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Vegan Panna Cotta

This delicious and festive dessert seems complex, but it’s actually quite simple. This easy and delicious recipe is the best vegan panna cotta you’ve ever tried!

A hand scooping a bite of panna cotta off of a dessert plate

What is panna cotta?

Panna cotta is a creamy Italian molded dessert. It is traditionally made of milk, cream, sugar, and gelatin and is known to come in fruity or chocolatey flavors.

For our recipe, we won’t be using gelatin, as it is not a vegetarian ingredient. Instead, we’ll be using an ingredient called agar agar. Our recipe is vegan-approved, meaning it’s great for those that are dairy-free too!

I’m making this recipe using raspberries, but stick around to the end for some extra delicious flavor ideas! Did someone say mango, lemon, chocolate, and strawberry?! Yum!

Though the completed dessert looks totally gourmet, it’s actually an easy dish to whip together. You’ve got to try it!

5 ramekins and cups filled with panna cotta on a white background

Ingredients for this vegan dessert

Though many panna cotta dessert recipes include gelatin, this one uses agar agar instead. Agar agar is a jelly-like powder derived from algae. It’s tasteless and works wonderfully for this recipe! In addition to agar agar, we’ll be using some easy and delicious ingredients as outlined below:

To make the vegan panna cotta:

  • Coconut Milk: Coconut milk will form the bulk of the main dish. We will boil it to achieve a nice, thick texture.
  • Sugar: To give this dish a bit of a sweet kick, we’ll use sugar!
  • Powdered Agar Agar: In place of gelatin, agar agar will be used to give the dessert its jelly-like substance (we’ve also used it previously to make gummies and sriracha “caviar”!)
  • Vanilla Bean: Vanilla beans will be used to add flavor to this dish. Here’s how to cut and seed vanilla.

To make the fruity topping:

  • Raspberries: Raspberries make the perfect topping. They’re so delicious, especially when paired with this recipe!
  • Sugar: Much like in the main portion of this dessert, sugar will be used to give the raspberry mixture a sweet zing.
  • Lemon Juice: We’ll use lemon juice to add tangy flavor and keep the red raspberries brightly colored when cooking.
  • Water: Last but not least, a bit of water will give the topping the perfect texture.
Pouring the panna cotta mixture into a selection of ramekins and cups on a white background

How do you make vegan panna cotta?

Panna cotta has a reputation of being a high maintenance dessert. But the truth is, with easy to follow instructions it’s actually quite simple!

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Boil the mixture: First, start by adding the coconut milk and sugar to a medium saucepan and set over medium/high heat. Then, bring to a boil (or at least 185°F, 85°C), and whisk in the agar agar. Continue boiling for 3 minutes, watching to ensure it doesn’t spill over.
    Note: The agar agar needs to reach 185°F to activate, so pay close attention to the temperature.
  2. Add the vanilla: Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and use the back of your knife to scrape out the seeds. Then, add the seeds to the mixture, whisking well to combine.
  3. Cool the mixture: Next, pour the mixture into 6 individual serving bowls or ramekins (you may choose to lightly grease them if you want to serve the dish out of the bowls). Set in the fridge to cool until set, which will take about 1 hour.
  4. Prepare the toppings: Meanwhile, add raspberries, sugar, lemon, and water to a medium saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the raspberries have broken down and the mixture has thickened more.
  5. Serve and enjoy: Finally, invert the panna cotta onto plates, or serve in the bowls/ramekins. Top with the raspberry topping, and enjoy!

Can you make milk-based panna cotta with agar agar?
Yes! Use 2.5 cups heavy cream boiled, mix in agar agar, and continue boiling for 3 minutes (to activate). Remove from heat, and stir in the milk and vanilla.

Dropping a spoonful of raspberry topping onto a serving of panna cotta in a cup

Best panna cotta flavors

Panna cotta recipes come in a ton of different flavors and variations. We used raspberries for this recipe, but here are some additional ideas for you to try out!

Raspberries (or other berries): Not to sound biased, but I think raspberries (or any berry for that matter) taste absolutely fantastic with this dessert. You could also try strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries! Whatever your choice, follow the directions as laid out in this recipe.

Mango: For a mango panna cotta dessert (YUM!), use one cup of mango (either fresh or frozen) with the lemon and sugar and cook as listed above. Do not include the water. Feel free to puree before cooking for a smoother texture.

Chocolate: For a classic chocolate variation of this dish, melt 3 oz (½ cup) of dark chocolate, and then whisk into the coconut mixture after cooking.

Lemon: Lemon is a tangy and delightful option! After cooking the coconut mixture, remove from heat and add 3 tbsp lemon juice and the grated zest from 2 lemons. Do not include the vanilla bean.

Strawberry: Last but not least, though you can use strawberries following the “berry” guidelines above, you could also opt to incorporate strawberries into the panna cotta itself. For the latter, omit ½ cup of coconut milk. After cooking the coconut mixture, whisk in ½ cup pureed strawberries.

A dessert plate filled with panna cotta and raspberry topping

Are you a berry lover at heart?

If so, you’ll want to try these berry dishes too!

Vegan Panna Cotta

This delicious and festive dessert seems complex, but it’s actually quite simple. This easy and delicious recipe is the best vegan panna cotta you’ve ever tried!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: panna cotta, panna cotta without gelatin, raspberry panna cotta, vegan panna cotta
Diet: Dairy-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Occasion: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day
Time: 60 minutes or more
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Cool Time: 1 hr
Total: 1 hr 15 mins
Servings: 6 half cup servings
Calories: 121kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
4.9 from 19 votes

INGREDIENTS

Panna Cotta
  • 2 14-oz cans coconut milk 400 mL each
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp powdered agar agar
  • 1 vanilla bean
Raspberry Topping
  • 1 cup raspberries fresh or frozen, 125 g
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice 5 mL
  • ½ cup water 120 mL

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Boil: Add coconut milk and sugar to a medium saucepan and set over medium/high heat. Bring to a boil (or at least 185°F, 85°C), then whisk in agar agar. Continue boiling for 3 minutes, watching to ensure it doesn't spill over.
  • Vanilla: Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and use the back of your knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the mixture, whisking well to combine.
  • Cool: Pour mixture into 6 individual serving bowls or ramekins (you may choose to lightly grease them if you want to serve the panna cotta out of the bowls). Set in the fridge to cool until set, about 1 hour.
  • Topping: Meanwhile, add raspberries, sugar, lemon, and water to a medium saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until raspberries have broken down and mixture has thickened some.
  • Serve: Optionally invert the panna cotta onto plates or serve in the bowls/ramekins. Top with raspberry topping.

NOTES

Panna Cotta Flavor Ideas:
  • Berry: Replace the raspberries with your favorite berry and cook the same way.
  • Mango: Use 1 cup of mango (fresh or frozen), along with the lemon, sugar listed above (not water). Optionally puree before cooking for a smoother texture.
  • Chocolate: Melt 3 oz (½ cup) dark chocolate, then whisk into the coconut mixture after cooking.
  • Lemon: After cooking the coconut mixture, remove from heat and add 3 Tbsp lemon juice and the grated zest from 2 lemons (no vanilla bean).
  • Strawberry: You can either do a simple strawberry topping by replacing the raspberries, or incorporate strawberries into the panna cotta itself. For the later, omit ½ cup of coconut milk. After cooking the coconut mixture, whisk in ½ cup pureed strawberries.
 
How to Make Vegetarian Panna Cotta with Cow’s Milk
Use 2 ½ cups heavy cream, ½ cup milk, and the same sugar, agar, and vanilla amounts as above. Bring the heavy cream to a boil, then add agar agar and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in all remaining ingredients, then pour into ramekins and cool as instructed above!

NUTRITION

Serving: 1serving (1/6 recipe) | Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.8g | Protein: 0.9g | Fat: 7.5g | Saturated Fat: 6.7g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 10.3g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




  1. Sassy says:

    This was delicious! The fruity layer I used was different though as I had some left over raw cranberry orange relish in the freezer from Xmas, so I used that (3 cups frozen or fresh cranberries, 2 unwaxed navel oranges, and up to 1 cup of sugar…quarter the oranges, removing any seeds/pips. Put into food processor, skin and all. Add the cranberries and begin pulsing until everything is combined and the orange skin pieces are tiny. Transfer to a large bowl, add 1/2 cup of sugar to start, mix well until sugar has dissolved. Taste to see if it needs more sugar. It should be tart but enjoyable). It worked great with the coconut milk! I will try it with raspberries next time!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear you liked it, and thanks for sharing your tips for the topping! Cranberry and orange sounds delish! 😀

  2. Beverley says:

    Recipe books do not come through to my email address. I’ve tried a few of your freebie books but it does not work. It’s so disappointing

    1. Sarah says:

      Sending you a personal email now! 😀

  3. Paige Rappleye says:

    I’m on a pretty strict diet due to food sensitivities. I can’t have wheat, dairy, eggs, beef, corn, potato or soy.
    I’m wondering if this recipe could be as a replacement for custard in a pie?
    I have rhubarb & was planning on using it for a custard tart prior to these restrictions. I’ve heard panna cotta can replace custard but all of the recipes show it chilled so I don’t know how it would bake.
    Thank you.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Paige! I don’t think this would bake well. The agar would probably liquify rather than become solid like egg based custards do. With that said, you could just make it a no bake “custard” pie!

  4. Amber d gambrall says:

    Can I freeze or would the texture change?

    1. Sarah says:

      I think the texture would be affected too much by freezing!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Can you use another alternative milk like oat milk or flaxseed milk for this recipe?

    1. Sarah says:

      While I haven’t tried this recipe with other milks, I do think it would work with them! Would love to hear how it goes if you try it out 😀

  6. Sandi says:

    I dont want to wait to buy ramekins to try this, would a muffin or cupcake tin work, or would metal taint the flavor?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      I don’t think the metal would influence the flavor. There’s nothing too acidic in the mixture that would react with it!

  7. Barbara says:

    I made this following the recipe religiously but I think the measurement of agar agar is wrong. My panna cottas had no jiggle in them at all and were like door stops. I will try them again but I will use one teaspoon and not one tablespoon of agar agar. It tasted nice just the texture was all wrong.

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Barbara! I’ll retest this one to try to troubleshoot this. 😀

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