How to Make a Classic Tiramisu Like a Pro in Only 4 Steps (2024)

You've seen it on menus and you know it's an Italian dessert, but exactly what is tiramisu? It's a magical dessert made from layers of sponge cake (ladyfingers) soaked in a coffee and (if desired) liqueur syrup, creamy mascarpone, and cocoa powder. And we aren't kidding about how easy it is to make tiramisu at home. The best part? You can make the fancy-looking dessert up to 24 hours ahead so it's convenient for gatherings, too. Read on for our step-by-step process on how to make tiramisu. After you've mastered the classic tiramisu recipe, you can try some of our best creative takes featuring chocolate, pumpkin, and more.

How to Make a Classic Tiramisu Like a Pro in Only 4 Steps (1)

Ingredients to Make Tiramisu

As with any recipe, the first thing you need to know is the ingredients. This is the basic makeup of most tiramisu recipes. We'll be using our classic tiramisu as the foundation for the steps to making the dessert from scratch.

  • Ladyfingers: Sponge cake piped into fingerlike shapes. You can make your own ladyfingers or purchase two 3-ounce packages. Wondering if you should use soft or hard ladyfingers for tiramisu? They come in both forms, but we tend to use the soft variety.
  • Espresso powder: We use instant espresso coffee powder found in the coffee aisle at your grocery store. You could also use espresso, which is strong coffee made by forcing steam or hot water through finely-ground Italian-roast (or espresso-grind) coffee. It can be brewed at home or at your local coffee shop.
  • Mascarpone cheese: A double- or triple-cream cow's milk cheese, mascarpone has a mild flavor and a texture similar to creamy room-temperature butter. Purchase it at a supermarket, cheese shop, or specialty food market.
  • Hazelnut-, coffee-, or almond liqueur: This sweet alcoholic beverage is optional, but we enthusiastically opt for it. It adds an extra flavor dimension to your tiramisu recipe.
  • Heavy cream: You surely know what this is. Just like sweetened whipped cream, here it adds fluffy creaminess to the tiramisu recipe.
  • Pantry staples: Sugar, water, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder are all essentials likely in your pantry. If they're not, go grab 'em now so you can make your tiramisu.

Step 1: Make the Coffee-Liqueur Syrup

The tiramisu syrup is what gives the ladyfingers all their coffee flavor. The chilling time (we'll get there soon) allows the syrup to soak in. In a small saucepan, combine:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. espresso powder

Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let it boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. If desired, add 2 Tbsp. liqueur.

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Step 2: Make the Mascarpone Filling

Using chilled beaters in a large chilled bowl, beat 1⅓ cups chilled heavy cream on medium until soft peaks form (tips curl). In another medium bowl stir together two 8-ounce tubs of mascarpone cheese and ½ cup powdered sugar. Fold ½ cup of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten. Then gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the remaining whipped cream.

Test Kitchen Tip: Chilling your beaters and mixing bowl in the fridge for at least 15 minutes allows your cream to whip quickly, giving you even more fluffiness as a result.

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How to Make a Classic Tiramisu Like a Pro in Only 4 Steps (4)

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Step 3: Assemble the Tiramisu and Chill

Arrange half of the ladyfingers in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Brush with half of the syrup. Spread with half of the mascarpone mixture and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder. Repeat ladyfinger, syrup, and mascarpone layers. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. See, told you this was the hardest part—waiting for something so delicious is so hard! But giving the syrup plenty of time to soak in makes for the best tiramisu recipe. And you want the best, right?

Try Our Triple Chocolate Tiramisu Recipe

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Step 4: Garnish and Serve

Immediately before serving, remove the tiramisu from the refrigerator and uncover. Place 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder in a small mesh strainer or sifter, and dust the top of the tiramisu with the cocoa. Cut the dessert into 9 squares.

How to Store Leftover Tiramisu (if you even have leftovers): Cover and store leftover tiramisu in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Don't stop at just one tiramisu recipe. Our Test Kitchen has a lot of delicious ways to infuse that creamy, coffee-infused dessert into all sorts of treats. Add-on some extra flavors to create a pumpkin tiramisu or maple-bourbon chocolate tiramisu. Serve tiramisu for breakfast in this irresistible french toast recipe. Make someone's birthday really special with a tiramisu ice cream cake. However you choose to enjoy the Italian dessert, we already know it's going to be delicious.

How to Make a Classic Tiramisu Like a Pro in Only 4 Steps (2024)


What is traditional tiramisu made of? ›

Traditional tiramisu contains ladyfingers (savoiardi), egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone and cocoa powder. A common variant involves soaking the savoiardi in alcohol, such as Marsala wine, amaretto or a coffee-based liqueur.

What not to do when making tiramisu? ›

Roberto Lestani, who for the occasion revealed to us the 3 mistakes not to make to prepare a stunning tiramisu!
  1. 1: excessively whipping the mascarpone! ...
  2. 2: once together, don't immediately mix the yolks and sugar! ...
  3. 3: Neglect stratification!
Jun 16, 2020

Why is my tiramisu not creamy? ›

The right biscuits

The choice is yours, even though connoisseurs of this dessert will always tell you to choose savoiardi. In fact, the result is completely different if you use these biscuits, which are tall and spongy and absorb less coffee. As a result, the consistency will be less creamy and slightly more compact.

Why is my tiramisu gritty? ›

Be careful not to over-beat or else the mascarpone will separate and become grainy. With the mixer still on medium speed, gradually add the cream in a thin, slow stream until it's all incorporated. This should take 1 to 2 minutes.

Why is the bottom of tiramisu wet? ›

The cookies that make up the “cake” layers of a tiramisu are called Savoiardi, or lady fingers. These cookies are incredibly absorbent because they are made from a sponge cake-like batter. That's why when you dip them in coffee if you dip them for too long they will make your cake very soggy. Sponge cake absorbs.

Why does tiramisu taste so good? ›

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.

What is Costco tiramisu made of? ›

While a tiramisu is normally made with soaked lady fingers, this cake mostly uses coffee-soaked sponge cake with creamy mascarpone filling. It is then topped off with a sprinkle of chocolate powder, chocolate shavings or espresso beans.

What is the best liquor for tiramisu? ›

Tiramisu can have a variety of different types of alcohol inside, however the most common alcohol in tiramisu is dark rum. Other common types of alcohol used in tiramisu is marsala wine, amaretto, or coffee liquor.

How long should tiramisu sit before eating? ›

Chill your tiramisu for at least 6 hours.

As it sits, the ladyfingers soften and absorb the moisture and flavor from the cream. When ready to serve, grate more chocolate over the top (because why not), and then enjoy!

Is tiramisu very unhealthy? ›

Tiramisu is the clear loser here at 400 calories for 5 ounces. The primary ingredients are usually some mixture of creamy fats, processed sugars and alcohol. A typical recipe calls for eggs, mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers, cream, espresso, liquor (e.g., brandy, Marsala or rum), sugar, and cocoa or shaved chocolate.

Is it better to use soft or hard ladyfingers for tiramisu? ›

Wondering if you should use soft or hard ladyfingers for tiramisu? They come in both forms, but we tend to use the soft variety. Espresso powder: We use instant espresso coffee powder found in the coffee aisle at your grocery store.

Why does my tiramisu taste bitter? ›

Because tiramisu contains coffee and chocolate, there is reason to worry that it will taste bitter. But a well-made tiramisu is an exercise in equilibrium. The sweetness of the sugar and mascarpone cheese skillfully counteracts the bitterness of the coffee and cocoa.

Is it better to leave tiramisu overnight? ›

For the best results, tiramisu needs at least 6 hours in the fridge before serving.

What is the difference between Italian and American tiramisu? ›

Traditional Italian tiramisu does not contain cream–the mascarpone “cream” is composed of simply mascarpone, eggs and sugar. However, our selection of mostly Americanized recipe did include 5 recipes that used heavy cream (ranging from 2 tablespoons to 2 cups).

Does tiramisu traditionally contain alcohol? ›

Traditional tiramisu, an Italian dessert, typically contains alcohol in the form of a liqueur. The alcohol is used to enhance the flavor and is an integral part of the dessert's traditional recipe. The most commonly used liqueur in tiramisu is Marsala wine, which is a sweet fortified wine.

Does all tiramisu have raw eggs? ›

Nowadays, using raw eggs in cooking is so much more acceptable because the quality of fresh produce is so much better - think mayonnaise (raw yolks), lemon meringue pie (raw egg whites under the browned top). However, the real traditional way to make Tiramisu (and this is an Italian Chef recipe) is to use raw eggs.

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