how to make paneer at home

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Paneer is a fresh cheese commonly used in Indian cuisine. Learn how to make soft and perfectly textured paneer at home with this easy, 2-ingredient recipe. Homemade paneer is fresh, healthy, free of preservatives and additives. It is cheaper to make paneer at home than buying it.

 

How to make paneer - Instant pot, stove top

 

ABOUT HOMEMADE PANEER

Growing up in India, I remember my mom always used to make fresh paneer at home. She used this homemade paneer in many Indian dishes like matar paneer, shahi paneer, paneer tikka masala, and one of my favorites palak paneer I loved the soft and creamy texture of paneer pieces, with some rich and creamy gravy made out of saag (spinach). A perfect blend of texture, spices, and flavors!

Paneer is quite versatile and can be used in many Indian dishes, from savory to sweet, for making curries or for grilling. Paneer is perfect for grilling as it does not melt.

Ras malai, rasagulla, paneer kheer are all desserts made with paneer. A variety of appetizers are made with paneer. Paneer pakora and paneer tikka are my favorite. There are many many ways you can use paneer, the possibilities are endless?

Pic Shown: Homemade Paneer

 

How to make paneer - Instant pot, stove top

 

WHY MAKE PANEER AT HOME

Nowadays paneer is easily available in most grocery stores. Most store-bought paneer has some kind of preservatives and additives. Homemade paneer does not have any preservatives and is fresh and full of flavors. Homemade paneer is soft and has a slightly chewy texture. The store-bought paneer is quite chewy.

Making paneer is one of the basic and most simple recipes one can make at home without any fuss. Today, I am sharing my mom’s recipe for making a perfectly textured and super soft paneer at home. To make paneer, my mom used to boil the milk first. Next, add vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk. She collected all the curdled milk solids into a cheesecloth or muslin cloth. Place some weights to press the milk solids to form a block of paneer. And here you have, soft, delicious, fresh homemade paneer to be devoured!

Traditionally, paneer is not flavored with any spices. It has a mildly milky flavor from the milk it is made from. Paneer takes the flavor of the dish it is used in.

 

How to make paneer - Instant pot, stove top

 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PANEER AND CHEESE

In comparison to cheese, paneer has fewer calories, fat, and protein content, making it a healthier alternative for those who are watching their calories.   

Paneer is made by curdling milk. Milk is curdled with an acidic substance like lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, curd(yogurt), or citric acid. Paneer is not aged or fermented like other cheeses. No Rennet is used in the making of paneer, making it purely a vegetarian cheese. 

Paneer is made in a similar way as Ricotta cheese. Paneer does not melt like other cheeses. Makes it an excellent candidate for grilling.   

5 ACIDIC FOODS USED TO MAKE PANEER

Vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice, yogurt, buttermilk, and citric acid are 5 acidic foods that can be used to curdle the milk. Depending upon the type of acidic food used to curdle the milk, the texture of the paneer will vary. I find vinegar and lemon juice give soft paneer, soft enough to form into a block of paneer. Paneer made with yogurt or buttermilk, has a very soft texture and is hard to form a firm block of paneer. This type of paneer is best used for making desserts like Ras malai, Rasgulla, Chum chum, and paneer kheer. Citric acid is usually used in the commercial making of paneer. The texture of the paneer made with citric acid is quite firm and chewy. 

VINEGAR

A soft and firm texture paneer is obtained using vinegar. Use white distilled vinegar for this recipe.

For a gallon of full-fat milk, I use around 1/4 cup of vinegar.

LEMON JUICE OR LIME JUICE

Paneer obtained by curdling milk using lemon juice has a soft, and firm texture. Similar to the one you get with vinegar. Depending upon how sour the lemons are, you may have to adjust the quantity of lemon juice.

For a gallon of milk, I use around 1/4 – 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice to obtain paneer. Lime juice works just fine in this recipe.

YOGURT OR CURD

Yogurt or curd can be used to curdle the milk. Depending upon how sour the yogurt is, the quantity of yogurt used to curdle the milk will vary.   In comparison to vinegar or lemon juice, yogurt-based paneer has a softer texture. The paneer is very soft and is hard to form into a block. This type of paneer is best used to make sweets.

BUTTERMILK

The texture of the paneer is very similar to the one obtained using yogurt. Very soft, and hard to form into a block of paneer. Best used to make sweets or sometimes I even use it to make paneer bhurji (scrambled paneer), a savory dish.

CITRIC ACID

This is used in the commercial making of paneer. You will usually find the store-bought paneer to be very firm and chewy. This type of texture can be obtained using citric acid. I don’t use this at home to make paneer as we like soft paneer. To make paneer using citric acid, you will need to dissolve the citric acid in water and use this acidic water to make paneer.

HOW TO MAKE PANEER 

Making paneer at home is a very simple process. You can make paneer at home with just 2-ingredients. Today, I will share how to make a paneer at home using Instant Pot and stovetop method. I prefer using Instant Pot to boil the milk as I don’t have to babysit it. I set the Instant Pot to boil setting, and walk away. After about 30 minutes the milk is perfectly boiled and ready to make paneer. If you don’t have Instant Pot, you can boil the milk on the stove. Stir the milk frequently to avoid milk sticking to the bottom of the pot and to prevent any spills.  The rest of the recipe is the same.

 

How to make paneer - Instant pot, stove top

 

HOW TO MAKE PANEER – INSTANT POT METHOD

Here’s a step-by-step guide to making paneer at home.

STEP 1: LINE A COLANDER WITH A CHEESECLOTH

Line a large colander with a piece of a double layer of cheesecloth and place the colander onto a large empty bowl.

Note: You can use cheesecloth or a muslin cloth.

STEP 2: BOIL THE MILK

Turn on Instant Pot on “boil” mode.

Note: Press yogurt mode twice to get boil mode.

Add 1 gallon of whole milk. Close the Instant Pot with the vent sealed.

It will take around 40 minutes to boil the milk. This is the best part you don’t have to watch milk boil, prevent any spilling, any mess whatsoever. How cool it is!!

After 40 minutes, the Instant Pot will beep. Allow 10 minutes of natural pressure release.

Carefully open the lid. Turn on the sauté mode (more).

Let the milk come to a boil. Keep stirring in-between to prevent any milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

STEP 3: ADD VINEGAR 

Allow the milk to come to a boil. Add vinegar and let the milk curdle. In just a couple of minutes, milk curdles. You will see milk solids separated from the whey which is whitish or greenish. You will see milk solids separated from the whey which is whitish or greenish. Turn OFF the Instant Pot.

Pic Shown: Step by Step process of how to make paneer

how to make paneer at home

 

Pic Shown: Paneer is formed. Milk solids and whey separated.

 

How to make paneer - Instant pot, stove top

 

STEP 4: STRAIN THE MILK SOLIDS 

Immediately pour the contents into the colander lined with cheesecloth to strain the whey out.

STEP 5: RINSE THE PANEER

Carefully lift the colander and rinse it under cold water to remove any smell from the vinegar.

STEP 6: PRESS THE PANEER

Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist them to form a ball. Twist the cheesecloth to remove any extra liquid.

Place the cheese ball on a plate with a twisted part of the cheesecloth on the side (this assures a nice and smooth block of cheese). Place a second plate on top of the paneer. Add some weight to the second plate to set the paneer. I normally keep weight equivalent to a gallon (an empty jar of milk filled with water, an oil container, or cans filled with beans).

After 30 minutes. check if the paneer is set. A soft, firm block of paneer will be formed. If required add a few more minutes. for paneer to set. And here you have the freshest cheese – homemade paneer ready to be devoured!!

Note: Paneer will harden upon refrigeration.

Pic Shown: Step by step process of how to make paneer

 

how to make paneer at home

 

Pic Shown: Homemade Paneer 

 

How to make paneer - Instant pot, stove top

 

Cut the paneer into desired pieces and use it in your favorite dish. Enjoy!!

HOW TO MAKE PANEER – STOVETOP METHOD

In a heavy bottom pot, on high heat, add milk and bring it to a boil. Keep stirring in-between to prevent any milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The rest of the recipe is the same as Instant Pot.

Pic Shown: Homemade Paneer

 

How to make paneer - Instant pot, stove top

 

TIPS FOR SOFT HOMEMADE PANEER

USE FULL-FAT MILK

The fat content in the milk plays a very important role in the quality of the paneer. I prefer full-fat or whole milk for homemade paneer. Make sure the milk has a good shelf life.

LEMON JUICE vs VINEGAR

You can use any acidic food to make paneer. Lemon juice, vinegar, curd(yogurt), or citric acid. Depending upon what acidic food is used to coagulate milk, the texture of the paneer will vary. The yogurt-based paneer is more soft and less firm in texture.

The ratio of 1 gallon of milk to 1/4 cup of vinegar has worked for me like a charm. I always get perfect textured, soft paneer. Make sure to use good quality vinegar. I prefer distilled white vinegar.

BOIL THE MILK PROPERLY

Do not add vinegar to a warm milk. Add vinegar after boiling the milk completely. After adding the vinegar, gently stir the milk to curdle the milk.

DO NOT OVERCOOK THE MILK SOLIDS

Do not overcook the curdled milk. Strain the curdled milk immediately. Overcooking the milk solids will result in hard and crumbly paneer.

SOAK PANEER IN WARM WATER

The paneer firms up after being refrigerated. For soft paneer, soak the pieces in warm water for few minutes.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

HOW LONG TO PRESS THE PANEER

It takes around 30 minutes for the paneer to set. Depending upon the moisture in the milk solids the time will vary. If required keep the paneer to set for a little longer (max. up to an hour).

CAN I USE REDUCED-FAT MILK

You can use reduced-fat milk to make paneer. The amount of paneer you get depends upon the fat content in the milk. The higher the fat content, the more paneer is collected. 

Do not use toned or skimmed milk to make paneer. You need fat content in the milk to make paneer.

CAN I HALF THE RECIPE

Simply reduce the ingredients to half, and follow the same procedure for making the paneer.

DON’T HAVE YOGURT MODE ON INSTANT POT

Use sauté mode to boil the milk. Stir the milk to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  

CAN I USE LEMON JUICE

To make paneer you can use lemon juice or vinegar, both work fine. The quantity of lemon juice depends upon how tangy the lemons are. As needed, add lemon juice to separate the milk solids.    

WHY DOES PANEER CRUMBLE

If there is too much moisture left, the paneer will not set properly and will crumble. Leave the weights on a little longer, to remove any extra moisture. Refrigerate the paneer it will firm up nicely.  

CAN I FLAVOR PANEER

You can flavor the paneer as per your taste. Add the seasoning of your choice after the milk has curdled.   

HOW TO STORE PANEER

Paneer stays fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator. Paneer does tend to be a little hard upon refrigeration. To use the paneer pieces in your favorite dish, place them in warm water.   

CAN I FREEZE PANEER

Paneer freezes well too. Paneer stays good for a couple of months in the freezer. Defrost the paneer in the refrigerator overnight and use it.

HOW TO USE WHEY 

Whey is the white or greenish-colored liquid left after making the paneer. This whey is rich in nutrients value. Think of whey as a vegetable broth.

You can use the whey pretty much in the recipe that calls for water or broth. Possibilities are endless. Use the whey cautiously as it will taste slightly sour.

Whey stays good in refrigerator for up to a week. Store it in an air-tight glass container and use it as desired.

SOME OF THE WAYS I USE THE WHEY ARE

Use this nutrient-rich whey to knead the dough for bread, roti, paratha, naan.

Substitute whey in place of water or broth in the recipe. I use it to make gravy or curry and replace water with whey.

Use this whey to cook pasta, rice, smoothies, or soups. In baking. use it to make bread dough or cookie dough.  

Whey is an excellent source of nutrients for your plants. Give a boost to your plants by adding whey mixed with some water. 

Pic Shown: Whey from the paneer

WAYS TO USE PANEER

I use paneer in some of our favorite dishes – PALAK PANEER(spinach paneer), Matar paneer, shahi paneer, paneer tikka masala.

Pic Shown: Instant Pot PALAK PANEER

 

Palak Paneer

 

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How to make Paneer - Instant Pot, Stove Top

Jyoti Behrani
Making paneer at home is quite simple and with just TWO ingredients you can make soft and perfectly textured paneer each time at home!!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Appetizer, entrees, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 24 oz approx.

Ingredients
  

Other essentials:

  • piece of CHEESECLOTH / muslin cloth
  • large colander
  • large mixing bowl

Instructions
 

HOW TO MAKE PANEER – INSTANT POT METHOD

    STEP 1: LINE A COLANDER WITH A CHEESECLOTH

    • Line a large colander with a piece of a double layer of cheesecloth and place the colander onto a large empty bowl.
      Note: You can use cheesecloth or a muslin cloth.

    STEP 2: BOIL THE MILK

    • Press YOGURT twice to get the BOIL setting.
    • Add 1 gallon of full-fat (whole) milk. Close the lid with the vent sealed.
    • When the program is done, allow 10 minutes of natural pressure release.
      Note: It takes around 40 minutes to boil the milk in Instant Pot.
    • Carefully open the lid. Select SAUTE – HIGH.
    • Let the milk come to a boil, for around 10 minutes. Keep stirring in-between to prevent any milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

    STEP 3: ADD VINEGAR 

    • Allow the milk to come to a boil. Add vinegar, mix gently. Milk starts to curdle immediately, as soon as the white milk solids and whey (greenish liquid) separate. Cancel SAUTE.

    STEP 4: STRAIN THE MILK SOLIDS 

    • Immediately pour the contents into the colander lined with cheesecloth to strain the whey out.

    STEP 5: RINSE THE PANEER

    • Carefully lift the colander and rinse it under cold water to remove any smell from the vinegar.

    STEP 6: PRESS THE PANEER

    • Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist them to form a ball. Twist the cheesecloth to remove any extra liquid.
    • Place the cheese ball on a plate with a twisted part of the cheesecloth on the side (this assures a nice and smooth block of cheese). Place a second plate on top of the paneer. Add some weight to the second plate to set the paneer. I normally keep weight equivalent to a gallon (an empty jar of milk filled with water, an oil container, or cans filled with beans).
    • After 30 minutes. check if the paneer is set. A soft, firm block of paneer will be formed. If required add a few more minutes. for paneer to set.
      Note: Paneer will harden upon refrigeration.
    • Cut the paneer into desired pieces and use it in your favorite dish. Enjoy!!

    HOW TO MAKE PANEER – STOVETOP METHOD

    • In a heavy bottom pot, on high heat, add milk and bring it to a boil. Keep stirring in-between to prevent any milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The rest of the recipe is the same as Instant Pot.

    Notes

    WAYS TO USE PANEER
    I use paneer in some of our favorite dishes – PALAK PANEER(spinach paneer), matar paneer, shahi paneer, paneer tikka masala.
    Please refer to the post for the following:
    1. TIPS FOR SOFT HOMEMADE PANEER
    2. HOW TO USE WHEY 
    3. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
    Keyword how to make paneer, how to make paneer at home, how to make paneer from milk, how to make paneer soft, how to make paneer with lemon, instant pot paneer, paneer, paneer cheese, paneer indian cottage cheese, paneer recipe, soft paneer

     

    homemade paneer

    Jyoti Behrani

    Hello!! Welcome to my blog, my journey Living Smart and Healthy! Cook with me easy and authentic Indian food and around the globe. Will be sharing tips and tricks on easy authentic cooking, without spending hours in the kitchen or comprising on authentic flavors. Keeping things simple and healthy is what I am all about. Life is simple, so lets keep cooking simple too!!

    This Post Has 26 Comments

    1. Geetu

      What size if insta pot you are using while boiling 1 gallon milk? I have 6qt duo, and just want to be sure that I can boil 1gallon milk at one time in it.
      Thanks

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Hi, The maximum amount of food you can pressure cook in a 6 quart Instant Pot is 4 quarts. A gallon of milk is equivalent to 4 quarts. You can easily fit one gallon of milk in a 6 quart Instant Pot. If you go for the 8 quart Instant Pot, the capacity to pressure cook is 5 1/3 quarts. Hope this helps. Thanks!

    2. Patricia

      Question: can I convert this recipe for only a 1/2 gallon of milk rather than 1 gallon of milk? Would the boil time be reduced, accordingly? Thanks for any advice you can give on this….

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Hi Patricia, Yes, you can use 1/2 gallon of milk for this recipe. Reduce the quantity of vinegar to half as well. For Instant Pot, just follow the same recipe as discussed. If using a stove top, bring the milk to a boil, and than follow the recipe. Hope this helps. Thanks!

    3. Katie

      5 stars
      I made this paneer this afternoon, because I live in a rural area, and I can’t buy paneer. It’s for a recipe I want to try. I followed the recipe exactly, and it tastes delicious. However, my paneer is much more crumbly than what’s shown in the above pictures. It did cut into cubes, but it wants to fall apart. Any words of advice? Thanks for posting this recipe!

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Hi Katie, If paneer crumbles once it is formed into a block, it is due to moisture / liquid in it. It means it still needs to set. I would suggest to keep the weights for a longer time. Once the paneer is set nicely, it will not crumble. Hope this helps. Thanks!

    4. Sonu

      Hi Jyoti- live your recipes. Thank you. My paneer never comes out in beautiful pieces like yours. The cheese ball always forms cracks and hence it crumbles. What could I be doing wrong? I had used 2% milk. Thanks.

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Hi Sonu, If paneer crumbles, it means there still some moisture left. You can leave the weights on little longer, and see if it helps. Also, you can refrigerate paneer for few hours or overnight, this will also help firm up paneer. Hope this helps.Thanks!

    5. Anne

      Can I add salt or other seasoning to this recipe to add more flavor to the paneer?

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Hi Anne, Yes, you can add flavoring to your taste. However, I would suggest adding the seasoning after the milk has curdled, before you compress it to a block of cheese. Thanks!

    6. Pearl

      Would you use the same ratio of lemon juice as the vinegar?

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Hi Pearl, It depends on how tangy the lemons are. I would start with half the quantity of lemon juice, and then add gradually as needed, until the milk solids separate. Hope this helps. Thanks

    7. Dawn Adams

      5 stars
      So excited. I have enjoyed learning to make Indian cuisine and during this time of pandemic have explored new recipes. The milk is in the IP right now! Thank you for a very well written recipe.

      1. Dawn Adams

        5 stars
        I must have left a bit too much moisture in the cheese product—it’s not setting that great. Chalk it up to learning. I’ll let sit a while longer and then refrigerate. Will use it crumbly if necessary!!

        1. Jyoti Behrani

          You can leave the weights little longer. Paneer will also firm up once refrigerated. Thank you for trying my recipe and for your feedback!

          1. Dawn Adams

            So, after 1 hour of setting I decided to remove the paneer from the wet towel and set it in a dry towel. I wrung it tight again and set it between the plates with the weight on top. After 30 minutes I put it in the fridge. Today it is set and looks like yours in the picture. I’m in heaven. I plan to make the spinach dish you recommend and have to wait until amazon delivers for the Asafetida….. thanks again.

            1. Jyoti Behrani

              Awesome! I am so glad that the Paneer turned out well. Thanks!

    8. Sumi

      5 stars
      Made it with stove top, perfect paneer. thanks 🙂

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Awesome! I am so glad you liked my recipe. Thanks for sharing your feedback!

    9. Andrea Cunningham

      Hi, I tried making Paneer (not this recipe) and it failed. Someone suggested my milk was the problem as it was ultra pasteurized.

      Your recipe doesn’t mention avoiding pasteurized milk. I’d like to try again but wanted to ask about the milk before I did. Thanks

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Hi, I use regular full fat milk and recipe works just fine. I have not tried making paneer with ultra pasteurized milk. So, when you made paneer with ultra pasteurized milk, did the paneer not set into a block, was it crumbly?

    10. Akhila

      5 stars
      I made Paneer today using instant pot following your recipe.. It was amazing.. It was easy and the best paneer I have made.. Thank you for the recipe..

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Awesome! I am so glad you liked my recipe 🙂 Thank you for sharing your feedback!

    11. Lori Anne Haskell

      5 stars
      I made this as I cannot buy paneer in costa rica, where I live.

      I halved the recipe. I used lemon juice as I was out of white vinegar. I ended up having to use double the amount of lemon juice to get it to curdle properly.

      Once I drained and squeezed, I decided to put it in my tofu press. It turned out perfectly. Nof crumbly at all.

      I am so stoked. Made it tonight in paneer Tikka Masala. It was amazing. Thanks so much.

      1. Jyoti Behrani

        Awesome! Paneer Tikka masala with homemade paneer sounds delicious. I am so glad you liked my recipe 🙂 Thanks for sharing your feedback!

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