Tiramisu is a timeless no-bake Italian dessert combining espresso-dipped ladyfingers and a creamy lightly sweetened mascarpone cream. This recipe is from the late Maida Heatter and is easily the best homemade tiramisu recipe that I’ve ever tried.

Homemade tiramisu slice on white plate

A couple months ago, I was sent a new cookbook called Happiness is Baking. This cookbook includes Maida Heatter’s favorite recipes with the foreword written by Dorie Greenspan. I, unsurprisingly, immediately fell in love with my newest cookbook. It’s a collection of 100 foolproof and classic desserts including cookies, cakes, muffins, pies, tarts, and more that range from simple everyday cookies to outrageously indulgent chocolate soufflé cake.

For those not familiar, Maida Heatter is an icon, especially in the baking world. Dubbed the Queen of Cake, her expansive culinary career included 9 cookbooks, recipes for the Times, a restaurant, and three James Beard Awards. Baker and author Dorie Greenspan once said “Whenever someone tells me they want to learn to bake, I tell them to start with Maida Heatter’s books. That’s what I did.” This latest cookbook is a testament to Maida’s legacy. She passed away only 2 months after this book was published. She leaves behind an incalculable amount of inspiration to bakers and cooks all over the world.

While I was sent Happiness is Baking from the publishing house, I was not paid for this post– I genuinely LOVE the book and recommend Maida’s recipes to all. I’ve also tried the Blueberry Crumb Cake and $250.00 Cookie Recipe.

slicing a bite of tiramisu with a fork

Happiness is Baking by Maida Heatter

Tiramisu Video Tutorial

Tiramisu is a classic no-bake Italian dessert combining espresso-dipped ladyfingers and a creamy lightly sweetened mascarpone cream. Now if you’re going to make tiramisu, you have to use the QUEEN OF CAKE’s recipe! It’s an important dessert for an important event. With the inclusion of espresso and alcohol, tiramisu is an adult dessert.

Nothing triumphant comes for free, so expect a good amount of prep work. This recipe requires several bowls and a couple mixing techniques, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. In fact, let’s watch the entire dessert come together in a short video tutorial:

Homemade tiramisu in glass baking dish

Tiramisu Layers

There are 2 components and 4 layers in tiramisu. Each component is layered twice.

  1. Espresso-Dipped Ladyfingers
  2. Mascarpone Cream

It goes: espresso-dipped ladyfingers, mascarpone cream, remaining espresso-dipped ladyfingers, and remaining mascarpone cream. Dust the whole thing with a dense layer of unsweetened cocoa to finish. Maida’s recipe calls for homemade chocolate ladyfingers and if you own this cookbook, I highly recommend using her chocolate ladyfinger recipe included. Most Italian bakeries make fresh ladyfingers as well. However if you’re desiring a simpler and more convenient approach, use a store-bought variety.

What are Ladyfingers?

Ladyfingers (savoiardi in Italian) are a sweet, pretty dry, and finger-shaped sponge cookie/cake. They’re a main ingredient in many desserts including trifles and tiramisu and when layered underneath cream, ladyfingers take on a lovely cake-like texture. You can find ladyfingers in most large grocery stores, Italian markets, or you can purchase them online. Homemade, as the book uses, is an option too.

espresso soaked ladyfingers

Overview: How to Make Tiramisu

The full written and printable recipe is below.

  1. Whisk espresso and Grand Marnier. Grand Marnier makes this a boozier tiramisu because there is alcohol in both the coffee mixture and the mascarpone cream. Grand Marnier’s flavor is great in this dessert, but you can skip it if desired. If you don’t have espresso, purchase espresso powder and follow the measurements in the recipe notes.
  2. Dip half of the ladyfingers in the espresso mixture. Ladyfingers soak up a lot of liquid within 1 second, so make it a very quick dunk. You don’t want them overly saturated and soggy because as the tiramisu chills, they’ll soften up underneath all the cream.
  3. Line dipped ladyfingers in bottom of pan. If needed, cut some ladyfingers to fill in any empty spaces.
  4. Beat mascarpone and rum together. Use quality mascarpone. I like BelGioioso brand (not sponsored– truly what I always use). Though this is primarily an espresso-flavored dessert, tiramisu has rum as well.
  5. Gently cook egg yolks and sugar. Egg yolks are a main ingredient in tiramisu. Use a double boiler or makeshift bowl/saucepan double boiler to cook egg yolks and sugar together. Maida’s recipe also uses the egg whites, which come soon after this step.
  6. Beat egg yolks into mascarpone cream mixture.
  7. Whip heavy cream and vanilla extract into medium peaks.
  8. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone cream mixture. 
  9. Beat the egg whites and salt together until foamy, then slowly pour in sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  10. Fold egg white mixture into mascarpone cream mixture.
  11. Layer half of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers. An offset spatula helps.
  12. Dip and layer remaining ladyfingers.
  13. Top with remaining cream mixture, then chill for for 2-3 hours. 
  14. Dust with cocoa. After chilling for a couple hours, dust the top layer with a dense layer of unsweetened cocoa powder. Use a sifter. This is a classic finishing touch to the entire tiramisu dessert.
  15. Chill overnight. You can chill it for up to 1 day, so it’s a great make-ahead dessert recipe.

layer of espresso soaked ladyfingers in glass baking dish

The mascarpone, rum, and egg yolk mixture as well as the whipped cream:

2 images of mascarpone cream and whipped cream

The mascarpone mixture and whipped cream combined:

Tiramisu mascarpone cream in glass bowl

The whipped egg white mixture and the final mascarpone cream mixture:

2 images of tiramisu filling in glass bowls

Let’s layer:

Layering tiramisu in glass dish

Ladyfingers and mascarpone filling in baking dish

Ladyfingers and mascarpone filling

Slice of tiramisu on server

How to Slice and Serve Tiramisu

As with most layered desserts, you can’t be nervous to just dive right in and start serving! Serve square portions. Make even cuts with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between each cut. A small metal serving spatula to remove the slices is massively helpful.

Common Tiramisu Questions – Answered

Though this isn’t my first time preparing tiramisu, I will say that this is one of the best homemade tiramisu recipes that I’ve had– and I definitely encourage you to try it! Here are 4 FAQs and answers that will help you get started:

  1. What kind of rum do I use in tiramisu? Dark rum is best, but you can use brandy or your favorite coffee liqueur.
  2. Egg whites or whipped cream? Most tiramisu recipes use whipped egg whites OR whipped cream in the mascarpone cream layers. Egg whites contribute a more airy texture, while whipped cream makes the filling a bit more rich. This recipe actually uses both, so you’re getting both delightful textures.
  3. Are the eggs cooked? Tiramisu is a no-bake dessert. The egg yolks are gently cooked on the stovetop, but the egg whites are raw. Purchase pasteurized eggs because they are safe to consume raw.
  4. What size pan to use? This particular tiramisu recipe yields a large volume and the pan will be very full. Make sure your pan is large enough. I recommend a 9×13 inch dish with at least a 12-14 cup capacity. This 4 quart dish is wonderful too.
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Slice of tiramisu on white plate


  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 hours
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Italian


This recipe is from the late Maida Heatter and is easily the best homemade tiramisu recipe that I’ve ever tried. Review the recipe notes and video tutorial before starting. Tiramisu tastes best when chilled overnight, so this is a wonderful make-ahead dessert.


  • 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) very strongly prepared espresso, warm or room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons (90ml) Grand Marnier*
  • 4045 ladyfingers*
  • 16 ounces (about 2 cups; 450g) mascarpone, cold or at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) dark rum
  • 4 large pasteurized eggs, separated*
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar, divided*
  • 2 cups (480ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder


  1. You need a large 9×13 inch baking pan/dish with at least a 12-14 cup capacity. Set aside and have ready to go!
  2. Dip half of the ladyfingers: You will form 2 layers each of dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. Let’s begin with the 1st layer of ladyfingers. Whisk the espresso and Grand Marnier together in a shallow bowl. One at a time, quickly dip each side of the ladyfinger into the espresso mixture. You don’t want to over-saturate the ladyfinger with liquid because then the ladyfingers will taste soggy. Just a quick dip on each side. Arrange the dipped ladyfingers in the baking pan to make one solid layer. If needed, cut some ladyfingers to fill in any empty spaces. Reserve remaining espresso mixture and ladyfingers for another layer.
  3. Begin the mascarpone cream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the mascarpone and rum together on medium speed in a large bowl until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Prepare a double boiler for the egg yolks: If you have a double boiler, use it in this step. If you don’t, place a heat-proof bowl over a small pot of simmering water over medium-low heat. Don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.  Using a whisk or eggbeater (I simply use a whisk), whisk the egg yolks and 1/4 cup (50g) of granulated sugar together until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into the mascarpone mixture. Beat on medium speed until combined.
  5. Whip the heavy cream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and vanilla extract together on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Medium peaks are between soft/loose peaks and stiff peaks– and are the perfect consistency for the tiramisu cream. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
  6.  Beat the egg whites: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a *clean* whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt together on medium-high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase to high speed and slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup (50g) of sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. (Do not over-beat as the egg whites will become dry.) Fold into the mascarpone cream.
  7. Spread half of the mascarpone cream evenly over bottom layer of ladyfingers. An offset spatula helps spread it neatly and evenly.
  8. Dip remaining ladyfingers: Dip remaining ladyfingers into remaining espresso mixture and arrange one-by-one on top of the mascarpone layer. Gently press each down so they are nice and compact. Using an offset spatula, spread remaining mascarpone mixture evenly on top. If you’re using a large enough pan, it should all fit (but it will definitely tower high!). Refrigerate uncovered for 2-3 hours.
  9. Add cocoa layer, then chill: After a couple hours in the refrigerator, sift or strain a dense layer of cocoa powder all over the top. Wipe the rim of the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 8-9 more hours and up to 1 day.
  10. Using a sharp knife, slice chilled tiramisu into servings. Wipe knife clean between cuts. A small metal serving spatula is helpful for removing the slices.
  11. Cover leftover tiramisu and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  1. Freezing Instructions: Prepare tiramisu through step 8. Tightly cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer, evenly dust the top with cocoa, then thaw in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. (Can thaw covered or uncovered.)
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, KitchenAid Hand Mixer, 9×13 inch Baking Dish or 4-Quart Dish, Sieve, Offset Spatula, Metal Serving Spatula
  3. Smaller Recipe: Halve this recipe for a 9×9 inch or 10×10 inch square baking pan.
  4. Espresso: For the espresso, combine 5 Tablespoons instant espresso powder in 1 and 1/4 cups hot water. This is stronger than brewed espresso and perfect for tiramisu. In a pinch, use super super super strong black coffee.
  5. Grand Marnier: This addition makes this a boozier version of tiramisu because you have alcohol in both the coffee soak mixture and the mascarpone cream. Grand Marnier’s flavor is lovely in this dessert, but you can skip it and stick with just the dark rum.
  6. Ladyfingers: Ladyfingers (savoiardi in Italian) are a sweet, pretty dry, and finger-shaped sponge cookie/cake. They’re found in most large grocery stores, Italian markets, or you can purchase them online. You can also make them from scratch– there are many recipes online! I use 2 standard packages of ladyfingers for this recipe.
  7. Eggs: Maida Heatter’s recipe calls for 5 large eggs, but in hopes to slightly reduce the volume of mascarpone cream, I reduced down to 4 large eggs. Both the egg whites and egg yolks are used in the mascarpone cream. An egg separator is helpful. The egg yolks are gently cooked, but if you’re concerned with eating raw eggs, purchase pasteurized eggs because they are safe to consume raw.
  8. Sugar: I increased the sugar by 2 Tablespoons for a VERY slightly sweeter cream. This is still not an overly sweet dessert.
  9. Non-Alcoholic Version: Skip the Grand Marnier and replace rum with milk.

Recipe reprinted in partnership with Little, Brown and Company. Recipe from Happiness is Baking by Maida Heatter, foreword by Dorie Greenspan

Keywords: Italian dessert

More Specialty Desserts


  1. Hi Sally. Can I use powdered egg whites in this recipe ?

  2. I made this recipe 2 ways, one with normal cream and mascarpone and the other with vegan cream and mascarpone as I’m dairy free. I made them both exactly the same way and got my family to taste test them. No one could tell the difference! A really easy to follow recipe and excellent results! Thank you

  3. Recipe works perfectly! Used Amarula instead, tasted really nice.

  4. I have made Tiramisu using this recipe twice so far. It is fantastic; so delicious, airy, and full of flavor. I shared it with my friends and they loved it as well. It is worth the effort. To explain, I tried easier and much faster version; just mixing everything together at once but the result wasn’t that good at all. I highly recommend this recipe.

    Thank you for sharing. I am making it again today!

  5. Thank you so much for this! It was my first time making tiramisu. It turned out so delicious and all my friends and family loved it. Your recipes are the best!

  6. This recipe wasn’t as hard as i thought it was going to be. The flavours were amazing! But the Mascarpone layer didn’t set right and was still a little runny after 24 hours. Any idea where i went wrong? Could it be possibly the whipped cream component? I think mine wasn’t stiff enough.

    1. I remade the recipe with a better whipped cream and it turned out beautiful! Thanks, Sally!

  7. amazing!

  8. Hi Sally, I made too much and decided to freeze it but I just noticed from your instructions to put the cocoa powder after thawing. Does it matter if I’ve already added the powder prior to freezing?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Felicia, no worries if you’ve already added the cocoa powder. You may choose to sprinkle it with more cocoa powder once it’s thawed for a finishing touch, too. Hope this helps!

      1. Thank you so much!

  9. Exceptional recipe. I followed it exactly except divided everything by 1/2 as the recipe is a very large recipe! This is a keeper. the best tiramisu i ever tasted… belgioso mascarpone really is perfect in it too (not paid by them.. just recommending)

  10. Best baking video yet! Very inspiring. Thank you, Sally.
    Have to wait to try the recipe 🙂

  11. Can you make the Marscapone mixture in advance and put it in the fridge to assemble say 1-2 days later? I ask because I need to wait for some gluten free lady fingers to arrive via mail and wanted to get a head start. Thanks!

    1. Definitely. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 days until ready to use.

  12. Kathleen,White says:

    Sound wonderful,curious does it wiggle wiggle when served. Some terminus’s are more solid and I like them creamier and wiggly.

  13. My quest for the perfect tiramisu recipe is finally over! This recipe produces a dessert that’s light and airy, yet holds its shape perfectly. The taste is sublime, I love that two liquors are used, the results are perfect. I tracked down the recipe for the chocolate ladyfingers online and made them, I’ve always used the commercial variety when making tiramisu in the past, but the homemade version is a game changer. Well worth the effort.

  14. 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 favourite dessert.

  15. Good recipe but too long with the details to unnecessary things.

  16. Don’t use eggs in a tiramisu! Not necessary. This recipe does not require the rum either and tastes much better with Kahlua mixed into the espresso plus a Tbsp of sugar. Add one cup of heavy cream into the mascarpone mixture and whip.

    1. Simply incorrect. Eggs should ALWAYS be used. My family recipe (we are Italian) uses both the egg yolk and whites. Beat your yolks with caster sugar. Then add marscapone. Then beat egg whites till stiff peaks form and fold them into the egg yolk mixture. Then fold in whipped cream. And never use rum in tiramisu!!! Should be using Italian liquors such as Ameretto and frangelico.

    2. That is such wrong information! To make a proper tiramisu you most definitely DO use eggs!! I also never use rum, it’s the wrong kind of component! It needs to be a liqueur, and Kahlua is not a good choice because you’ll end-up with too much of a coffee taste.

  17. Why does my mascarpone and rum mixture curddle everytime i make this recipe? And how to fix it?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Priyanka, It’s likely the mascarpone causing the issue. If it’s too cold, it won’t combine as nicely. It’s possible yours was still a bit too cold.

      1. Priyanka Shingla says:

        Thank you for replying.. yes that was the case. But I found a solution to it. Used to double boiler to whip the mixture and it was all perfect again. Thank you anyhow. Your recipes are just amazing

      2. Its not that the mascarpone is too cold its that the egg & sugar is too hot. Says to add immediately and I found that to be the issue. Once I’ve let it cool slightly I didn’t have the problem of curdling any longer. That’s my take on it anyhow.

    2. Simply don’t put rum in your mascarpone or in the Tiramisu. Liquor only needs to be added to coffee mixture. Adding rum ruins the delicate cream flavour.

  18. Lovely recipe! Made full recipe yesterday for Valentine’s Day for my husband and I. I have loads leftover. Is it possible to freeze after the cocoa has been added on top? Be a real shame to waste as I don’t think we’ll get through it all in three days on our own (in third UK lockdown) !!

  19. Have made this a few times for other people and they go on and on about how amazing it is!! Super easy and simple!! Thank you!!

  20. what texture should the mascarpone and egg yolks have after adding the eggs right off the simmering pot ? Mine are quite liquid and i am not sure if it’s good of not

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sharon! You should be able to get a good visual of what the’ll look like by watching the recipe video in this blog post (under the heading “tiramisu video tutorial”). Enjoy!

  21. Lovely recipe! Made full recipe yesterday for Valentine’s Day for my husband and I. I have loads leftover. Is it possible to freeze after the cocoa has been added on top? Be a real shame to waste as I don’t think we’ll get through it all in three days on our own (in third UK lockdown) !!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenna, Yes you can go ahead and freeze the leftovers! The cocoa layer may melt into the top once it’s been thawed but it will still be delicious 🙂

  22. Hi! I have made this Tiramisu recipe twice and we can’t get enough! I make the non-alcoholic version since my 15 yo daughter absolutely loves it. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  23. Elizabeth Bulasko says:

    This was amazing! Made it yesterday for my birthday today and it’s the best tiramisu I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself). And I had no trouble finding Delallo savioardi at my local supermarket ($2.99 for a package of 22). I was a little disappointed that my Hershey’s Dutch cocoa wasn’t as dark as what was used in this recipe, although it did darken overnight a bit. What brand do you use? Thanks…

    1. Hi Elizabeth! So glad you enjoyed this. I usually use Hershey’s brand natural cocoa powder. The longer the tiramisu sits, the moister the cocoa powder topping becomes (and the darker it gets, too).

  24. Howdy. Why does my mascarpone cream filling have a gritty texture?

    1. Patty Hogue says:

      I needed to know if you can use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar thank you

  25. Made this for my son’s 26th birthday and we all think it’s the best tiramisu we’ve ever had (homemade or restaurant). Never had it with Grand Mariner before and it is magic. Woah, there’s a lot of bowls in this recipe but luckily I have a very well stocked kitchen. 🙂

    1. Christian McMillan says:

      This is a great recipe! My only comment comes from me being a noob to baking. Add the egg yolks to the marscapone SLOWLY or you get scrambled eggs.

  26. Lorraine St. Angelo says:

    Hi Sally,
    I would like to make this recipe this weekend. Can I use liquid pasteurized egg whites in the carton for that part of the recipe? I don’t know where to find a regular carton of pasteurized eggs.

    1. Hi Lorraine, you can use egg whites from a carton in this recipe.

  27. hey Sally could you pls suggest the brand for the lady fingers

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ayanna, we link to Forno Bonomi ladyfingers in the recipe notes (see “Ladyfingers” note), but really any brand you can find in your grocery store should work well too.

  28. So I love this recipe but had to improvise a little. I wasn’t able to find any lady fingers as apparently they are a season item here. So I baked (2) extra moist yellow cakes in small loaf pans to make a layered bar cake. When it was done and cooled overnight, I shaved off tops of each to make them perfectly flat and straight. I then, prepared espresso on the stovetop the same night, and let it cool in my fridge overnight.

    The following morning, I finished it all. I soaked the bottom later in a half my prepared espresso, to just get that layer wet enough but not soggy. I used the final bit of espresso for the top layer in the same manner. Everything else, I followed to the letter. I did add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar into the whipping cream I prepared. I used coco liquor with a little amaretto totaling the 1/4 cup called for instead of rum. I dusted the cocoa powder across and a little on all sides of my bar cake and used the extra cream to run it along the sides and edges to ensure the entire bar was covered. I then added dark chocolate shavings I prepared myself to the top. The cream itself was prepared to the letter a part from adding just a little more sugar. This was indeed, phenomenal with the best flavor – this cream was amazing and I believe it’s required to use the eggs- both the yolks as instructed above and the egg whites as instructed above.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      So happy to hear this tiramisu was a hit for you, Jess!

  29. Thank you for the recipe! I was so tired of having mediocre tiramisu from stores. This was so light and fluffy but packed with flavours! I was able to find all the ingredients in our local grocery stores here in Ontario, Canada. Definitely will do it again!

  30. I had to leave the rum out of the mascarpone. The first time I tried it, the rum curdled the cheese (which was room temp, not cold.) Luckily I had more, and tried again without the rum, and it was delicious! My husband and daughter licked the bowl from the mascarpone cream.

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