Have you ever tried your hand at making panna cotta? Don’t let the Italian name fool you— this custardy dessert is actually really simple and easy to make. The treat is sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and then molded, and the presence of the gelatin means it’s a perfect partner for another dessert: Jell-O! Together, the two are a dish that is just out-of-this-world tasty and smooth. The hardest part? Waiting for both to set! Watch how they’re made and how to bring them together in a super-lovely presentation.

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Serves 4 to 6 (depending on glass size)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 to 5 hours


– 1 – 3-ounce box Jell-O, any kind
– 1-½ cups whole milk
– 3 teaspoons powdered gelatin
– ⅓ cup sugar
– 1-½ cups heavy cream
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
– Clear drinking glasses for serving


  1. Prepare the Jell-O according to the package instructions. Then take a muffin pan, cover with a tea towel, and secure serving glasses on an angle in the cups of the tin. Try to have each glass positioned at the same angle, if possible. Using a measuring cup, pour equal amounts of cooled Jell-O into each glass, filling each one about halfway. Place in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours, until completely set.
  2. When the Jell-O has set, pour the milk into a saucepan. Sprinkle it evenly with the powdered gelatin and allow to bloom for about 5 minutes, until the surface of the milk looks wrinkled.
  3. Gently heat the milk over medium-low heat to dissolve the gelatin, stirring frequently. The milk should get hot but never boil or simmer. Remove from heat at the first sign of steam. Dip a spoon into the milk to see if any granules of gelatin remain before proceeding.
  4. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
  5. Remove from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  6. Remove the Jell-O-filled glasses from the refrigerator and stand upright. Tilt the cups so the tip of Jell-O angle is facing upward and gently pour the cooled panna cotta mixture into the cups against the opposite side of the glass, covering the Jell-O completely.
  7. Return to the refrigerator and chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving.


  • Do not overmix the Jell-O. If bubbles appear they will harden and be visible in the final presentation of the dessert.
  • If the panna cotta cream mixture is too warm it will melt the Jell-O. Make sure it has cooled completely before proceeding with the recipe.

Recipe adapted from Cakecrumbs