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How To Make Paneer Indian Cheese with Video

The Easiest Guide to a Delicious Indian Cheese Paneer, one of the easiest cheeses to make in the world! In this article, learn everything you need to make this delicious, soft Indian Cheese at home today!

Freshly made Indian Paneer.

What is Paneer?

Paneer is a type of fresh cheese that is extremely popular in Indian cuisine. Since it’s a fresh cheese, you can prepare it and consume it straight away. There is no need for aging or culturing it. It’s also one of the most straightforward cheeses to produce at home.

The soft, slightly chewy texture of the paneer is what makes it so unique. It also soaks up all the flavors of Indian curries like Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer to perfection! The Indian cheese is commonly used in northern India and neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Today, paneer makers commonly utilize a combination of buffalo and cow’s milk. The milk used to manufacture the cheese influences its ultimate texture (more on that later!).

It has a mild, milky taste on its own; therefore, it works best when combined with strong, spicy flavors, such as those found in classic Indian curries and dishes such as saag paneer. The texture of the Indian cheese is usually similar to that of firm tofu and identical to Mexican queso fresco and Italian Ricotta Salata and may be used in recipes that call for either.

What Do You Need?

All you need to prepare it is whole milk and lemon juice or vinegar. When milk and lemon juice are combined, the acidity in the lemon juice causes the milk to separate into curds and whey. Remove the whey and press the curds to make a basic, plain cheese (that’s ridiculously delicious!)

Most cheeses are made using rennet, but not paneer. This is due to the fact that rennet is often derived from the stomachs of calves. Cows are regarded as sacred, whereas Hinduism is the prevalent religion. Hence, rennet cannot be used to curdle milk since India (where paneer originates from) is largely a Hindu country, so rennet isn’t used there to make their version of cheese (paneer!).

Paneer is created without rennet by curdling heated milk with lemon or lime juice, vinegar, yogurt, or citric acid. The end-product is a soft, fluffy cheese that is solid enough to cut into blocks but will not break apart easily when added to curries.

This cheese will not melt or become mushy like mozzarella or cheddar, but this is what makes it so special! Since it doesn’t melt, it is ideal for use in tasty curries and soups! Pan-fry it before adding it in, and it’ll taste even better!

What Does Paneer Taste Like? And How Do I Eat It?

Paneer is a fresh cheese; therefore, it’s similar to other fresh cheeses found in American shops, such as ricotta, quark, and cottage cheese. It has a creamy flavor and a wonderful texture like firm ricotta. Since it is normally unsalted, some people find it bland and tasteless when consumed on its own. I beg to differ because I usually can’t stop munching on it as a snack when I make it!

The most common way to eat it is to cut it into cubes and add it to curry. In some dishes, the cheese is pan-fried and then it’s added into a curry. You can enjoy this cheese in many other ways, though!  You can crumble the cheese over salads, eaten raw, or seasoned with cumin and other spices to take it to a whole new level!

The tastiest paneer is the one you make at home, but store-bought, ready-to-eat cheese can be found in Indian and ethnic supermarkets all over the United States. Quick tip, though – if you’re buying ready-to-eat paneer, soak it in hot water before eating, as this will make it softer and less rubbery in texture.

Overhead shot of soft Paneer.

Where Does Paneer Originate From?

Paneer can be traced back to Persian and Afghan rulers who brought it to North India somewhere during the 16th century. Back then, it was made using goat and sheep rennet. Hence, the word ‘paneer’ originates from the Persian and Turkish word ‘peynir.’

The method used today to make Paneer involves splitting the milk with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar instead of rennet.

Acids Used to Make it

Paneer that you buy in stores has citric acid. Homemade, on the other hand, usually has one of the four following acids:

  1. Lemon or lime juice
  2. Vinegar
  3. Curd or yogurt
  4. Buttermilk

We will be using lemon juice in this recipe, which is one of the easiest ways to make paneer! It also helps give paneer a soft yet firm texture!

Why Make Paneer at Home?

Homemade paneer has a softer, crumblier texture than store-bought. The store-bought variety is substantially denser and firmer in comparison. Not only is homemade paneer more nutritious and fresher, but it is also less expensive to produce than to buy.

How To Make Paneer (Step-by-Step Guide):

  • Boil the Milk: In a deep pot on medium heat, pour the milk, and bring it to a boil. Occasionally stir to prevent milk from burning at the bottom of the pot. Once the milk has boiled, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 2 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Turn off the heat, gradually add the lemon water mixture to the milk and gently stir.
  • Let Milk Solids Separate: The milk solids will start to separate from the whey; it will not happen suddenly, but this method will take a little time (like a minute or two); this step will ensure creamy and spongy paneer, be patient.
  • Use Cheesecloth or Muslin Cloth: When milk solids separate, the whey will look greenish. Cover the pan for two minutes. Line cheesecloths or muslin cloth in a colander. Pour the whey with milk solids into the cheesecloth.
  • Let it Cool: Keep another bowl on the side and fill half of it with chilled water.

Collect the corners of the cheesecloth in your hand and twist it (not tight) to prevent the cheese from coming out of it. Place the cheesecloth in the chilled water for a few seconds, then pull it and repeat these four to five times. It will remove the sourness of the lemon juice from the paneer and will prevent the paneer from cooking further and getting hard.

  • Add Weight on the Paneer: Twist the cheesecloth tight and squeeze it as much as you can. Place the cheese while in cheesecloth on a colander. Place something heavy on top (like a can of beans) for one hour to an hour and a half. It will bring out more whey from the paneer.
  • Cut the Paneer: Remove it from the cheesecloth and cut in cubes or triangles; the paneer should feel smooth and spongy when lightly squeezed.
  • Store it: It’s best to use the paneer the same day, but please read the ‘How to Store Paneer’ section on this page below if you want to store it longer. 
Indian homemade cheese served in bowls.

How to Choose the Right Milk for Indian Cheese?

Try to go for full fat, fresh milk for this recipe and avoid skimmed or non-fat milk as there won’t be enough fat left to separate into curds and whey required in this recipe. And so, it’s best to use organic milk as you’ll get a better flavor in the paneer.

Also, make sure to avoid UHT (ultra-high temperature) pasteurized milk. During the pasteurization process, the protein structure of the milk changes, which will prevent it from separating correctly.

I have used lactose-free milk also, and the paneer came out amazing!

How to Store Paneer

Paneer can be tricky when it comes to storing it but don’t worry, I have you covered. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you always store your paneer right:

  • To store the paneer for more than 2 days in the fridge, pour cold water in a plastic container and dissolve ½ teaspoon salt in it. Place the paneer in that mixture, and it can last for almost a week.
  • To freeze the paneer, it’s best to cut it into cubes and then place it in a Ziplock bag, ensuring taking out as much air as you can from the Ziplock bag. Then freeze it for up to 6 months.
  • To thaw the frozen paneer, place the frozen paneer while in the Ziplock bag in a bowl filled with warm water.

Popular Paneer Dishes

Paneer cubes are in a bunch of delicious Indian dishes and ones from neighboring countries. So here are some of the most well-known ones:

  • Palak Paneer: This is a delicious Indian spinach curry where we pan-fry fresh paneer and cook it in a spinach puree with loads of spices.
  • Paneer Tikka Masala: This is a spicy gravy curry that also uses pan-fried paneer cubes. Let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll add my recipe on the site!
  • Saag Paneer: This recipe also calls for spinach, but it’s chopped instead, and the spices are different but still really delicious!
  • Rasgullas: This is an absolutely scrumptious Indian dessert using paneer. It’s sweet, creamy, and everything you could ask for in a dessert.

small image of Indian paneer

How To Make Paneer Soft and Spongy

Paneer is a type of fresh cheese that is extremely popular in Indian cuisine.
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Starter
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Paneer
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Time for cheese to drain.: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 135kcal
Author: Muna Kenny

Ingredients

  • 6 cups whole milk – full-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, dilute the lemon juice with one tablespoon of water and keep it aside.
  • In a deep pan on medium heat, pour the milk and bring it to a boil. Occasionally stir to prevent milk from burning at the bottom.
  • When the milk boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Keep on stirring occasionally.
  • Turn off the heat, gradually add the lemon water mixture to the milk and gently stir.
  • The milk solids will start to separate from the whey; it will not happen suddenly, but this method will take a little time (like a minute or two); this step will ensure creamy and spongy paneer be patient.
  • When milk solids separate, the whey will look greenish. Cover the pan for two minutes.
  • Line cheesecloths or muslin cloth in a colander. Pour the whey with milk solids into the cheesecloth.
  • Keep another bowl on the side and fill half of it with chilled water.
  • Collect the corners of the cheesecloth in your hand and twist it (not tight) to prevent the paneer from coming out of it. Place the cheesecloth in the chilled water for a few seconds, then pull it and repeat these four to five times. It will remove the sourness of the lemon juice from the paneer and will prevent the paneer from cooking further and getting hard.
  • Twist the cheesecloth tight and squeeze it as much as you can.
  • Place the Paneer while in cheesecloth on a colander. Place something heavy on top (like a can of beans or so) for one hour to an hour and a half. It will bring out more whey from the paneer.
  • Remove the Paneer from the cheesecloth and cut in cubes or triangles; the paneer should feel smooth and spongy when lightly squeezed.
  • It’s best to use the paneer the same day, but if you want to store it longer, please read the notes below for refrigerating, freezing, and thawing.

Video

Notes

  • It’s best to use organic milk because it is not mixed with water, and you get a better flavor in the paneer.
  • You can use lactose-free milk to make paneer.
  • Boiling the milk and then letting it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes reduces the amount of milk and makes it a little thicker, resulting in creamy paneer.
  • In some countries, the milk is mixed with a small amount of water; hence boiling the milk removes an amount from that added water.
  • To store the paneer for more than 2 days in the fridge, pour cold water in a plastic container and dissolve ½ teaspoon salt in it. Place the paneer in that mixture, and it can last for almost a week.
  • This recipe was first published in 2012, updated with more information, new images, and a video guide.

Nutrition

Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.1g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 15g
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?Follow me on Instagram @munatycooking or tag #munatycooking!

14 Comments

  1. I love paneer! And I always make it at home 🙂 Though I do not add salt.

    • munatycooking

      I’m about to post some recipes using paneer, and thought posting about how to make it first will be useful 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made fresh cheeses like Paneer many times, and they really are quite simple to make. I suggest that if you use cheesecloth, you should use two or three layers; butter muslin works quite well and you only need one layer.

    • munatycooking

      Thanks for the tip 🙂 Yes, two layers of cheesecloth works great with this cheese.

  3. I have always wanted to make paneer…thanks for sharing the recipe. And yes, they look so much like tofu.

  4. 5 stars
    I have not yet tried Paneer yet, but I heard the nearest Indian store carries it. However, I’m actually surprised with the simple ingredients list and instruction! Really? Maybe I can make it at home!

    • munatycooking

      Yes, It’s really easy to make it at home, and it tastes far much better and creamier than the store bought.

  5. 5 stars
    I love ricotta, and never tried paneer cheese, but looks fantastic since i am cheese lover:)
    Great pics Muna, and very easy recipe.

  6. Lora @cakeduchess

    my mother-in-law makes the most amazing ricotta. I swear it’s also so amazing because of the milk in Italy:)))This paneer looks divine, Muna. Great job:) xx

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