A truly delicious classic Italian dessert, limoncello panna cotta with fresh berries is definitely something you should try. It’s straightforward to make, even if you don’t often make desserts, and the combination of fresh berries, limoncello liqueur, lemon zest, and cream is just mouthwatering. Words can’t do this amazing Italian dessert enough justice – you’ll just have to make lemon panna cotta yourself and then you’ll see!
Limoncello and panna cotta are Italian favourites, and when you mix these two ingredients with heavy cream, gelatin, lemon zest, and sugar, as well as plump, juicy berries, the result is an impressive dessert which teams elegance with fantastic flavor.
Why You’ll Love This
Easy to make: There’s nothing hard about making limoncello panna cotta. This easy and delicious no bake dessert is simple enough for even newbie home cooks to master.
Delicious: Recipes like this are rich, creamy and tasty. This one combines the zesty taste of lemon with the appeal of juicy fresh berries.
You can make it ahead: Whenever you’re making a meal, it’s always nice to be able to prepare at least one course ahead. Once you’ve made this limoncello panna cotta, you can simply refrigerate it and focus on whatever you’re having for the main course. Not having to juggle several recipes at once is always a bonus!
Lemon and Berry Panna Cotta Ingredients
Limoncello liqueur is one of the main ingredients, although you can always reduce the amount if you want a subtler taste. You can purchase limoncello or make with a homemade limoncello recipe.
Granulated sugar, lemon zest, gelatin, cream, and Half & Half also belong in this easy panna cotta, and then you will need fresh berries (whatever is in season) to top the dessert, plus whichever garnishes you want – lemon peel twists and fresh mint work well with this simple Italian dessert.
How to Make This Limoncello Dessert
For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.
Make the berry topping: Toss the berries with sugar, limoncello and lemon peel, then cover and chill until required.
Prepare the gelatin: Sprinkle the gelatin into cold water in a small bowl and mix.
Work on the panna cotta mixture: Mix the rest of the limoncello with the cream, Half & Half and some more sugar, then heat in a medium saucepan until the sugar dissolves and simmer for a few minutes. Stir frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Combine the softened gelatin and cream: Microwave the gelatin mixture for a few seconds then add softened gelatin to the cooked cream mixture.
Chill the limoncello panna cotta: Transfer the panna cotta into ramekins and let the mixture cool. This means chilling overnight or for at least a few hours.
Serve and enjoy: Invert the panna cotta desserts onto serving plates then stir the berries before topping the panna cotta desserts with them. Add any garnishes you like, and serve right away.
Substitutions and Variations
If preferred, you can make this dessert in a large glass serving dish, or even in little shot glasses (if you use little serving glasses just add the berries on top – you can leave the panna cotta in those glasses to serve).
Use any kind of berries you like depending what you happen to prefer and what’s in season, and reduce the amount of liqueur if you wish, perhaps subbing lemon juice or even a splash of orange juice for some.
What to Serve with this Easy and Delicious Dessert
You might like to serve a glass of limoncello alongside the dessert. Or you could pair it with an espresso for that authentic Italian touch (or both!)
Store: Keep the panna cotta mixture refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it (it will keep for a couple of days) and then prepare the berry mixture the same day you’re serving it, and top the panna cotta with the berries (and your chosen garnish) just before serving. Panna cotta without the fruit topping keeps for up to 5 days in the fridge as long as you add plastic wrap over the serving glasses.
Freeze: Panna cotta actually freezes well, but don’t add the berries before freezing it. Keep in mind the creamy dessert can “split” when it thaws, so it might not be quite so delicious as it was when fresh.
Limoncello Panna Cotta FAQs
Choose from any kind of berries you want, or experiment with different kinds of fruit, such as kiwi, pitted cherries, peach or grapes.
This popular dessert from the Piedmont region in the north of Italy is one of the best desserts you can make. It’s easy, tasty, creamy, rich, and authentically Italian. If you’re wondering about the name of this dessert, panna cotta translates to mean “cooked cream” although it’s not actually cooked for long.
To make it, high fat heavy cream, milk, sugar, and flavorings are briefly cooked, and then a thickening agent (gelatin for this recipe) is added. After that, the dessert is left to set and it becomes firmer while it chills.
There are similar custard-like desserts made with eggs, but gelatin works just as well to offer a firm texture and it’s also easy to work with. Eggs are too easy to accidentally scramble when adding them to desserts!
Panna cotta is naturally gluten free, making it a great dessert option.
Limoncello Panna Cotta Recipe
Limoncello Panna Cotta
- 1 ½ Cups berries fresh, such as blueberries, raspberries, saskatoon berries, blackberries
- ½ Cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons
- ¾ Cup limoncello plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 Teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ Cup water cool
- 12 Grams gelatin unflavoured, powder
- 1 ¾ Cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ Cup half and half
- lemon peel twists
- mint leaves
- In a medium sized bowl mix together the berries with 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of limoncello, and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve the panna cotta.
- In a small microwave safe dish, combine the cool water with the gelatin powder. Let sit until the gelatin has absorbed all of the water. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl mix together the cream, half and half, the remaining sugar, and the remaining limoncello. Heat the cream mixture over medium high heat, stirring slowly, until it comes to a boil.
- While the cream mixture is heating up, place the dish of gelatin into the microwave. Heat for 5 to 10 seconds until the gelatin has become a liquid again.
- Once the cream mixture comes to a boil (be careful not to let It boil over). Turn the heat down and let the cream simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the liquefied gelatin. Let simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes while stirring slowly. Remove from heat.
- Prepare your ramekins by spraying very lightly with oil.
- Pour the panna cotta mixture into the ramekins evenly.
- Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator immediately. Let the panna cotta chill in the refrigerator until solid, at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to serve. Invert the ramekins with the panna cotta onto a plate. You may find that using a thin knife to loosen the edges of the panna cotta from the ramekins before inverting may help.
- Remove the berries from the refrigerator and give a nice gentle stir.
- Top the panna cotta with a large spoonful of the berries. Garnish with a lemon peel, twist and a leaf of mint.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Limoncello panna cotta is tangy, zesty, creamy, and sweet all at the same time. It’s a fantastic dinner party dessert option. The taste is sweet and subtle, and the texture is soft – a bit like Jell-O. The citrusy limoncello contrasts beautifully with the creamy dessert, and you can make this in a large glass bowl, individual ramekins or even shooter glasses. This is one Italian dessert recipe you’ll want to make again and again!
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Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.
Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.