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Creamy panna cotta, spiked with real vanilla bean seeds, all layered with a sinfully rich homemade caramel sauce. Easy to make and super impressive, this restaurant-quality dessert is just so good.

Side view of small glass pudding cups holding creamy panna cotta topped with rich caramel sauce.

🍨 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • This vanilla bean panna cotta with caramel sauce is out of this world delicious! The custard is perfectly creamy and sweet and the real vanilla beans are incredibly flavorful. This dessert will more than satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • It’s super impressive yet super easy to make! This recipe uses less than 10 ingredients total, and you end up with a beautiful fancy dessert as good as at a restaurant, if not even better!
  • Panna cotta is such a great dessert to prepare ahead for a special dinner or the holidays. Because it requires some cooling time, you can make them, refrigerate them and use them when it’s time to eat. The caramel sauce will be at its best made right before serving, but it only takes less than 15 minutes to make. Your guests will love and for sure remember this decadent treat!

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • When making the caramel sauce, the butter and heavy cream must be at room temperature and not cold. They’ll need to be out of the fridge, and on the counter for at least 30 minutes before using. It’s very important to avoid the caramel from seizing up and become grainy.
  • Before pouring the custard into individual ramekin, let it cool down to lukewarm. This will prevent the milk and cream from separating in the containers, and give uneven and undesired layers. Once cooled, give it a good whisk, and then divide the mixture into ramekins, then place them in the fridge to continue the setting process.
  • One of the panna cotta main ingredients is unflavored powdered gelatin which you can find at any grocery store most likely by the Jell-O. You’ll need to add it to water first and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, so it can soften and get thicker.
  • Keep in mind when making this recipe that panna cotta must set and chill for at least 3 hours before its consumption. So plan ahead!
Overhead, angled view of vanilla bean panna cotta in a glass pudding cup topped with rich, dark caramel sauce.

🍮 More Caramel Treats You Can’t Resist

Recipe By: Cheryl Malik

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Cooling Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total 3 hours 45 minutes
This restaurant-quality creamy panna cotta is made with real vanilla bean and a layer of delicious homemade caramel sauce.
8 servings


  • Small bowl
  • medium saucepan
  • ramekins
  • Large saucepan heavy bottom
  • Pastry brush
  • Small bowl filled with water
  • whisk


For the Panna Cotta

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin 1 packet
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise, seeds scraped 

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature


  • Add gelatin powder to small bowl and mix with 3 tablespoons of water. Let sit for about 5 to 10 minutes until softened, and thickened.
  • In medium saucepan, add heavy cream and sugar and cook over medium heat stirring often, until a low boil starts. Remove from heat, then add vanilla, and stir in gelatin until smooth.
  • Keep panna cotta in saucepan and let cool to lukewarm. Once cool, stir well before pouring mixture into 6 to 8 individual ramekins. Then place them in fridge until set, at least 3 hours to overnight.
  • Right before serving, make caramel sauce. Stir sugar and ½ cup water in large saucepan over medium low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium high, boil mixture without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, about 12 minutes. Occasionally, swirl pan and dip pastry brush into bowl filled with water and brush sides of pan with it
  • When syrup is browned, remove from heat and whisk in room temperature butter until fully combined.
  • Then gradually add heavy whipping cream and stir in, mixture will bubble vigorously. Make sure cream is at room temperature and not cold to prevent caramel sauce from seizing up.
  • Once panna cotta is set, top each ramekin with layer of caramel sauce and serve.
  • Butter and heavy cream must be at room temperature before making caramel sauce, for best results. 

Approximate Information for One Serving

Serving Size: 1servingCalories: 691calProtein: 5gFat: 53gSaturated Fat: 33gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 40mgPotassium: 130mgTotal Carbs: 54gSugar: 54gNet Carbs: 54gVitamin A: 2099IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 91mgIron: 0.2mg
Nutrition Disclaimers
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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