Vanilla panna cottas served in small white dishes

Vanilla panna cotta

  • makes 4
  • A little effort

Try this super-simple, super-creamy, classic Italian dessert – it's the ideal way to impress guests at your next dinner party


Make this vanilla panna cotta, then check out our coconut panna cotta, passion fruit panna cotta and white chocolate panna cotta. For more expert tips, read our recipe guide on how to make panna cotta.

This wonderful wobbly dessert originates in Piedmont in the north of Italy, where the use of cream is more prevalent. After much experimentation, we’ve whittled it down to a simple formula of 500ml liquid to 2½ leaves of gelatine and 80g caster sugar. The liquid can be made from a single ingredient or a combination of ingredients, such as single or double cream, natural or Greek-style yoghurt, milk, coffee liqueur or fruit juices.



  • leaf gelatine 2½ leaves, or use 7g powdered gelatine
  • milk 200ml
  • double cream 300ml
  • vanilla pod seeds from 1 vanilla pod, or use 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste (we used Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste)
  • caster or icing sugar 80g


  • Step 1

    Soak the leaves of gelatine in a little cold water, or follow the pack instructions for softening the powdered gelatine.

  • Step 2

    Combine the milk and cream in a bowl, then pour about a quarter of the mixture into a saucepan over a low heat. Add the vanilla seeds or bean paste. Tip in the sugar and stir until dissolved, then remove from the heat. Squeeze the water from the gelatine sheets and add these to the pan (or add the powdered gelatine). Stir until the gelatine has dissolved, returning the pan to the heat if necessary.

  • Step 3

    Strain the warmed liquid through a sieve into the bowl with the milk and cream (straining the mixture helps remove any undissolved gelatine). Stir. Set the bowl over a second, larger bowl filled with ice and cold water. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally (this helps the vanilla seeds to disperse evenly).

  • Step 4

    When the panna cotta is just starting to set, ladle it into 120ml pudding moulds, then transfer these to the fridge and chill until set. Alternatively, set the panna cottas in shot glasses, martini glasses or other dessert glasses. Dip the outside of the moulds in hot water for a couple of seconds to help loosen the panna cottas, then turn out onto serving plates or bowls and serve.

Check out our best Italian desserts

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Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 483
  • Fat 41.1g
  • Saturates 25.6g
  • Carbs 23g
  • Protein 4.4g
  • Salt 0.1g