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Panna Cotta For One

This classic panna cotta recipe is made with just a few simple ingredients. This Italian dessert is velvety smooth and creamy with a delicate sweetness. Indulge yourself with this easy to make decadent single serving dessert.

An overhead view of panna cotta topped with cranberry jam and whipped cream in a dessert glass

A classic panna cotta recipe is a real gem. This luxuriously smooth and creamy dessert is incredibly easy to make and requires only a few simple ingredients.

Panna cotta is an Italian dessert made with cream and thickened with gelatin. It's got the consistency of pudding and is sweetened with a touch of sugar and often flavored with a hint of vanilla.

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The name panna cotta means "cooked cream". The cream, sugar, and other ingredients are heated on the stove but are not actually cooked - just warmed. As the panna cotta heats, it thickens.

You can eat panna cotta straight out of a dessert bowl or it can be unmolded and served on a plate. It is often served with fruit or a fruit sauce.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Panna cotta is so easy to make.
  • Our mission was to create a panna cotta recipe that included the correct amounts of simple ingredients and we're happy that we have done this.
  • This recipe yields the perfect amount for one person. The ingredients can successfully be doubled to make more than one.
Panna cotta topped with cranberry jam on a plate

Ingredient Notes

See recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  • Milk and heavy cream (also called double cream): I recommend using both whole milk and heavy cream for best results. If you use a milk that contains less fat, the softer the panna cotta will be.
  • Gelatin: Use plain, unflavored gelatin which is usually found in the grocery store aisle with the baking supplies. I use granulated gelatin in this panna cotta recipe.
  • Sugar: Use granulated sugar.
  • Vanilla: For flavor.

How To Make This Recipe

  1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the milk. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or until the gelatin looks as if it has dissolved slightly.
  2. Warm the milk over low heat, stirring or whisking frequently for 2 minutes. Be careful not to let the milk boil or simmer, the gelatin will dissolve quickly as the milk warms.
  3. Stir the sugar into the milk and add the cream, stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into a ramekin or dessert bowl and chill.

Expert Tips

  • If you are eating panna cotta out of a dessert bowl, it only needs to be refrigerated for 1-2 hours. If you are unmolding the panna cotta, chill it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • In this panna cotta recipe, I suggest using vanilla extract for flavoring but feel free to play around with other flavors. You might like to consider using any of these ingredients:
    • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1/8 teaspoon of lemon juice and/or lemon zest
    • shaved chocolate
    • mint
    • a pinch of cinnamon
A spoonful of panna cotta topped with cranberry jam and whipped cream in a dessert glass

Serving Suggestions

You don't need any fancy dessert dishes to enjoy panna cotta. In fact, you can use a wine glass, a small jar, a coffee cup, or a ramekin.

After the panna cotta has firmed, it can be eaten directly out of the dish it is in or it can be unmolded and served on a plate. If you are unmolding this dessert, be sure to lightly oil the dish you are using with an oil spray.

Enjoy a panna cotta very simply or you can make a fruit sauce to spoon over the top. Here are two topping options:

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Panna Cotta Still Liquid?

If your panna cotta hasn't firmed up much, it could be because the gelatin didn't melt completely, or the mixture could have accidentally boiled. Boiling destroys gelatin's thickening power. It also could be that the panna cotta did not set long enough.

How Do You Unmold A Panna Cotta?

* Fill a medium sized bowl partway with warm water.
* Run a sharp knife around the rim of the panna cotta.
* Dip the bottom of the dessert bowl or ramekin into the water and hold for about 5 seconds.
* Invert the ramekin over a plate and shake the ramekin a little so that it releases easily. Enjoy immediately.

Do I Have To Use Cream?

You can use half and half, milk, or milk alternatives in this panna cotta recipe. Keep in mind that when using other milks with less fat, the panna cotta will be softer. I wouldn't recommend unmolding a panna cotta made with other types of milk for this reason.

An overhead view of panna cotta topped with cranberry jam and whipped cream in a dessert glass with a spoon resting on the side of the glass

Other Single Serving Creamy Dessert Recipes

For this panna cotta recipe I use a 1-quart saucepan. For best results, use a pan of similar size. If you would like additional information on the dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes we use, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this panna cotta or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see!

panna cotta | one dish kitchen

Panna Cotta For One

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chill: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pudding
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 417kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Pour the milk into a 1-quart saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the milk. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or until the gelatin looks as if it has dissolved slightly.
  • Warm the milk over low heat, stirring or whisking frequently for 2 minutes. Be careful not to let the milk boil or simmer, the gelatin will dissolve quickly as the milk warms.
  • Stir the sugar into the milk and add the cream, stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into a ramekin or dessert bowl and chill.
    * If you would like to unmold the panna cotta, lightly grease the ramekin before pouring in the panna cotta mixture. Unmolding is not necessary, you could also eat the panna cotta right out of the dessert bowl.
  • Chill until firm for at least 2 hours but possibly up to 4 hours.

Notes

Expert Tips

  • If you are eating panna cotta out of a dessert bowl, it only needs to be refrigerated for 1-2 hours. If you are unmolding the panna cotta, chill it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • In this panna cotta recipe, I suggest using vanilla extract for flavoring but feel free to play around with other flavors. You might like to consider using:
    • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1/8 teaspoon of lemon juice and/or lemon zest
    • shaved chocolate
    • mint
    • a pinch of cinnamon
How To Unmold A Panna Cotta
  • Fill a medium sized bowl partway with warm water.
  • Run a sharp knife around the rim of the panna cotta.
  • Dip the bottom of the dessert bowl or ramekin into the water and hold for about 5 seconds.
  • Invert the ramekin over a plate and shake the ramekin a little so that it releases easily. Enjoy immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 148mg | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 1422IU | Calcium: 127mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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