Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean

by autumn on June 4, 2015

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean // Autumn Makes & Does

This wasn’t a recipe that I made with the intention of blogging about it. This was a “use up the buttermilk” situation. There were also two scraggly meyer lemons in the mix that also needed to be dealt with. This all coincided with the last days of our “can we make it to June without turning on the AC” adventure, so there was no way I was turning on the oven.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean // Autumn Makes & Does

I turned to my kefir panna cotta recipe, which was originally adapted from a buttermilk panna cotta recipe from Saveur. As I’ve preached about before, I’m all for keeping panna cotta unfussy by skipping the unmolding and instead serving it in small cute glasses or jars. This variation, with meyer lemon zest and vanilla bean is really so dreamy that it was worth sharing even though it doesn’t stray far from my original. While the meyer lemons are decidedly not seasonally at their peak right now, maybe you were smart enough to dry some peel? That would be perfect here.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean // Autumn Makes & Does

Like the version with kefir, this is definitely cheesecake-like and the lemon zest and vanilla bean here really highlight that nicely. And like a cheesecake, this is begging to be served with all those pretty strawberries and cherries that are coming into season.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean // Autumn Makes & Does

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean

Recipe Type: Dessert

Author: Autumn Giles, adapted from Saveur

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 15 mins

Serves: 6

A simple panna cotta recipe made with buttermilk and meyer lemon.


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, full-fat if you can find it
  • Zest of two meyer lemons
  • One vanilla bean, split and scraped


  1. Stir the water into the gelatin in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla bean, and lemon zest. Heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to steam, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Off the heat, scrape the gelatin and water mixture right into the pan and stir until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  5. In a steady stream, stirring as you go, add the buttermilk. Stir until completely combined.
  6. Divide the mixture evenly into about 6 small glass bowls or cups and refrigerate until set.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar June 4, 2015 at 8:54 pm

Such a yummy looking summer treat! This looks fab!


2 Julia June 4, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Just the other day I had some scraggly Meyer lemons in the crisper drawer, but I made them into sorbet! But, but–I have some dried peel and a bit of buttermilk that needs using up. I think I’m in business! Love that bird glass.


3 autumn June 8, 2015 at 7:23 pm

That makes me feel better, Julia 🙂 I felt a little guilty posting a meyer lemon recipe in June, so I’m glad I’m not the only one with scraggly lemons still hanging around.


4 Louise Matthews June 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm

This looks lovely, but I don’t like to add sugar to recipes, would it be possible to substitute the cane sugar for something more natural such as honey or agar nectar? Would that alter the consistency too much?


5 autumn June 11, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Hey Louise,

If you add a liquid sweetener, depending on how much you add, I’d just add additional gelatin. You’ll have to play around with it, but if I was adding, for example, 1/2 cup of a liquid sweetener, I’d experiment with probably 1/2 teaspoon additional gelatin. If you try it, let me know how it goes, please!

Thank you!



6 Louise Matthews June 15, 2015 at 9:33 am

Hi Autumn,

Thanks very much for your idea. I tried it with 1/2 a cup of agave nectar and 1/2 a teaspoon of the extra gelatin and it didn’t set completley, but it was extremely sweet so I think next time I’ll add less of the sweetner and keep the extra gelatin. It was still yummy though!


7 Lindsey @ a honey blossom June 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Wow, these look great – you can’t go wrong when you pair meyer lemon and vanilla bean! I love buttermilk panna cotta – the tanginess of the buttermilk really helps cut through the richness. Thanks for the great recipe. I can’t wait to try it on a hot summer day.


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