How to Make the Best Tiramisu

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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!

  4. Kaela Jade

    I’ve made this tiramisu about 5 times and it is perfect every time. I use about 8 double espressos from my home machine to dip all of the lady fingers in instead of the Kahlua mix and the flavour is very authentic – better than any tiramisu I’ve had from any restaurant in my life. I also sweeten the whipped cream with powdered sugar before mixing in to the mascarpone mix to ensure it combats nicely with the strong espresso. This is so smooth and creamy and holds up nicely in the fridge for a few days – it is now a staple in my household. 

    I am not on a keto diet so I will be trying this with powdered erythritol instead of sugar, and attempting to make my own keto ladyfingers or pound cake to go in to the recipe. Fingers crossed it works out!!

    Thanks for the amazing recipes.

  5. Nims Lyn

    This turned out fantastic!!! my first time making Tiramisu and so lucky to have stumbled upon your recipe. thank you very much.
    I did not use alcohol, so I used 8 TBSP instant espresso in 2 cups of hot water. it was perfect and enough liquid for all the lady’s fingers. 
    also, when you mix the yolk and sugar to create the custard, the sugar will be grainy, even after you mix for 8-10 mins. However the grainy texture goes away after you mix the mascarpone and whipped cream. 

    1. Lindsay

      I’m really not sure that there’s a great substitute. The mascarpone really adds the most accurate flavor. But if you want to try something different, cream cheese might be the best option.

  6. Marianne

    The original tiramisu is supposed to be ˋhalf frozeń. In Italy the  egg isn’t heated, they just use the yolk as is, no problem! I just make sure I get fresh eggs. Otherwise, the recipe is the same and really amazing! 

  7. Rebecca

    I omitted alcohol & used 1 cup very strong decaf coffee instead. I quick dunked the ladyfingers (soft kind. That’s all I could find) but just make sure the kind you’re using doesn’t get so wet that it’ll disintegrate before you set it in pan. Still tasted like the good stuff you get at expensive restaurants.

  8. Emily

    I love tiramisu and I am very excited about trying this recipe. I have one question though, does it freeze well? Thank you so much!

  9. Rosemarie

    I was at first skeptical about the equal parts espresso to kahlua, but it was what made this dish outstanding!  And cooking the eggs over the double boiler was no big deal, and definitely made the dish lighter in texture as well as taste. I doubled the recipe, but because I used jumbo eggs, decreased the total yolks to 9. My only other change was a dash of vanilla to the whipping cream as it mixed.  THIS WAS DEFINITELY A BIG HIT!  

  10. Jodill

    What about replacing the water with coffee? We have a coffee that the beans are soaked in kahlua, caramel, and vanilla.

  11. Fatima

    I used this recipe and the tiramisu was out of this world. I want to add that I added 14g vanila flavored sugar and mixed it altogethet with the whipped cream. I did not use alcohol but I can confidently say that it did not affect the taste of the cake at all.
    Finally, I think we all must buy ingredients of the best quality in order our cakes or whatever we cook to be at their point.

  12. Karen Breton

    I tried making tiramisu with a similar recipe. I only got as far as the egg yolks and sugar mixed them and cooked for 10 minutes. I tried it 3 times and each time something went wrong! Don’t have a double boiler so i used a metal bowl over boiling water inside a larger pan. What am i doing wrong??? Should the eggs be room temp?? HELP!!!

  13. Jake

    Turned out like straight up pudding mush.  If you soak the lady fingers for any more than a second you get a mush and might as well mix it all together

  14. Lynze

    Made this last night and it turned out amazing!

    Made a two slight adjustments… strained the egg yoke mixture because I could not get the sugar to melt and didn’t want to over cook the custard and wanted to remove any cooked egg and I used less alcohol and more espresso.

    I let it set overnight and cut perfectly and came out of the glass dish perfectly! 

    I will definitely be using this recipe again!

  15. laura papageorgiou

    Hello! I just finished making this recipe for the third time and it’s absolutely delicious. However, this time I noticed my cream wasn’t as thick as it usually is. It was a tad bit runny. I whipped the heavy cream till soft peaks formed and once I added the egg/marscapone mixture it loosened a bit . It tastes great but I’m just worried it won’t thicken. Will it thicken overnight in the refrigerator? 

  16. Lidiya Denishchich

    I just added the mascarpone to the egg yolks and the mixture is kinda runny.. is that how it’s supposed to be? I haven’t added the whipped cream yet so I’m not sure if that’ll thicken it up a bit? Making this for thanksgiving tomorrow.. please reply ASAP thanks! 🙂

      1. Lidiya Denishchich

        Holy cow this was delicious!! Huge hit with the family! Keeping this saved for the future for sure! Thank you! 

  17. Ann

    Thank you Lindsay… Raspberries worked well with it..
    it was an absolutly stunning dessert and i got loads of comments on it! Best recipe:):):) cant wait to try some more of yours now!

  18. Ann

    I cant wait to try this recipe… however i would like to put something bright and colourful on the plate when i serve it to my guests…. would any type of fruit go well with this?

  19. Kelly

    Help!!!  My sugar and egg yolks is thick and grainy like a paste!!  This cannot be right!  What could I have done wrong??

    1. Lindsay

      Did you cook them for too long? At what point in the instructions were you when they ended up like a paste? They should be fine when cooked over the stove – just keep them on a low enough heat setting with the double boiler so that the eggs don’t cook too quickly and scramble.

    2. Alice. Jane

      This happened to me the 1st time… The second time I used the beater and my mixer broke up the egg yolks with the sugar then placed on double boiler and mixed with mixer until pale… About 5-7 mins and it turned out great

  20. Pamela K

    I made this using your recipe and it was, as my father stated, “The best tiramisu that I have ever had!”
    Thank you, thank you for this! Now that I know how good your tasters are, I will follow and try it all of your recipe’s!! I did ease up on the Kalua but you must increase the rest so you have enough liquid. I totally trust your recipes, You are my first, LOL EXCELLENT JOB!!!

      1. Giulia

        There is NO whipped cream in the real Italian tiramisù 😭 just need to whip the eggs with the sugar with electric whips and possible separate the whites, adding them at the end so the cream becomes very scummy. Also, the savoiardi must stay quite dry – just the right amount of coffee to soften them – you don’t want coffee to drain down and remain on the base of your pan! 😉 ciao from Italy!

  21. Anna Jones

    I made the recipe exactly as it said but it had an overwhelming Kahlua taste. It honestly tasted like pure alcohol! I used the softer lady fingers instead of the firmer ones but besides that, everything else was done just as the recipe said. Did anyone else have this same problem?

    1. Lindsay

      I would say that the firmer lady fingers might make a bit of a difference. However you are right that this recipe has a stronger Kahlua flavor than some others. I personally like the strong flavor, but you could definitely replace some of the Kahlua with additional espresso.

  22. Jeanine

    I just made this Tiramisu and it was delicious and enjoyed by everyone at my daughter’s birthday.  I made it with the soft lady fingers and I must say I had my doubts but it worked great.  I even prepared it two days earlier.  This recipe is definitely a keeper !

  23. Adrienne

    I made your recipe of Tiramisu. Absolutely the easiest recipe. Just to finish marscapone, I used 2 – 8 oz. containers. I used 2 cups of whip cream. The mixture is fab tasting. Thank you

  24. Daniela

    Do you submerge the lady finger completely under the liquid? Ex: is the entire ladyfinger to be soaked or jus the bottom half? 

  25. Lindsay

    Hi I was wondering how long does this need to be refrigerated if wanting to use it same day as you make it? I will realisitcally probably only have around 3 hours for refrigeration time, would that work? 

    1. Lindsay

      I usually make it a day ahead. I don’t think I’ve only refrigerated it for 3 hours. It may be softer, but it should be ok.

    1. Lindsay

      I guess you’ll have to get creative! 🙂 One option would be to use a vanilla cookie of some kind. A shortbread would probably be firm enough and hold up well. You could also make a different kind of tiramisu dessert. These tiramisu cupcakes are a great option – it has all the great parts of tiramisu in cupcake form, so no ladyfingers. For something a little different, there’s this Oreo Brookie Tiramisu. Similar idea to a traditional tiramisu, but with brownies and cookies in place of ladyfingers. I hope that helps!

  26. Penny

    I have never even seen Crunchy ladyfingers. Where would I find them. I have only ever seen soft ladyfingers. I want to use this recipe (sounds delicious) so please, has anyone used the soft ladyfingers and how did it turn out.Thank you for your help.

    Ps What is Suki talking about (sabayon sauce), what is that?

    1. Lindsay

      The crunchy/dry ones are the more traditional lady fingers. I usually find them at a little Italian market, but I saw them just yesterday at Kroger (a grocery store in our area). You can buy them on amazon too.

      I don’t know what sabayon sauce is. I didn’t use any in this tiramisu.

      1. Deb G

        Sabayon sauce is a  French term for cooking eggs, cream and alcohol
        The Italian term is zabaglione. 
        I usually strain my mixture to be on the safe side to ensure it’s creamy and no lumps. 

  27. Suki

    I made the tiramisu cake today. It was tasty, but the cream consistency wasn’t right.
    The sabayon sauce should be refrigerated before adding it to the whipped cream. I also added a little vanilla extract to the cream.

  28. Ines

    What cocoa powder do you recommend?  Is it the Hershey unsweetened? I love how the egg and sugar mixture are cooked before adding it to the cheese and whipped cream. Eggs are raw in some recipes of tiramisu that I have seen. 

  29. LINDA MILLER

    Hi,
    Recipe looks wonderful. Do you use soft lady fingers and do you split them to assemble the Tiramisu?

    Will this filling fill up a 9×13 dish with 2 layers?

    If possible, please respond to my email address: lindakmiller70@gmail.com  I wish to make this recipe before May 15th, 2016.

    Thanks,  Linda Miller

    1. Lindsay

      I use the traditional firm lady fingers, so they aren’t split. Yes, it’s made in an full size 9×13 pan. I hope you enjoy it!

  30. Barry

    This site and their Facebook pace is using your image.  These sites irritate me. https://www.1mrecipes.com/low-sugar-chocolate-coffee-tiramisu/

  31. Alison Haines

    This Tiramisu recipe is the best one I’ve ever made. Honestly, I’ve made it so many times now and it never fails. Thank you!

  32. Supriya

    Tirsmisu is our fav desert… I am planning to make it for our anniversary and I only have the softer lady fingers… Do u think that they would work??

    1. lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com

      Hmmm, I’m not sure that it would turn out as well. The regular ones are dryer and soak up the liquid, you might want to reduce the liquid if you use the soft ones. Here’s a link to a tiramisu trifle I made with the softer lady fingers if you’d rather try that.

    2. Ashlyn Heddings

      Is there any difference between using espresso powder and instant espresso powder? I can not use Alcohol

  33. Ashley

    I also cannot have alcohol, so i was just going to make this with the espresso/water. how much water do you think i need for it to be a sufficient amount for the lady fingers? you mentioned “add more water and espresso” but i have never used instant espresso before, and dont want to mess it up! thanks for your help in advance.

    1. lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com

      I haven’t done it without Kahlua before, so I can’t say for sure. You’ll want to make sure the espresso isn’t too strong. A lot of liquid ends up soaked into the lady fingers, so you’ll probably want to add about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water in place of the Kahlua. For the espresso, you’ll probably want to double or triple the amount used. Then taste a little bit of it and see if you think it should be stronger. I hope that helps.

  34. Joni O

    This looks like the perfect dessert to end a classic Italian meal we have planned for friends. (The Kahlua put it over the top for me 🙂 Did you use the softer ladyfingers or the crunchy type? Thanks so much!

      1. Joni O.

        Made this today and HAD to try a piece before serving it to guests tomorrow 🙂 Oh my goodness!!! Fan-freaking-tastic indeed! Thanks for convincing me to try my hand at making this classic dessert.

      2. lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com

        I’m so glad you tried it! And so glad it was a hit too! 🙂 Thanks Joni!

    1. lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com

      Certainly you could. It might give it a bit of a milky taste. You could also try a little more espresso and water it down to get enough liquid.

    2. Hadeel

      This is my go to recipe for tiramisu and it’s always a HUGE hit! I don’t drink alcohol so I always just make a bunch of espresso and use that instead… trick is to not over soak the ladyfingers… espresso should be warm (not hot!) and I turn over each ladyfinger in it two or three times before laying it down in the pan.   Good luck! 

  35. Karen

    I made this last night and it was my very first time making tiramisu. Your recipe was so easy to follow and it turned out awesome! I used less Kahlua (1 cup) and used 4 shots of espresso made from my home espresso machine and it was just enough to soak the ladyfingers (and still enough to get a buzz off one slice.) Boyfriend and roommates licked their plates clean, lol. Thank you so much for this recipe, definitely will recommend!!

  36. Melissa

    Hi! I’m in the middle of making the classic tiramisu. I was wondering if by espresso you mean already made espresso or just the powder? If you could get back to me, that would be great! Thanks.

    1. lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com

      Hi Melissa! It’s espresso granules. You’ll see in the instructions that you add it to warm water to get espresso for drizzling. I hope you enjoy it, it’s one of my favorites!

  37. Jocelyn@BruCrew Life

    This dessert is seriously calling my name!!! I could probably polish off the entire dessert… 🙂

  38. Lisa @ Cooking with Curls

    You did an amazing job with that tiramisu Lindsay! I tried making it once, and it was a disaster. I will definitely give your recipe a try! 🙂

  39. Diane Balch

    I grew up eating tiramisu and yours looks so firm and delicious. Thanks for sharing it with us on foodie friday.

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