November 21, 2022

Pumpkin Panna Cotta

Pumpkin Panna Cotta

This pumpkin panna cotta is perfectly creamy and resembles a pumpkin pie minus the crust. That is, unless you decide to add it to the top in the form of a crumble as we like to do it.

With all the flavor and the same, smooth and creamy mouthfeel, this panna cotta will help you bring a new take on your favorite holiday dessert to the table this holiday season. It's the perfect make-ahead dessert!

What is Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta, which translates to “cooked cream” in Italian, is a cream that has been flavored, sweetened, and thickened with gelatin in order to hold its shape. While it may sound intimidating, panna cotta is actually one of the easiest desserts you can make. If you have ever made a JELL-O pudding, then you have made a panna cotta.

Ingredients for Making Pumpkin Panna Cotta

  • Pumpkin Puree: I always use canned pumpkin here because it is always the same. When you make your own pumpkin puree, you may end up with a different moisture content which may throw off the thickness of the panna cotta.
  • Spices: I typically use store-bought pumpkin spice here with a little extra ground cinnamon. If you are making your own pumpkin spice feel free to adjust the flavoring of the mixture to your liking.
  • Liquid: I have found that using a base of heavy cream, thinned slightly with milk, creates the perfect texture and mouth feel after being set with gelatin. You are welcome to adjust the cream-to-milk ratio to your preference.
  • Sweetener: Brown sugar is my preferred sweetener for this recipe, complemented by vanilla extract, but you can easily replace brown sugar with granulated sugar if you prefer.
  • Gelatin: I used Knox's original unflavored Gelatine for this recipe because that is what is most readily available in grocery stores, but if you’d prefer another powdered gelatin, you should be able to substitute it 1-for-1.
  • Topping: While I like to use crumbled graham crackers and spiced whipped cream, the possibilities are limitless here.

A Note on the Topping

The one knock-on Panna Cottas tends to be that they become rather monotonous and lack depth and dimension after the first few bites. The best way to prevent this is to add a complementary topping. Not only will it make your dessert more visually appealing, but it will add multiple flavors and additional textures.

Like I mentioned, I like to top the panna cotta with crumbled graham cracker crumbs and spiced whipped cream because then the dessert ends up tasting exactly like a pumpkin pie. Think of it as a pumpkin pie in a glass!

Tips for the Best Pumpkin Panna Cotta

  1. Be slow and make sure to stir: When heating the panna cotta, be sure to do so slowly and make sure you often stir, ensuring that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot because the high sugar content and gelatin will make the mixture more susceptible to burning.
  2. Leave room for the topping: When pouring the panna cotta into your vessel for setting, make sure you leave room for the topping to fit into the dish to prevent it from making a mess when you end up eating it.

Happy holidays!

Pumpkin Panna Cotta

This pumpkin panna cotta is essentially a crust-less pumpkin pie. With all of the flavor and the same, smooth and creamy mouthfeel, it will help you bring a new take on your favorite holiday dessert to the table.















  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 1 ¾ cup of heavy cream
  • ¼ ounce (1 packet) of powdered gelatin

Whipped Cream

  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

To Garnish

  • Graham Cracker Crumbs (optional)


    Recipe calls for a total cool time of 2-3 hours

    1. Start by adding the powdered gelatin into the heavy cream by sprinkling the gelatin into the heavy cream and whisking until all of the gelatin is incorporated into the heavy cream. Set the mixture aside.
    2. Add the pumpkin puree into a pot and add the salt, brown sugar, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, ground cinnamon, and milk, and whisk to incorporate everything. Add the heavy cream with the gelatin dissolved into it and put the pot on the stove, and heat over medium heat, often stirring to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom or sides of the pot.
    3. Once the mixture reaches a very soft simmer and the gelatin is fully dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat and continue to stir briefly until the mixture is no longer in danger of burning.
    4. While the mixture is still hot, transfer the panna cotta to your desired vessel, leaving between 1-2 inches of space from the top. Gently transfer the mixture into the fridge to allow the gelatin to set (about 2-3 hours). 
    5. Place a bowl into either your fridge or freezer to chill for making the whipped cream.
    6. After about 2-3 hours, when the panna cotta has completely set and only jiggles slightly when shaken, make the whipped cream by placing the heavy cream into your chilled bowl and adding the pumpkin spice, the vanilla extract, and the powdered sugar. Using a whisk, continually whisk the heavy cream, incorporating air into it, until the heavy cream becomes whipped cream and holds soft peaks when you pull the whisk out of the cream.
    7. Top each of the panna cotta with about 1 inch of whipped cream, leaving about ½ inch of room from the top of the vessel if you are adding the graham cracker topping.
    8. Top each panna cotta with graham cracker crumbs and serve chilled.


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