This irresistibly creamy Maple Panna Cotta is surprisingly easy to make. Serve this make-ahead dessert with your favorite seasonal fruits! Instructions to make vegan panna cotta included.
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Desserts don’t need to be fussy and difficult to make to look elegant and taste delightfully rich. This easy Maple Panna Cotta is proof of that. Panna cotta is an Italian dessert that translates to “cooked cream.” The name is simple and the process to make it is, too: panna cotta is quite simply a sweetened cream that is thickened and set by gelatin.
I’ve been making panna cotta for years. It’s one of my go-to desserts to serve to guests and there are many reasons why I love making it for dinner parties: it’s super quick to make, requires very few ingredients, is versatile in flavor and make-ahead friendly. What’s not to like?
Maple Panna Cotta is a 5-ingredient recipe: you only need heavy cream, milk, maple syrup, gelatin, and vanilla extract to make it.
You can serve panna cotta so many different ways: you can flavor it with vanilla, citrus zest, liquor, or fruit compotes, garnish it with seasonal fruits or crunchy toppings, serve it in small glasses or ramekins, or unmold it to serving plates, for a different look. In short, panna cotta is effortlessly stylish and deliciously memorable.
But my favorite way to sweeten and flavor panna cotta is to make it with maple syrup instead of regular sugar. Maple syrup infuses the panna cotta cream with its aromatic, earthy flavor, and adds some depth to the rich creaminess of the dessert.
The beauty of maple panna cotta is that it’s delightful on its own, but it’s also delicious with a variety of fruits and crunchy toppings. A combination of flavors and textures really brings maple panna cotta to another level: simply spoon on some juicy berries and sprinkle it with crunchy nuts and you’ve got a dessert fit for special occasions.
Yes you can, and in fact, you should! Panna cotta needs to be refrigerated for several hours to set, so it’s best to make it at least a half-day in advance. You can refrigerate set maple panna cotta for up to 5 days. Always garnish it with the toppings of your choosing (if any!) right before serving.
This panna cotta truly is worth you seeking maple syrup! But if you can’t find it, yes, you can substitute honey or any variety of granulated sugar at a 1:1 ratio. If you use granulated sugar, make sure to stir the milk and cream mixture with the sugar over the heat for a few minutes to make sure it dissolves and is completely incorporated into the liquid.
The type of gelatin I use to make maple panna potta is a dry, grainy powder and it needs to be steeped into a liquid to rehydrate. This step is crucial to creating a super-smooth, creamy panna cotta. Although “blooming” might sound like a technical term (albeit an elegant-sounding one), blooming gelatin is actually super easy. All you need to do is to sprinkle the gelatin over a liquid and leave it to rest, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. After that resting period, you’ll mix in the hot liquid, which will allow the gelatin to fully dissolve and help you create that irresistibly wobbly panna cotta texture.
Powdered gelatin is usually the easiest type of gelatin to find. The brand I use is Knox unflavored gelatin, and it is sold in all North American supermarkets. In Europe, gelatin sheets can be easier to find than powdered gelatin.
If you’ve got gelatin sheets on hand, you can use it to make maple panna cotta. For 1 packet of powdered gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons), substitute 5 sheets, each measuring about 2-7/8″ x 8-1/2″ (7 cm x 11.5 cm). To rehydrate gelatin sheets, you need to steep them in cold water for 5 minutes. This means you can warm up all the milk and cream together, instead of setting aside 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the milk to bloom the gelatin. Once gelatin sheets are soft, drain and squeeze out excess water. Add to the hot milk and cream mixture and stir until fully dissolved.
It’s easy to make vegan panna cotta. Here’s how:
Substitute plant milk and cream for the regular varieties. I like to use a combination of oat milk and soy cream because they both have a smooth flavor that lets maple take center stage, but you can also use coconut cream.
So many different fruits go well with maple syrup. Use maple panna cotta as a blank canvas and vary the toppings according to the season:
Crunchy toppings also offer a delightful contrast to the creamy texture of maple panna cotta. Here are a few ideas:
You can also serve panna cotta with crunchy cookies or mini cakes on the side to turn it into an elegant plated dessert. Sablés, financiers, and madeleines make wonderful sidekicks to this maple panna cotta.
Rhubarb Panna Cotta / Maple & Orange Panna Cotta / Dairy-Free Almond Panna Cotta
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Author: Marie Asselin
Making this for this first time for an Italian dinner THIS Saturday, but have a question about measurements. Ingredient list says 1 Tablespoon of milk, but instructions indicate 1/2 cup to bloom the gelatin and then other 1/2 cup to add to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream. Should ingredient list say 1 cup of whole milk, divided? I need to double the recipe, and I’ve never made it, so I want to be sure of the measurements. Thank you!
I’m so sorry Judy, there was a typo in the imperial measurements! Thank you so much for pointing it out. I just fixed it. I hope you enjoyed the dessert!
Panna cotta is one of those desserts that I absolutely love but do not make nearly enough. I have got to try this maple version asap – it looks and sounds amazing!
This maple-flavored panna cotta is a real treat! You might never make panna cotta with regular sugar again after you’ve given this version a taste 😉
What a fun and delicious dessert perfect for ending our homemade Italian meal. I used agar agar and set so perfectly!
Thanks for the feedback Hayley!
My favorite dessert is panna cotta. Lovely to have your maple panna cotta recipe. It is so imaginative, I love it. I will definitely try it, thank you!
Panna cotta is such a versatile dessert, I love it any and every way! I think you’ll fall in love with this maple version just as I did 😍
Panna Cotta is one of my all time favorite desserts so I was so happy to find this easy recipe. The addition of maple and nuts was fantastic . Thanks for a great recipe !
So happy you enjoyed it Debbie!
This maple panna cotta was so delicious and I loved the sweetness from the maple and the toasted pecans on top were perfect!
It’s such an irresistible flavor combo! Everyone loves it.
I made your pannacotta for dessert last night and my family devoured it! I loved the maple flavor and I topped it with blueberries and toasted pecans!
I love the blueberry addition! Delicious!
This panna cotta is so creamy, easy to make, and love the hints of maple flavor. This was my first time trying panna cotta and I’m so glad I tried your recipe! Thank you!
I’m sure you’ll be making this maple panna cotta again and again Kathryn! It’s so easy and delicious! Happy you enjoyed it.
These look delicious! The presentation is so pretty too! I will have to give this recipe a try! Thanks for the share!
Thank you Liz! Please make sure to report back after making the panna cotta. I’d love to hear what you thought!
How wonderful! I make panna cotta all the time and have never thought to use maple syrup. That’s not very Canadian of me, is it?
I have all the ingredients to make this treat, so I’d better get on it if we’re having dessert tonight. Oh, and I LOVE that you include the vegan and dairy free options. I haven’t worked with agar agar before so I have to give it a try.
Sometimes when something’s so obvious, you can’t see it! 😂 You’re going to love this maple panna cotta, Bernice. You might never make panna cotta with regular sugar ever again!