3 Ways to Make the Best No-Bake, Make-Ahead Dessert for Parties

Dessert, Desserts, Dinner, Dinner Parties, Entertain, In Season, Learn, Recipes

panna cotta


Hot spring and summer nights demand easy, no-bake desserts. If you’re hosting a party or in charge of a dessert for a potluck, don’t fret: There’s a no-bake, oven-off recipe that requires just a touch of stovetop work. And you can make it the night before the event.


Panna cotta, Italian for “cooked cream,” has saved many a frantic cook in a pinch. Its hands-on time is about 15 minutes, and its simplest incarnations require only five staples: milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and gelatin. You can even swap in cream if you’re trying to cut out fat. Here are a few of our favorite recipes.


Blueberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta

panna cotta

Panna cotta is silky and creamy in texture, making it an ideal foil for the juicy pop of fresh blueberries. This recipe needs only four hours in the refrigerator before it’s ready, making it a great last-minute option on a hot summer day when you have an afternoon party. Bonus: It contains blueberries, so kids love it.


If you’d prefer a variation in which the panna cotta itself is pristine and the berries are on the side, check out this gorgeous recipe. It uses real vanilla bean, and can accommodate any fresh summer fruit. Or check out this recipe, which employs a bit of lemon zest to really contrast the creaminess.


Panna Cotta with Rhubarb

panna cotta


Sometimes summer can’t get here fast enough, so we have to look to the springiest produce. Think: strawberries, blueberries, and yes, rhubarb! When you mix it with sugar and roast it, rhubarb becomes the prettiest sweet-tart compote in this delightful recipe.


Yogurt Panna Cotta with Orange-Pomegranate Compote

panna cotta


This is the sort of fruit-laden panna cotta you could absolutely eat for breakfast (unlike this equally excellent chocolate one!) Yogurt replaces the traditional cream, but because gelatin is in the mix, the dessert still has that lovely wobbly quality. You can make this recipe any time of year, but it’s particularly stunning in the winter, with its pop of color providing a respite from gray days.

4 comments about “3 Ways to Make the Best No-Bake, Make-Ahead Dessert for Parties

  1. Susanna

    I love panna cotta so much! you can change the flavour and it makes a perfect dessert in any season. Put coffee in it and it give a winder flavour, add some strawberries or any stone fruit and it tastes like spring. and plain flavour goes perfect with whatever produce jam you have at home.
    Love love love it!


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