photo of white panna cotta on a white plate with purple berry sauce and white flowers

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Coulis

Vanilla Panna cotta with mixed berry coulis is one of our favourite desserts. The vanilla panna cotta is sweet and creamy soft, and melts on your tongue. The coulis packs a flavour punch that has just the right amount of tartness from the lemon juice to cut through the creaminess of the panna cotta.

This is a lovely dessert to serve at dinner parties because you can make it look so pretty. You can set it in a mould and un-mould it as shown here, or serve it in a cocktail glass with the coulis on top. And it can be made up to a day ahead, which frees up your time to prepare other courses.

photo of white panna cotta on white plate with purple sauce and purple flowers

We started making panna cotta in our quest to find egg-free desserts (one of our children is anaphylactic) and started to experiment with the recipe. It took a few attempts to get the consistency just right. Too much gelatine and you get a stiff panna cotta that doesn’t have a pleasant mouth feel. Too little gelatine, and it won’t hold its shape when you un-mould it.

photo of white panna cotta on white plate in a pool of purple berry coulis with white flowers


You can use powdered gelatine for panna cotta, but gelatine leaves give a much better result. The leaves are flavourless and odourless. We use McKenzie’s platinum strength gelatine leaves. They have a bloom strength of 220–260. If you choose to use powdered gelatine, 2 leaves = 1tsp of powder.

Photo of white panna cotta on a white plate with purple berry sauce and white flowers

Sauce/Coulis for Panna Cotta

There are so many sauces that marry well with vanilla panna cotta. Berries are very popular, but mango is also delicious, and poached plums are perfect when they’re in season.

Frozen berries are fine to use in a coulis, and far more economical than fresh. You may need to adjust the amount of lemon juice and sugar according to your personal preference.

Make sure the coulis is cooled down completely before serving. If it’s warm it will melt your panna cotta!


Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Coulis

A sweet, creamy dessert that's easy to make and looks fancy enough for a dinner party.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Chilling time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cream, creamy dessert, dessert, dinner party, easy dessert, egg-free, egg-free dessert, eggless, italian dessert, vanilla
Servings: 10


  • Blender


Vanilla Panna Cotta

  • 7–8 sheets leaf gelatine platinum strength
  • 600 ml cream
  • 400 ml full cream milk
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods

Mixed Berry Coulis

  • 250 g mixed berries fresh or frozen
  • 1 lemon juice only
  • ½ cup caster sugar

To Serve

  • Mixed berries fresh or frozen
  • Edible flowers eg. viola optional


Vanilla Panna Cotta

  • In a small bowl, soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes.
  • Place cream, milk and sugar into a saucepan.
  • Split the vanilla pods lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Add pods and seeds to cream mixture.
  • Stir mixture over a medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is almost boiling. Remove from heat.
  • Squeeze excess water out of gelatine leaves and add them to the cream mixture. Stir until gelatine has dissolved, then set mixture aside for 15–20 minutes for vanilla to infuse.
  • Strain mixture into a jug and pour into moulds or serving glasses. Refrigerate for 3+ hours.

Mixed Berry Coulis

  • While panna cotta is chilling, heat berries, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar and break down berries.
  • Blend mixture in a blender of food processor until smooth. Push through a strainer and refrigerate until completely cool.

To Serve

  • Pour mixed berry coulis into the bases of shallow bowls.
  • Remove panna cotta from moulds (if using) by turning each mould upside down and holding it under warm water for a few seconds. Give the mould a gentle shake to release the panna cotta, and upend it into the palm of your hand and then transferring it to a shallow bowl.
    Decorate with additional berries and fresh edible flowers if using. Serve immediately


The vanilla seeds will settle to the bottom of the cream mixture. To ensure it is evenly distributed, pour the panna cotta mix into each mould a little  at a time, returning to top them up until you use up all the mixture



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