This passionfruit panna cotta came about from my love of panna cotta and my love of tangy passionfruit. This creamy dessert is all at once tart, sweet and light.

  • Panna cotta is truly easy to make.
  • 15 minutes effort is all you need.
  • Just 6 ingredients
  • Creamy, sweet, tangy and light.
  • The perfect make ahead dessert.

There are so many reasons to love panna cotta. It has a wonderful, lightly set, creamy jelly texture. I wish I could convey how good that is in words. I’ve already mentioned how incredibly easy it is but that simplicity makes it perfect for both a sweet treat after a weeknight dinner or for entertaining.

Want more flavours to try? Start with this classic vanilla panna cotta.

Panna cotta in a glass topped with passionfruit syrup and kiwi fruit slices.

Ingredients you’ll need

Panna cotta only needs a few ingredients so let’s take this Italian dessert to the tropics.

Ingredients for passionfruit panna cotta on a baking tray.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Milk: Whole milk (full cream milk) is your best option as lighter versions (like hilo, skim or 2%) will likely separate. It still seems to set fine but you’ll get two distinct layers rather than a perfectly merged dessert. Some other types of milk work too like oat milk or coconut milk.
  • Powdered gelatine: To date, I only use powdered gelatine (gelatin powder) in my desserts. I just find it easy to work with and haven’t tried sheets. The sheets have varying grades so I can’t tell you which or how many would work in this dessert.
  • Sugar: White granulated sugar is fine here though I tend to use caster sugar (superfine sugar) so that it dissolves more quickly.
  • Cream: Fluid, full fat cream or cream of 35% milk fat is best for the same reason as the milk. Whipping cream is fine as long as it’s the fluid variety, otherwise you’re looking for thickened cream, pouring cream or heavy cream.
  • Pure vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds a little balance to this tangy but creamy dessert. Please use extract, not essence (the latter is a synthetic flavouring).
  • Passionfruit pulp / passionfruit juice: Whether you call it juice or pulp, it’s generally the same thing. You want 100% passionfruit so, if buying tinned or jarred, check the ingredients list on the packaging. I often use frozen passionfruit pulp but fresh is even better.

I use slightly less gelatine in this recipe than my other versions. Firstly, because the acid in passionfruit has a slight curdling effect making the panna cotta thicker and secondly due to the fact that I use more cream in this recipe.

Don’t worry about the ‘curdling’ – this panna cotta still turns out beautifully smooth as long as you use 100% passionfruit and follow the steps.

How to prepare panna cotta (step-by-step)

I created this easy recipe for panna cotta to be exactly that. It’s near-on fool proof. The most important part is to make sure the gelatine is completely dissolved.

A collage showing how to make passionfruit panna cotta.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Dissolve the gelatin: Start by softening the gelatine in some cold milk. Just sprinkle it over the top and let it sit for 5-7 minutes until you notice it get wrinkly or even start dissolving on it’s own. Now turn on the heat, just on low-medium, and gently heat while stirring constantly to dissolve the gelatine until it’s all blended in.
  2. Add sugar: Add the sugar and stir that until dissolved too. The milk should never come to a simmer – just heat gently and remove it from the heat if you see it start steaming.
  3. Add cream & vanilla: Remove it from the heat and add cream and vanilla to the milk mixture.
  4. Add passionfruit: Add the strained passionfruit juice and quickly stir it in. The acid in the passionfruit does have a slight curdling effect so mixing it in quickly is important. The effect halts quickly so don’t be too worried and the panna cotta will still be perfectly smooth.
  5. Strain: Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a jug. This should remove any bits of gelatine that didn’t dissolve or any bits that may have curdled.
  6. Portion & chill: Now portion the panna cotta mixture out into your ramekins then chill for at least 6 hours to set (overnight is best).
Two images showing how to make passionfruit syrup.
  1. Make the syrup: You can actually have the passionfruit syrup going while you’re waiting for the gelatine to soften. Just dissolve the sugar in some water over medium heat then add the passionfruit juice, bring it to a boil for a minute or two and it’s done. Chill before using.
  2. Serve: Once the panna cotta has set, drizzle a little passion fruit sauce over the top. I added little slices of kiwi fruit too but you could add sliced mango and even coconut flakes.

Tips and tricks

  • Make sure the gelatine dissolves: This is probably where most panna cottas fail – by not making sure all the gelatine dissolves. The issue with this is that it isn’t distributed through the whole mixture so the dessert can’t set and instead you’ll get gelatine lumps. You can see bits of undissolved gelatine either stuck on your spatula or floating on top of the milk. Use the spatula to press them to the sides to help dissolve if you need to.
  • Don’t simmer or boil the mixture: Gelatine can lose it’s efficacy if it reaches boiling heat so never let the mixture boil or even simmer. If you see it begin to steam, move your saucepan away from the heat and continue stirring then make sure to turn the heat down before you put it back again.
  • Adding the passionfruit: Mix well immediately after adding the passionfruit juice then make sure to strain the mixture as well.
Syrup being poured over panna cotta.

FAQs

My panna cotta didn’t set!

This is most likely due to not using the right quantities of ingredients or not making absolutely sure all the gelatine has dissolved before proceeding. Did you boil the mixture? This can affect the efficacy of the gelatine.

My panna cotta has separated!

Did you use a light milk or light cream? Quite often these versions will cause the panna cotta to separate into two layers. Sometimes not. Different brands seem to react differently. Stick to full cream to be absolutely sure.

How do I get panna cotta out of the ramekins?

Immediately before you add the mixture to your ramekins, rub a little oil around the inside (very little – you just want the sides to be greased, not with enough oil to pool). Once the panna cotta has set, sit the ramekin in hot (not boiling) water for 20-30 seconds. Press your finger to the top edge of the panna cotta to release the vacuum, then turn it upside down onto your plate and give it a little shake.

Is panna cotta vegetarian? Is panna cotta vegan?

While the dairy in this recipe can be changed, gelatine is derived from animals so, no, panna cotta is neither suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Of course, agar agar is a setting agent that is suitable for both but it does have a different setting texture and may require different quantity to get the right set, so you’ll need to experiment. I do not specialise in vegetarian ingredients.

Is panna cotta gluten free?

While I can’t comment on every recipe out there, the classic recipe for panna cotta and all panna cotta recipes on this site, including this passionfruit panna cotta, are indeed gluten free.

Yield and storage

This recipe makes 6 panna cottas. It is the perfect indulgent yet light dessert that won’t leave you rolling away after dinner. This recipe can be scaled very easily.

Passionfruit panna cotta must be kept chilled in the fridge, covered well with plastic wrap or in a tightly sized airtight container. It will last up to 5 days.

Can panna cotta be frozen? Yes it can. You can freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and don’t re-freeze once it has been defrosted. The texture may suffer very slightly but is generally not noticeable.

A panna cotta on a plate with a spoonful taken out.

More panna cotta recipes (and serving styles)

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Panna cotta in a glass topped with passionfruit syrup and kiwi fruit slices.

Passionfruit Panna Cotta

5 from 4 ratings
Tangy, creamy and sweet, this passionfruit panna cotta starts with my easy recipe for panna cotta, then passionfruit juice and a passionfruit syrup give this 15-minute Italian dessert a tropical vibe.

Ingredients

THE PASSIONFRUIT PANNA COTTA

  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk (310ml)
  • 3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • cup caster sugar (superfine sugar) (66g / 2.3oz) (notes 1)
  • 1 ¾ cups cream (430ml)
  • ¼ cup strained 100% passionfruit pulp / juice (60ml)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

THE PASSIONFRUIT SYRUP

  • ½ cup water (125ml)
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar (100g / 3.5oz)
  • ½ cup 100% passionfruit pulp / juice (including seeds) (125ml)

Equipment

  • 2 Saucepans
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Jug
  • ramekins

Instructions
 

  • FOR THE PASSIONFRUIT PANNA COTTA: If you want to turn the Panna Cotta out onto a plate when set, first start by greasing your ramekins with a little oil. You only want enough for them to be greased, not for the oil to be pooling. Wipe them with paper towel so there is only a light covering.
  • Pour the cold milk into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatine evenly over the top. Allow it to soften for 5-7 minutes (it should look a bit wrinkly by the end or even starting to sink into the milk).
  • Turn the heat on low under the saucepan and stir for a couple of minutes until the gelatine has dissolved. If it’s not dissolving easily, rub it up against the sides of the saucepan. Important! Do not let it come to a simmer- ever. If it even starts steaming, remove and stir it off the heat for a little until all the gelatine is dissolved. Turn the heat down before replacing it.
  • Add the sugar and stir again until dissolved. This should only take another minute.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat. Pour in the cream and vanilla and stir well to combine. Now add the passionfruit pulp and mix thoroughly. Passionfruit has a slight curdling affect so stir well and move quickly (it doesn’t last long and the panna cotta will still remain smooth, don’t worry).
  • Pour the cream mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a jug to catch any bits of undissolved gelatine or curdled milk.
  • Pour into your ramekins, in a baking tin will make it easiest to handle. Place immediately in the fridge and allow to set for at least 6 hours (even better overnight).
  • FOR THE PASSIONFRUIT SYRUP: You can start this while the gelatine is softening in the milk.
  • Strain the passionfruit juice of the seeds but keep the seeds aside in case you want to add some to your finished panna cottas.
  • Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the passionfruit juice. Bring the mixture to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute, then chill until serving time.
  • SERVING: To unmould the panna cottas (optional), fill a dish with hot (not boiling) water just an inch or so, then sit the moulds into the warm water for 20-30 seconds. Place your serving dish on top of the Panna Cotta mould and flip it over. Give the Panna Cotta a gentle shake. They may take a little bit of encouragement but should slide out perfectly. These will melt if left for too long so make sure you don't turn them out until ready to serve.
  • Drizzle the syrup over the panna cottas at serving time.
  • Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.

Notes

  1. Sugar: You can use white granulated sugar in place of the caster sugar but it will take longer to dissolve so be careful not to let the mixture overheat while doing this.
  2. The panna cottas have a subtle passionfruit flavour on their own. Adding too much passionfruit juice to the cream mixture will cause curdling so it’s kept minimal.
  3. Make sure the gelatine is fully dissolved. You can see undissolved bits either floating on the surface of the milk or stuck to the spatula, it’s very important it’s all dissolved before continuing but never let it come to a simmer.
  4. The syrup is adds more flavour and is also great used over pancakes or in cocktails.
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