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Best 20-Minute Easy Pannacotta

Updated on May 9, 2015
Vanilla Pannacotta with accompaniments of flavor.
Vanilla Pannacotta with accompaniments of flavor. | Source

What is Pannacotta or Panna Cotta?

This dessert dish from Italy has a cargo van full of names and some of them include:

  • Italian Custard.
  • Italian Egg Custard - However, many varieties do not contain eggs at all.
  • Panna Cotta - means cooked cream.
  • Italian Pudding.

Pannacotta is a traditional northern Italian dessert recipe originating in Piedmont, Italy, including Turin, which is famous for the Shroud of Turin and the Turin Olympic Games of the 20th century.

The thick, rich dessert includes ingredients such as heavy cream, sugar, gelatin, and an individual's choice of flavors for toppings. It is often created as a creamy vanilla base, with sauces spooned over top.

Some pannacotta are also made with cinnamon or caramel and topped with other sauces to add a wider palette of flavors.. The key ingredient in all of the variations of the dessert is good quality cream. Thus it becomes like a creamy, more sophisticated and more fully flavorful version of American Jell-O®.

Origins in Italy

Turino (Turin) is one locaton of the origina of the dessert Pannacotta.
Turino (Turin) is one locaton of the origina of the dessert Pannacotta. | Source

Home of Delicious Desserts

Piedmont Italy:
Piedmont, Italy

get directions

Turin, Italy

get directions

Shroud of Turin:
Museo della Sindone, Via San Domenico, 28, 10122 Torino, Italy

get directions

Turin Olympics:
Turin Olympic Stadium, Via Filadelfia, 96/b, 10134 Torino, Italy

get directions

The key ingredient in all of the variations of the dessert is good quality cream.

The toppings for the Italian dessert include caramel, chocolate, and fruit sauces; shaved or broken dark chocolate; powdered cinnamon or ginger; and many types of preserves. You might experiment with your own ingredients and invent something new!

The Piedmont area of Italy is located in the far northwest corner of the country and includes Turin, when the famous Shroud of Turin was discovered and where the 2006 Winter Olympic Games were held. In the past, religious pilgrims traveling from Canterbury to Rome passed through the Piedmont, particularly through the Valley of Abbeys.

On the borders of France and Switzerland, the Piedmont was not highly traveled as a tourist destination until after 1970. It has become a center that now attracts those in search of gourmet dining. About two dozen festivals are held in the region, including the White Truffle Festival in Alba.

Basic Panacotta Ingredients

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Whipping creamVanilla beansFresh waterSugarBreak up some chocolate or some peanut brittle!Nuts!Try some juicy fruit slices!
Whipping cream
Whipping cream | Source
Vanilla beans
Vanilla beans
Fresh water
Fresh water
Break up some chocolate or some peanut brittle!
Break up some chocolate or some peanut brittle!
Try some juicy fruit slices!
Try some juicy fruit slices!

Simple Pannacotta in 20 Minutes Cook Time

Serves 6 people


  • 2 Cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Whole vanilla bean
  • 2 Ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 Envelope Knox, kosher, or any other brand of good, unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ Cup cold water
  • Caramel, fruit, or chocolate syrup; shaved chocolate, broken peanut brittle, raisins, craisins (dried cranberries), fresh fruit slices, nuts, or any topping that you like!


  • Dissolve gelatin in water.
  • Pour the whipping cream into a saucepan
  • Take 1 vanilla bean, cut it open, and scrape it out into the saucepan. Then add the whole bean.
  • Add sugar and mix.
  • Heat the mixture over moderate heat (do not oil) and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove pan from the heat and remove vanilla bean with tongs and discard.
  • Stir the mixture consistently while gradually dissolving the gelatin/water into the hot whipping cream.
  • Pour the mixture into pudding cups or ramekins that have been rinsed out with cold water to chill.
  • Put cups in the coldest part of the refrigerate until set, or overnight.
  • When ready to serve, turn the pannacotta upside down onto serving plates and place topping over each one.

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: 6 servings of chilled pannacotta

Please Rate This Recipe!

5 stars from 1 rating of Strawberry Balsalmic Pannacotta
Strawberries | Source

Strawberry Balsalmic Pannacotta

Serves 6 guests



  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon unflavored gelatin, such as Knox, a good store brand, or a kosher variety.
  • 2 Cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ¼ cups yogurt - plain, vanilla, or strawberry.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ Cup sugar

Strawberry Preparation

  • 1 Quart of strawberries, stems removed, berries washed and sliced
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pepper - This provides a slight bite to the topping.
  • Spoon strawberries over pannacotta and enjoy.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin painting of  "Strawberry Basket" in 1760.Balsamic vinegar
Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin painting of  "Strawberry Basket" in 1760.
Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin painting of "Strawberry Basket" in 1760. | Source
Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic vinegar | Source


Norpro 4oz/120ml Porcelain Ramekins, Set of 6
Norpro 4oz/120ml Porcelain Ramekins, Set of 6

These are the perfect size for chilling and serving this Italian dessert.



  • Pour 2 Tbsp water into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over top – allow to stand until soft (15 minutes).
  • Mix 1 Cup cream, yogurt, and vanilla in a larger bowl.
  • Heat and stir another 1 Cup cream and ½ Cup sugar in small pan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and cream begins to just bubble around the edges.
  • Quickly remove from heat and pour into the gelatin mixture, stirring well to dissolve gelatin.
  • Pour this hot mixture into the yogurt mixture in the bowl.
  • Pour batter into 6 tart shells, 6 custard cups, or 6 ramekins - ½ cup batter in each.
  • Refrigerate cups uncovered until cold, or for up to one night overnight if covered and refrigerate overnight.
  • Before serving, toss strawberries (sliced), vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a bowl and permit to stand to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Spoon strawberries over panacotta and enjoy.

Another Variation: Kiwi Panacotta

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


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    Post Comment
    • profile image

      mary jean tenoso 

      7 years ago

      I really like panacotta the soft texture of this dessert i madly in love.. I want to try making it for my own i want to make sure this would be perfect. thanks a lot for a recipe.

    • apricotmousse profile image


      9 years ago

      I love to put fresh fruits on top of pannacotta. Yummy :)

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      We had some in Italy and now thanks to you I know how to make it. Can't wait to try it out. Thanks!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I hope you all have a great Christmas and enjoy this dessert. You can use pineable as well, and I find it delicious.

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      10 years ago

      Panacotta with Coconut and Mango, looks so good, wow what a treat, I will have to try this one. I am such a fan of fruit. Thanks

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin

      I have never had this, but it looks delicious. I'll have to try it.


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