How to Make Paneer
With step-by-step instructions to guide you through making easy Homemade Paneer, you’ll be making your own cheese in no time at all!
Have you ever wondered how to make paneer at home? The process really couldn’t be easier. With just 3 ingredients, you can have your own high-quality paneer. Delicious in Indian food or a perfect substitute for queso blanco in Mexican food, the process is so much easier than you think.
Paneer is the star of the show in so many amazing Indian dishes because of its milky flavor and soft texture. Since I can’t always find store-bought paneer, I decided to perfect my own homemade paneer. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make paneer right at home! The process is actually surprisingly easy, and is so amazing to have when you can’t find store-bought paneer!
Follow along for a step-by-step on how to make the perfect homemade paneer!
What is Paneer?
Paneer is a fresh cheese that is made by curdling milk with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. It is soft in texture, but also firm. It is perfect for cooking since it doesn’t melt and keeps its shape! You can sauté or even grill paneer. It’s found in many Indian recipes and adds a creamy flavor and wonderfully soft texture to each bite!
In order to get the most cheese out of the milk, full-fat milk is best. The milk curd is separated from the liquid when it comes in contact with the acid. Then, it is pressed to create a solid piece of cheese.
Only Three Ingredients
Homemade paneer only takes three ingredients! Luckily, these ingredients are pantry staples and aren’t hard to find. Make sure to use high-quality ingredients since each ingredient’s flavor really matters here. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Whole Milk: You absolutely have to use whole milk for this paneer recipe. Make sure the milk you choose is not ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized or else it will not curdle.
- Lemon Juice: I used lemon juice in this recipe as the acid that separates the whey curdles. I think lemon juice offers a nice tangy flavor.
- Salt: You will definitely want to add some salt to this after straining the liquid out in order to develop the most flavor.
How to Make Homemade Paneer
Making paneer at home is actually very easy. Most of the time is spent waiting as the cheese is being pressed, so you can sit back and relax while it works its magic!
The first thing you will do is scald the whole milk. You want to bring the milk to a very low simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the milk doesn’t burn. Once the milk hits about 200 degrees F, you can remove it from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Cover the pot and set aside for about 10 minutes while the acid separates the whey curds from the liquid.
The magic that happens here is the milk reacts with the acid to separate the curds. This is a crazy and fun experiment to witness right at home, and it is all thanks to my favorite subject.. kitchen chemistry!
When milk comes into contact with acid like lemon juice, the pH of the milk drops. Milk proteins begin to attract one another, creating clumps of protein – known as curdles – which float to the top of the liquid. This process is sped up with the addition of heat – hence why the first step of making homemade paneer is heating the milk.
After you add the lemon juice and let the mixture sit, the whey will start to curdle and separate from the rest of the liquid. Then, you can use cheesecloth to strain the liquid from the whey curds and squeeze out any extra moisture.
Salt the cheese to taste. You can literally add the salt, knead the cheese a little, and taste to make sure you added enough salt. Without the salt, it won’t taste quite right so make sure you don’t skip that part!
Last, using the cheesecloth you can shape the curds into a rough circle or square and wrap it up tightly with the cheesecloth. Place the cheese in between two plates so that it is being weighed down slightly. The cheese will set in the fridge after 1 hour but wait up to 4-6 hours for a firmer texture!
Tips & Tricks for the Best Homemade Paneer
- Use full-fat, fresh milk! Any milk that is close to the expiration date won’t yield as good of a result. Also, check that your milk is not ultra-high temperature (UTH) pasteurized or it will not curdle.
- Want a firm paneer? Some people prefer a firmer, more set paneer. You can press the paneer longer for a firmer cheese. Check after an hour and see if the texture is to your liking. If not, keep it in the fridge under a plate for a few more hours The firmer it is, the better it will hold its shape when cooked.
- Make sure to add the acid after the milk comes to a boil! This will make the process go by faster since the milk will be hot and more likely to react to the acid quickly.
- Once pressed, paneer can be used immediately or stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Make this paneer to add to my very favorite Saag Paneer recipe! Homemade paneer has an amazingly fresh taste that you just can’t get with the store-bought stuff!
More Indian-Inspired Recipes to Try:
- Easy Homemade Saag Paneer
- Indian Spiced Lentils with Poached Eggs
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Eggplant Curry with Coconut Milk
- Coconut Braised Chickpeas with Spinach
Have you ever wondered how to make paneer at home? The process really couldn't be easier. With just 3 ingredients, you can have your own high quality paneer to make a variety of amazing Indian dishes with.
- 1/2 gallon whole milk (not UHT pasteurized)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the milk to a simmer at 200 °F, stirring occasionally, until the milk starts to foam. Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Cover the pot and set aside for 10 minutes to separate out the curds.
- Line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth. Once the curds have fully separated, pour the curds into the strainer, separating out the whey. Wrap the curds in the cheesecloth and gently squeeze to remove any excess liquid. Unwrap the curds and sprinkle the salt on top.
- Shape the curds into a rough circle or square and wrap them tightly with the cheesecloth. Place the cheesecloth on a plate, place a second plate on top of the cheesecloth, and place a heavy pan or book on the plate to weigh down the curds. Place the weighed-down curds in the refrigerator and set for at least 1 hour, preferably 4-6 hours for a firmer texture.
- Once pressed, the paneer can be used immediately or refrigerated for up to 3 days.