How To Make Panna Cotta

Jun 10, 2020 | desserts, Recipes

Panna Cotta is a classic Northern Italian Dessert made of cream and sugar set with gelatine. It is the perfect summer dessert because it is easy to make, it’s served chilled and is surprisingly refreshing. Despite its reputation as a “Classic Italian Dessert” the origins of Panna Cotta are unclear, of course, that doesn’t matter, it tastes good no matter where or when it comes from.

If you have never had Panna Cotta it may seem kind of odd, I mean it’s essentially milk jello. However, I promise it is way better than it seems like it should be. The milk/cream is flavoured with vanilla (and optionally rum or brandy) and sweetened with sugar. It is really delicious! Let’s take a look at how to make it.

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How To Make Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta Ingredients

One of my favourite things about this panna cotta recipe is that there are only 7 ingredients in it. The ingredients are cream, milk, sugar, a vanilla bean, a pinch of salt, water and gelatine.

I use whole milk to make this because I find the higher fat content is good for the texture but you can use 2% if you would prefer. I wouldn’t use skim milk as it will be too watery. Definitely use whipping cream for this as opposed to half and a half or whatever else. Like the higher fat milk, the cream is important for the texture of the panna cotta.

Getting Started

To get started measure the milk, cream, and sugar into a medium-sized heavy bottom pot. Slice the vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise and add into the pot along with a pinch of salt. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

Blooming the Gelatine

While the dairy is coming to a boil take a minute to bloom the gelatine. Pour 1/2 a cup of cold water into a medium heat-proof bowl. Sprinkle two packages of gelatine over the water and mix in. Let the gelatine bloom for at least 2 minutes.

Blooming the gelatine is an important step to ensure a smooth consistent texture. Essentially, the gelatine granules absorb the cold water and enlarge. This allows them to break down and dissolve into the hot milk (or whatever liquid) much easier and more efficiently.

Dairy meet Gelatine

Once the milk mixture comes to a boil remove it from the heat and slowly whisk it into the gelatine. Remove the vanilla bean and the mixture is ready to chill.

Chilling the Panna Cotta

I like to transfer the panna cotta mixture into a measuring cup with a spout to make it easier to pour into the ramekins. Next, divide the panna cotta amongst 6-8 ramekins depending on the size. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap making sure to press it right down to the surface of the panna cotta. If there is an air gap between the surface of the panna cotta and the plastic wrap a firm rubbery film will form which isn’t very pleasant.

Once all the Panna Cottas have been wrapped put them in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours. I prefer to let them chill overnight. This allows the flavour to develop a little more and the texture to set a bit more.

Panna Cotta

A classic Vanilla Panna Cotta Recipe perfect for Summer
Total Time: 1 day 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Simple Desserts, Simple Summer Desserts, Summer Desserts
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 1/2 cups Whipping Cream
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • Pinch Salt
  • 2 Envelopes Gelatin
  • 1/2 cup Cold Water


  • Combine the milk, cream, sugar, and salt in a medium pot.
  • Spilt the vanilla bean down the middle and add to the milk mixture.
  • Put the pot on the stove over meidum heat until the milk comes to a boil, whisking occasionally.
  • While the milk is heating pout the water into a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, mix, and let sit for at least 2 minutes.
  • Whisk the hot milk mixture into the gelatin then pour the mixture into ramekins, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, overnight is better.
  • To unmold the panna cotta, dip the ramekin in hot water for 10 seconds, run a knife around the inside edge of the ramekin and invert onto a plate. Tap gently until the panna cotta releases. Serve with blueberry sauce or a fruit preserve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Making a Sauce

I like to serve the panna cotta with a sauce of some sort although this isn’t really necessary. I decided to make a quick blueberry sauce. This sauce is also great on pancakes, ice cream, or a spoon. To make it I just combine all the ingredients (see the full recipe below) in a pot, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes then chill. That’s it.

Blueberry Sauce

A quick and delicous all purpose blueberry sacue
Total Time: 8 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Dessert, Simple Summer Desserts, Summer Desserts
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup Hot Water
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 pieces Pemon Peel


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.
  • Boil the sauce for 5 minutes, pour into a heat proof dish and chill overnight.
  • Serve the sacue on Panna Cotta, pancakes, french toast or ice cream
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Finishing the Panna Cotta

The final step for the panna cotta is to unmold it. To do this dip the ramekin in hot water for about 10 seconds, then run a knife on the inside edge. Invert the ramekin onto a plate and give it a giggle until the panna cotta releases. Top it with a bit of the sauce and serve.


Panna Cotta should be firm but not rubbery, it should pretty much melt on your tongue. The flavour should be light and slightly sweet with a hint of vanilla. Use this recipe as a base and play with it a bit. You can add chocolate, booze, or all kinds of other things. Give it a shot!

I hope you enjoyed this post in my Simple Summer Dessert Series. Check out last week’s post; Bananas Foster. Remember to share this post and subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post again. Thanks for reading and have a great Wednesday!


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