Best Tiramisu Recipe

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This is the best authentic Tiramisu Recipe made completely from scratch. A creamy mascarpone filling sits between three layers of homemade lady fingers soaked in rum & coffee with a dusting of cocoa powder on top. The best tiramisu cake you’ll ever eat.

a piece of tiramisu on a plate


Tiramisu is one of my husband’s favorite desserts (right after these Homemade Eclairs), so early on in our marriage I set out to create the best Tiramisu recipe – and this is it. 

This authentic Tiramisu Recipe made completely from scratch. A creamy mascarpone filling sits between three layers (because for Ritch, many layers is the key to making the best tiramisu) of homemade lady fingers soaked in rum & coffee with a dusting of cocoa powder on top. It is seriously the absolute best tiramisu cake ever.

What makes this tiramisu recipe unique is that the lady finger layers are made as three large squares (or circles) to fit the baking pan – not individual lady fingers. This makes the process easier both during baking and assembling! 

a piece of the Best Tiramisu on a plate with a bite taken out of it

Tiramisu Recipe: Ingredients & Substitutions

overhead photo of the labeled ingredients in this Tiramisu Recipe
  • Granulated sugar. Use white granulated sugar or organic cane sugar for both the lady fingers and filling. 
  • Whole milk. Half and half can be used in place of whole milk. 
  • Mascarpone cheese. This is a key ingredient to authentic tiramisu – please do not make any substitutions. You need 16 oz in this recipe so be mindful of that, as it’s often sold in 8 oz portions. 
  • Coffee. Use a strong brewed coffee or espresso to make this tiramisu recipe. I like to use instant coffee to make it quick and easy. 
  • Rum.  Another key ingredient in an authentic tiramisu recipe. If desired you can just use coffee, but I don’t recommend leaving out the rum. 

Lady Fingers

This tiramisu recipe calls for homemade lady fingers. They are softer and more delicate than store bought and way more delicious. You may substitute store-bought if you are short on time. 

front view of a piece of the Best Tiramisu Recipe on a plate

How to Make Tiramisu

Making the best tiramisu takes time but it’s so worth it. I’ll walk you through how to make tiramisu step-by-step, including how to make homemade lady fingers! And don’t forget to watch the video! 

Make the Lady Fingers

The first step in making this authentic tiramisu recipe is to make the lady fingers – because they need to be baked and cooled. I created my own method so the tiramisu cake is easier to assemble – which includes baking the lady fingers to fit the pan you are using instead of in individual “finger” shapes.

Begin by lining 3 baking sheets with parchment paper (for the 3 layers). Trace the bottom of an 8×8” or 9×9” square pan or 9” round cake pan on each piece of parchment paper (whichever pan you choose to use to make this tiramisu recipe). Then set them aside.

two overhead photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Next, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer), whip the egg yolks and ¼ cup of sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Transfer mixture to a different bowl, scraping the bowl clean and rinse off the beater.

In same bowl, whip the egg whites. Once the egg whites starts to thicken, add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue beating. Once stiff peaks form, add the vanilla and beat to combine. Then, gently stir in egg yolk mixture on low speed until smooth. 

two photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Next, add the flour and salt and gently stir or fold in with a spatula. The batter should be thick and pale yellow (see photo below). 

two photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Bake the Lady Fingers

Pour about 1 cup of batter into the center of each square (or circle) traced on the parchment paper. Evenly spread it out to fit the square, leaving about ¼” border. The batter should be about 1/2” thick. Repeat with remaining two traced shapes. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the lady fingers are set and very lightly browned. Then, carefully transfer the parchment paper to a wire rack to cool. Once the lady fingers have cooled completely, carefully remove them from the parchment paper, set aside to use in this tiramisu recipe. 

two photos showing how to make lady fingers for tiramisu

Make the Tiramisu Filling

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, milk and sugar until combined. Then, cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils.

Turn the heat to medium- low and boil for 1 minute, then remove the pan from heat and transfer the mixture to a container with lid – but don’t put the lid on yet. Leave the lid open and whisk the mixture every few minutes until it’s cooled slightly. Then put the lid on and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

Prepare Filling in Advance

You can make the filling  before you bake the lady fingers, if desired, so it has time to cool. It can even be done the day before and chilled overnight. 

two overhead photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer), Beat the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form, transfer to a different bowl.

photo showing how to make tiramisu filling

In the same bowl used to beat whipping cream (but with the cream no longer in it), beat the mascarpone and vanilla with the paddle attachment until combined. Beat in the chilled custard until smooth. 

two overhead photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Gently fold in the beaten whipping cream until combined. 

two overhead photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Make the Soaking Liquid

Brew coffee or espresso and let it cool, or use instant coffee or instant espresso and brew 1 ¾ cups. Whisk the rum into the coffee, then pour the mixture into a large dish or baking pan that will fit the layers. 

two overhead photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Assemble the Tiramisu Cake

To assemble, make sure you have all the equipment and components of the recipe set out and ready to go! Begin by quickly dipping one of the three lady finger layers into the soaking liquid for about 5-10 seconds. Do not drop it in and let it sit or it will soak up too much liquid and fall apart. Remember, homemade lady fingers are more delicate than store-bought. If using hard store-bought you will need to soak them longer. 

Place it in the bottom of the baking dish you used to trace the shape, then spread 1/3 of the filling mixture evenly on top of the soaked lady finger.

two overhead photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Repeat with the second and third lady finger layers and remaining custard. Alternating soaked lady finger, custard, soaked lady finger, custard. Then, sprinkle cocoa powder over the top custard layer until covered.

Chill the Tiramisu

Once assembled, chill the Italian tiramisu for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Chilling is critical for the flavors to blend together and the texture to be just right. 

two overhead photos showing How to Make Tiramisu

Serve

After chilling and when you’re ready to serve, cut the tiramisu cake into square portions and serve cold. 

a piece of tiramisu on a plate with a fork

Store

If you are lucky enough to have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. 

Freeze

  1. Cut the tiramisu into individual, square pieces.
  2. Place the pieces of tiramisu in a baking dish or on a large baking sheet with space between them. 
  3. Place in the freezer until hardened (about 3 hours). 
  4. Wrap each piece individually in saran wrap and then put them in an airtight container. 
  5. Freeze for up to 2 months. 
  6. To thaw, transfer the tiramisu to the refrigerator until it is soft, then enjoy.
up close photo of a piece of Best Tiramisu on a plate

Tiramisu Recipe FAQs

How long do you soak ladyfingers for tiramisu?

With these homemade lady fingers you need to soak them for a mere 1-3 seconds. Store-bought lady fingers are heartier and have a harder texture and need to be soaked for 5-10 seconds.

What can I use instead of ladyfingers in tiramisu?

You can use sliced pound cake, sponge cake or vanilla cake if you don’t want to use lady fingers. But these homemade ladyfinger layers are so delicious I recommend not altering the recipe.

Can tiramisu get you drunk?

If you ate the entire pan, maybe. But one modest piece of this dessert will not make you drunk. We allow our kids to enjoy small portions and do not worry about it. But I am not a doctor and if you are concerned consult your health care provider before consuming or making this recipe.

Can I freeze tiramisu?

Yes, this recipe holds up very well to freezing. to freeze:
Cut the tiramisu into individual, square pieces, then place the pieces of tiramisu in a baking dish or on a large baking sheet with space between them. 
Place in the freezer until hardened (about 3 hours). 
Wrap each piece individually in saran wrap and then put them in an airtight container. 
Freeze for up to 2 months. 
To thaw, transfer the tiramisu to the refrigerator until it is soft, then enjoy.

front photo of a piece of tiramisu on a plate with a bite taken out of it

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Tiramisu Recipe

Laura
This authentic Tiramisu Recipe made completely from scratch. A creamy mascarpone filling sits between three layers of homemade lady fingers soaked in rum & coffee with a dusting of cocoa powder on top. It is seriously the absolute best tiramisu cake ever.
5 from 27 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 16 Servings
Calories 399
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time30 minutes
Chilling4 hours
Total Time5 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Ladyfinger Layers

Mascarpone Filling

Soaking liquid

  • 1 ¾ cups coffee strong brewed, or espresso
  • cup rum

Topping:

Instructions 

Make the Lady Fingers

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace the bottom of an 8×8” or 9×9” square pan or 9” round cake pan on each piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer), whip egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Transfer mixture to a different bowl, scraping the bowl clean. Rinse off the beater.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer), whip egg whites. Once the mixture starts to thicken, add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue beating. Once stiff peaks form add vanilla and beat to combine.
  • Gently stir in egg yolk mixture on low speed.
  • Add flour and salt and gently stir or fold in with a spatula. The batter should be thick and pale yellow.
  • Pour about 1 cup of batter into the center of each square traced on the parchment paper. Evenly spread it out to fit the square, leaving about ¼” border. The batter should be about 1/2” thick.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until set and very lightly browned. Carefully transfer parchment paper to a wire rack to cool.
  • Once cooled, carefully remove the lady finger squares from the parchment paper, set aside to use in the recipe.

Make the Soaking Liquid

  • Brew coffee and let it cool. (or use instant coffee or instant espresso and brew 1 ¾ cups).
  • Whisk the rum into the coffee, then pour the mixture into a large dish or baking pan that will fit the layers. Set aside.

Make the Filling

  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, milk and sugar until combined.
  • Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils. Turn heat to medium- low and boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a container with lid – but don’t put the lid on yet. Leave the lid open and whisk the mixture every few minutes until it’s cooled slightly. Then put the lid on and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. NOTE: this can be done before you bake the lady fingers, if desired, so it has time to cool. It can even be done the day before and chilled overnight. 
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer), Beat the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form, transfer to a different bowl.
  • In the same bowl used to beat whipping cream (but with the cream no longer in it), beat the chilled custard, mascarpone and vanilla with the paddle attachment until combined.
  • Gently fold in beaten whipping cream.

Assemble the Tiramisu

  • Quickly dip one of the three lady finger layers into the soaking liquid for about 5-10 seconds. Do not drop it in and let it sit or it will soak up too much liquid and fall apart. Remember, homemade lady fingers are more delicate than store-bought. If using hard store-bought you will need to soak them longer.
  • Place it in the bottom of the baking dish you used to trace the shape.
  • Spread 1/3 of the filling mixture evenly on top of the layer.
  • Repeat with the second and third lady finger layers and remaining custard. Alternating soaked lady finger, custard, soaked lady finger, custard.
  • Sprinkle cocoa powder over the top custard layer.

Chill & Serve

  • Chill for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  • Cut into square portions and serve.

Video

Notes

Ingredients & Substituions 
  • Granulated sugar. Use white granulated sugar or organic cane sugar for both the lady fingers and filling. 
  • All-purpose flour. I don’t recommend any flour substitutions. 
  • Vanilla extract. If desired you can omit the vanilla or replace it with rum, almond extract, etc. although I don’t recommend it. 
  • Whole milk. Half and half can be used in place of whole milk. 
  • Mascarpone cheese. This is a key ingredient to authentic tiramisu – please do not make any substitutions. You need 16 oz in this recipe so be mindful of that, as it’s often sold in 8 oz portions. 
  • Heavy whipping cream. No substitutes here either!
  • Coffee. Use a strong brewed coffee or espresso to make this tiramisu recipe. I like to use instant coffee to make it quick and easy. 
  • Rum.  Another key ingredient in an authentic tiramisu recipe. If desired you can just use coffee, but I don’t recommend leaving out the rum.
  • Lady Fingers. Homemade lady fingers are softer and more delicate than store bought. If desired, use store-bought to save on time.
Store
If you are lucky enough to have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. 
Freeze
  1. Cut the tiramisu into individual, square pieces.
  2. Place the pieces of tiramisu in a baking dish or on a large baking sheet with space between them. 
  3. Place in the freezer until hardened (about 3 hours). 
  4. Wrap each piece individually in saran wrap and then put them in an airtight container. 
  5. Freeze for up to 2 months. 
  6. To thaw, transfer the tiramisu to the refrigerator until it is soft, then enjoy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 197mg | Sodium: 94mg | Potassium: 104mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 924IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 1mg

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

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29 Comments

  1. Just a heads up, your recipe card is missing the instruction of when and how you add the mascarpone cheese into the custard. I had Printed the recipe to make it and couldn’t figure it out. I had To come back here to figure out when and how. Might want to fix that for future users. Just made it, I’m excited to try it, looks delicious!

    1. Hey Kristi, that “mascarpone” is listed in step 4 under the filling instructions! Please come back and let me know how you like it!

  2. I am wondering why you made the lady finger cake on parchment paper. Could you just make it in a cake pan and cut it to make the Tiramisu?

  3. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday. I have to just say that it’s amazing! I think it’s better than any I’ve had in restaurants even! Thank you for this recipe! It takes some time but it’s well worth it!

    1. Thank you so much – that means so much to me! I spent years developing this recipe to truly be able to say I could make the best tiramisu! 😉 It is definitely a labor of love but a worthy one you are right!

  4. 5 stars
    Even though I was short on time & used store bought lady fingers this recipe turned out perfect! It was light & delicious with fluffy layers of filling & just the right amount of everything for an awesome “pick me up”.

  5. 5 stars
    So so good and unbelievably easy to make. It was a hit at our family’s valentine dinner and everyone is looking forward to me making it again for Easter!

  6. 5 stars
    This was an absolutely delicious tiramisu. I doubled the amount of sugar and I used Kahlua instead of grand Marnier.
    I think it’s my new favorite dessert.