Vanilla Panna Cotta topped with Strawberry Gelée is an elegant dessert! Tilt your serving glasses while layering for a gorgeous presentation.

Luscious and smooth, this Easy Panna Cotta Recipe topped with strawberry gelee was a spectacular dessert for the eyes and palate. I chose a lovely strawberry topping, but, alternatively, serving with a side of strawberry sauce would have been just as nice.

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Gelée in a glass topped with fresh strawberries

Why You Must Make

  • This panna cotta dessert is a show-stopper!
  • It can be made ahead of time since it needs time to gel.
  • Strawberry Panna Cotta is the perfect finale for any Italian meal!

On this second attempt, seven years after my first,  I angled the glass serving dishes as I placed them on a tea towel-lined muffin tin (affiliate link). I wasn’t sure how I’d move these precariously perched glasses and tin into the refrigerator, but thankfully, I did.

This extra step was so the panna cotta layer chilled and solidified on an angle. Once that layer was firm, I turned the glasses upright before adding the strawberry gelee!

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Sugar, Salt
  • Whole Milk – 3½% Milk Fat
  • Unflavored Powdered Gelatin – Knox brand is found with the Jello in the grocery store.
  • Vanilla Bean – Split. May also use vanilla bean paste.
  • Heavy Cream – 36-40% Milk Fat
  • Honey 
  • Strawberries – Look for fragrant, red berries without white or green at the stem end.
 Two Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Gelée in martini glasses

How to Make

  1. Soften the gelatin in warm milk, then heat with vanilla bean until hot.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients for the vanilla panna cotta and heat until the sugar dissolves without boiling.
  3. Let cool slightly, then pour into the serving dishes. If you want the angled version, you’ll use a muffin tin to support your dishes at an angle.
  4. Chill until gelled. 
  5. To make gelee, sprinkle gelatin over water.
  6. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
  7. Remove from heat, strain, and allow to cool so the gelee won’t melt the bottom layer.
  8. Divide the gelee between the vanilla Panna cottas.
  9. Chill until the gelee gels. Serve with fresh berries, if desired.

Expert Tips

  • The color of your gelee will depend on your strawberries. The first time I made these, it was pink, and this time it was a deeper red.
  • You can make these without angling the dishes. They will still be beautiful if both layers are horizontal.
  • Make sure you bloom your gelatin in cool water or milk, less than 130° or it will bloom too quickly and may fail to gel.
  • PRO-Tip: Boiled gelatin won’t thicken.
  • Don’t add bloomed gelatin to a cold liquid or it will be lumpy.
  • Eat within 4 days as your panna cotta will get rubbery if older than that.
  • You can try making the gelee with other fruit. PRO-Tip: Note that fruit containing bromelains, like pineapple and kiwi, will inhibit the gelee from gelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Panna Cotta?

The Italian words “panna cotta” translate to cooked cream. It’s a dessert made of sweetened cream and milk that’s simmered and combined with gelatin to make a firm, molded dessert that often has toppings like caramel (or strawberry gelee!). The origin of this dessert is thought to be in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy dating back to the early 1900s.

What Does Panna Cotta Taste Like?

It’s a light, silky, eggless custard. The flavor is sweet and milky and this version is flavored with both vanilla and strawberries.

How Do You Garnish Panna Cotta?

Panna cotta is most often garnished with fruit, caramel, or chocolate sauce. It depends on the flavors in the panna cotta recipe. 

Why Didn’t My Panna Cotta Set?

You may have boiled the mixture or the gelatin may not have dissolved.

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Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Gelée

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Gelee Recipe

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield 8

A classic Italian dessert topped with gelled strawberry sauce


Panna Cotta:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon (¼-ounce) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Strawberry Gelee (doubling recommended)*:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (⅛-ounce) unflavored powdered gelatin


  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Place over medium heat on the stove.  Add vanilla bean. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
  3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved for 5-7 minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean.
  4. Remove from heat, and allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into glasses or ramekins. If you'd like an angled version, place a towel across a muffin tin and set the glasses in the tin at a slight angle before pouring.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before adding gelee.
  6. To make gelee, sprinkle gelatin over water.
  7. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
  8. Remove from heat, strain and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you're planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will melt your chilled Panna Cotta.
  9. Divide the gelee between the vanilla Panna cottas).
  10. Chill until the gelee gels. Serve with fresh berries, if desired.


Helpful Tools (As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases).

Cupcake Tin

Cuisinart Fine Mesh Strainers

Unflavored Knox Gelatin

Servings will vary depending on the size of your serving dishes.

*Triple the gelee if you want the angled presentation.

Recipe inspired by Giada DeLaurentis.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 409Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 0gSugar: 25gProtein: 6g


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