How to make panna cotta

Vanilla panna cotta with strawberries and Grappa

How to make panna cotta

by Great British Chefs22 March 2016

How to make panna cotta

Panna cotta is a traditional Italian dessert which literally translates as 'cooked cream'. Hailing from the region of Piedmont in Italy, it is a simple mixture of sweetened cream and gelatine. A good panna cotta is one that is only just set but can still stand unsupported once out of the mould. Panna cotta is very easy to make and can be made the day before a dinner party to save time.

Traditionally panna cotta was always made with just cream; however, as tastes change and people move away from heavy foods, chefs now tend to use a percentage of milk in their recipes to make panna cotta a lighter dessert which is also healthier.




  • 300ml of cream
  • 200ml of milk
  • 60g of sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 gelatine leaves, softened in cold water
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add both to a saucepan with the milk, cream and sugar
Warm gently over a low heat, being careful not to let the milk boil
Remove from the heat and stir through the gelatine leaves until dissolved
Pass through a fine sieve into a jug and leave to cool to room temperature, stirring every few minutes
Once cool, stir one last time to evenly distribute the vanilla then divide between 4 moulds. Transfer to the fridge to set for at least 3 hours
To serve, run the moulds under warm water for a few seconds before carefully turning out the panna cottas onto a plate


As it is such a simple creation, panna cotta benefits from the addition of flavourings. Alan Murchison flavours his panna cotta with white chocolate, Josh Eggleton uses caramel for a intense richness and Greg Malouf creates a floral panna cotta with the addition of rose and buttermilk. Most herbs and sweet spices work well; you could try mint, lavender, elderflower or even honey.

Serving suggestions

Shaun Hill perfectly executes a Vanilla panna cotta and accompanies with fresh summer berries for a simple yet stunning dessert. Vineet Bhatia pairs his interesting Cardamom panna cotta with grilled peaches and rich white chocolate while panna cotta makes up part of Matthew Tomkinson's time consuming but spectacular Assiette of Apple dessert.

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