Panna Cotta Vs Bavarois – What’s The Difference?

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Sweet, simple and delicious – panna cotta is a dessert that you can whip up for your dinner guests with little effort, whilst still producing a sophisticated mouthwatering dessert!

Panna Cotta Vs Bavarois - What's The Difference

Those who are familiar with panna cotta may have come across a dessert similar in nature when searching recipes online.

Bavarois is an equally delicious dessert, which like panna cotta, is creamy, fresh and served cold. Their appearance is also very similar, making it very confusing for those unfamiliar with bavarois.

So, what exactly is the difference between a panna cotta and a bavarois? If you’ve ever found yourself pondering this question, don’t worry, we’ve got the answers. 

History Of The Panna Cotta

As those of you who are familiar with making panna cotta will know, it is a dessert which is incredibly easy to prepare, with only three ingredients involved. Made from cream, sugar, and gelatin, it is found on restaurant menus everywhere. 

Originally created in Italy, its name translates to “cooked cream”. Historians believe that it originated from Piedmont, which is a region in Northern Italy.

It didn’t circulate in recipe books until the 1960s and was not considered a fashionable dessert in the US until the 1990s. This happened as a result of the influence of Italian Americans in culinary culture. 

History Of Bavarois

Unlike the panna cotta which originates from Italy, bavarois, or bavarian cream as it is sometimes called, has a murkier history.

A French chef called Marie-Antoine Carême is credited by many for its conception, but some claim that it was created in Switzerland or Germany.

Chefs from France may have had the dish in their repertoire from creating the dessert for members of Bavarian royalty. 

In the United States, the dessert first made its appearance in cookbooks during the 1880s. Not as widely known as panna cotta, it is far more elusive with fewer recipes found online. 

What Is The Difference Between Panna Cotta And Bavarois?

Here we are, the question that you’ve been waiting for. To put it quite simply, the difference is not that significant, it just includes the addition of a few ingredients.

As we previously mentioned, panna cotta involves gelatin as a thickening agent, which bavarois does too.

Bavarois also has sugar, similar to its counterpart, however, bavarois also includes the addition of eggs and whipped cream, which are folded in before setting. 

Both of them require no baking and are easy to prepare in advance, however, with bavarois containing egg yolks, panna cotta may be a preferred option for vegetarians. 

In terms of taste, panna cotta is described as being lighter and silkier than bavarois. Bavarois, which involves folding in whipped cream through the cooled crème anglaise base, has a far fluffier and creamier texture, which results in a much richer taste. 

How Do I Make A Panna Cotta?

How Do I Make A Panna Cotta

In order to make a panna cotta, you will require: 

  • 1-quart heavy cream 
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 ¼ of gelatin
  • ½ Vanilla bean
  • Strawberries
  1. Begin making your panna cotta by adding your cream, sugar, vanilla and gelatin to a medium-sized pot. Heat these ingredients on the stove, taking care to whisk regularly. 
  2. When the ingredients are boiling, take the pot off the heat. 
  3. According to the directions on the back of the pack, prepare your gelatin. It may need to be boiled or soaked, so do this in advance. 
  4. Add the gelatin to the cream mixture and whisk.
  5. Allow your mixture to cool down until it reaches room temperature. If it is not allowed to reach room temperature, it might separate.
  6. Transfer the mixture to serving bowls and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Place them in the fridge overnight if possible, if not, allow them to rest for at least 4 hours. 
  8. To serve, prepare a fruit sauce as an accompaniment, strawberry works well for this. To make your sauce, simply blend the strawberries and then strain them.
  9. Pour the fruit sauce over the panna cotta and serve. 

How Do I Make Bavarois?

To make a bavarois or bavarian cream, you will require the following:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin 
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Raspberries
  1. Whisk the egg yolks until they begin to form a foamy texture.
  2. Prepare your gelatin according to the instructions provided on the back of the pack. 
  3. To your milk, add the vanilla extract and bring the mixture to a boil with medium heat. 
  4. After turning the heat to low, add a ladle of milk to the yolk mixture and stir. 
  5. Add the whole of the egg mixture to the milk and whisk. 
  6. Add the prepared gelatin to the mixture and whisk all of it together, then set it aside to cool.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare your whipped cream, mixing it until it thickens. 
  8. Fold in the whipped cream to the mixture after it has cooled, and leave to set in serving bowls overnight, or a minimum of 6 hours. 
  9. To serve, simply blend and strain some raspberries and pour over the bavarian cream. 

Some Important Tips For Making The Perfect Panna Cotta Or Bavarois

Although panna cotta and bavarois are relatively simple dishes to make, they are not without their hiccups here and there. To achieve the best results possible and “wow” your guests, take a look at these helpful tips.

Make Sure The Gelatin Has Dissolved

As both dishes rely on the use of gelatin to ensure the perfect set, it is important to ensure that the gelatin has “bloomed” before being added. 

Blooming gelatin basically means dissolving the powder, and allowing it to absorb the liquid adequately before adding it to the other ingredients.

To bloom the gelatin, sprinkle the powder over the water and keep it at a cool temperature.

This ensures that the gelatin won’t be lumpy and affect the consistency of the desert. To avoid any lumpiness, strain the final mixture before pouring it into the serving bowls. 

Don’t Make Sauces With A High Bromelain Content

The sauces, which are normally made from fruit, are an important accompaniment for both panna cotta and bavarois, adding both texture and flavor.

It is important when choosing which fruit to use, to avoid those which have the enzyme bromelain. 

When bromelain is added to gelatin, which is a protein, it begins to break down the ingredient.

This is a problem if you decide to add your sauce over the base of the dessert before setting, as it will prevent it from doing this.

Fruits which include a high bromelain content include pineapple and kiwi fruit, so avoid these if you don’t want to be left with a gooey dessert!


Although similar on the surface, the main difference between panna cotta and bavarois seems to come from their taste.

If you want to make a lighter, fresher dessert to accompany a heavier main or following several courses, panna cotta might be a better option.

If however, you are planning on a very rich and indulgent dessert, bavarois is a delicious choice to serve your guests.AD