Tiramisu in a dish and on plates on a wooden table.
Home » Italian Recipes » Authentic Italian Tiramisù Recipe – The Only One You’ll Ever Need (+ Tips)

Authentic Italian Tiramisù Recipe – The Only One You’ll Ever Need (+ Tips)

Last updated on April 17th, 2024

Traditional Tiramisù is one of the first recipes I ever learned in Italy. I was a student, and my host family kindly taught me how to make their tiramisù.

Although I’ve tried other authentic tiramisù recipes over the years, this is the one I keep coming back to. If you’re looking for a traditional Italian tiramisù recipe, this one’s for you!

Not only is it an authentic recipe, I have perfected it over the years, and I have a few tricks and tips that help ensure a perfect result every time.  I encourage you to read ALL the instructions and the tips at the end for best results.

Helpful Tip: If you are a baker you know that baking is like a science – very precise and everything must be measured. While this is true with traditional tiramisù as well, the number one rule I have for making this dessert is to be flexible with the number of lady fingers you are using. Perhaps your pan isn’t exactly the correct size or maybe you are using an odd shape. Just put as many as fit in the bottom without overcrowding and then continue on with the cream layer and another layer of ladyfingers and cream. 

Enjoy the recipe! And, if you have never made tiramisù before, don’t be intimidated! This authentic Italian tiramisù recipe is very easy, no-bake and a crowd-pleaser. Kids love it too! 

Tiramisù Pronunciation

Tiramisù is pronounced tee-rah-me-su, and it means quite literally ‘pick me up.’ The word is derived from the Treviso dialect tireme su. It wasn’t until the mid 20th-century that it became known as tiramisù in the Italian language as we know it today. 

Listen to the pronunciation of tiramisù:

What is Authentic Italian Tiramisù?

Tiramisù is a very easy, no-bake recipe (meaning you do not have to turn the oven on – great for hot summer days). It’s creamy, lightly-sweetened and flavored with coffee. This traditional tiramisù recipe is made by layering espresso-soaked ladyfingers known as savoiardi in Italian with a mascarpone cream and cocoa powder multiple times. It’s then chilled, and spooned out or cut into large servings. 

wooden table with all the fixings to make tiramisu including the coffee, dish, and ladyfingers

What Makes Authentic Italian Tiramisù

So what makes an authentic traditional tiramisù recipe, you ask? It’s all about first and foremost quality of ingredients since there are so few, only six (or seven depending on what you like) but also consistency is HUGE. Nobody likes a chalky, dry dessert that is supposed to be luxuriously creamy yet it should not be overly gooey, runny or loose. 

The lady fingers should be tinted brown from having soaked up the espresso yet ever so firm so there is just a slight bite (or slight spring back to the cookie itself within the cream). If the ladyfingers are overly soaked with coffee they won’t absorb any excess liquid from the cream and the dessert can get runny or too squishy. 

Another great indication of a traditional tiramisù is that it can withstand being held on its own. What I mean is that when a slice or scoop is removed, it shouldn’t just fall apart and start to overly droop on the plate but sit up relatively firmly. 

birds eye view of tiramisu being made with mascarpone cream layer exposed.
The mascarpone cream layer has been added

How to Eat Authentic Tiramisù like an Italian

Despite its name, this pick-me-up isn’t actually consumed between meals as you might think to give you a little extra oomph to your day. Instead, it’s always served as a dessert but before coffee. You will never see an Italian eating their dessert and drinking their coffee at the same time (this is true with all desserts in Italy).

Most traditionally tiramisù is made in a large casserole-like pan and scooped out into individual squares or large serving spoon shaped pieces onto a plate (not a bowl). Nowadays you will see it made directly into individual glasses, cups or ramekins. While this may not be traditional, it’s becoming ever more popular as the presentation of a large blob of gooey tiramisù isn’t the most elegant looking dessert that Italy has to offer. No matter what, however, it should be eaten with a spoon, not a fork!

Once I accidentally gave my 4 year old son a fork and the next thing I knew he was up from the table, rummaging around in the kitchen and back with a spoon being sure I knew that of course, tiramisù can only be eaten with a spoon!

Ingredients for Authentic Italian Tiramisù

close up of two packages of savoiardi cookies on a shelf

Serves 10-12. prep time 25 min. rest time 4 hours

  • 5 large eggs*
  • 17.5 oz (500 g) mascarpone cheese
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vin Santo, optional
  • 1 generous cup espresso or moka pot-made coffee. Learn how to use a moka pot here.
  • 14-18 oz (400-500 g) lady fingers cookies**, around 40-50, depending on your pan size
  • unsweetened cocoa powder

*This recipe contains raw eggs.

**You might have to look in a couple of different grocery stores to find these but Amazon stocks various brands such as these.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Italian Tiramisù

top view of white bowl with egg whites and sugar on a marble board
  1. Brew your espresso. If you need help using a moka pot, read How To Make Coffee In A Moka Pot In 8 Easy Steps. Pour it into a shallow dish or bowl and add the Vin Santo, if using, and allow it to cool while you prepare the mascarpone cream. 
  2. Divide the egg yolks and the egg whites. With a whisk, an electric mixer or stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they have turned pale yellow in color and are fluffy. The sugar granules should be completely dissolved. This should take a couple of minutes. 
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese and continue to mix until it’s completely combined. 
  4. In another bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently fold them into the mascarpone cream mixture, being sure not to deflate your egg whites. 
  6. In a large shallow casserole-style dish spoon out just a few tablespoons of the mascarpone cream and spread it evenly. This is important as it will keep the entire dessert from sticking to the bottom.
  7. Quickly dunk the ladyfingers into the coffee (don’t let them sit in the coffee or they will fall apart – just a dunk on both sides will do) and layer them over the mascarpone cream, side by side, being careful not to overlap the cookies
  8. Cover the ladyfingers with about half the mascarpone cream.
  9. Sprinkle a light layer of cocoa powder.
  10. Make another layer of ladyfingers and the remaining cream in this fashion, finishing with a dusting of cocoa powder. 
  11. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving, preferably longer.
top view of white bowl with pale white egg yolks beaten with sugar until pail white on marble board
Beating the egg yolks with the sugar for a couple of minutes will help thicken the yolks into a silky cream
birds eye view of finished tiramisu on a wooden backdrop

Substitutions for Authentic Italian Tiramisù

  • Some Italians like to use a cookie called Pavesini which is smaller and flatter than a typical ladyfinger. I personally don’t like this because there isn’t enough cookie to soak up any extra liquid in the cream so it tends to be a bit more soupy.
  • Try adding finely chopped dark chocolate between the layers for a bit of crunch and an extra chocolate kick (this is not particularly traditional but modern Italian families do actually do this at home – my sister-in-law for example, a fantastic cook, loves to put mini chocolate chips between her layers).
  • Use decaf instead of regular coffee.
  • Add vanilla (just add a teaspoon of vanilla) or another liquor of choice such as anise flavored liqueur or rum instead of Vin Santo. You can also leave it out.
  • Try making individual ramekins or servings instead of one large cake.

Notes and Tips For Making Italian Tiramisù

  • Try not to over soak the ladyfingers. They can make for a very soggy tiramisù.
  • When separating your egg whites from the egg yolks , be careful not to get any yolk into the white or they will not whip up into stiff peaks.
  • Go easy on the cocoa powder. A light dusting is better than a thick layer which can lead to an initial chalky consistency.
  • This dessert can emit a bit of liquid after a day or so. This is normal so don’t be alarmed. Just wipe it out of your serving dish before helping yourself to more!
  • Preparing for a smaller crowd? Just halve the recipe and use a smaller casserole dish. I usually use 2 large eggs and one regular egg.
  • Sometimes you need to make more coffee – you just run out that time because the cookies soaked up just a bit too much – no problem. Just brew a bit more, cool it off quickly in a shallow pan in the freezer and continue on.
  • If you are using a smaller dish, just make three layers instead of two.
  • Don’t be afraid to break your lady fingers into smaller pieces or lay them in an odd fashion if you are using an oddly shaped or round serving dish. Just be sure they are layered side by side, touching each other. 
  • The longer you refrigerate tiramisù, the more cake-like it will be. “Fresh” or “young” tiramisù, meaning having been refrigerated for only an hour, will be more soupy. 
  • This recipe contains raw eggs so if for any reason this is a concern for you, find another dessert!
Tiramisu in a dish and on plates on a wooden table.

Authentic Italian Tiramisù Recipe

My Italian family's traditional tiramisù recipe. An easy, no-bake, crowd pleaser!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Resting Time 4 hours
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 people

Ingredients
  

  • 5 large eggs
  • 17.5 oz mascarpone cheese (500g)
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Vin Santo optional
  • 1 cup espresso or moka pot-made coffee
  • 14-18 oz lady fingers cookies around 40-50, depending on your pan size
  • unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions
 

  • Brew your espresso. Pour it into a shallow dish or bowl and add the Vin Santo, if using, and allow it to cool while you prepare the mascarpone cream.
  • Divide the egg yolks and the egg whites. With a whisk, an electric mixer or stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they have turned pale yellow in color and are fluffy. The sugar granules should be completely dissolved. This should take a couple of minutes.
  • Add the mascarpone cheese and continue to mix until it’s completely combined.
  • In another bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently fold them into the mascarpone cream mixture, being sure not to deflate your egg whites.
  • In a large shallow casserole-style dish spoon out just a few tablespoons of the mascarpone cream and spread it evenly. This is important as it will keep the entire dessert from sticking to the bottom.
  • Quickly dunk the ladyfingers into the coffee (don’t let them sit in the coffee or they will fall apart – just a dunk on both sides will do) and layer them over the mascarpone cream, side by side, being careful not to overlap the cookies.
  • Cover the ladyfingers with about half the mascarpone cream.
  • Sprinkle a light layer of cocoa powder.
  • Make another layer of ladyfingers and the remaining cream in this fashion, finishing with a dusting of cocoa powder.
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving, preferably longer.

Notes

  • Try not to over soak the ladyfingers. They can make for a very soggy tiramisù.
  • When separating your egg whites from the egg yolks , be careful not to get any yolk into the white or they will not whip up into stiff peaks.
  • Go easy on the cocoa powder. A light dusting is better than a thick layer which can lead to an initial chalky consistency.
  • This dessert can emit a bit of liquid after a day or so. This is normal so don’t be alarmed. Just wipe it out of your serving dish before helping yourself to more!
  • Preparing for a smaller crowd? Just halve the recipe and use a smaller casserole dish. I usually use 2 large eggs and one regular egg.
  • Sometimes you need to make more coffee – you just run out that time because the cookies soaked up just a bit too much – no problem. Just brew a bit more, cool it off quickly in a shallow pan in the freezer and continue on.
  • If you are using a smaller dish, just make three layers instead of two.
  • Don’t be afraid to break your lady fingers into smaller pieces or lay them in an odd fashion if you are using an oddly shaped or round serving dish. Just be sure they are layered side by side, touching each other. 
  • The longer you refrigerate tiramisù, the more cake-like it will be. “Fresh” or “young” tiramisù, meaning having been refrigerated for only an hour, will be more soupy. 
  • This recipe contains raw eggs so if for any reason this is a concern for you, find another dessert!
*This recipe contains raw eggs.
**You might have to look in a couple of different grocery stores to find these but Amazon stocks various brands such as these.
Keyword authentic, easy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Authentic Italian Tiramisù FAQ

Where was tiramisù invented? 

There is an ever-lasting feud between the Veneto region, specifically at Le Beccherie restaurant in Treviso and the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region at the Roma in Tolmezzo restaurant in Udine. It’s very hard to determine where exactly its origins lie but most would side with Veneto as there is documentation of the recipe as far back as the 1800’s. 

When was tiramisù invented?

The first mention of it is back in the 1800’s but the first recipe doesn’t appear until the 1960’s. Food historians believe that it has been around for centuries in various fashions and it wasn’t until the mid 20th century that a true recipe was established – the same one which we all know and love today. 

Can I make traditional tiramisù with kids?

This is a fabulous recipe to make with kids. They love dipping the ladyfingers in the coffee and layering up. I do it quite often with my children. 

Can I make this traditional tiramisù recipe the day before?

Absolutely! I actually prefer when it has time to rest overnight in the fridge. I think it sets up better. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating