A classic Italian recipe gets a tropical spin in this decadent Mango Panna Cotta. Rich & creamy custard is paired with ripe, juicy mango for a simple, make ahead dessert that everyone loves.
This Mango Panna Cotta may look restaurant-worthy, but it's actually super easy to make at home. A silky smooth vanilla-lime cream base is topped with a vibrant mango coulis, a fancy word for a simple mango sauce that has been cooked to intensify its flavor. Every bite melts in your mouth.
Why you'll love this recipe
✔︎ Easy recipe, real ingredients. This mango panna cotta is made with only a handful of simple ingredients. No funky fillers or preservatives here.
✔︎ Make it ahead of time. Store this panna cotta recipe in the fridge up to three days before you serve it, which makes this the perfect dessert for busy schedules.
✔︎ Secret ingredient. An unexpected addition - Greek yogurt - adds tanginess and balance to what is often a very rich dessert. (Bonus points for the extra protein in Greek yogurt!)
✔︎ The BEST mango coulis. Cooking the mangos intensifies their flavor, giving you a richly flavored fruit sauce that is versatile and addictive. You can also slather this mango sauce on toast, spread it over cheesecake and spoon it over ice cream.
What is panna cotta
This humble Italian dessert originated in the Piedmont region. Though it roughly translates to "cooked cream", the cream is not actually cooked at all. It's merely warmed on the stovetop before being sweetened with sugar, infused with vanilla and thickened with just enough gelatin to hold its shape. Think of it as an elevated form of pudding that is extra creamy and silky smooth.
Get everything you need for this elegant dessert in one trip to the store.
A few ingredient notes:
- Mangos: Ripe, fresh mango or frozen mango cubes can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
- Cream: Heavy cream provides the best flavor, you can also substitute half and half if you want a lighter taste.
- Greek yogurt: Use whole milk or 2% Greek yogurt for best results.
- Gelatin: Find unflavored gelatin in the baking aisle at the grocery store.
- Milk: I like the richer flavor of whole milk but you can also use 2% milk if you prefer.
Place milk in a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Heat to just a simmer and whisk until gelatin dissolves and mixture is smooth.
Stir in cream, sugar, vanilla extract and lime zest. Cook over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and whisk in Greek yogurt until mixture is smooth. Divide panna cotta among six ramekins, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Add mango, water and sugar to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until mango is soft, adding water by the tablespoon to prevent the mango from sticking to the bottom of the pan as needed. Scrape mango mixture into a blender, add lime juice, and puree until completely smooth. Allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating.
When ready to serve, divide mango coulis among chilled panna cotta ramekins. Top with chopped fresh mango, if desired.
Panna cotta is Italian for "cooked cream", so expect a silky smooth texture and a sweet, creamy taste. You can further infuse panna cotta with a variety of flavorings, like the vanilla extract and fresh lime zest in this recipe.
Creme brûlée and panna cotta share a similar, custardy texture and contain many of the same ingredients like sugar, vanilla and cream, but they differ in how they are thickened. Panna cotta is thickened with gelatin where creme brûlée is thickened with eggs.
You can either unmold a panna cotta and serve it plated or eat it right out of a ramekin. If you choose to unmold this recipe, wait to top it with the mango coulis until after you've removed it from the ramekin.
Any leftovers can be kept covered in the fridge for up to three days.
Expert tips for making Mango Panna Cotta
➤ Mango coulis can be made days ahead of time. It will thicken even more in the fridge. Stir with whisk until smooth before layering on top of panna cottas.
➤ In a rush? Skip cooking the mango coulis and simply puree mango cubes in the blender with sugar and fresh lime juice.
➤ If you want an extra smooth mango sauce, push the blended mango mixture through a fine mesh sieve. A high powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix enables you to skip this step completely.
➤ Don't have Greek yogurt? Add the equivalent amount of milk, cream or half & half in its place.
➤ Simmer, don't boil. Heat the panna cotta mixture to steaming but not boiling. Once it reaches too high of a temperature, the effectiveness of the gelatin starts to break down.
➤ Chill for at least four hours before serving. You'll need at least that long for the gelatin to set up, but this recipe is easy to make up to three days ahead of time and kept covered in the fridge.
➤ Panna cotta has the best flavor when served cold.
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Mango Panna Cotta
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one lime
- ½ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 2 cups cubed mango (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of mango)
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
To make the panna cotta:
- Place milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand for 5 minutes without heating.½ cup whole milk, 1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- Heat saucepan over medium low heat and stir until gelatin dissolves and milk mixture starts to steam but not boil.
- Stir in cream, sugar, vanilla and lime zest. Cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring regularly. Mixture will steam but should never bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt until smooth.2 cups heavy cream, ½ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, Zest of one lime, ½ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- Divide panna cotta among 6 (8-ounce) ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until fully set, at least 4 hours.
To make the mango coulis:
- Place mango, water and desired amount of sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 12-17 minutes or until mango has softened, adding more water by the tablespoon if mango starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.2 cups cubed mango, 2 tablespoons water, 1-2 tablespoons sugar
- Scrape mango mixture into a blender, add lime juice and puree until completely smooth. Let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate if making ahead of time.1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Both the mango coulis and the panna cotta can be made up to three days ahead of time. Give the coulis a stir before layering on top of the panna cotta as it thickens in the fridge.
- Be sure not to let the panna cotta mixture boil when making it as the gelatin loses some of its effectiveness at high temperatures.
- Don't have Greek yogurt? Add the equivalent amount of milk, cream or half and half in its place.
- You can also make a simple mango puree instead of the cooked coulis sauce. Simply puree mango cubes in the blender with sugar and lime juice. The color will be lighter and the flavor not as robust but it will still be delicious.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.