This coconut panna cotta is made with pure coconut milk, a little bit of vanilla and lime zest for kicks and it's done in no time! Naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, it's a perfect dessert for when you have your friends over for dinner and want to do all the courses from scratch.
Panna cotta is a simple Italian dessert whose name translated literally means cooked cream. Despite its name, this dessert isn't actually cooked like a pastry cream.
Traditionally, panna cotta is made with a combination of milk and cream, sugar, gelatine as a thickening agent and some vanilla for flavor. It's a super popular dessert in Mediterranean restaurants because it's light, creamy and a refreshing dessert option after dinner.
Often accompanied by fresh fruit or fruit condiments such as curd or coulis, it's served cold and unmolded on a plate or in a glass.
Here I've tried to switch things up a bit and decided to make a coconut panna cotta using the delicious, pure coconut milk and pairing it with the zesty flavor of passion fruit with a little bit of sweetness from macerated strawberries. I have a soft spot for desserts with tropical flavors!
Why you'll love this recipe
- You need less than 15 minutes to make it!
- It's a great recipe to make ahead of time as it can sit in the fridge for a few days.
- The panna cotta turns out perfectly wobbly and creamy, not at all rubbery, with a distinct coconut flavor.
- Coconut milk: There are a lot of brands and varieties of coconut milk these days, but if you don't want a grey-looking panna cotta that splits, I would avoid most canned coconut milk brands.
True Thai coconut milk comes in a carton and has only water and min. 70% coconut as ingredients. Be careful, I'm not talking about coconut flavored drinks, but true full-fat coconut milk. This is the brand I love and use and wholeheartedly recommend. 🙂
- Gelatine: I used powdered gelatine, but you can use gelatine sheets as well. It's important not to use too much of it, otherwise, the panna cotta won't be wobbly and creamy but rather stiff and rubbery.
How to make coconut panna cotta (step-by-step)
Note: You have the fully written recipe with measurements and detailed instructions at the end of the post. However, I advise you to read all the helpful tips and FAQs.
This is one of the simplest recipes in terms of equipment, ingredients and time necessary to make it (not including the cooling time). Actually, it's ridiculously easy to make but you need to follow the steps carefully!
- Firstly, start with blooming the gelatine. In a small bowl, combine together the cold water and the powdered gelatine and give it a stir with a small spoon. Let it sit for a few minutes until the water is fully absorbed.
- In the meantime, heat up the coconut milk, sugar, salt and lime zest in a medium saucepan but don't let it come to a boil. Remove from the heat and add vanilla.
- Lightly grease your ramekins with some coconut oil and place them on a small tray.
Note: Make sure the coconut milk mixture doesn't boil. Boiling temperature can undo the gelatine thickening properties and your coconut panna cotta won't set.
- Add the bloomed gelatine to the hot coconut milk mixture and whisk until completely dissolved.
- Pour the panna cotta mixture into the prepared ramekins and refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours, preferably overnight.
TIP: To make sure you get a smooth, silky texture, pour the mixture into the ramekins through a small fine-mesh sieve. That will help to get rid of air bubbles.
Note: I was shooting the step-by-step photos away from home, so I needed to adapt to the circumstances and use what I can find. That's why I used bourbon vanilla sugar instead of an extract, which is the reason the coconut milk mixture isn't pure white as in the served panna cotta pictures.
Yield and serving
This coconut panna cotta recipe makes enough to fill 4x120ml (½ cup) ramekins. Feel free to double the recipe for more servings.
To unmold the panna cotta, dip the ramekin halfway through in hot water for about 15 seconds, place the plate on top of the ramekin and then turn it upside down. Give it a little shake or tap the top to help loosen up. Return back to the hot water if it's not coming out.
The thickness of your molds determines how much time they need to spend dipped halfway through in hot water. Sometimes you'll need to use a knife to loosen up the edges just a bit so it slides more easily.
Serve with some fresh, ripe passion fruit or mango slices and macerated strawberries.
💡Tips and tricks
- Lightly grease the ramekins with coconut oil for easier release later.
- Feel free to use glasses instead of ramekins, so you don't need to unmold them later. Just layer them with some fruit before serving.
- For a little crunch, toast some coconut flakes or granola and add to each serving.
- Use good quality coconut milk for best results.
If you want to make a vegan-friendly version, you can use agar-agar instead of gelatine. However, I'm not certain of the amount needed and it may impact the texture of the panna cotta.
You can also use honey, agave, erythritol or other similar sweeteners instead of sugar to make it paleo or even keto-friendly!
Keep the panna cotta in the fridge, covered with cling film, in the mold for 3-4 days. The longer it sits, the firmer it will get.
FAQs and Troubleshooting
Sometimes, if the milk mixture isn't homogenized (correctly emulsified) the water and fat content can split so the gelatine thickens each of them which creates layers. Another reason might be that the gelatine hasn't dissolved properly or that the milk mixture was too hot, so gelatine lost its full thickening properties.
Absolutely, the panna cotta freezes very well but if you want to avoid it forming a thick skin on top, make sure to cover it with plastic wrap.
Yes! This is a great dessert to make ahead because it needs time to chill and set in the fridge. You can make panna cotta up to three days in advance. After it has set and it's not hot anymore, keep it covered in plastic wrap, so it doesn't pick up potential smells from the fridge.
If you have any other questions that I didn't cover, please let me know in the comments section down below - I'd love to help you out!
And if you make this coconut panna cotta, tag me on Instagram @anasbakingchronicles so I can see it or feel free to e-mail me your pictures and thoughts! I love seeing your bakes!
Coconut Panna Cotta
- 500 g coconut milk
- 80 g granulated sugar
- pinch of fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- lime zest
- 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine (8 grams)
- 2 tablespoons cold water (30 ml)
- 3-4 passion fruit
- 150 g fresh strawberries
- Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle with powdered gelatine. Let for a few minutes to fully soak up the water.
- Prepare the ramekins by greasing them lightly with some coconut oil and place them on a small tray.
- In the meantime, heat up the coconut milk, sugar, salt and lime zest in a medium-sized saucepan until the sugar is dissolved, but don't let it come to a boil. Remove from the heat and add vanilla extract and the bloomed gelatine.
- Stir the mixture with the whisk until the gelatine completely dissolves. If needed, return the mixture to low heat.
- Pour the panna cotta mixture into the prepared ramekins and refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours, preferably overnight. Use a fine-mesh sieve to ensure the silkiest texture.
- Serve in a ramekin, or unmold to a plate by dipping the ramekin halfway through in a bowl filled with hot water. Leave it like that for 10-15 seconds, remove from the bowl, put the plate on top and turn it upside down. Give it a little shake to let loose. Return to water if it's not sliding out or run the knife around the edges.
- Serve with fresh fruit such as passionfruit, pineapple, kiwis, strawberries macerated with some sugar (to let the juices), fruit sauces or coulis... the options are endless! 🙂
- If you still don’t own one, I advise you to buy a kitchen scale – they’re cheap and easy to use, and always guarantee the same results in baking.
All the recipes are developed and tested using only metric measurements and a kitchen scale. The U.S. cup and spoon measurements are provided for your convenience, but I highly recommend getting a digital kitchen scale and measuring in metrics. It's easy and always guarantee the same results in baking!
The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.