Have you always wanted to know how to make paneer? This easy paneer recipe is ready in under 4 hours and is so easy to make!
What is Paneer?
If you’ve ever enjoyed a plate of fresh, soft cheese cubes smothered in a rich and aromatic Indian curry sauce, chances are you have had paneer cheese.
Paneer is a direct-acid cheese, meaning that a certain amount of acid is added to warmed milk to encourage curd formation, which is then drained of its whey, and formed into a firm mass of fresh cheese.
This style of direct-acid cheese dates back to the earliest records of cheesemaking, and variations can be found in different regions around the world.
A few examples of other direct-acid cheeses are
- queso blanco
Important Facts About Paneer
What is the origin of paneer?
Paneer is an important ingredient to Northern Indian cuisine, where a vegetarian diet is very common, and dairy is a main source of protein.
What does paneer taste like?
Since paneer is a mild, unsalted cheese, it doesn’t add much flavor of its own to a dish, but instead acts like a sponge soaking up all of the bold flavors it is most often served with.
Does paneer melt?
Paneer is that it will not melt when heated, because it doesn’t have the correct level of acidity required for a cheese to melt.
Can you fry paneer?
When fried, paneer will form a crispy golden exterior, and can also be grilled over a fire to add a smoky element to your meal, making it ideal for vegetarian cooking.
What is the texture of paneer?
The texture of paneer is comparable to firm tofu, and can be used in any savoury dish as a replacement for tofu as well.
Tools You Need
Ingredients You Need
This recipe calls for white vinegar which acts as a milk coagulant – but you can substitute with ½ cup of fresh lemon juice if you prefer.
How to Make Paneer
When making paneer, there are a few simple steps to follow, which makes it a very approachable cheese for beginners to try at home.
Warm the Milk + Add Acid
You begin by warming the milk in a heavy-bottomed steel pot. You warm the milk to 195ºF and stir the milk often so the milk doesn’t burn.
Once the milk is warmed to the correct temperature, the acid is added. You slowly stir the milk and vinegar together until the curd begins to from (about 1 minute).
If the curd doesn’t begin to form within one minute of adding the vinegar, add an additional 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the milk.
Run Curd Under Cold Water + Drain
After a minute of stirring and the curd has formed, place the pot under cool water and monitor the temperature.
When the temperature of the curd reaches 115ºF pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Let the curd drain for 1 minute.
Twist + Hang the Paneer
Once most of the whey has drained off of the curd. gather the corners of the cloth and loosely tie them together to form a bag. Twist the cheesecloth gently to wring out more whey.
Then, flip the cheese over and hang the cheesecloth bag from the handle of a spoon into a deep pot to catch any additional whey. Let the cheese hang and drain for about 1 hour.
Option to Press Cheese
In this recipe, the paneer cheese is formed mostly by hand with the cheese cloth, as you gently press the curd to release any excess whey.
The cheesecloth forms a bag around the fresh curd and allows you to make a free-form block of cheese.
If you’d like your paneer to have more of a shape, use a cheese press or place the drained cheese in a cloth between two dinner plates and place a weight on top of the plate and press the cheese for 2 hours.
Place Paneer in Cool Water
Soaking the fresh cheese in cool water helps to draw out any excess acidity, and sweetens the final taste of the cheese.
How to Serve Paneer Cheese
Paneer is best served fresh and has no added salt or cultures to aid in preservation. We love to serve paneer many different ways!
- Pan fried and served over a salad
- Folded into palak paneer (YUM)
- In a deliciou butter tomato sauce
- Grilled paneer is delicious
How to Store Paneer
Paneer can be kept in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can you Freeze Paneer?
Paneer can be frozen for 1 month if it is wrapped tightly, to prevent freezer burn and excess moisture buildup in the cheese.
Thaw in the refrigerator and pat dry before use.
- Digital kitchen thermometer
- 2 gallon heavy-bottom stainless steel pot
- Stainless steel or plastic whisk
- Stainless steel or plastic colander
- 1 gallon whole milk (we used non-UHT)
- 10 tbsp white vinegar (5%)
- First things, first. Be sure that all equipment and surfaces are clean and sterile before beginning.
- Prepare the cheesecloth by rinsing it with hot water, and wringing it out. Line a colander with the cheesecloth and set aside.
- Pour the milk into a large heavy-bottomed pot and place over medium high heat to warm.
- Bring the milk to 195°F and stir often to avoid the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching. The milk will be frothy and look like it is about to simmer when it is close to the correct temperature.
- Once the milk reaches 195ºF, remove from the heat and add the vinegar all at once, stirring very slowly for 1 minute. You should see the curd begin to form and separate from the whey almost immediately. If the curd does not start forming right away, add another 2 tbsp of vinegar.
- Move the pot to the sink and run a gentle stream of cold tap water into the curds, being careful not to lose any curds into the sink.
- Once the curd reaches 115°F, pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth lined colander and drain for 1 minute.
- When most of the whey has drained off the curd, gather the corners of the cloth and loosely tie them together to form a bag.
- Twist the cloth gently to wring out more whey, then open the cloth and flip the mass of cheese over.
- Hang the cheesecloth bag from the neck of the sink faucet, or from the handle of a spoon hanging into a deep pot, to catch any additional whey that releases from the curd. Drain for 1 hour. For a firmer cheese, place the drained cheese in cloth between two dinner plates and place a 10 lb. weight on top of the plate and press for up to 2 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the cloth and place in a bowl of cool water for 2 hours. This will draw out any additional vinegar, giving the cheese a sweeter taste.
- Serve immediately or store the cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Tips & Notes
Storage: If you do not plan to use all of your paneer right away, tightly wrap it in an airtight bag, and freeze for up to 1 month.