This easy Panna Cotta recipe has a velvety smooth and creamy custard consistency and only requires a few simple ingredients. It’s a great dessert to make in advance, and only takes 15 minutes to prep.

If you love custard and pudding recipes, try our Tapioca Pudding, Banana Pudding, or Arroz con Leche!

The best Panna Cotta recipe topped with a homemade berry sauce and fresh berries, ready to enjoy.

Why I love this dessert:

  • Make Ahead – Panna Cotta is my go-to dessert when I’m entertaining and want something simple, but elegant and something I can make ahead of time, so it’s ready to serve.
  • 5 Ingredients: all you need is whipping cream, unflavored gelatin, sugar, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), and vanilla. Simple and delicious.
  • Customize Toppings: this easy panna cotta can be served with a variety of toppings or in-season fruit, and enjoyed all year.

What is it?

Panna cotta is an Italian dessert that means ‘cooked cream’ in Italian. It has a smooth, custard like consistency that is lightly sweet and delicious.

How to make Panna Cotta:

Dissolve Gelatin: ½ cup of cream to a bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Cream and gelatin being combined in a glass mixing bowl.

Heat: Pour remaining 1 ½ cups cream and ½ cup of sugar into a 2-quart saucepan and cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat.

A mixture of cream and sugar being heated to boiling to make Italian Panna Cotta.

Whisk softened gelatin into mixture. Stir in yogurt and vanilla.

Two images showing a gelatin mixture being added to a saucepan and then yogurt and vanilla added to show how to make panna cotta.

Divide Italian panna cotta between cups, or baking molds sprayed with nonstick cooking spray if you plan to invert the panna cotta onto a plate for serving. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

Panna Cotta with yogurt poured into eight glass single serve dishes on a baking tray.

Serve the best panna cotta recipe in dessert cups, ramekins, or for a more traditional Italian panna cotta, invert it onto a plate. Add toppings just before serving.

Six homemade Panna Cotta cups with a varitety of toppings including: berry sauce with fresh berries, chopped nuts, and a mango topping.

Topping Ideas:

  • Berry Sauce: To a saucepan add 1 ½ cups fresh of frozen berries, juice from ½ a lemon, and ¼ cup granulated sugar. Bring to a low boil and cook 5-6 minutes. Stir in and additional 1 cup berries and remove from heat. Cool before topping on panna cotta.
  • Fresh Sliced Fruit: Berries, mango, peaches, pineapple, or cherries with fresh mint leaves, for garnish.
  • Chopped Nuts: Pistachios or walnuts, with a drizzle of honey.
  • Lemon Curd
  • Granola
  • Chocolate or Caramel Sauce
  • Cocoa powder dusting and shaved chocolate curls
  • Cookie Crumbs

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: Prepare homemade panna cotta 1-3 days in advance and store covered in the refrigerator. Wait to add toppings until serving.

To Freeze: Cover with plastic wrap and freeze in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Let panna cotta custard thaw in refrigerator overnight before serving.

Recipe Variations

  • Vanilla Panna Cotta: For a stronger vanilla flavor, split a vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and vanilla bean pod to the pot with the cream and sugar. After stirring in the gelatin, remove the vanilla bean and seeds and discard them.
  • Chocolate Panna Cotta: Add 3.5 oz of chopped dark baking chocolate to the cream and sugar mixture once you’ve turned off the heat but before you add the gelatin. Stir until the chocolate melts, then stir in the unflavored gelatin.
  • Add Flavor: Try adding orange essential oil or other flavors for recipe twists!
  • Dairy Free Panna Cotta: Try this recipe using coconut milk.

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Recipe

Italian Panna Cotta in a glass dish and topped with a berry sauce.
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Refrigerate 4 hours
Total 4 hours 15 minutes
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Equipment

  • ramekins

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 cups whipping cream , or half and half
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin , (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups plain Greek yogurt , or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping Ideas:

  • Berry sauce , recipe in notes
  • Fresh sliced fruit: berries, mango, peaches, pineapple, cherries , with fresh mint leave, for garnish.
  • Granola
  • Chopped pistachios or walnuts . with a drizzle of honey
  • Lemon curd
  • Dusted cocoa powder , topped with chocolate curls
  • Caramel sauce , and flake salt

Instructions
 

  • Add ½ cup of cream to a bowl and carefully sprinkle gelatin into an even layer over the top. Set aside for about 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften.
  • Pour remaining 1 ½ cups cream and ½ cup of sugar into a saucepan. Turn to medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture is hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat.
  • Add softened gelatin and whisk together to combine. Stir in yogurt and vanilla until smooth.
  • Coat baking molds or ramekins with a thin layer of non-stick cooking spray, (or skip this step if serving the panna cotta in a cup).
  • Divide panna cotta mixture between the containers and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours, or overnight, until set.
  • If transferring the panna cotta to a plate from the mold or ramekin, remove from the fridge a few minutes before serving and gently run a dull knife along the edge to help release it before inverting onto serving dish.
  • Add toppings just before serving.

Notes

Yield: 4 cups panna cotta. Serving size: ½ cup.
Gelatin is essential to the recipe to allow the panna cotta to set up. It can be found near the flavored jello in the baking aisle.
Berry Sauce: To a saucepan add 1 ½ cups fresh of frozen berries, juice from ½ a lemon, and ¼ cup granulated sugar. Bring to a low boil and cook 5-6 minutes. Stir in and additional 1 cup berries and remove from heat. Cool before topping on panna cotta.
Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare 1-3 days in advance and store covered in the refrigerator. Wait to add toppings until serving.
Freezing Instructions: Cover with plastic wrap and freeze in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 278kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 6gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 31mgPotassium: 116mgSugar: 16gVitamin A: 876IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 0.1mg

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I originally shared this recipe June 2021. Updated February 2024.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    made this on the last day of the challenge! my 2yo loved it & it was soooo good, my fridge smelt like greek yogurt so i was expecting that taste but nope.. i love custard type of texture, i would make this again 👌

  2. 5 stars
    Really enjoyed this easy dessert and so did my family! I cut the sugar in half and found it plenty sweet enough; and I did a berry sauce for the top with blueberries, raspberries and camu camu.

  3. 5 stars
    This was fun to make with my mom and sister. We cooked frozen blueberries for the topping. We used half and half and vanilla Greek yogurt instead of plain then we didn’t add sugar or vanilla.

  4. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! Not only was this super easy, but it looked fancy and special! Thanks for this recipe, I’ll be making this again!

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