Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta


Yes, it’s the end of April and I still have access to tangy, juicy, succulent Meyer lemons so what dessert would highlight these lovely golden globes yet not make you feel like crawling into a cave to ride out your food coma? How about a marriage between sweet, sour, and creamy? Well hello there panna cotta, how you doin’? Panna cotta may not be Italian for luscious creamy irresistible jello but it should be, “cooked cream” just seems so inadequate to describe a velvety, jiggly, alabaster delight that plays well with pretty much any flavor you’re craving. Choccccolate? Yum. Berry-licious? Yes, please. Tangy, zesty citrus that balances out all that rich cream? Ooooooh. Citrus and velvety cream (actually half and half in this case) gives you a bright, tangy dessert that would taste almost like gelato if it were frozen. And the best part about this dessert, besides the very lemony flavor is the fact that you can make it the night before and be blissfully unharried for whatever dinner guests may show up the next day 🙂

I’ve modified a recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle that has a near perfect combination of well-balanced flavors. Using an entire cup of Meyer lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of zest really gives you a tangy, zesty zing and the addition of Greek yogurt gives you a lot of protein as well as a softer, smoother gelatin texture. I’ve dropped off the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar cuz Meyers are really so tangy sweet that it’s a bit of sugary overkill. I’ve also switched out the heavy cream for half and half not only to cut calories but also cholesterol, don’t worry, the Greek yogurt keeps your gel velvety smooth and jiggly instead of firm and rubbery. I’ve also changed the method of incorporating liquids with the gelatin as the original method of mixing gelatin straight into boiling hot sugar water created a lumpy heterogenous gelatin that while tasting amazing, just didn’t gel. Also, by whisking the half and half with the yogurt before adding it to the gelatin mixture you can easily incorporate all those yogurty lumps without introducing a lot of bubbles to your smooth panna cotta. Effortless, reduced fat, and flavor-packed? [fist pump!]


1/4 + 1/4 c water
0.25 oz (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
1 c sugar
1 c half and half
1 c Meyer lemon juice (~5-6 lemons)
2 tbsp Meyer lemon zest (~2-3 lemons)
1 c honey flavored Greek yogurt (I like Greek Gods brand)
Ripe fresh berries for garnish, optional

In a large mixing bowl bloom gelatin in 1/4 c water.

In a small saucepan bring remaining 1/4 c water and sugar to a boil till sugar is dissolved. Carefully stir hot sugar water into gelatin mixture. Mix in lemon juice.


In another large bowl whisk together half and half and Greek yogurt till smooth. Pour into gelatin mixture and add zest. Gently whisk till just combined (this reduces the amount of bubbles in the panna cotta). Pour into wine glasses, ramekins, or small bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set. Garnish with berries if using. Makes 6-8 servings.

About Cam

Enjoying the hippie life in Portlandia :)


  1. i like to add some meyer lemon pulp to the panna cotta, love it even more…..

  2. This sounds very good, Cam. Much to my surprise, I found more Meyer lemons recently but, in a rare showing of self-discipline, I walked right by the display without buying any. Had I known this recipe was coming, I probably would have bought more. Nevertheless, I’m pinning this. A lemony panna cotta would make a perfect dessert. Thanks for sharing, Cam.

    • Cam

      I know. I keep telling myself that I can’t keep hoarding Meyers every time I see them at the market but then I remember how delicious they are and how lemons make everything taste brighter and I can’t stop myself. I’m going to be sad when Meyer lemon season is finally over but it should be berry season by then, right? 🙂

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