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The creamiest Panna Cotta recipe ever. Using egg whites instead of gelatin, gives this Italian classic a buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Creamiest Panna Cotta

Although it only has four simple ingredients (hint, there's no gelatin) this ultra-creamy Panna Cotta melts in your mouth like butter. It’s the best way I’ve found for making this popular Northern Italian dessert.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Best, Italian
Level Beginner
Main Ingredient Dairy, Egg
Diet Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Setting Time 1 hour 48 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 366kcal


For caramel

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 115 grams evaporated cane sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons water

For Panna Cotta

  • 1 ⅔ cup heavy cream (I used 42% butterfat)
  • 75 grams granulated sugar (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups egg whites (about 3-4 eggs)


  • Preheat the oven to 280 degrees F (140 C).
  • Prepare a tray with 6 six ounce ramekins.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of water to a pot with a lid and then add the sugar into the middle of the pot. Cover with a lid and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to boil with the lid on until the sugar has completely melted. 
    A pot with a lid filled with boiling sugar for making caramel for panna cotta.
  • Once the sugar has melted remove the lid and and start measuring the temperature. You can stir it at this point if you need to. 
  • When the caramel reaches a medium brown color (350 degrees F), remove the pot from the heat and quickly and carefully pour 2 tablespoons of room temperature water into it, whisking to combine. Be very careful as the hot caramel will sputter.
    Cooling caramelized sugar with water for making panna cotta.
  • Divide the caramel between the ramekins.
    Caramel in the bottom of ramekins for making panna cotta.
  • Boil some water
  • To prepare the custard for the Panna Cotta, put the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a pot and heat, stirring until the sugar has fully dissolved (don't let the mixture boil). Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool to lukewarm. You can use an ice bath to speed this up.
    Melting sugar in cream and vanilla in a stainless steel pot for making panna cotta.
  • While you're waiting for the cream to cool, measure out the egg whites into a tall liquid measuring cup. If you don't have one, you can use any tall container your hand blender will fit in.
    Egg whites in a glass measuring cup for making panna cotta.
  • Once the cream has cooled, pour the cream mixture into the egg whites. Stick the hand blender in the mixture and swish it around a bit without turning it on to remove any air trapped near the blades. With the blender fully submerged, pulse until the mixture is homogeneous. The idea is to mix evenly without incorporating any air.
    Cream and eggwhite mixture being mixed with a hand blender for making gelatin-less panna cotta.
  • Divide the Panna Cotta custard between the ramekins and pour boiling water into the tray halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
    Panna cotta filled ramekins in a hot water bath.
  • Carefully put the tray into the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the custard has reached 163 degrees F (73 C).
    Panna cotta in white ramekins after they have been baked in the oven.
  • Let the ramekins cool, cover and refrigerate until set.
  • Run a hot paring knife or needle around the edge of the ramekin to separate and then unmold the Panna Cotta onto a plate.


Calories: 366kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 93mg | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 970IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 45mg