Lemon Panna Cotta

Lemon panna cotta with lemon marmalade – Creamy lemony panna cotta with a tangy lemon marmalade topping. This sophisticated dessert is simple to make.

A pale yellow panna cotta flecked with black vanilla bean seeds is in a glass dish on a marble table. The panna cotta is topped with a circle of orange colored marmalade. There is a silver spoon to the right of the panna cotta.

Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream. It really is just cream, milk, sugar, gelatin and flavoring. If the proportions are right, you end up with a creamy, flavorful dessert that is almost like a pudding but without the eggs.

I found this recipe on Bon Appetit. The panna cotta is flavored with vanilla bean and lemon peel. The recipe only calls for lemon peel, not the juice. The advantage is that you don’t curdle the cream but the lemon flavor is subtle.

Four stemmed glasses are filled halfway with a pale yellow panna cotta. Little black flecks of vanilla bean seeds dot the pale yellow dessert and there is a circle of orange colored marmalade on top of each dessert.

You can increase the lemon flavor by letting the boiled cream sit longer with the lemon peel in it (up to overnight in the refrigerator).

The homemade marmalade is easy to make but you could substitute orange marmalade if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own. If you use store bought marmalade, you can make this in about 20 minutes plus 6 hours refrigeration time.

Now for a confession. I’ve never had panna cotta or made it before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My friends said it’s the best desert I’ve ever made them. High praise from some amazing cooks. 

One last thing about this dessert – it’s easy to transport. A friend’s husband died this week. I put this panna cotta and the marmalade topping in mason jars so she can indulge a little as she mourns.

A single stemmed glass filled with pale yellow panna cotta sits on a lace cloth. The panna cotta has tiny black flecks from vanilla bean seeds and is topped with orange-colored marmalade. There is a silver spoon to the bottom right of the glass.

Yield: 8 servings

Lemon Panna Cotta

Lemon Panna Cotta
Additional Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours


Lemon Marmalade

  • Peel from 3 large lemons removed with a vegetable peeler
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pulp and juice from 1 large lemon (about 1/3 cup)
  • ¼ cup water

Lemon Panna Cotta

  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Peel from 1 lemon removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 vanilla bean


Panna Cotta

  1. Put ½ cup milk in a bowl. Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over the top and set aside to soften.
  2. Put remaining milk, cream, sugar, and lemon peel in a large saucepan. Split the vanilla bean open with a knife and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Add the vanilla bean.
  3. Bring almost to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Mix in the softened gelatin and bring almost to a boil again. Remove from heat and pour through a strainer to remove peel, bean and any lumps.
  6. Divide among 8 ramekins or serving dishes. Chill for 6 hours. Top with marmalade.


  1. Put lemon peel in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain. Repeat two more times. Let cool and slice into thin pieces.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until only about 2/3 cup remains and temperature reaches 225°F (about 10 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and let cool.


If you want more lemon flavor in the panna cotta, you can refrigerate the boiled cream overnight. Do not soften the gelatin until about 10 minutes before you reheat the boiled cream. I used a sharp knife to remove the membrane from the pulp inside for the marmalade. You can use lemon juice but it will not thicken as much.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 65mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 3gSugar: 41gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is provided as a guide only. Please consult a dietician for specific dietary needs.

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