I’ve been making this vegan panna cotta for years, not because I don’t eat dairy (I do), but because it’s so delicious. I stumbled into the recipe a few years ago when I was trying to create an easy and fast fruit dessert using berries and mascarpone. Long story short, after numerous tests and a recipe that was getting increasingly complicated, I backed up and changed routes. I ditched the mascarpone for coconut milk but kept the broiled fruit. After some experimenting, I ended up with a light yet luscious panna cotta, perfectly suited for warm weather entertaining.  

Close-up of a spoon scooping up a bite of panna cotta.

Vegan panna cotta

Instead of using gelatin to set this panna cotta, I use agar powder. Agar powder is a natural gelling agent derived from red algae. It’s vegan and flavorless, and it works as a fantastic swap for powdered gelatin in recipes (yes, you can make vegan jello!). You can easily find agar powder online or in specialty stores. 

Overhead shot of two vegan panna cottas on plates with spoons

Coconut lime panna cotta

The base for this vegan panna cotta comes from coconut milk, which lends a lovely flavor. I’ve found that using one can of whole fat coconut milk and one can of light or low-fat coconut milk creates a perfectly rich yet delicate texture. A touch of lime zest brightens the dessert, giving it a subtle tropical aroma. 

Close-up of un-molded panna cotta on plate.

How to make vegan panna cotta

This recipe uses only five ingredients—coconut milk, sugar, lime zest, agar powder and a pinch of salt. First, all of the ingredients are whisked together in a small pot off heat (it’s important to stir agar powder into room temperature liquids to dissolve it before heating). The mixture is then brought to a simmer, and it cooks for a few minutes. Lastly, it’s poured into ramekins and popped in the fridge. After an hour of chilling, the panna cotta is ready to eat!

Process shot showing vegan panna cotta mixture in ramekins.

How to serve panna cotta

You can serve the panna cotta right in the ramekins, but I like to unmold them onto plates (check out the video below to see how it’s done!). A spoonful of the roasted berries provides a beautiful, sweet-tart contrast to the creamy panna cotta. You could also top them with diced mango, passionfruit or other berries. 

Close up side-view of panna cotta on plate, topped with roasted berries.

Roasted berries

These roasted berries are a cinch to make and are also fabulous on pancakes, waffles, yogurt or ice cream. Blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are tossed with a touch of sugar and lime juice, and are broiled until just slightly darkened. The berries will still look whole but will feel soft to the touch. Once they cool, they’ll release some of their ruby juices, forming a gorgeous sauce. 

Tips for making coconut lime panna cotta:

  • These panna cotta are made in 8-ounce ramekins. You could also use small cups or bowls.
  • Use 1 can of whole fat coconut milk and 1 can of light (lowfat) coconut milk to achieve a silky but luscious texture.
  • Be sure to spray your ramekins with cooking spray or brush them lightly with vegetable oil (avoid using coconut oil, which will harden in the fridge). This will make it easier to unmold the panna cotta onto plates (check out the video below to see how it’s done). That being said, you can absolutely serve the panna cotta right in the ramekins with spoons for scooping! 
  • Instead of flavoring the panna cotta with lime zest, feel free to scrape in the seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean. 
  • For the smoothest texture, you can strain the coconut milk mixture before pouring it into ramekins. I don’t mind the specks of lime zest so skip this step.
  • For the roasted berries, you can use lemon juice in place of the lime juice. Be sure to scrape the berries into a bowl right when they come out of the oven, and to allow them to cool completely before using (pop the bowl in the fridge to expedite the cooling process, if you wish). 
Half-eaten panna cotta on plate with spoon.

Other vegan desserts to try:

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Coconut Lime Panna Cotta with Roasted Berries

Silky and light, this luscious but easy-to-make vegan panna cotta is flavored with coconut and lime, and is garnished with roasted berries. It’s a simple but elegant dessert that’s perfect for spring and summer entertaining. It’s important to use a mix of both whole fat and low fat (or light) coconut milk to get the best texture (the whole fat provides richness while the low fat creates a soft texture). Agar powder is a flavorless gelling agent made from algae. You can buy it at specialty stores or online HERE.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword easy panna cotta recipe, vegan panna cotta, vegan panna cotta recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

Panna Cotta

  • Neutral vegetable oil or cooking spray for ramekins
  • 1 13.5- ounce can whole fat coconut milk
  • 1 13/5- ounce can light (low-fat) coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (about 1 lime)
  • 3/4 teaspoon agar powder
  • Pinch salt

For serving

  • Roasted Berries (see below)

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk (both cans), sugar, lime zest, agar powder and salt. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Continue simmering until the milk thickens slightly and lightly coats the spatula (it will still look thin, but it should leave a line when you swipe the spatula with your finger—check out the video above for reference), about 4-5 minutes longer.
  2. Pour the liquid into a large measuring cup or a bowl with a spout (this will make it easier to pour it into the ramekins). Divide the panna cotta mixture between the prepared ramekins. Chill, uncovered, until set, about 1 hour. Do Ahead: The panna cotta can be made up to 2 days in advance. Once the panna cotta has set, cover the ramekins with plastic wrap.

  3. To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of a ramekin; invert the ramekin onto a plate; and shake firmly up and down until the panna cotta slides out (you can also serve the panna cotta in the ramekins with the fruit spooned on top). Spoon the roasted berries and their juice over the panna cotta, and serve!

Recipe Notes

Tips: 

  • If you don’t have 8-ounce ramekins, you can use small cups or bowls.
  • Be sure to spray your ramekins with cooking spray or brush them lightly with vegetable oil (avoid using coconut oil, which will harden in the fridge). This will make it easier to unmold the panna cotta onto plates (check out the video above to see how it’s done). That being said, you can absolutely serve the panna cotta right in the ramekins with spoons for scooping!
  • Instead of flavoring the panna cotta with lime zest, feel free to scrape in the seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean.
  • For the smoothest texture, you can strain the coconut milk mixture before pouring it into ramekins. I don’t mind the specks of lime zest so skip this step.

Roasted Berries

These easy roasted berries are also fabulous over ice cream, pancakes and yogurt!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword broiled berries, roasted berries, roasted berries recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mixed blackberries, blueberries and raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to broil with a rack in the upper third.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the berries with the sugar and lime juice. Spread the berries in a 9×13-inch baking dish in a single layer. Broil until the fruit starts to darken slightly and the blueberries start to pop (the berries will still hold their shape but should be soft, about 5-8 minutes. Scrape the berries and any juice into a bowl and let cool (they will continue to release juice as they cool—feel free to pop the bowl in the fridge to cool faster).

Recipe Notes

Do Ahead: The roasted berries can be refrigerated overnight.

Tips:

  • Feel free to add more sugar to taste, depending on the sweetness of your berries.
  • You can use lemon juice in place of the lime juice.

  • Be sure to scrape the berries into a bowl right when they come out of the oven. If serving them with the panna cotta, allow them to cool completely before serving. 

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