Vanilla Panna Cotta

Italian panna cotta

Have you ever had Panna cotta, or cooked cream? It is a regional dessert from the north of Italy, notably the southern Piedmont region.

This recipe comes from the pastry course I took some years ago. The ingredients are simple, but the final product is a silky smooth, creamy dessert that is easy to make.

What is panna cotta made from?

It is made of heavy cream, whole milk (or half and half), sugar, vanilla, and gelatin. Some recipes call for flour as a thickening agent, but I never use it. You may flavor it with different sauces. It is a soft dessert to top off an important lunch or dinner. 

What does panna cotta taste like?

It tastes slightly like a creamy vanilla pudding, which will remind you of home and your grandma’s desserts. There are many ways you can change this dessert. If you have a sweet tooth, top it with caramel sauce. If you like chocolate, top it with a dark chocolate sauce along with a few chocolate chips. Or try it with a tempting berry and lemon sauce, the perfect balance between sweet and sour. If you are rushed, simply serve it with fresh cut-up fruit, and you will fall in love with this easy-to-make dessert.

What you need for a perfect panna cotta

You can use an electric stand mixer (a KitchenAid with a wire whip), a handheld electric mixer, or a food processor.  

Carefully follow these instructions for the cream:  

  • Cold temperature: take the cream out of the fridge right before whipping. It’s best to refrigerate your bowl and your beater(s) before whipping the cream. Whip the cream quickly in order to incorporate as much air as possible. If using a handheld mixer, use a round bottomed mixing bowl with high sides as the cream will double its volume when whipped.
  • Use heavy cream (36-40% fat), which will whip very quickly in about 1-2 minutes. If you only have half-and-half available (half cream & half milk with 10-18% fat), you can add melted butter to it before whipping (2/3 cup half and half to 1 tablespoon butter). 

Do you cook the panna cotta?

Panna cotta doesn’t need cooking (except for the half and half/sugar mixture). When the panna cotta is refrigerated, it will set in 4 to 6 hours. To store it, cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Italian panna cotta

How long does panna cotta last in the fridge?

Panna cotta doesn’t need cooking (except for the milk); it is refrigerated to set for 4 to 6 hours: cream and gelatine need time to get jelly and well combined.

Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and store panna cotta in fridge for 2-3 days.

Easy vanilla panna cotta recipe

Easy vanilla panna cotta recipe

Panna cotta? Yes, you have read welly! This dessert is very high in sweetness. It comes from the recipe book I got when I attended  a pastry course some years ago- this is one of the recipe my skilled teacher taught us. The ingredients are simple, but the method does make the difference. 
This is the basic recipe you may personalize according to your own tastes. Set your imagination free! 
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword italian panna cotta, panna cotta, vanilla panna cotta
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 people (ramekins)


  • cups of heavy cream (350g)
  • ½ cup of half and half (150g)
  • ¼ cup of sugar (50g)
  • tsp of vanilla extract (6g)
  • 1 package of unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon) 
  • 2 tbsp of water to dissolve the gelatin


  • In a very small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over water and let stand for 1 minute to soften. Heat the gelatin mixture over low heat until the gelatin dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Simmer the cream, the half and half, the sugar, and the vanilla extract. Make sure to stir and add in the gelatin.
  • Pour the mixture into single-serve (1/2 cup) ramekins, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely set (about 4 hours). 
  • You may top the panna cotta with fresh berries, fresh fruit, fruit purées, chocolate or caramel sauces, or homemade jam. I love it with chocolate sauce, some strawberries with a little sugar, and a fresh mint leaf. Simply scrumptious!

Are you worried about the calorie intake? Make panna cotta lighter.

Use these ingredients:

  • 250g of double cream
  • 250g of white yoghurt
  • 50g of sugar
  • 6g of gelatin sheets

In this way, you will cut down on calorie intake. You may garnish your panna cotta with very thin orange rinds, or fresh strawberries to your taste.

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8 thoughts on “Vanilla Panna Cotta

  1. I made the panacotta recipe only. It worked really well. As I was short on time I chilled the panacotta in the dishes over ice before putting in the fridge. That sped up the process and didn t harm the desert one bit. I d recommend this recipe.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback dear! I am really glad you like the process (good idea to put the pannacotta over ice to sped up the process 👍🏼) and the result! 😊

  2. Hello. This post was extremely interesting, particularly
    because I was looking for thoughts on this topic last Thursday.

    King regards,
    Balle Griffin

  3. Place the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds and sugar into a pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.

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