Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta

By Amanda Paa – Updated November 8, 2021
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Whether it’s flan, custard, a budino, or panna cotta, one thing I know is true…… the first spoonful is always the dreamiest.

Now that fall is here, you probably know that squash is on my mind – all the time. I prefer it over pumpkin for sweet applications, with a denser texture, and deeper flavor when roasted.

Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta {via @amandapaa}

For the last few days, this Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta has been my indulgence as I detach myself from a big project that is coming to an end. Playing around with countless ways to serve and decorate these little pots of cream, letting my mind work in a different direction, was just what I needed.

Panna cotta is the perfect after-dinner delight in my mind – light, silky and decadent all at the same time. But I’ll be the first to admit that the whole “setting with gelatin” thing has always made me a little nervous. Yet in all honesty, it’s easier than any cake or pie I’ve ever made. You can do it, trust!

Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta {via @amandapaa}
Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Crumble {via @amandapaa}

Most base recipes use cream, sugar (which I traded for maple syrup) and gelatin, creating a blank canvas for whatever addition or flavor you fancy. It’s silky smooth and just firm, with a gentle wobble. Grassfed heavy cream and buttermilk are simmered with pure maple syrup and roasted butternut squash (kabocha would be great too).

A dash of pumpkin pie spice brings warmth, and gluten-free ginger cookies crumbled on top give the perfect contrast to the lush custard.

It’s beautiful food that sings with the season. Almost too pretty to eat, but not quite.

Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Crumble {via @amandapaa}
Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Crumble {via @amandapaa}

Left in their tiny cups, they’ll snuggle into one hand quite nicely as you sit and savor. I like to layer some of the mashed squash and cookie crumbs alongside each other on top, giving them brightness, texture and curiosity. If you think the squash “evidence” might give a red flag to the vegetable adverse, it’s certainly not required.

Or you can unmold the panna cotta on individual plates and shower each with cookie dust and a drizzle of maple syrup. Their simple elegance is an eye catcher too….

They can chill in the fridge all day (and overnight, and the next night too), taste amazing, and lend themselves to endless variations. Is that reason enough to try them? Please say yes….. :) xo

easy and elegant: Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta
Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta {via @amandapaa}
Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta {via @amandapaa}
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Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta {thickened with grass-fred collagen}

Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta

Smooth and creamy panna cotta made with roasted butternut squash and maple syrup. Naturally sweetened, a gorgeous dessert.
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Prep Time :20 minutes
Refrigeration Time :4 hours
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup roasted butternut squash puree*
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • crushed cinnamon cookies like gingersnaps, for crumbling on top


  • Put the cold water in a wide, shallow bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 8 minutes to let the gelatin to soften and absorb the water.
  • In a blender, combine heavy cream, buttermilk, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and squash puree. Lightly blend just so that it combines and is smooth. Pour into a medium sized saucepan and stir in softened gelatin. Gently bring to medium heat, so the steam rolls off of it, but it does NOT boil, and whisking so that the gelatin dissolves. Cook at this temperature for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and strain through a colander into a liquid measuring cup.
  • Then pour and divide the mixture among 6 ounce, or 4 ounce ramekins/pots/bowls. Let pots cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 3 days.
  • When ready to serve, top with crushed cinnamon cookies and swirl of maple syrup. If you’ve reserved some of the squash, you can add that to the top as well.


*To roast the squash, cut it horizontally at the “neck”, where the bulb meets the stem. Then cut the two pieces in half vertically, and roast at 375 degrees, cut side down with a bit of olive oil rubbed all over their skin. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size, until flesh is fork tender and very soft.
*If you want to un-mold the panna cottas, dip them in a small amount of warm water so that it hits the outside edges, for 30 seconds. Then run a smooth knife around the inside edges and turn them over onto your plate, tapping the top if needed to get the panna cotta to release.

Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta {via @amandapaa} with @ginnybakes gluten-free cinnamon cookies

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October 1, 2015


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  1. Michelle

    I have a half of a butternut squash in the refrigerator and am going to attempt a dairy-free version (my daughter can’t do dairy ?) with cashew cream and coconut buttermilk. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  2. Sophia @ Little Box Brownie

    What an interesting idea, I’ve never used pumpkin in a pan cotta. I’m going to have to give this ago.

  3. Lindsey | Mabel & the Wooden Spoon

    GIRL. Seriously. You’re a wizard.

    • Amanda Paa

      ;) happy fall, friend. xo

  4. Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet

    If I knew where you lived in MN, I’d be stopping by your house to grab a bite of these! Haha, seriously though, these panna cottas are beautiful and rich and I can’t wait to try them sometime.

    • Amanda Paa

      Next time you’re at the St Paul Farmer’s Market, stop on by! :)

  5. Madeline

    wow this looks so yummy!! I love your food photography too. Also the name of your blog is so so cute! : )

  6. Izzy@ She Likes Food

    Creamy desserts are the best! And they are even better when they are pretty like this one! I love that you used butternut squash in a dessert recipe, so creative!

    • Amanda Paa

      agreed! they always seem to end a meal perfectly. thanks for stopping by izzy!

  7. Crista

    Oh my….
    I too have been obsessed with squash lately…. (I had your book out last night!)
    I should never make panna cotta or butterscotch pudding because I like to keep it all to myself… and it doesn’t last long :)


  8. Kathryn

    Amanda! These are totally beautiful – I love absolutely everything about them and I can’t wait to try this recipe asap!

    • Amanda Paa

      thanks Kathryn :) sending love!

  9. danielle is rooting the sun

    amanda this is brilliant – you brought the biggest smile to play across my lips today. what an amazing and inspired use of butternut squash. i agree that beautiful food doesn’t hesitate to sing with the season – it’s a love affair, yes? ♥

  10. Sophie | The Green Life

    These photos are beautiful Amanda! And squash pannacotta? What a genius idea! Love it. <3

  11. Hannah | The Swirling Spoon

    squash pannacotta is a straight-up genius idea! bravo!!!

    • Amanda Paa

      squash FTW! :) xo

  12. Julie | Small Green Kitchen

    This is the most gorgeous panna cotta I’ve ever seen, Amanda. <3 The flavors sound wonderful!

    • Amanda Paa

      aw, thank you Julie! i really did love the flavor combination, especially the maple with the warm spices. xo

  13. Sara @ Cake Over Steak

    This sounds wonderful! Butternut squash is my favorite squash. I’ve never made panna cotta before but this one sounds soooo scrumptious. Beautiful!

    • Amanda Paa

      do it Sara! it’s so easy, and the perfect little dessert to keep on hand in the refrigerator. i was always nervous about gelatin, but all you’re really doing is softening it, then stirring it in. xo!

  14. allie @ Through Her Looking Glass

    Dear Amanda – how delicious this is! Reminds me of creme brûlée, one of my all time favorite desserts. xo

  15. Tessa | Salted Plains

    Oh, this is stunning Amanda. And it sounds absolutely delicious. I so love the idea of using squash in panna cotta and the cookies sound like the perfect finishing touch! This is certainly on my must-make list. xo!

  16. Cathy

    How well would this work with dairy-free like coconut milk? Maybe canned coconut so it’s thinker like cream?

  17. Abby @ The Frosted Vegan

    Oh I adore these pretty pictures Amanda! I have to admit I didn’t like custardy desserts for a loooong time. After discovering how amazing things like a silky creme brulee are, I have absolutely changed my mind :) Vegan panna cotta is on my to try list in the near future!

  18. Beth

    Amanda, your photography is gorgeous!!! I want to dig in right now!