Homemade paneer is surprisingly easy to make. The Indian farmers’ cheese is rich and creamy and full of flavor, especially when it is fresh. Try it in my easy Palak Paneer recipe, where it is simmered in a fragrant spinach-curry sauce, or eat it with hot naan bread straight from the oven.
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Is homemade paneer really worth the trouble?
I love Indian food, but I’ve never been crazy about restaurant paneer. So, obviously, I had to eventually try my hand at making my own. Homemade paneer is simple to make and as delicious as I always thought a creamy Indian cheese should be.
Is it paneer easy to make?
Yes! Check out my recipe below for easy and delicious homemade paneer. You can use your homemade paneer in Palak Paneer in grilled cheese sandwiches spread with spicy chutney.
How do you make paneer?
Paneer is super easy to make—you only need 3 ingredients (milk, lemon juice or another acid, and salt) and some cheesecloth (or you can use a tofu press). All the other equipment you’ll use (pot, bowl, etc.) are standard, everyday kitchen items.
The process, in a nutshell, is to bring the milk to a boil, stir in acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to separate the curds and whey, strain out the whey, and press the curds into a firm slab. It can be done in as little as 30 minutes, although you can take a leisurely approach and do it in an hour with minimal hands-on time.
How to keep paneer from turning rubbery
To keep paneer tender, fry cubes in oil or butter to brown them, then soak them in hot water while you prepare the rest of the dish. Add the soaked paneer cubes to the sauce and heat through.
How to use homemade paneer
Use homemade paneer in my Palak Paneer recipe or in any recipe that calls for paneer. It’s also great melted on naan (Indian flatbread).
You can use either whole milk or 2% milk, although as with most recipes, the more fat the better, so go ahead and choose the full-fat variety. You can use any acid you like (vinegar and whey are both common). I used lemon juice and really liked the hint of lemony flavor it added.
- ½ gallon whole or 2% milk
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Put the milk in a large pot and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it just comes to a boil. Do not heat it too quickly or let it scald.
- Take the pot off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes. At this point, the curds and whey should have separated, and there will be a yellowish, watery layer (the whey) on top with the curds at the bottom.
- Line a strainer or colander with the cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl. Pour the separated milk through the strainer. You can pour out the whey or transfer it to another container to save for another purpose (some people use it in baking, smoothies, or in their next batch of paneer.) Let the curds sit in the cheesecloth in the strainer until they are cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the cheese and squeeze it gently to remove the remaining liquid. Stir in the salt.
- Pat the cheese into a flat patty, about 1½ to 2 inches thick.
- Wrap the patty in the cheesecloth and set it on a plate. A pot or another plate on top and weight it down with a large can of tomatoes or something similar. Let stand for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain off any liquid that has collected on the plate, and then unwrap the cheesecloth. Use or eat the paneer immediately, or wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Paneer can even be frozen (again, wrap it in plastic wrap and then pop it in the freezer, where it will keep for at least 3 months).