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.

What Is Panna Cotta?

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.

Panna cotta topped with cranberry jam on a plate

Ingredients

To make a single serving of panna cotta, you will need:

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

  • milk
  • heavy cream (also called double cream)
  • powdered unflavored gelatin
  • sugar
  • vanilla

How To Make Panna Cotta

  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.

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.

A spoonful of panna cotta topped with cranberry jam and whipped cream in a dessert glass

How To Serve Panna Cotta

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:

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.

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.

Variations

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
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

My Panna Cotta Didn’t Set, What Happened?

If the panna cotta doesn’t set it’s usually because either the gelatin didn’t completely dissolve, or the mixture accidentally boiled while being heated, or it simply may not have set long enough.

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.

Recipe

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
Keyword: 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

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
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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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