How to Make the Best Tiramisu

Creamy homemade Tiramisu with layers of espresso soaked Ladyfinger cookies, fluffy mascarpone cream and plenty of chocolate. Try this easy Tiramisu recipe and fall in love with a timeless Italian dessert!

A slice of tiramisu

An Easy Homemade Tiramisu Recipe

Prior to making homemade tiramisu, I’d never considered myself a fan. An old friend loved it, so I’d share it with her when we were out at a restaurant, but it had always seemed a little “blah” to me. Honestly, even these days I tend to find it disappointing when I get it out somewhere.

Fortunately I had a request for it a while back and made it myself for the first time! This recipe is an update of a version I posted back in 2013 and it’s still my favorite way to eat tiramisu! Homemade definitely tends to be better when it comes to dessert and this tiramisu is proof!

A large piece of tiramisu on a white plate with a fork

What Is Tiramisu?

Tiramisu is a classic Italian no-bake dessert. It’s made with Ladyfinger cookies that are dipped in a mixture of espresso + liqueur, then layered with mascarpone cream and grated chocolate or cocoa powder.

What does Tiramisu mean? The word “Tiramisu” means “carry me up” or “pick me up,” which is a reference to the caffeinated shot of espresso in the dessert. Sometimes it is also called a Tuscan Trifle. Tiramisu is pronounced tee-ruh-mee-soo.

What does Tiramisu taste like? Each bite of tiramisu tastes like the perfect mix of cream, coffee and chocolate. It’s hard to resist!

 

Tiramisu in a silver pan with a few slices cut out

Tiramisu Ingredients

You only need a few ingredients to make tiramisu. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Mascarpone cheese – This is similar to cream cheese, except it is made with whole cream instead of milk. 
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Ladyfingers – If you can’t find these at your local market, you can buy authentic Italian lady fingers on Amazon. Get real deal ladyfingers (the firm ones, not the soft ones). These are also called Savoidari. 
  • Hot water
  • Espresso powder – This adds the signature coffee flavor to tiramisu.
  • Kahlua
  • Cocoa powder

How To Make Tiramisu from Scratch

Tiramisu is where I fell in love with mascarpone cheese have since used it in so many desserts and toppings, including my Stabilized Mascarpone Whipped Cream. Yum!

And even though tiramisu may seem difficult to make, it really isn’t. Bonus – it’s no bake. Sure you use your stove, but not for long.

Steps for cooking the eggs and sugar in tiramisu

Step 1: Make Your Mascarpone Cheese and Egg Mixture

To get started, you’ll combine the egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler (or in your metal mixer bowl over the top of some simmering water, as I use). When you first whisk the eggs and sugar together, it’ll be chunky and funky, but as it heats up it’ll thin out.

Continue whisking while the mixture heats up and cooks. You don’t want to scramble your eggs, so keep it moving and keep an eye on it. Cook the mixture for about 5-8 minutes or until the mixture grows in volume, thickens and turns a pale yellow. You want the sugar to melt, but if it’s still a little gritty, that’s ok. It will smooth out as you go on.

Set the egg mixture aside to cool until they are just a little warmer than room temperature. Add the mascarpone cheese and gently combine it all using a folding motion until well combined.

Step 2: Fold In Whipped Cream

Next you’ll add the whipped cream. (You can see my tutorial on how to make homemade whipped cream here.) Fold it gently into the mascarpone/egg mixture and then set that aside. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tasted it about 5 times before setting it aside because it’s basically the best stuff EVER! You could just eat it with a spoon and be perfectly happy!

Step 3: Make a Simple Espresso Mixture

For the espresso mixture, I like to add some Kahlua. I love the flavor it adds, but feel free to turn it down a notch, or leave it out completely. I added a note about how to adjust.

A slice of classic tiramisu with a fork sitting on a white plate

How To Assemble Tiramisu

The rest is just layering. Dip the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture for about 3-5 seconds. The longer you dunk them, the more moisture they’ll soak up and the stronger the flavor will be.

This recipe has two layers of ladyfingers and two layers of mascarpone mixture. Once you’re done layering, sprinkle some cocoa on top and maybe some chocolate shavings. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy! Trust me, it won’t last long.

A baking pan filled with homemade tiramisu

How Long Will Tiramisu Keep in the Fridge?

Tiramisu will keep in the fridge for up to one week. You might find that the flavors actually get even better after it has been stored for a couple days.

Since tiramisu keeps well in the fridge you can make it in advance. The flavor really peaks around two days in, so I’d recommend making it no earlier than two days in advance.

Can I Make Authentic Tiramisu without Alcohol?

While the Kahlua does add a nice depth of flavor, it is not essential. If you would prefer not to use alcohol in this recipe you can easily skip it and just soak your ladyfingers in espresso instead.

Tiramisu Inspired Desserts to Try:

Recipe originally posted 10/15/13. It has been updated but if you’d like a copy of the original version, download it here.

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A piece of authentic Tiramisu on a white plate with a fork
Recipe

Easy Authentic Tiramisu Recipe

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Easy Tiramisu Recipe is made with ladyfinger cookies soaked in Kahula and espresso, then layered with fluffy mascarpone cream and topped with chocolate.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups mascarpone cheese*
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 (17.5 ounce) package ladyfingers
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 6 tbsp espresso powder
  • 1 1/4 cups Kahlua*
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish. If you want to be able to remove the tiramisu from the pan when done so that you can see the layers, I suggest lining the pan with parchment paper that sticks up over the sides, then putting a cardboard cake rectangle in the bottom of the pan. The tiramisu will be supported by the cardboard when you remove it using the parchment paper.
  2. Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler (or in a metal mixer bowl over a pot of simmer water). Whisk to combine. The mixture will seem a little chunky at first, but will thin out as it heats up.
  3. Continue cooking and whisking for about 5-8 minutes, until mixture grows in volume, thickens and turns a pale yellow. The sugar should melt, but if it’s still a little grainy, that’s ok. It will smooth out as you go.
  4. Set the egg mixture aside to cool to a little warmer than room temperature.
  5. While eggs cool, make the whipped cream. Add the heavy whipping cream to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  6. When the egg mixture has cooled, add the mascarpone cheese and gently fold together until combined.
  7. Gently fold the whipped cream into mascarpone/egg mixture in two parts. Set mixture aside
  8. Dissolve the espresso powder into the hot water, then combine with the Kahlua.
  9. One at a time, dip the ladyfingers into the Kahlua mixture for about 3-5 seconds. The longer you dip the ladyfingers, the stronger the flavor will be. As you dip the ladyfingers, lay them into the bottom of the 9×13 pan. You should be able to get two rows in a layer.
  10. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers.
  11. Repeat ladyfinger layer, then top with remaining mascarpone mixture. Dust the top with cocoa powder.
  12. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, then remove from pan (if desired) and serve.

Notes

Get the mascarpone cheese out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes before using. You want it to warm up a bit, but still be a little chilled.

If you’d like to make this tiramisu without the Kahlua, use this espresso mixture:

2 1/4 cups hot water
6-8 tbsp instant espresso powder
6 tbsp sugar, optional

Keywords: what is tiramisu, how to make tiramisu, easy tiramisu recipe, best, authentic, classic, homemade

Enjoy!

 

A slice of tiramisu and a pan filled with uncut tiramisu

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Recipe rating

114 Comments
      1. Kristin

        Great, thank you so much! Thank you for all your recipes. Every time I make one, everyone loves it and I always get compliments on how great they taste. I’m trying this one next week.

        God bless you and your family!

  1. Janelle

    I have made this the last two years for my birthday. It is fantastic!! I sent the leftovers into work with my husband, and his boss said it was the best tiramisu he’s ever had. Thank you for an awesome recipe!! BTW, in case anyone can’t find lady fingers (because I never can), I use Stella D’oro Margharite cookies and they work perfectly.

  2. Kim

    Hi Lindsay,

    I love tiramisu cakes and I’m so glad I found your recipe. I’ve made this multiple times. it is so delicious! It has become a family favorite. I made it again recently and was having issues with the custard part. After mixing the whipped cream with the egg yolk mixture, the entire custard was very runny. I’m not sure what I did wrong.

    1. Lindsay

      Have you had that issue before? Do you know what you did differently? It sounds like maybe the whipped cream deflated.

  3. Melissa

    Hi! I used this recipe for my first time making tiramisu (my favorite dessert), and it was great! The only issue I seem to have run into is the kahlua/espresso mixture inconsistently soaked the bottom layer of ladyfingers, resulting in certain parts to be much darker, specifically in comparison to any part of the middle layer, and more bitter/alcohol heavy than others. Did this happen due to insufficient mixing of the kahlua/espresso? I thought I had mixed them thoroughly, but figured I’d ask here as well!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12