How to make Paneer (Indian Cheese) - Swasthi's Recipes (2024)

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If you ever wondered how to make Paneer at home, look no further & try out this easy step by step guide. Paneer is a traditional Indian cheese made with just 2 ingredients – milk and an acidic ingredient. Making it at home is super easy, involves no rocket science & you to get it perfectly soft, every single time.

How to make Paneer (Indian Cheese) - Swasthi's Recipes (1)

But why make at home? In the past store bought paneer had additives like preservatives, corn starch and even citric acid to prolong the shelf life. Much has changed in the recent years and now you get it as good as the homemade – without additives.

Still a lot of us want to make paneer at home for various reasons – freshness, non-availability, expensive or preference to use a particular kind of milk and acidic ingredient. Whatever be it, you will never regret for trying to make it at home. I will help you make the best quality super soft Indian cheese at home.

What is Paneer?

Paneer is a kind of fresh cheese made by curdling milk using an acidic food ingredient like lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt (curd) or citric acid. It is a soft yet firm, non-melting cheese that is made without using any kind of rennet. It is also not fermented or aged like other kinds of cheese so it tastes milky and somewhat similar to ricotta cheese.

To make paneer, cow or buffalo milk (or a mix of both) is boiled first and an acidic ingredient is stirred into it. The milk curdles separating the solids and the whey. It is strained to a colander, lined with a muslin or cheese cloth.

The solids are wrapped in the cloth and hung for a while to get rid of excess moisture. Lastly it is pressed with a heavy object to set. Unset cheese can be used in Paneer Recipes like Malai Kofta, Paneer Bhurji and Paneer Sandwich. Set and diced paneer can be used in many other recipes like
Palak Paneer
Paneer Butter Masala
Matar Paneer
Paneer Tikka Masala

Traditionally paneer is not seasoned but these days commercialised products do come with a little amount of salt. Enthusiastic home cooks have also been adding various kinds of seasonings like chili flakes, black pepper and cilantro so it can be eaten as is without additional seasoning or cooking.

What you need for Homemade Paneer

  • Milk: Use full fat raw or pasteurized cow, buffalo or goat milk. Avoid low fat, skimmed milk and ultra-pasteurised milk (UHT) as they yield lesser amount of cheese.
  • Acidic ingredient: Lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid, yogurt or whey from the previous batch of paneer are some options. Citric acid and vinegar are the best choices as they split the milk instantly but avoid adding a lot as it can make the cheese harder/chewy. The curdled solids need a through rinse to get rid of the citric acid or vinegar. Yogurt curdles the milk slowly but produces the softest cheese and you don’t need to rinse off. Sometimes it can be a hit or a miss unless you use raw milk (zero processed milk).

How to make Paneer (Stepwise Photos)

1. Pour 8 cups (2 liters) milk to a heavy bottom pot and bring it to a gentle boil on a medium flame.

How to make Paneer (Indian Cheese) - Swasthi's Recipes (2)

2. Keep your acidic ingredient ready such as – yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar. Please use only one. When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the stove. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar or ½ cup of yogurt. Give a good stir for 1 minute.

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3. Milk begins to curdle immediately and solids separate from the whey. If it does not, stir in 1 tablespoon more vinegar and turn ON the stove. Boil till you see the solids separate completely. Note that non-hom*ogenized or raw milk curdles faster. hom*ogenized milk takes longer to curdle as it is processed for a good shelf life.

4. Turn off the stove as soon as you see the milk has curdled completely. When the paneer is done correctly you will see the whey being clear and not milky. The color of the whey will be yellowish or green but not milky white.(check video). It is important you turn off when it is done. If you continue to cook longer, it becomes hard and grainy.

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Drain and Set

5. Place a colander over a large bowl (to collect the whey). Layer it with a clean cheese cloth (or muslin cloth). A thin new handkerchief works well too. Transfer all of the curdled milk to the colander, in batches. Immediately pour cold water to get rid of the vinegar smell.

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6. Later rinse the paneer well a few times under running water until it is clear of the vinegar.

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7. Squeeze off the excess water. Make a knot and hang this for 30 mins. This helps to drain the excess whey and this step is very essential else the paneer can break in your sauce. It should still be moist after draining.

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8. Keep the entire pack on a flat colander or a plate or wooden board. Form a nice round shape by bundling the paneer. (check video)

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9. Place a heavy object weighing at least 2.5 to 3 kgs. I fill my pot with uncooked rice and place over it. Any heavy object will just work well to set paneer. Allow it to set for about 3 to 4 hours. If you want you may move the entire set up to the refrigerator if it is too hot. I do this at room temperature on the kitchen counter.

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10. Remove the cloth and you will find a round block of paneer. You will also notice a dent on the block. It is just normal.

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11. Cube the paneer.

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Use or Refrigerate for further use. I usually put the entire block in a steel box and refrigerate. I cut only when needed. You can also cut them and freeze for 3 months or refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks.

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Expert Tips

  • Full fat milk that is minimally processed works the best. Else you will have lesser yield. UHT milk is ultra processed for longer shelf life so this kind of milk does not split faster and yields less.
  • Bring milk to a boil on a low to medium heat else the fats can settle at the bottom and get scorched resulting in brown bits. Alternately, stir the milk occasionally while boiling.
  • Always add the acidic ingredient only after the milk comes to a boil.
  • Once the acid ingredient is added to the milk, stir and check if the milk has curdled completely. If not add more and turn off the stove. Do not continue to boil after it has curdled completely. This makes the paneer hard & grainy.
  • Use just the right amount of acids (in batches) to curdle the milk. Using too much makes the paneer grainy and rubbery/chewy.
  • I always prefer to pour some cold water or ice cubes immediately to the pot to stop it from cooking further. You can also omit this step and transfer the paneer quickly to a colander that is lined with muslin cloth. Immediately rinse it under cold running water.
  • Ensure there is no excess whey in the milk solids before you keep it for setting. To ensure this I always hang the paneer for 30 min to drain it completely else the paneer can break in your sauce.

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How to make Paneer (Indian Cheese) - Swasthi's Recipes (19)

How to make Paneer

4.99 from 283 votes

Making this 2 ingredient Indian cheese at home is super easy with this recipe. You will have a block of fresh milky and delicious soft paneer in no time.

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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time55 minutes minutes

Cook Time20 minutes minutes

Total Time1 hour hour 15 minutes minutes

Servings4 people

AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 2 liters (8 cups) full fat milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vinegar (or lemon juice or ½ cup yogurt or citric acid as needed)

Equpiment needed

  • 1 colander (strainer)
  • 1 cheese cloth (muslin cloth or fresh handkerchief)
  • 1 large bowl (to collect whey)
  • 1 to 2 heavy objects

Instructions

  • Heat Milk: Pour milk to a heavy bottom pot & bring it to a gentle boil on a medium heat.Stir occasionally to ensure the milk doesn't get scorched at the bottom.

  • Curdle Milk: When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the stove and stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar. You should see the milk begins to split, separating the solids and the whey. If done correctly, whey should be clear or yellowish but not milky.

  • Troubleshooting: If the milk did not curdle fully or still looks milky, stir 1 tbsp more vinegar. Boil on a medium heat till it curdles fully. Turn off immediately and do not overcook else paneer can become hard.

  • Strain & Rinse: Place a colander over a large bowl to collect the whey. Spread a cheese cloth over it. Transfer the paneer and the whey in 2 batches. Pour cold water all over the paneer to rinse off the vinegar really well.

  • Drain the Liquid: Gather the edges of the cloth in your hand and bundle the paneer to form a round shape. Squeeze off any excess liquid. Make a knot and hang the paneer for 30 mins to drain completely. (see post for pictures)

  • Set the Paneer: Remove the knot and twist the edges of the cloth. Place bundle on a flat colander or a wooden board. Press down the cloth & place a heavy object (like a cast iron pot & rice bags) on it. (check the video below) Let the paneer set at room temperature or in the refrigerator (if hot) for 3 to 4 hours,

  • Dice the Paneer: Unpack the cheese from the cloth. You will see a dent and it is normal. Cut the paneer to 1 inch cubes. Refrigerate in a air tight container and use within 2 to 3 weeks or freeze up to 3 months.

  • Recipes to try: Use the diced cheese in curries, kebabs or rice pilafs. You may check out these 60 amazing Paneer Recipes for ideas.

Notes

  • Please use only full fat fresh milk or whole milk as high fats in the milk will yield more paneer & will set well.
  • Non-hom*ogenized milk curdles faster while hom*ogenized milk takes longer to curdle. So you will need to boil a little longer until it curdles fully.
  • Do not use milk that has gone beyond the expiry date. This may affect the flavor.
  • Adding sufficient amount of acidic ingredient like lemon juice, vinegar or curd (yogurt) is very essential else the milk won’t curdle. So you may need to add more than what is mentioned in the recipe card.
  • Similarly adding too much of lemon juice or vinegar will make the paneer harder & grainier. So begin by adding only a little and add more as needed until it curdles.
  • Once the milk curdles completely, turn off the stove and avoid cooking further to prevent the paneer from turning hard.
  • It is also good to pour some cold water to stop the paneer from cooking immediately especially if using unprocessed milk.
  • Ensure excess whey is drained from the paneer before you set. Any excess whey will cause it to break in the gravy/sauce.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts

How to make Paneer

Amount Per Serving

Calories 293Calories from Fat 144

% Daily Value*

Fat 16g25%

Saturated Fat 9g56%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 3g

Cholesterol 59mg20%

Sodium 185mg8%

Potassium 732mg21%

Carbohydrates 23g8%

Sugar 23g26%

Protein 16g32%

Vitamin A 791IU16%

Calcium 600mg60%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

How to make Paneer (Indian Cheese) - Swasthi's Recipes (20)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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How to make Paneer (Indian Cheese) - Swasthi's Recipes (2024)

FAQs

How will you prepare cheese paneer? ›

For making paneer, a few drops of lemon juice is added to milk as it boils. This gives a mixture of particles of solid paneer and liquid. The paneer is then separated by filtering the mixture through a fine cloth or strainer. Was this answer helpful?

Do you soak paneer before cooking? ›

Top tip: If you find your paneer can get a bit dry or chewy when fried or cooked, you can soak it in water for 10 minutes so it retains more moisture while cooking.

What is paneer Indian cheese made from? ›

Paneer can be made with buffalo milk, goat milk, sheep milk or cow's milk. Although it is similar to cottage cheese, paneer is usually made without rennet and therefore has a different texture. Paneer is made by curdling milk with a food acid, usually lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid.

How to make paneer soft in USA? ›

Boil some water in a bowl. Once it comes to a boil, put a strainer over it and spread out the paneer cubes so that they absorb the steam. Put a lid on top so that the steam cannot escape. After 10-15 mins, you'll have super soft and spongy paneer cubes.

What is paneer called in the US? ›

Although many Indians translate "paneer" into "cottage cheese", cottage cheese is made using rennet extracted from the stomach of ruminants, and cow's skim milk. Queso blanco or queso fresco are often recommended as substitutes in the Americas and Spain as they are more commercially available in many American markets.

Do you need to cook paneer before eating? ›

Yes, no problem with not cooking it, but uncooked paneer is not a good dish. It is more a dry and stingy (for lack of a better word) cheese. So you see paneer or cottage cheese is best served cooked and well seasoned. That is where the real magic of cheese lies!

Why does paneer become hard after cooking? ›

Heating dries up the moisture content in the paneer and it makes it hard and rubbery. Hence after frying paneer in oil or ghee, always soak it in warm water for five to ten minutes. Then add the soaked paneer to any gravy of your choice.

How long does it take paneer to cook? ›

On a low flame cook covered just for 1 to 3 minutes. Cooking for longer can make the paneer harder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cream and stir. You should get this thick creamy texture as you see in the picture below.

How long does paneer last in the fridge? ›

Want to know the best way to store your paneer? just store it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. immediately. It'll stay good frozen for up to 3 months.

Is Indian paneer cheese healthy? ›

Paneer is a good source of protein, especially for vegetarians. It contains all nine essential amino acids that are required for the proper functioning of the body. Furthermore, compared to other cheese it is a healthier option and can be consumed regularly.

Why is paneer cheese so expensive? ›

Because Paneer is a fresh cheese with a unique manufacturing process, it requires special equipment and a special orchestration of the facility, Agarwal said. “You heat up the milk significantly higher than other cheeses,” he said.

Which cheese is closest to paneer? ›

Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese usually made with sheep's or goat's milk. It has a similar firmness to paneer. It's known for its ability to hold its shape when cooked, making it a suitable replacement in certain recipes.

Do you need to fry paneer before cooking? ›

Restaurants fry the paneer for structure and color, then will add it to warm water and let it soak so it won't get hard. This is not needed in home cooking. I soak the store-bought in hot water for 10 minutes to soften it. I enjoy the fried taste but don't like hard paneer so I just fry one side so it doesn't toughen.

How to stop paneer from being chewy? ›

A simple trick to avoid this. - After frying the paneer, dip it into water with a pinch. of salt. - Remove it after a couple of minutes and that's it.

Can I eat raw paneer? ›

Paneer is an animal product which is prepared by curdling hot milk using lime juice, vinegar or citric acid. It can be eaten raw as well as to prepare a variety of dishes. There are various types of Paneer such as conventional Paneer, low fat Paneer, soy Paneer, filled Paneer and vegetable stuff Paneer[1][2].

Which method is used for preparing paneer? ›

In the process of making Paneer, a few drops of lemon juice are added to boiling milk. This gives a mixture of particles of solid paneer and a liquid. The paneer is then separated from the mixture with the help of fine cloth or a strainer. This process of separation is called Filtration.

How to eat paneer cheese? ›

Just dice some paneer cubes into a pan, toss it with some olive oil, add chilli flakes or crushed pepper, some salt, and you are good to go. In short, a yummy on-the-go snack for your tummy in a jiffy. You can also use it as a filling for your sandwiches or replace the aalo patties in your burgers.

Does paneer cheese need to be cooked? ›

Paneer doesn't need cooking, just heating through. The idea here is that the paneer absorbs the flavour of the curry sauce; or. Pan-fried until golden – like you do halloumi – before being stirred into curries such as Palak Paneer, and other dishes.

How to melt paneer cheese? ›

Paneer is a non-melting cheese. Since paneer is made using heat and acid, instead of rennet, to curdle the milk, it changes the way the milk proteins are bound together. When paneer is heated, it doesn't melt, but holds its shape, allowing it to be simmered, fried or grilled without liquefying.

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