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Creamy Coconut Panna Cotta (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Creamy, smooth and light, this delicious coconut panna cotta is topped with a sweet strawberry sauce that complements it perfectly. Perfect for dessert or a sweet snack, this panna cotta recipe is also totally gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan too.

Holding a jar with coconut panna cotta topped with strawberry sauce.

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What is Panna Cotta?

Never heard of this delicious Italian dessert before? You’re in for a treat!

Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream, and is an Italian dessert originating from the region of Piedmont.

Traditionally, panna cotta is made with cream that has been sweetened and then thickened with unflavored gelatin and molded. The cream can also be flavored with chocolate, vanilla or other flavorings.

Once the panna cotta has set after chilling for a few hours in the refrigerator, it is often served either unmolded, or in the glass or ramekin it was poured in. With a silky texture, the luscious panna cotta is a classic Italian dessert often served at dinner parties.

cornbread in a cast iron skillet
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Top down view of jars of strawberry panna cotta on marble board.

Is Panna Cotta Vegan?

Since traditional Italian panna cotta is made with heavy cream, it is not usually dairy-free. This traditional Italian dessert also uses gelatin powder as a thickening agent, and gelatin is made from animal products, it is not vegan.

However, we’re making a vegan version today by replacing the heavy cream with full-fat coconut milk, and substituting gelatin with agar agar as the gelling agent, so even those with lactose intolerances can enjoy it!

Up close shot of vegan coconut panna cotta.

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Simple Ingredients: The ingredients required for this coconut milk panna cotta are easily accessible at the local grocery store (nothing fancy needed)!
  • Easy to Make: This easy panna cotta recipe requires just 15 minutes of hands-on time, and then you can let the refrigerator do the work as it chills!
  • Totally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Vegan: The best part is that this recipe is 100% gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, which means that even those with Celiac disease or gluten or lactose intolerances can enjoy this perfect dessert without issues!
Scooping a spoonful of strawberry coconut panna cotta.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

Here’s a visual overview of the ingredients required for this coconut panna cotta recipe.

(For exact measurements, please scroll down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.)

Ingredients for coconut panna cotta recipe laid out on marble board.

Recipes Notes + Substitutions:

  • Coconut Milk: Make sure to use full-fat coconut milk for best results (make sure to use a canned coconut milk with a high fat content and is thick and creamy in texture) – do not use light coconut milk or other plant-based milk as the panna cotta will not set properly. Alternatively, if you are not lactose-intolerant, feel free to use normal full-fat heavy cream or heavy whipping cream instead.
  • Vanilla Extract: I like adding vanilla extract for extra flavor. However, if you are not keen on vanilla, or don’t have it on hand, feel free to leave it out.
  • Sugar: I used granulated white sugar, but you may also use light brown sugar. Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste.
  • Agar Agar Powder: Agar agar is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin and is derived from seaweed. It is available in both powder and flakes form. In this recipe, we are using unflavored agar agar powder. If using agar agar flakes, use 2 tablespoons of flakes in place of 2 teaspoons of powder.
  • Strawberries: I like using fresh strawberries for the best flavor when they are available. You may also use frozen strawberries, but make sure to thaw the frozen strawberries completely before pureeing.
  • Mint Leaves: Fresh mint leaves are optional, but they also add a nice touch of freshness and flavor to the coconut milk panna cotta.
  • Warm Water: Make sure you use warm water (approximately 105F) to dissolve the agar agar powder. If you use cold water, the agar agar will not dissolve properly.

How to Make Coconut Panna Cotta (Step by Step):

1. Combine Agar Agar, Coconut Milk, Vanilla Extract and Sugar:

In a medium saucepan, combine the agar agar, full-fat coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sugar.

Pouring sugar into a saucepan of coconut milk.

2. Bring to a Boil

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the agar agar has dissolved.

Whisking coconut milk mixture in saucepan.

3. Let Cool

Remove the saucepan from heat and let the hot coconut milk mixture cool for 5 minutes.

4. Pour Mixture Between Glasses and Chill to Set

Pour the coconut panna cotta mixture into 6 individual serving glass bowls and place them in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours.

A glass jar of dairy-free panna cotta on wooden board.

5. Blend Strawberries

While the panna cotta sets, prepare the strawberry sauce. In a blender or food processor, blend the strawberries until smooth.

Top down view of strawberry liquid mixture in food processor.

6. Combine Agar Agar with Water

In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of agar agar with 2 tablespoons of warm water and stir well until dissolved.

Agar agar mixture in glass bowl.

7. Prepare Strawberry Sauce

In a small saucepan, heat the strawberry puree over medium heat. Add the agar agar mixture to the saucepan and stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the agar agar has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from heat and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.

A bowl of strawberry sauce surrounded by fresh strawberries.

8. Pour Strawberry Sauce on Panna Cotta

Remove the glasses of coconut panna cotta from the fridge and spoon the strawberry sauce over the top of each one.

Pouring strawberry sauce over vegan panna cotta.

9. Chill Until Strawberry Mixture is Set

Return the glasses to the fridge and allow them to set for an additional 1-2 hours.

A jar of strawberry panna cotta on wooden board.

10. Garnish and Serve

When ready to serve, garnish each glass with a few mint leaves and fresh berries and enjoy your delicious vegan panna cotta with strawberry sauce!

Top down view of strawberry sauce in bowls topped with sliced strawberries.

Dish by Dish Tips/ Tricks:

  • Use Frozen Strawberries instead of Fresh: If you don’t have fresh strawberries, you may also use frozen strawberries, just make sure to thaw them completely before processing them into a puree.
  • Use Other Berries: If you prefer, you may swap out the strawberries for other berries (such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.).

Recipe FAQs:

How to Store Coconut Panna Cotta?

Store the coconut panna cotta and strawberry sauce separately in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To store the panna cotta, cover each glass with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. For the strawberry sauce, store it in an airtight container. When ready to serve, spoon the strawberry sauce over the coconut milk panna cotta and garnish with mint leaves. Note that the texture of this gluten free panna cotta may change slightly after being stored, but it should still be creamy and delicious.

Can I Freeze Panna Cotta?

I do NOT recommend freezing this coconut milk panna cotta as it may affect the texture and cause it to become grainy.

Is Panna Cotta Gluten-Free?

The main ingredients for traditional panna cotta are naturally gluten-free, so yes it is usually safe for Celiacs or those with gluten allergies or intolerances.

Scooping into a bowl of strawberry-topped coconut milk panna cotta.

Strawberry Recipes You’ll Love:

Other Gluten-Free Desserts You’ll Enjoy:

P.S. If you try this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating below, and/or a review in the comment section further down the page. I always appreciate your feedback. Be sure to check out my entire Recipe Index for all the recipes on the blog. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram! Sign up for my Email List to get fresh recipes in your inbox each week!

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Scooping into vegan panna cotta with strawberry

Coconut Panna Cotta (Gluten-Free, Vegan)


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

  • Author: Felicia Lim
  • Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Creamy, smooth and light, this delicious coconut panna cotta is topped with a sweet strawberry sauce that complements it perfectly. Perfect for dessert or a sweet snack, this panna cotta recipe is also totally gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan too.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Coconut Panna Cotta:

For the Strawberry Sauce:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, with leaves and stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons agar agar powder
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine Agar Agar, Coconut Milk, Vanilla Extract and Sugar: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the agar agar, full-fat coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sugar.
  2. Bring to a Boil: Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the agar agar has dissolved.
  3. Let Cool: Remove the saucepan from heat and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Divide Mixture Between Glasses and Chill to Set: Pour the coconut panna cotta mixture into 6 individual serving glasses and place them in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours.
  5. Blend Strawberries: While the panna cotta sets, prepare the strawberry sauce. In a blender or food processor, blend the strawberries until smooth.
  6. Combine Agar Agar with Water: In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of agar agar with 2 tablespoons of warm water and stir well until dissolved.
  7. Prepare Strawberry Sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the strawberry puree over medium heat. Add the agar agar mixture to the saucepan and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the agar agar has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from heat and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Pour Strawberry Sauce on Panna Cotta: Remove the glasses of panna cotta from the fridge and spoon the strawberry sauce over the top of each one.
  9. Chill Until Strawberry Mixture is Set: Return the glasses to the fridge and allow them to set for an additional 1-2 hours.
  10. Garnish and Serve: When ready to serve, garnish each glass with a few mint leaves and enjoy your delicious homemade panna cotta with strawberry sauce!

Notes

Coconut Milk: Make sure to use full-fat coconut milk for best results (make sure to use a brand that has a high fat content and is thick and creamy in texture) – do not use light coconut milk or other plant-based milk as the panna cotta will not set properly. Alternatively, if you are not lactose-intolerant, feel free to use normal full-fat heavy cream instead.

Vanilla Extract: I like adding vanilla extract for extra flavor. However, if you are not keen on vanilla, or don’t have it on hand, feel free to leave it out.

Sugar: I used granulated white sugar, but you may also use light brown sugar. Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste.

Agar Agar Powder: Agar agar is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin and is derived from seaweed. It is available in both powder and flakes form. In this recipe, we are using agar agar powder. If using agar agar flakes, use 2 tablespoons of flakes in place of 2 teaspoons of powder.

Strawberries: I like using fresh strawberries for the best flavor when they are available. You may also use frozen strawberries, but make sure to thaw the frozen strawberries completely before pureeing.

Mint Leaves: Fresh mint leaves are optional, but they also add a nice touch of freshness and flavor to the coconut milk panna cotta.

Warm Water: Make sure you use warm water (approximately 105F) to dissolve the agar agar powder. If you use cold water, the agar agar will not dissolve properly.

Storing: Store the coconut panna cotta and strawberry sauce separately in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To store the panna cotta, cover each glass with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. For the strawberry sauce, store it in an airtight container. When ready to serve, spoon the strawberry sauce over the coconut milk panna cotta and garnish with mint leaves. Note that the texture of the panna cotta may change slightly after being stored, but it should still be creamy and delicious. Do not freeze the panna cotta as it may affect the texture and cause it to become grainy.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Chilling Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

4 Comments

  1. Would this work if I reduced sugar to quarter cup , I really don’t want the sugar , or even better monk fruit as a sweetener
    Thanks Kay

    1. Hi Kay, yes go ahead and reduce sugar (or swap sugar for granulated monkfruit sweetener as 1:1 replacement).

  2. Hello Felicia,

    Browsing through this post, I had Lauren in mind and wondering whether she would love this Panna Cotta if we reduce sugar quantity accordingly to suit her. She loves strawberries but not sure whether gelatin and coconut are ingredients that is suitable for her at her age. Well, I will need to check it out with her mum first.

    The other person I had in mind is daddy who has a sweet tooth and this panna cotta would just be his dessert as he is a fan of coconut – from coconut cookies to coconut kueh!

    Sending you lots of hugs and love from SG,
    Mum






    1. Oh yes, Lauren and Daddy might enjoy this panna cotta! check with Shirui and Ron if Lauren can eat it, and maybe can make it for her this week!

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