙂

  8. 8

    This is delicious. You’re my hero! I would love to make some of this as soon as humanly possible. Great recipe, mama!

  9. 9

    Aw shucks…I sure wish you’d posted this two weeks ago. I looked everywhere for a reliable panna cotta recipe. To use yogurt or not to use yogurt??? I found LOTS of opinions, but none from “trusted” sources (such as yourself). I ended up making Ina Garten’s, which does use yogurt…I usually am pretty happy with her recipes, but this one was a bust. Not enough gelatin, so it barely set up at all, needed to be just a bit sweeter, not very creamy…basically tasted like whole milk yougurt with some balsamic strawberries. I was so disappointed. I will give yours a try next time! Thanks for posting.

  10. 10

    Beautiful! I love panna cotta because it always looks pretty and fancy but it is so easy to make, not to mention how incredibly delicious it is!

  11. 11

    My favourite dessert ever! Tanks, this is going stray in my recipe bookmarks.

  12. 12

    Wonderful recipe! I served mine with fresh fruits (strawberries, blueberries and blackberries) drizzled with a homemade chocolate sauce.

  13. 13

    This is a GREAT Panna Cotta recipe, and I have changed it up a bit…I love figs and quick saute little mission figs with a balsamic reduction, chill it, and do a light drizzle over the Panna Cotta…sexy stuff.

  14. 14
    Jersey Chef /


    I would like to try this recipe as panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts.

    However, I was perplexed by the minuscule amount of water (3 tbsp.) relative to the gelatin (1 oz.), is this correct?


    • 14.1

      Hi Jersey Chef! Yes that’s correct, just 3 tbsp of water : ) Have a super weekend & Buon Appetito!

  15. 15
    Kristina /

    Jersey Chef,
    Your perplexion is justified. I made this recipe with a full 1 oz of gelatin and was humiliated when they turned out as jello! My friends joked that it made a wonderful vanilla/mozzarella cheese. I even caught this error and threw out some of the hardened gelatin b/c it didn’t look right, but still turned out way too tough. Paula, please update your recipe to read 1 packet OR 1/4 ounce of gelatin. (They looked beautiful though.)


  16. 16

    Ok Paula, I’ve been meaning to come back and comment now that I’ve actually made this, and I’m FINALLY remembering to do so! This is absolutely fabulous. I’ve made it at least 4 times since you posted the recipe. I liked it so much I wrote about it ( Jersey Chef, I had no problems with the amount of water in relation to the gelatin. It softened the gelatin perfectly.

  17. 17
    Donna Jo Smith /

    This was wonderful! We made it tonight. We placed fresh blueberries and raspberries on it with toasted chopped almonds, and drizzled a little honey on top. Everyone loved it! Thanks!

  18. 18
    Carol Pirie /

    Paula, this sounds great and I will try it — anything recommended by Thursday Night Smackdown is a sure winner.
    May I offer one correction, though: it’s listed as a vegetarian dish, but the gelatin makes it otherwise…


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