Buttermilk Honey Panna Cotta

buttermilk honey panna cotta eaten

As much as I love to bake fancy cakes and interesting cookies, my family probably gets most excited over anything in the custard and pudding realm, i.e. creamy desserts. They love everything from rice pudding to ice cream, and definitely this dead simple buttermilk honey panna cotta.

Panna cotta is one of my go-to make-ahead desserts, especially when I have random cartons of dairy taking up space in the fridge. It’s incredibly flexible: you can infuse the cream with spices or herbs, or even swap in different types of dairy. Make it the afternoon before serving, or stash them in the fridge for up to a week. Top panna cotta with seasonal fruit, or serve something crisp like brittle or shortbread cookies.

Whenever possible, I love making panna cotta with buttermilk. The slight tang adds an interesting element to this otherwise very simple dessert, the perfect foil for sweet seasonal fruits. However, if you don’t have buttermilk on hand you can easily replace it with an equal quantity of whole milk.

On working with gelatin

Ok, I know a lot of people have qualms over working with gelatin. Sheet vs. powder, how much to use, etc. — I realize it can be overwhelming. But I encourage you to get comfortable with using gelatin — it really opens up an exciting world of delicious desserts!

I almost always use powdered gelatin since it’s most readily accessible where I live. I buy it in bulk and keep it in an airtight container, and it lasts forever. If you’re using another type of gelatin, you can use this gelatin converter to estimate the amount you’ll need.

The amount of gelatin in this recipe is also flexible. If I’m planning to unmold the panna cottas, I use the amount listed which provides a medium set and enough structure so the panna cotta holds on a plate. If I’m going to serve the panna cotta in the container, then sometimes I’ll decrease the gelatin by about 1/3 for a very wobbly, barely set texture. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference; so pick one end of the spectrum and note how you like the texture. Then, if needed, you can adjust the amount in the future until you obtain your ideal panna cotta wobble.

Molding and unmolding panna cotta

You can use pretty much any container to set your panna cotta. For unmolded panna cotta, I have glass pudding cups similar to these which work perfectly. I just lightly oil the insides before pouring in the mixture. To unmold, dip the mold in very hot (but not boiling water) for about 5-6 seconds, then invert onto a plate. If the panna cotta doesn’t release readily, you might need to give the glass a few taps or warm it for a few more seconds.

Of course, you can just serve the panna cotta in the mold too! Set the mixture in little mason jars, wine glasses or little tumblers for a fun presentation. Or go casual family style and pour it all into a cake pan, then just scoop out individual portions.

buttermilk honey panna cotta

What to serve with panna cotta

While panna cotta is delicious on its own there are definitely lots of ways to dress it up. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Fruity: My favorite accompaniment for panna cotta is a chunky fruit compote to add some texture — basically just cook some fruit with a touch of sugar and a little liquid until thickened but not completely broken down. Or try some roasted (strawberries or peaches!) or poached (pears!) fruit! Or keep it even simpler by just macerating some berries with a little sugar to get the juices flowing.
  • Crunchy: Roasted or candied nuts, granola or streusel, brittle, shortbread fingers, tuiles
  • Saucy: A drizzle of caramel sauce, ganache, infused syrup
  • Icy: Serve on a bed of granita or alongside a scoop of sorbet

Panna cotta troubleshooting

  • Don’t boil the gelatin. Boiling gelatin can hinder its setting power. The dairy only needs to be heated enough to melt the gelatin, so I just look for the cream to be steaming before adding the bloomed gelatin.
  • When mixing dairy products with different fat levels (i.e. buttermilk and heavy cream), don’t skip the cooling process at room temperature before refrigerating the panna cotta. If you put the mixture straight into the fridge while warm, the cream will likely rise to the top and you’ll end up with two distinct layers. It might look cool, but probably not what you want. Let the whole mixture cool to roughly room temperature, stirring occasionally to keep everything emusified, before dividing into molds and chilling.
  • Don’t rush the setting time. Give the panna cotta at least 4 hours to set, especially if you plan to unmold them.
buttermilk honey panna cotta

Buttermilk Honey Panna Cotta

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

This simple, creamy, no-bake dessert is the perfect canvas for seasonal fruit.


  • 300g heavy cream, divided
  • 10.5g (3 1/2 tsp) powdered gelatin*
  • 60g good quality honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 420g buttermilk**
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Pour 60g heavy cream into a small bowl. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly over the surface and set aside to bloom for 5-10 minutes. Set a strainer over a 4-cup glass measuring cup or large jug with a spout.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 240g heavy cream, honey, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until cream is just steaming and the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  3. Scrape the bloomed gelatin into the warm cream mixture and whisk until gelatin has fully dissolved. Strain into the prepared glass measuring cup.
  4. Let cream mixture cool until lukewarm, whisking occasionally. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla. Allow to cool to roughly room temperature, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally to make sure the mixture is homogenous. (Don't skip this cooling process as it helps prevent the cream and buttermilk from separating in the fridge.)
  5. Divide the mixture evenly between six ramekins or serving glasses (about 120-130g each). If you plan to unmold the panna cottas, lightly grease the molds beforehand. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours or up to a week. (If you plan on storing them in the fridge for more than half a day, cover with plastic wrap.) 
  6. To unmold, dip the mold into very warm (not boiling) water for 5-6 seconds. Invert onto a serving plate. Add garnish/sauces if desired -- I love serving panna cotta with a chunky compote!
  7. Store panna cottas in the fridge for up to a week.


*If you don't plan to unmold the panna cottas, you can reduce the gelatin to as little as 7g (about 2 1/8 tsp, or one package) for a very wobbly, just-set texture.

**Buttermilk can be replaced with an equal weight of whole milk.

Almond Creme (Almond Jello)

This post is sponsored by Weight Watchers Canada. Find out more about the WW Freestyle program, which encourages the freedom to eat the foods you love while nudging you towards healthier choices using the SmartPoints system. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

While visiting my family over the holidays, I spent some time going through my mom’s recipe box, looking for gems from my childhood. Almond Creme popped up, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought to ask my mom for this recipe sooner! It’s no bake and quite light, perfect for warm summer days when no one feels like turning on the oven.

My family calls this dessert “Almond Jello”, but the texture reminds me more of panna cotta or silken tofu — smooth and creamy, and not at all rubbery. It’s a little too soft to unmold, so if you want to be fancy I’d suggest chilling it in individual glasses or ramekins. (Personally I’m lazy and just chill it in one dish and scoop it into bowls.) We ate this with fruit cocktail or canned mandarin oranges when I was a kid, but these days I prefer it with fresh fruit — sliced strawberries or mangoes would be my top choices.

Almond Creme

Serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 c water, divided into two 3/4 c portions
  • 1 pkg powdered gelatin (7 g)
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 c evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Sliced fresh fruit (strawberries or mangoes are my favorite), to serve


  • Prepare an 8×8 square pan (or similar sized pan, or six small ramekins).
  • Measure 3/4 c cold water into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over cold water. Let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Combine evaporated milk, remaining 3/4 cup water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring just to the boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin completely. Add vanilla and almond extract and stir to combine.
  • Pour mixture into prepared pan(s). If any bubbles form on the surface, use a silicone spatula to push them to the edge of the dish and they should pop. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
  • Served with sliced fruit.

Labneh Panna Cotta

I really like experimenting in the kitchen, but I’m also kinda cheap. The contents of my fridge inspire many of my food experiments (and dinner plans). Lately I’ve been on a labneh kick. And as much as I really like labneh on toast, sometimes you need to mix it up a bit. I’ve also been on a cake and cake decorating streak. And while I love the process of making fancy layer cakes, sometimes you want a dessert that takes less than 10 minutes and zero oven time. This, my friends, fits that bill.

This panna cotta is on the thicker, more pudding-y side. It’s also quite lightly sweetened, making it breakfast-appropriate in my book. You can dress this up or down as you like. I think panna cotta is improved with some contrasting textures, so I like adding toasted nuts, granola, or even some Momofuku cornflake crunch. Some fresh fruit is also excellent; or even just a drizzle of honey. Let your fridge inspire you.

Labneh Panna Cotta

Serves 4-6 | Adapted from A Brown Table


  • 1 cup milk, low or full fat (I used soy)
  • 80 g / 4 tablespoons honey + extra for drizzling, if desired
  • 7 g / 1 packet gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 lb labneh, lightly whipped


  1. Place the milk in a small saucepan along with the honey and vanilla and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. While the milk is heating, sprinkle the gelatin in a small mixing bowl containing the cold water. Allow the gelatin to bloom for 5 minutes.
  2. Once the milk has come to a simmer and the honey is dissolved, remove from heat and add the bloomed gelatin, stirring to combine.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into a large mixing bowl containing the labneh. Whisk to combine evenly, ensuring no lumps remain. Divide the mixture among serving glasses, or into a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate for at least 2 to 4 hours until firm.