The Homemade Tiramisu That's Better Than at Any Restaurant (2024)

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Italian tiramisu is a no-bake dessert that you can totally make at home. Here's how, step by step and with all the tips you need to know.


Cindy Rahe

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Cindy Rahe

Cindy has over 10 years experience as a recipe blogger and was a contributor at Cindy began contributing to Simply Recipes in 2017.

Learn about Simply Recipes'Editorial Process

Updated September 21, 2023

18 Ratings

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In This Recipe

I've always thought of tiramisu as a "restaurant dessert." You know—one of those fancy desserts that you would never think to make at home.

This is mostly because tiramisu is one of two desserts that my mom always orders at restaurants (the other being crème brulee; she likes a classic). I'd honestly never encountered tiramisu outside of a restaurant setting!

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But a few years ago this changed when we hosted our first Christmas dinner and my mom requested tiramisu for dessert. I was definitely a little fearful but went into "what's the worst that could happen?" mode.

It turns out that making a good tiramisu at home isn't really all that difficult. It really just requires a little patience, some solid whisking, and a few tips to help you along!

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What Is Tiramisu?

Tiramisu is kind of like the cool, older Italian cousin of an American icebox cake. They’re both essentially desserts of layered cookies with a light creamy filling.

Tiramisu, however, has a few signature components that set it apart. The filling starts with a zabaglione—which is a fancy name for egg yolks whisked with sugar and marsala wine (or rum, in our case) over a double-boiler until light, pale and foamy. This zabaglione establishes the flavor of the whole dish.

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How to Make Tiramisu

To stabilize the zabaglione and give it some body, I whip the mascarpone and the heavy cream together (a trick learned from Zoe Francois, who in turn picked it from Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook). I then fold the whipped cream into the cooled zabaglione.

Incorporating the mascarpone with the whipped cream, rather than stirring it into the zabaglione as is traditional, also seems to help prevent the mixture from separating and becoming grainy, which is a common problem many people run into with tiramisu.

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The result is a sweet and silky—and slightly boozy!—cream filling. Once that part is done, the rest of the tiramisu is just an assembly job, followed by a long chill in the fridge.

My Christmas tiramisu ended up being a hit, which was great since I overcooked our prime rib! The tiramisu set up beautifully, sliced easily (so much better than I expected), and definitely made our first Christmas feel extra special.

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Tips for Tiramisu Success

  • Let your zabaglione cool to room temperature: Technically, it only needs to cool to 90F, but unless you want to whip out your thermometer, let it cool to room temperature or slightly warmer. Too hot and it will melt the whipped cream when you mix them together.
  • Wait to whip the cream until the zabaglione has cooled: Whipping goes fast and it's best not to let the whipped cream stand around for too long, so wait until the zabaglione is cool before whipping the cream.
  • Whip the mascarpone with the whipped cream: Many recipes add the mascarpone to the zabaglione, but we found that this sometimes made the zabaglione go inexplicably grainy. Whipping it with the cream instead makes it easier to integrate the mascarpone into the dish without worrying about this issue
  • Beat the mascarpone for just 15 to 30 seconds to soften: Before whipping it with the cream, beat the mascarpone briefly on its own to soften it. Be careful not to over-whip since the high-fat mascarpone can start to separate. Better to err on the side of under-whipping rather than overdoing it.
  • Add the cream slowly: After the mascarpone is softened, drizzle in the cream very slowly while beating on medium speed. Once it's all added, stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, and then continue beating for another 30 to 60 seconds until the mixture holds firm peaks.
  • Aim for whipped cream with firm peaks: You want the whipped cream to be in between soft peaks, where the tips of the whipped cream soften down on themselves, and stiff peaks when the peaks stand straight up. You want a little wobble in your peaks.

This recipe was developed and written by Cindy Rahe with assistance from Emma Christensen, Summer Miller, and Marta Rivera. Team effort!

Eggs in Tiramisu: Raw or Cooked?

Traditionally, the eggs in tiramisu are not cooked. However, because of the risk of foodborne illness in consuming raw eggs, many versions today (including ours) call for first cooking the eggs in the form of zabaglione.

Substituting Ingredients in Tiramisu

We suggest you use the ingredients called for in the recipe for an authentic Tiramisu. However, these substitutions will work in a pinch.

  • If you've never bought ladyfingers before, look for them in the bakery department of most large grocery stores. If you can't get ladyfingers, you can substitute sponge cake.
  • Use one cup of brewed espresso in place of the boiling water and instant espresso.
  • If you can't find mascarpone cheese, you can try blending 12 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature (not Neufchâtel) with 3 ounces of whipping cream.

What Other Size Pans Can You Use?

To make tiramisu in another size pan other than the 8x8-inch one suggested, follow these tips, understanding that they are approximations.

  • 9x13-inch pan: Double the recipe ingredients, but you may have excess filling. (Two 8x8-inch pans would be 128 square inches and a 9x13-inch pan would be 117 square inches, so it won't hold as much as two 8x8-inch pans.)
  • 6-inch round pan: Halve all the recipe ingredients.

Can You Make Tiramisu Without the Rum?

You can substitute other spirits for the rum such as coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua) or brandy. They'll change the flavor slightly, but the tiramisu will still be delicious.

To make the tiramisu non-alcoholic, use 6 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider plus 1 teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract or non-alcoholic rum .

More Classic Italian Desserts to Try!

  • Chocolate Florentine Cookies
  • Panna Cotta
  • Apple Crostata
  • Panettone
  • Zeppole

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

How to Make Classic Tiramisu

Prep Time40 mins

Cook Time5 mins

Chilling8 hrs

Total Time8 hrs 45 mins

Servings9 servings


  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1 cup (200g) sugar, divided

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) dark rum, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) mascarpone cheese, cold from the fridge

  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold from the fridge

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • 1 tablespooninstant espresso powder

  • 1 (7-ounce) packageladyfingers

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed) for dusting the top


  1. Prep the dish:

    Lightly oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.

  2. Whisk the yolks and sugar to make the zabaglione:

    Set a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double boiler (the bowl should rest on the rim of the pan and the bottom should not touch the surface of the water).

    Whisk together the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl. Continue whisking until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture has increased slightly in volume, and it looks light yellow color. Not sure? Rub a little of the mixture between two fingers (it will be warm, but not too hot to touch) – it should feel smooth and silky; if you feel any sugar granules, keep whisking.

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  3. Add in the rum:

    Gradually whisk in 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) of the rum and continue whisking rapidly over the double boiler for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick, foamy, and very pale yellow. (You can also use a hand mixer for this step, if you prefer.)

    Remove the bowl from the double boiler and set aside until cooled to at least 90°F or room temperature.

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  4. Whip the mascarpone and cream:

    You can use either a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment for this step. If using a stand mixer, be very attentive and do not walk away while the mascarpone is whipping. Stand mixers are so powerful, that it's easy to overwhip, which causes the mascarpone to separate. You have a little more wiggle room with a hand mixer.

    With a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the mascarpone on medium speed for 15 to 30 seconds, until it smooths out and softens. 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. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Continue beating with the mixer on medium-high speed for another 30 to 60 seconds, until the mixture holds firm, not-quite-stiff peaks.

  5. Mix the whipped mascarpone-cream mixture and the zabaglione:

    Fold 1/3 of the whipped mascarpone-cream mixture into the zabaglione to lighten it, then fold in the remaining 2/3.

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  6. Make the coffee dipping liquid for the ladyfingers:

    In a wide, shallow dish, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the remaining 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of rum, the boiling water, and the espresso powder. Stir to dissolve the sugar and espresso.

  7. Assemble the tiramisu:

    Dunk one ladyfinger at a time in the espresso liquid, turning it so that all sides are evenly moistened — a quick dunk is all you need; any more and the ladyfingers start to disintegrate. Arrange the dunked ladyfingers in rows on the bottom of the baking dish.

    Once you finish the layer, spread 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the top. Repeat dunking and arranging a second layer, and spread the remaining mascarpone over top.

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    The Homemade Tiramisu That's Better Than at Any Restaurant (12)

  8. Chill the tiramisu:

    Cover the tiramisu and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours to give the tiramisu time to firm up and for the ladyfingers to soften.

  9. Serve:

    Dust with cocoa before serving. Serve in wedges directly from the pan. Leftovers will keep for about 5 days.

    Did you enjoy this recipe? Let us know with a rating and review!

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
33g Fat
38g Carbs
9g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g42%
Saturated Fat 18g92%
Cholesterol 275mg92%
Sodium 254mg11%
Total Carbohydrate 38g14%
Dietary Fiber 0g1%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg1%
Calcium 80mg6%
Iron 2mg10%
Potassium 152mg3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.

The Homemade Tiramisu That's Better Than at Any Restaurant (2024)


Which alcohol is best for tiramisu? ›

Most recipes use Marsala wine in tiramisu, however, I have always loved Kahlua since it pairs so well with the espresso that's already in the recipe. Use any of these or your favorite liquor: Marsala wine. Rum (dark rum would be best!)

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

Where in Italy has the best tiramisu? ›

Where to eat The best Tiramisù in the world (According to food experts)
  • Da Enzo al 29. Rome, Italy. ...
  • Flavio al Velavevodetto. Rome, Italy. ...
  • I Tre Mercanti. Venice, Italy. ...
  • Bar Pompi. Rome, Italy. ...
  • Caffetteria Barberini. Rome, Italy. ...
  • Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori. Florence, Italy. ...
  • Ristorante Alla Rampa. Rome, Italy. ...
  • Sora Maria e Arcangelo.
Feb 23, 2016

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.

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.

Does Olive Garden use alcohol in their tiramisu? ›

When it comes to the tiramisu however, Olive Garden's version isn't too far off from the real deal, because it's made with the same ingredients, including alcohol, according to the restaurant's website.

Can Muslims eat tiramisu with alcohol? ›

What do beer battered fish, Bolognese sauce and tiramisu have in common? The answer is their recipes contain alcohol. Most people know that alcohol is not Halal for Muslims to consume.

Does all tiramisu in Italy have alcohol? ›

No alcohol is allowed as it does not appear in any of the original recipes. The addition of wines and spirits like Marsala and Amaretto is a more recent trend.

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.

How long does homemade tiramisu last? ›

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.

Why is my tiramisu so soggy? ›

It is this dipping stage that makes or breaks a tiramisu. According to Garten, if you dip your ladyfingers for too long, they will turn soggy. However, if you don't dip them for long enough, they won't absorb the proper flavor.

Does Olive Garden make tiramisu? ›

Tiramisu | Lunch & Dinner Menu | Olive Garden Italian Restaurant.

Who is the king of tiramisu? ›

Pompi is a highly regarded dessert establishment in Rome and proudly calls itself 'The King of Tiramisù'.

What is the number one dessert in Italy? ›

Perhaps the most iconic Italian dessert, tiramisu appears on menus at restaurants not only throughout Italy but also all over the world.

Are raw eggs OK in tiramisu? ›

Eggs in tiramisu

In most traditional tiramisu recipes, you'll find egg yolks. This adds richness and a decadent flavor to the mascarpone filling. While true classic tiramisu recipes use raw egg yolks, I prefer to cook them to eliminate the risk of salmonella, so that's what this recipe calls for.

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.

How long should tiramisu chill before serving? ›

Repeat the layering of ladyfingers, mascarpone and cocoa powder twice more. Once finished, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. If you want to get fancy, finish with a layer of whipped cream piped on top and dust with more cocoa powder.

Does tiramisu need to rest? ›

Tiramisù really does taste better about two days after it is made as the flavours develop: if you can make it ahead it will be even more delicious. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until serving either chilled or at room termperature.

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