Panna Cotta

a recipe for a raspberry topped panna cotta with blood orange and pistachios

Every time I make panna cotta I’m instantly reminded that I should be making it more frequently. A lot more frequently. It’s delicious. Panna cotta one of those desserts that looks super impressive when you serve it up, but in reality is incredibly simple to make. It’s also pretty fool-proof as far as I’m concerned. Since it’s a custard set with gelatin, rather than eggs, you don’t need to worry about tempering, or any of the hiccups and headaches that can go along with that. You just need to mix things up, dissolve some gelatin and then let it set. Honestly, the most difficult part is the waiting. It needs to set in the fridge overnight, so a bit of forethought is needed, but your patience will be rewarded.

This version is made all on one big dish, or a pie plate if you couldn’t tell. Mainly because I don’t own 6-8 individual serving containers for something like this, but I’m also into the visual impact a big dish can have here. Seems more casual and a little less fussy. But, with all that being said, you can certainly do these as individual servings, the recipe will still be the same. For the topping, I macerated some fresh raspberries in blood orange juice and threw over a handful of chopped pistachios. It was totally delicious, but don’t let those ingredients limit you, top it with whatever you like, get creative. Let me know about it in the comments!

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Every time I make panna cotta I’m instantly reminded that I should be making it more frequently. A lot more frequently. It’s delicious. It’s one of those desserts that looks super impressive when you serve it up, but in reality is incredibly simple to make.
How to Make Panna Cotta
Panna Cotta Recipe


What is Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta is a classic Italian dessert that literally translates to “cooked cream”. It’s a “custard” that’s set with gelatin, rather than eggs, like in a classic custard. It’s super easy to make, and pretty hard to mess up. To make panna cotta, you will need to bloom your gelatin (just letting it sit in your milk, cream or combination of each), warming everything up over medium-low heat, and then waiting for it to set overnight. The most difficult part in my opinion is waiting for the panna cotta to set.

Can I mess up my panna cotta?

Yes. But it’s pretty avoidable. Like any gelatin dessert, don’t let the gelatin come to a boil. Heat it only until it dissolves. So, just keep it over a relatively low heat and constantly stir until everything is nice and smooth. Should only take a few minutes.

I have to chill it for how long?!

Overnight. You gotta chill it overnight. It’s just like any other gelatin dessert, it takes time. The beauty of panna cotta is in that unique texture of the gelatin and the low effort in making it. Plan ahead, I promise it will be well worth it.

How do I store panna cotta?

Keep any leftovers in the fridge. Tightly covered. It should keep for about 2-3 days. It may get slightly firmer over time, that’s the nature of gelatin. If you top it with anything super acidic that time will decrease. So, if you know you probably won’t be eating everything in one setting only top the portion you’re gonna consume.

What are some other panna cotta flavors I can make?

Panna Cotta is great with flavors like coffee, pistachio or cardamom. You can infuse all of those into the cream before combining it with the gelatin. Think of it like the way you would start an ice cream base.

And you can top it with just about any fruit you want. Or maybe even a drizzle or chocolate or salted caramel!

The Video
@mosthungry It’s vanilla, baby. #pannacotta #desserts #recipes ♬ original sound – Rachel Lerro

What ingredients do I need to make panna cotta?


Heavy cream or whipping cream is what you want to use. It gives the panna cotta a great texture and flavor.


It’s half whole milk and half cream. Hence the name, half-and-half. That’s what I used here, because I had a lot of it at the time, but you can certainly use milk if you want. You will need to adjust the recipe slightly to use 2C Heavy Cream and 1 1/4C Whole Milk, a total of 3 1/4 C dairy.


This recipe uses 1 packet of powdered gelatin. I like Knox brand. Powdered gelatin is very easy to find at just about any grocery store here in the US. And one packet of powdered gelatin is about 4 tsp, .25 oz or 7g.


Go ole white granulated sugar. 


I used half a vanilla bean for this recipe but if you wanted to substitute in vanilla extract you can use about 2 tsp. A little more couldn’t hurt…


How to Make Panna Cotta
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Panna Cotta

Panna cotta with blood orange, raspberries and pistachios.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Chilling (inactive time)12 hours
Total Time12 hours 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easy dessert, panna cotta
Servings: 6


For the Panna Cotta

  • 1 envelope powdered gelatine ~4 tsp
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 C half & half divided
  • 3/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean seeds scraped out

To Top

  • 6 oz raspberries
  • 1/2 blood orange juiced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 C roasted pistachios chopped


  • Combine gelatin, sugar, salt and 1C half & half. Mix to combine and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Place pan over medium-low heat. Stirring constantly, cook for about 5 minutes or until mixture is completely smooth. You want all the sugar and gelatin to have completely dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and add in remaining 1 1/2 C half & half, 3/4 C heavy cream and vanilla beans. Mix to combine. (Save that pod! Add it to a jar of sugar and now you have vanilla sugar any time you want.)
  • Add mixture to a large serving dish or smaller individual containers if you want. Let chill in the refrigerator overnight. And, cover with plastic wrap after an hour or so.
  • The next day, toss raspberries with 1 tsp sugar and the juice from 1/2 blood orange. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. When you’re ready to serve, top panna cotta with the raspberries and lots of chopped pistachios.
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