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Tiramisu is a popular no-bake Italian dessert meant to feed a crowd. Ladyfinger cookies are dipped in coffee then layered with a sweetened mascarpone cheese filling. The final touch is a sprinkling of cocoa powder on top.

Looking for more easy desserts? Then try this Edible Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Cookies, or Rice Pudding

Slice of tiramisu on a plate with a spoonful taken out


Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert that has a sweet pick me up! Crispy ladyfinger cookies are individually dipped in a mixture of coffee and rum to make the cake-like base. A light and sweetened mascarpone cheese mixture is added in between the ladyfinger layers. A generous dusting on top with cocoa powder adds a stunning surface. It’s an easy dessert to make a day or two in advance that’s kept in the refrigerator.

Spatula mixing eggs with cream in a bowl

How do you make tiramisu?

  • Cook the egg yolks, sugar, rum, and vanilla over a water bath until thickened.
  • Gently combine egg mixture with mascarpone cheese, and then whipped cream.
  • Quickly dip the ladyfingers in the coffee and rum mixture. Layer enough to fit in an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.
  • Spread half of the cheese mixture over the ladyfingers.
  • Make another layer of coffee dipped ladyfingers.
  • Spread the rest of the cheese mixture on top.
  • Generously dust the tiramisu with cocoa powder.

soaking a ladyfinger cookie in a bowl of coffee

What kind of coffee can be used?

Any type of strong coffee works well or freshly brewed espresso. I’ve also used cold brew coffee which makes a really convenient ingredient since you don’t have to let it cool down. Make sure to use cold or room temperature liquid, otherwise, the cookies will get mushy when dipping.

What types of cookies are used?

Ladyfingers are used for tiramisu. They are very light and crispy, they snap when broken in half because they are very dry. When dipped in liquid they quickly absorb it. Make sure to dip each side no longer than a few seconds. The texture turns moister and cake-like after it sits for several hours.

spreading filling mixture on ladyfingers sitting in a baking dish

Do you have to use alcohol?

No, it’s completely up to you if you want to omit it from the recipe. It will still be delicious, and have a wonderful strong coffee taste. Other alcohol options are Grand Marnier, brandy, any coffee liquor, or marsala wine.

How long do you have to wait to serve?

Wait at least 8 hours before serving the desert. Make it in the morning for dessert later in the evening, or it holds up very well for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes so the cheese filling slightly softens. The texture will be more smooth and creamy.

sprinkling cocoa powder over tiramisu

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5 from 3 votes
Tiramisu is a popular no-bake Italian dessert meant to feed a crowd. Ladyfinger cookies are dipped in coffee then layered with a sweetened mascarpone cheese filling.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 9 servings


  • 1 cup strong coffee or espresso at room temperature
  • ¼ cup dark rum divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces 1 cup mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 24 ladyfinger cookies 7-ounce package
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder for dusting


  • In a shallow bowl combine coffee and 2 tablespoons rum.
  • Add egg yolks, 2 tablespoons rum, ¼ cup of sugar, and vanilla into a medium heatproof bowl.
  • Set the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with about 1-inch of water. Bring the water to barely a simmer, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
  • Vigorously whisk the egg mixture until it is light and foamy, and about triples in volume, about 5 minutes.
  • Add mascarpone cheese to the egg mixture and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream and ¼ cup sugar on medium speed until medium peaks form.
  • Gently fold ⅓ of the whipped cream mixture into the mascarpone mixture. Add the remaining whipped cream, and fold until just combined.
  • Quickly dip enough ladyfingers, about 2 seconds per side, to cover the bottom of an 8-inch square dish. Feel free to arrange the cookies anyways that they best fit in the dish.
  • Add half of the mascarpone mixture to the dish and evenly spread over the dipped ladyfingers.
  • Dip the remaining ladyfingers in the coffee, arrange on top of the cheese mixture.
  • Spread the remaining mascarpone cheese over the ladyfingers in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle some of the cocoa powder evenly over the tiramisu. Clean the edges of the dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
  • Allow tiramisu to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with more cocoa powder right before serving.


Calories: 371kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 6gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 182mgSodium: 68mgPotassium: 84mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 894IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 71mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!


About Jessica Gavin

Jessica is a Certified Food and Culinary Scientist. She's also a culinary school graduate and a teacher at heart. Jessica loves nothing more than unraveling the science behind better, healthier cooking and sharing that know-how with her readers at

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Recipe Rating


  1. The recipe was a bit confusing the first and second steps were unclear, turned out lovely however!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this at Christmas and it was fantastic! My husband loved it. I’m making it again for New Year’s Day for my daughter because she loves tiramisu. My husband said, “Don’t ever lose this recipe!”

  3. 5 stars
    This is the best! My son said “Mom, don’t stop making this!” I have making it again for Christmas Eve dinner.

  4. First time making tiramisu don’t have a problem in fact it came out beautiful now can I freeze it for tomorrow

  5. 5 stars
    For extra lightness I reserved some of the sugar and added them to the egg whites and made a meringue which I then folded into the egg and mascarpone mixture. You’ll need to add the egg whites first then the cream.

  6. great dessert, I’ve never made it, only eaten it so thank you for the recipe and easy walk through, much appreciated!