This luscious vegan panna cotta is topped with fresh strawberry sauce for a delicious dessert that adults and kids alike will gobble up! Impressive enough to serve at a dinner party, it’s made with just 5 ingredients and a few minutes of active prep time.
Tired of the same old desserts? Let’s bring back pudding!
Honestly, when is the last time you had a pudding-like treat after dinner? They’re so delicious that I’ll never understand why they aren’t more popular!
This gorgeous layered strawberry panna cotta recipe is so easy to make and is a great way to end our meal. It’s also a great make-ahead dessert for holidays. You can garnish it with blueberries for a festive fourth of July treat or with sugared cranberries for the winter holidays.
What is Panna Cotta?
If you’ve never has panna cotta, you’re in for a treat! It’s a rich, pudding-like dessert made from sweetened cream and, in this recipe, topped with gelled strawberries. It’s the perfect elegant finish to your meal.
Panna cotta hails from Italy, and translates to “cooked cream” which is exactly what it is! It has a silky texture similar to crème brulee or flan, but is lighter since it’s traditionally thickened with gelatin instead of egg yolks. (If you’re looking for a delicious creme brulee recipe, check out this Instant Pot creme brulee from my cookbook!)
Can you make vegan panna cotta without gelatin?
The strawberry panna cotta recipe I’m sharing today is a vegan panna cotta, so it’s a twist on the traditional recipe.
Instead of using milk and heavy cream, we’ll use nondairy versions of those two ingredients. Using vanilla coconut milk means we can also skip the additional vanilla extract. I love being able to cut down on the number of ingredients!
What is agar agar?
To thicken this vegan panna cotta, we’ll use powdered agar agar instead of gelatin. Agar agar is a flavorless, vegan-friendly thickener that’s derived from red algae instead of from collagen. It acts very similarly to gelatin, but is a little firmer. It also holds up better in heat and won’t melt the way gelatin based desserts do, so it’s perfect for summer!
Agar agar is most commonly sold as flakes or in a powdered form and can be found in most major grocery stores, health food stores, or on Amazon. In general, you’ll ass 1 tablespoon of agar flakes or 1 teaspoon of agar powder to every cup of liquid in your recipe. As with gelatin, you’ll need to dissolve the agar in hot liquid to activate it.
How to make layered Strawberry Panna Cotta
For this strawberry panna cotta recipe, I decided to take the presentation up a notch by pouring the layers at an angle. It looks so fancy, but it’s such an easy trick!
To get this layered look, simply use a small glass or bowl to hold your serving vessel at an angle. Once the first layer sets, you can place the container upright and it will hold its shape! Pour the second layer right on top.
You can also get super fancy with a three layered panna cotta by angling the cup in the other direction when you pour the second layer in, then using a third sauce or a second layer of panna cotta to top it off!
Looking for more healthy dessert ideas? Try:
- Low Carb Coffee Popsicles
- Dairy free cupcakes
- Small-batch almond thumbprint cookies
- Grain-free apple crisp foil packets
- Apple baklava bites
- Gluten-free Financiers
Strawberry Panna Cotta
For the panna cotta:
- 1 ¾ cup nondairy heavy cream see note
- ½ cup granulated sweetener such as Swerve
- ½ cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk divided
- 2 teaspoons powdered agar agar
For the Strawberry Sauce:
- 2 cups fresh strawberries stems removed
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sweetener such as Swerve
- 1 teaspoon powdered agar agar
- 2 Tablespoons very hot water
- To make the panna cotta: Combine the heavy cream, sweetener, and 2 Tablespoons of nondairy milk in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk 2 teaspoons of agar agar into the remaining milk.
- When the cream begins to simmer, whisk in the agar agar mixture.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Do not overcook. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh colander into a measuring cup. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Divide the mixture among your serving vessels. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours until fully set.
- To make the strawberry sauce: Add the strawberries and sweetener to a blender or food processor. Puree to make a smooth sauce. Pass through a strainer to remove the seeds.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the agar agar with the hot water until dissolved. Stir into the strawberry puree.
- Pour the strawberry sauce over the set panna cotta. Return to the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, until set.