Technique: How to make paneer

May 20, 2009

Although India is not a country known for its cheese, paneer is the cheese that has left an indelible mark on Indian cuisine. Used in recipes like mattar paneer, paneer tikka, palak paneer, it is the most common Indian form of cheese. Paneer is an unaged and acid-set cheese that is similar to queso blanco, except that it has no added salt. Paneer is also a non-melting kind of a cheese, which is why it is often fried before being added to a dish. Unlike a lot of cheeses in the world, paneer is not made by the addition of rennet; it is therefore completely vegetarian.

thyme flavoured paneer

Here, fresh paneer is just a phone call away, so we don’t always make this at home. I was also a little worried about this homemade one not turning out as good as the store bought one, but after making this, I realise that the homemade version so much creamier. In fact, this time around I even tried a herbed variation – just before it’s time to set the cheese, I added salt, pepper and thyme. None of my friends could guess what it was because 1. it was so wonderfully creamy and 2. the addition of flavor threw them off, because traditionally, paneer has absolutely no salt added.

Paneer making


Yield: 250gms/9oz.

1 litre/ 1/4th gallon whole milk
2 tsp lime/lemon/vinegar*

  1. Bring the milk to a rolling boil and add the lime juice or vinegar, whichever you are using, and keep stirring.
  2. You will see that the milk curdles into the cheese and whey. Turn off the heat at this point and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Line a colander with a cheesecloth or use a fine mesh to drain off the whey.*
  4. Adding flavour: If you’d like, add salt, pepper and herbs and this point and blend it it with the panner
  5. Let this sit for an hour or so. If you’re using the cheesecloth then you can gather the sides together and wring it to get rid of the excess whey. While using the fine mesh strainer, press the paneer with a spoon.
  6. Here, I’ve drained the paneer for about an hour to achieve soft cubes.
  7. For firmer paneer, place some weight (heavy pan, pile of books, watermelon:)) on the paneer covered in cheesecloth for another 2 hours.
  8. Once firm, you can use it immediately by cutting into cubes or whatever, the recipe requires.

* A reader, Amy pointed out that when using bottled lemon juice, she needed to use 3-4 tablespoons of it (thanks, Amy!).

The paneer will keep in an airtight container in the refrigertor for upto a week.

Don’t drain it off the whey in the sink because it is can be used as a healthy addition for boiling rice, kneading into dough to make rotis or parathas!


  • Reply Nicole May 20, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    I’ve never tried making paneer, but have always wanted to. Thanks for the great instructions!

  • Reply Amrita C May 20, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    Somehow I’ve always found making paneer therapeautic in a way…I dunno, its just so calming and makes you feel like you can cook almost anything (though the truth might be far from that, in my case!)…
    I have to try out the thyme-flavored paneer! I can already think of recipes I’d use it in….

  • Reply Kavey May 20, 2009 at 9:50 PM

    My mum makes paneer at home, it has a different, crumblier, softer, fresher texture to the stuff we can buy in shops here (UK).

    My favourite recipe for paneer, shop-bought or home-made, is the Shahi Paneer recipe on mum’s site (Mamta’s Kitchen) provided by a caterer in Roorkee, now passed away, known as Pandeji! Unlike most recipes on mum’s site this one uses a ready-made spice mix, but it’s just wonderful. And very rich!

  • Reply Bethany (dirtykitchensecrets) May 20, 2009 at 10:06 PM

    Wow Shaheen! You’ve enlightened me! We used to make cheese on the farm back home and i really want to give this a try now. Never had paneer cheese before…!

  • Reply Shaheen May 20, 2009 at 11:05 PM

    Nicole, do make it sometime. It’s so easy you will wonder why you never tried it sooner!

    Amrita, you are now officially good in my books for finding paneer making therapeautic. :D

    Oh Kavey, your mom’s paneer recipe sounds delicious. I will have to hop over to her blog to try it out.

    Beth: Super easy, try it soon!

  • Reply oneofagrind May 20, 2009 at 11:25 PM

    ohh nice! :) Off late I don’t even have to bother to curdle the milk.. the heat tends to do that.. I get fresh paneer almost everyday by default :P Btw unique western touch with the thyme.

  • Reply Pearl May 20, 2009 at 11:43 PM

    am SO bookmarking this! thank you for sharing! you always have the loveliest recipes!

  • Reply A_and_N May 21, 2009 at 5:45 AM

    I love the fact that you made herbed paneer. While I do make regular paneer, I’m yet to try herbed paneer. Thanks for this, Shaheen!

  • Reply Rachel May 21, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    I make paneer at home too…herbed paneer sound neat.

  • Reply Jeff May 21, 2009 at 6:16 PM

    Nicely done! The only place I have been able to find paneer is across town and a 30 minute drive.

    I really want to do more Indian cooking so very happy I found your blog. Do you have any must make Indian begineer recipes?

  • Reply e-swastya May 21, 2009 at 6:28 PM

    Gr8 recipe and i am sure i am going to make it at home …

  • Reply Ben May 21, 2009 at 10:34 PM

    This is very similar to the Mexican queso fresco cheese. I’ve made it several times because it is so easy to make and you can get creative with it. What spices did you use?

  • Reply Shaheen May 21, 2009 at 11:28 PM

    Hey Jeff, once you try this, I promise you won’t go back to the store bought version.

    Hey there Ben! :) Yes, it is quite similar, isn’t it? I added salt, pepper and thyme to the paneer before I let it set, like mentioned in the post.

  • Reply Deborah Barocas May 22, 2009 at 6:02 AM

    Hey Shaheen,
    This is a great recipe. I really love paneer with spinach or simply dusted with toasted geera(cumin) and sprinkled with corriander leaves. I have another fave, can you make Dhokla. I’m nuts about it, especially with hot tamarind sauce condiment. I have been searching high and low for a great recipe.

  • Reply Kitchen Flavours May 22, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    Oh wow adding pepper and herbs make the paneer more yummier….Thank you for the step-wise pictorial….

  • Reply Divya Vikram May 23, 2009 at 3:16 AM

    great step by step instructions!

  • Reply Kevin May 26, 2009 at 7:27 AM

    I like the sound of the herbed paneer!

  • Reply Memória May 27, 2009 at 3:40 AM

    Thank you for the instructions! I will be making this one day!

  • Reply Shaheen May 27, 2009 at 11:55 AM

    Hey Doborah, I like the idea or toasted cumin on paneer. You know, dhokla is so easily available that it’s taken for granted. I have never made it. If I find a good recipe, I will be sure to pass it on. :)

  • Reply Deeba PAB May 27, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    I love the creaminess of home-made paneer too. And now we’ve begun getting masala flavoured paneer in some stores…but nothing to beat home made paneer1 YUM post!

  • Reply Anonymous May 30, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    Shaheen nice!

  • Reply Ritika June 4, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    Shaheen's post is also a great insight for those who buy paneer off the shelf for any kind of cottage cheese preparations. For e.g. Once you drain the whey, you can also use the crumbled form to make some yummy paneer bhurji & malfati or as a stuffing for bread rolls and chicken.

  • Reply Anonymous September 3, 2009 at 12:46 AM

    I love paneer!
    Where I live, the supermarkets don't carry it, so everytime I want a fix I have to go to an Indian restaurant.
    I had no idea it was so easy to make, will definitely be giving this a try.

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  • Reply Ann May 24, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    To make paneer even softer, try adding sour yogurt to curdle the milk. You would need approx. 3/4 cup sour yogurt to curdle 1 ltr of milk. This paneer is really delicious and very soft and creamy. Try it: you will never use lime/lemon/vinegar again! :-)

    • Reply Herwin September 6, 2011 at 9:41 PM

      Do you add the 3/4 cup sour yogurt in the boiling milk – & continue to boil or take off right away

      • Reply Ann November 14, 2011 at 7:29 AM

        Herwin, please continue to boil the milk after you have added the whisked sour yogurt until you see whey separate and it is clear. Take off the heat and allow to stay thus for an hour and then strain. Good luck!

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  • Reply krutika warli August 23, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    this is an amazing website for my different types of food search.
    its really goo
    you pictures are great

  • Reply Neelam September 11, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to freeze the paneer once it’s done?

    • Reply khushi September 19, 2010 at 7:57 PM

      no its not :( <3

    • Reply Lindsay March 30, 2011 at 8:05 AM

      I have done it before and it came out okay. I froze the store-bought kind. Maybe it’s not ideal, but it was good enough for me.

  • Reply Carly December 19, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    A super recipe. I’m so glad that it’s easy to make. Thanks for the recipe x

  • Reply Vidya February 4, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    Thanks for the recipe, my paneer came out really well. :)

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  • Reply Sara August 2, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    How much paneer does this make? May I use 2% milk or will that lessen the curdled portion?

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Reply test August 4, 2011 at 10:44 PM


  • Reply Aastha October 21, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Sooo many lovely Indian ladies on this blog …. woo hoo

    Anyone from London?

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  • Reply memre March 20, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    very nice, could it be used as a spread

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    Fantastic!!! I just made cheese!! Will have some with our curry, yum

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