This Chocolate Panna Cotta recipe makes a silky smooth chocolate dessert that is suitable for a low-carb, keto lifestyle. This dessert is quick and easy to make, but be sure to make it the day before you want to serve it since it needs time to set. This creamy Italian-inspired dessert can be enjoyed by those on gluten-free, keto, low-carb, and egg-free diets.


Keto Chocolate panna cotta--overhead shot.


The recipe for Keto Friendly Chocolate Panna Cotta

If you love chocolate, you’re bound to enjoy this silky smooth dessert. This recipe is easy to make and not finicky. It only takes 15-20 minutes to create these panna cottas. They do need about 24 hours to set in the refrigerator. Because of the time needed to set, this isn’t a “last minute” dessert.


I actually like that this recipe needs to be made ahead. It takes the stress off of last minute preparations. This allows you to focus on the main meal, if you serve it at a dinner partiy. If you like, you can turn them out of the molds and plate them ahead of time as well. Just be sure it has set completely first. 


This recipe was inspired by a recipe in the August 2004 Bon Appetit magazine. The original recipe was a chocolate panna cotta with port and balsamic glaze cherries. Of course, I had to make many alterations to create a recipe that would work for my low-carb followers. I completely ditched the cherry sauce, but found inspiration in the chocolate panna cotta base.


Taking a bite of sugar free chocolate panna cotta.

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What is Panna Cotta?

Panna cotta is a dessert with a sweetened cream base and thickened with gelatin and molded. There are different flavor variations such as coffee, vanilla, or as in this recipe, chocolate. Some recipes call for caramel to be placed in the mold before the cream mixture to create a dessert similar to creme caramel. 


Many consider panna cotta a traditional Italian dessert, however, according to Wikipedia, it hasn’t been mentioned in Italian cookbooks until the 1960’s. Still, the Italian Region of Piedmont includes it in their list of traditional foods of the region. 


Panna cotta has a consistency similar to pudding and custard. It is different from these two desserts, however, because it is thickened with gelatin. Pudding is thickened with starch and custard is thickened with eggs.


How to make low carb chocolate panna cotta

The first step to making panna cotta is to sprinkle the gelatin on the milk (in this recipe, almond milk) to allow it to bloom. Blooming the gelatin allows each gelatin crystal to absorb some liquid to keep the dessert smooth and lump-free.


While the gelatin blooms, heat the sweetener in the cream while stirring to dissolve it. Once the sweetener is dissolved, bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove it from heat. 


Whisk the finely chopped chocolate into the cream mixture until smooth. Now, whisk the bloomed gelatin into the almond milk, then slowly add the chocolate mixture to the gelatin mixture. Whisk vigorously while combining to keep the mixture smooth. 


The last step is to pour it into oiled custard cups, cover and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to serve, you can choose to remove the panna cotta from the dishes, or simply serve it in the custard dishes. (Complete instructions and ingredient list are in the recipe below.)


Chocolate Panna Cotta garnished with raspberries.


How to unmold Chocolate Panna Cotta

There are a few tricks to getting panna cotta out of the dishes and onto a plate in one piece. If you follow these instructions, your panna cotta should easily release from the dishes and be ready to garnish for a beautiful presentation.


First of all, be sure to spray your custard dishes with coconut oil before filling them. If you don’t like coconut oil, you can grease them with butter or avocado oil. The oil makes the dishes slick and will help the panna cotta release from the dish.


The second important piece for success in unmolding the panna cotta is to be sure to refrigerate it over 24 hours. This gives it time to set completely. If you try to unmold it too soon, it will be too weak to hold together and you’ll end up with a mess. It will be a delicious mess, so I recommend eating it anyway. 


In order to  get the panna cotta to release when you’re ready, you’ll need to heat up the outside of the dish slightly while keeping the inside cool. To do this, place one or two dishes of panna cotta in a baking dish with tall sides. Next, pour hot water (tap hot, not boiling)  in the baking dish about halfway up the sides of the custard dishes. Let the panna cotta sit in the water bath about one and one half minutes. Remove the panna cotta from the hot bath, wipe the water from the bottom, then place a dessert plate (top-side down) over the custard dish. Holding the plate and the dish tightly together using both hands, quickly invert so that the plate is on the bottom. Remove the custard dish gently. 


Quick tip: You may find it’s easier to heat and unmold one serving at a time. Otherwise, some servings may get overheated while you’re busy plating the others.


My panna cotta mixture is lumpy or grainy. What do I do?

There are many reasons why a chocolate panna cotta mixture can become lumpy. First of all, if you didn’t bloom the gelatin properly, the gelatin granules will create lumps.


Another problem that can cause lumps is not whisking the mixture well during the addition of the chocolate mixture.


A third issue comes from the chocolate. I you don’t chop the chocolate fine enough, you may end up with lumpy or grainy panna cotta. In this case, they will be lumps of chocolate.


If you find your mixture lumpy, don’t despair! Instead, get out your trusty blender and pulse the mixture a few times in batches. Be sure not to over-blend. A few pulses is all you need to work wonders. After pulsing the mixture in the blender, pour it into the custard dishes and continue as the recipe indicates.


How to serve chocolate panna cotta

This panna cotta can be served by itself. You can choose to unmold it onto a plate, or serve it directly from the custard dish.


Fresh berries such as raspberries and strawberries make an ideal garnish. If you’re in the mood for something decadent, you might consider spooning some of our Strawberry Sauce, hot fudge sauce, or caramel sauce over the top.




This recipe for Chocolate Panna Cotta makes a silky smooth chocolate dessert. Enjoy it by itself, or serve it with fresh berries, gooey caramel, or rich fudge sauce. Low-carb and keto-friendly.

The finished keto chocolate Panna Cotta
5 from 4 votes

Chocolate Panna Cotta (Keto | Low Carb | Sugar Free)

This Italian-inspired dessert is chocolate silk on a spoon. This dessert can be molded onto a plate or served straight from the dish. This variations is low-carb and keto-friendly. Be sure to make this dessert at least one day ahead.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword diabetic dessert, keto dessert, low carb chocolate dessert, sugar free chocolate dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chilling time 1 day
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 364 kcal
Author Annissa Slusher



  1. Spray six ¾ cup glass custard dishes with coconut oil. Pour almond milk into a medium bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Let stand until gelatin softens.

    Blooming the gelatin.
  2. Stir cream and sweetener in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

    Heating the cream and sweetener.
  3. Add chocolate immediately to the hot cream mixture. Whisk until mixture is smooth.

    The smooth chocolate mixture.
  4. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into the gelatin mixture. Stir to dissolve. Stir in vanilla.

    Adding the gelatin mixture to the chocolate mixture.
  5. Divide mixture among the custard cups. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

    Chocolate Panna Cotta in the dessert cups.
  6. When ready to serve, set custard cups in a large baking dish. Pour enough hot water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Let stand 1½ minutes, the remove from water, wipe the bottoms dry, and invert each custard onto a desert plate. (Place the dessert plate on top of the custard and hold it on while inverting.) Garnish with fresh berries, if desired.

    Plated Chocolate Panna Cotta.

Recipe Notes

If you choose to substitute a different sweetener, be sure to adjust for sweetness differences.

The nutritional values will vary for this recipe depending on the type of chocolate used.

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Panna Cotta (Keto | Low Carb | Sugar Free)
Amount Per Serving (4 ounces)
Calories 364 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Fat 35g54%
Saturated Fat 20g125%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 80mg27%
Sodium 57mg2%
Potassium 114mg3%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 0g0%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 23%0%
Vitamin C 0%0%
Calcium 13%1%
Iron 14%78%
Net Carbs 3g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.