Easy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta


Though often served unmolded, chef E. Michael Reidt's vanilla panna cotta is so tender that he serves it in ramekins.

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 45 mins
8 servings

Panna cotta — literally "cooked cream" in Italian — is a silky, eggless custard thickened with a touch of gelatin. This easy panna cotta recipe is an especially rich version made with all cream instead of a mix of cream and milk.

The cream here is not exactly cooked, but rather heated twice. First, it's combined with sugar, the scraped vanilla pod, and the tiny vanilla seeds and brought just to a simmer. This allows the sugar to dissolve and the fragrant vanilla to steep into the cream. After the vanilla has infused off the heat, the cream is heated to a simmer once again, this time so that the bloomed gelatin can be added and dissolved. Only a small amount of gelatin is used, yielding a pudding that's tender, not rubbery.

Don't toss that vanilla bean after you've removed it from the pot, it still has more to give! Rinse it with hot water, using your fingers to squeeze off any remaining cream, then pat it dry. Place it on a clean paper towel to dry fully. You can use it for another infusion, bury it in a bit of sugar in a sealed container to make vanilla-scented sugar, or let it dry until it's brittle enough to grind into a vanilla powder.


  • 1 quart heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • Mixed berries, for serving


  1. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

    Cara Cormack

    Gather the ingredients (you won't need the berries until you're ready to serve the finished panna cotta).

  2. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

    Cara Cormack

    In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, vanilla bean, and seeds. Bring the mixture just to a simmer over moderate heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes.

  3. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

    Cara Cormack

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until evenly moistened, about 5 minutes.

  4. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

    Cara Cormack

    Uncover the cream mixture and bring just to a simmer over moderately high heat. Remove from heat, add the gelatin, and stir until dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean and save for another use.

  5. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

    Cara Cormack

    Pour the panna cotta mixture into eight 4-ounce ramekins and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the panna cotta is set but still jiggly, at least 3 hours.

  6. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

    Cara Cormack

    Serve in the ramekins with berries.

Make ahead

The panna cottas can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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