Best Tiramisu Recipe - What Is It And How To Make It

Best Tiramisu Recipe - What Is It And How To Make It

With the accent of chocolate and coffee, this tiramisu can be enjoyed with or without the preceding plate of pasta. Besides being a creamy, rich follow-up, this sweet treat can be presented at any occasion. Impress your guests!

Tiramisu dessert sliced for serving

What Is Tiramisu?


The name tiramisù comes from the Italian tiramisù, meaning “pick me up” or “cheer me up.” And that’s the perfect way to describe this rich and decadent Italian dessert. Some records state that Tiramisù originated in Treviso, Italy in 1800, but other records state that it originated from an idea by pastry chef Loly Linguanotto in the late 1960’s. Even though its exact origins have been debated, what we know for sure is that you’re going to love it.




Tiramisu is an elegant and rich layered Italian dessert made with delicate ladyfinger cookies, espresso or instant espresso, mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar, Marsala wine, rum and cocoa powder. Through the grouping of these diverse ingredients, an intense yet refined dish emerges. The delicate flavor of layers of mascarpone and Italian custard are contrasted with the darkly robust presence of espresso and sharpness of cocoa powder. The name itself, tiramisu, means “pick me up” in Italian most likely referring to the two caffeinated ingredients that are present in the dish, espresso and cocoa.

Why You'll Love Tiramisu

Tiramisù is a layered no-bake dessert consisting of ladyfingers soaked with coffee and rum, then layered with a whipped mixture of sugar, eggs and the creamy, sweet mascarpone cheese sprinkled with cocoa. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to whip up this incredible dessert. With just 7 ingredients and no baking, tiramisù is a simple treat that is sure to impress.

The Ingredients You Will Need To Make Tiramisu

Espresso Powder: Instead of fussing with an espresso machine or brewing espresso beans for just a few tablespoons, we suggest using Instant Espresso Powder for your tiramisù. The powder dissolves instantly in boiling water. So easy!

Front image of Instant Espresso Powder.

Ladyfingers: These crisp Italian biscuits are light and airy with a subtle sweetness. When dipped or soaked, ladyfingers soften and take on the bold, dark espresso flavor that tiramisù is famous for. If you don’t have Ladyfingers, sponge cake will work as a substitute.

Product image of lady fingers

Mascarpone: Originating in the region of Lombardy (Northern Italy), mascarpone is a double or triple cream cheese with a spreadable buttery texture and an out-of-this-world flavor. This rich, sweet and silky-smooth cow’s milk cheese is an essential ingredient in tiramisù. Cream cheese can be used in place of mascarpone, but we prefer the richer creaminess from mascarpone.

Additional ingredients you will need to make tiramisu are:

  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Cocoa powder
  • Spiced Rum (brandy, marsala wine or coffee liquor work well too)
Ingredients needed for tiramisu recipe arranged on a table

How To Make Tiramisu In 4 Easy Steps

1. Prepare mascarpone mixture.

In a mixing bowl, whisk 3 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow. This takes about 5 minutes with a hand mixer on medium-high speed. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth and combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. When you are done mixing, the mascarpone cream should be smooth and creamy, but not airy like whipped cream. Gently and slowly fold egg whites into the mascarpone mixture, careful to maintain their fluffy texture.

Glass bowl filled with prepared mascarpone mixture used for tiramisu recipe

2. Prepare espresso and rum mixture.

Next, add espresso powder and water in a medium shallow bowl and stir to combine. Then add the rum to the coffee mixture.

Hand pouring a cup of water into a bowl with dry espresso powder

3. Layer ladyfingers and mascarpone.

Quickly dip each ladyfinger into the coffee, wetting both sides of cookie, but not soaking. Arrange ladyfingers along the base of a shallow 8”x8” baking dish. How many ladyfingers you need depends on the size of the ladyfingers as well as the dish used. Spread 1/3 of mascarpone mixture evenly on top, sprinkle with 1/3 of cocoa powder. Repeat the process of dipping the ladyfingers, arranging them in the casserole, and spreading mascarpone and cocoa powder on top two more times.

Lady fingers in a baking dish topped with mascarpone cheese mixture
Hand sifting cocoa powder on tiramisu dessert being prepared in a baking dish

4. Chill and serve.

Wrap tiramisù with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least 6 hours before serving. If you want to get fancy, finish the Tiramisù with a layer of whipped cream piped on top and dust with more cocoa powder.

Tiramisu dessert topped with cocoa powder

Watch How Easy It Is To Make Tiramisu

Tips For Making The Best Tiramisu

  • When mixing the mascarpone, don’t skimp on the bowl. Use a large mixing bowl. Always use chilled mascarpone cheese straight from the refrigerator.
  • Don’t soak! Quickly dip the cookies into your coffee or liquor. Try not to leave them in the liquid too long—a quick dip will do. Overly soggy cookies make for a wet texture and a messy dessert.
  • Mix up your flavors. Keep it classic with fresh brewed (or instant) espresso or switch things up with a liquor like rum, amaretto, sambucca or Irish cream. Don’t be afraid to experiment with fruit for a non-coffee version. Use fruit purees or natural juices to give your tiramisu an extra summery flavor.
  • Switch up the layers. When building your tiramisu, criss-cross cookie layers to create a sturdier dessert. This way allows for easier cutting and better presentation. (So your tiramisu won’t look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa).
  • Line your pan. Line your pan with plastic wrap before building your tiramisu. When you’re ready to remove the trifle (after it has chilled), you can more easily flip the dessert onto a serving dish and get the full effect of your layered dessert without it falling over.
  • Be patient. Once you whip it up, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. This gives the dessert time to develop its rich cocoa flavor.
  • When storing the tiramisù in the refrigerator, be sure to cover with a lid or wrap tightly with plastic wrap so that no odors from the refrigerator seep into the dessert.

Tiramisu: FAQ

Is tiramisu a no-bake dessert?

Yes, it is. Just mix up the mascarpone cheese with sugar, eggs and, dip the ladyfingers in your choice of liqueur, layer, chill and serve!

What are ladyfingers?

Ladyfingers (savoiardi in Italian) are a sweet, pretty dry, and finger-shaped sponge cookie/cake. Ladyfingers can be eaten on their own, but are usually used as a recipe component in desserts. They can be soaked in syrup or liqueur, layered with cream, or decorated with piped frostings and fresh fruit.

How do I serve tiramisu?

Serve square portions. Make even cuts with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between each cut. Tiramisu is typically served chilled or at room temperature.

Does tiramisu have alcohol?

Traditionally, yes. The ladyfingers which form the base of the cake are usually brushed with or soaked in a mixture of coffee and a liquor such as rum or marsala wine.

Can I make tiramisu without alcohol?

Yes, just soak the ladyfingers in coffee only.

Can I use whipped cream instead of whipped egg whites?

Yes, but the whipped mixture will not be as light as it would with egg whites.

How long will tiramisu last in the fridge? Can I make tiramisu in advance?

Once made, tiramisù can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Tiramisù should not be left out, so once served, leftovers should be refrigerated immediately.

Is tiramisu better the longer it sits?

Yes. Once it is put together, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

Can I freeze tiramisu?

Yes. To freeze the tiramisu, wrap the dish tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the tiramisu in the fridge overnight and consume within 3 days.

Will tiramisu keep me awake?

Tiramisu usually calls for just a little bit of espresso. It's not enough caffeine to keep you awake at night.

Opera cake vs tiramisu - what is the difference?

Both cakes consist of coffee and cream, Tiramisu is Italian in origin and uses soaked ladyfingers as the base of the cake. Opera cake is French in origin and uses a light almond sponge cake as the base.

Tiramisu dessert sliced for serving

Best Tiramisu Recipe



  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to whisk together 6 egg yolks and the sugar until thickened and pale yellow, about 5 minutes on a medium-high speed.
  3. Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture. Whisk until smooth and combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should be smooth and creamy, but not airy like whipped cream.
  4. Gently fold in the egg whites. Be careful to maintain their fluffy texture.
  5. In a shallow bowl, stir the espresso powder into the hot water. Once dissolved, add the rum. Quickly dip each ladyfinger into the coffee to wet both sides of the cookie. Do not soak.
  6. To create the dessert, begin with a layer of ladyfingers along the base of an 8” x 8” baking dish. The number of ladyfingers needed depends on their size and the baking dish used.
  7. Next, evenly spread 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture on top. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cocoa powder. Repeat the layering of ladyfingers, mascarpone and cocoa powder twice more.
  8. Once finished, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.
  9. If you want to get fancy, finish with a layer of whipped cream piped on top and dust with more cocoa powder.
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