These days, almost any type of food has a vegan or non-dairy variant to it, even if that food consists primarily of dairy components. Custards especially can be made without cream, milk, and eggs as long as there are viable substitutes for the recipe and there are a lot of them. Today, we'll be looking at making a simple vegan panna cotta for all those vegans who ever wanted a nice custard treat to try.

Making a vegan panna cotta

Like most custard spinoffs, a panna cotta is made with some dairy, though with just a few ingredients that fit this category.

The ingredients include heavy cream, milk, sweetener, gelatin, and a little flavor of choice. When making a vegan panna cotta, however, the cream, milk, and gelatin have got to go. The gelatin especially requires a viable substitute. But not many people realize this since they might have missed the fact that it too is a dairy type ingredient.

Many already know that gelatin is used to produce Jell-O or as a thickening agent for other cold desserts including custard types like a chilled cheesecake, ice cream, Bavarian cream and so forth. But what many probably missed from that class is that gelatin is an extract taken the boiled meat and bones of cattle--something vegans will object of. Hence, a non-dairy substitute is required.

The good news is a gelatine substitute exists and its called "agar." Also called "agar-agar," this substance is extracted from red seaweed and is used the same way as gelatin. It comes in three different structures that include powder, flakes, and bars. But for this recipe (and others that require agar), however, it's best to use the agar powder, as it is more concentrated than the flakes and bars.

Plus, it's easier to substitute it for the powdered gelatin as they weigh the same.

As for the cream and milk, these can be swapped easily for full-fat coconut milk or any plant-based milk in the recipe. All that's left is to combine this with the sweetener and flavoring of choice and voila, you have yourself a vegan panna cotta.

The recipe


  • 2 cups full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp agar powder
  • 1 tsp flavoring of choice


  1. Combine the coconut milk, maple syrup, and agar powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking the mixture continuously until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  2. Whisk in the flavoring chosen. Leave the custard to cool slightly.
  3. Divide the custard evenly among four ramekins (4-inch sized) and chill them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or until the panna cotta sets.
  4. When its time to serve, carefully dip the ramekins in hot water for a few seconds, then invert them onto plates to remove. Serve.

Serves: 4

Did you enjoy that recipe? If you want a more traditional panna cotta to try out, then try this recipe for a Vanilla panna cotta with fruit. Or if you want something more exciting, try this one for an Espresso and chocolate variant.