How to make Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese)

Homemade Paneer

Next month it will be one year since Indian Simmer came into existence and in this short span of time, I am so blessed to have touched so many people and their lives in some way. It sometimes surprises me when I think of how appreciative everyone has been of what I’m doing here and I get overwhelmed when I read your emails and messages. Sometimes with a kind word of appreciation, sometimes with a critique and sometimes with a request. Recently one such request came from @everynothing (her real name is Tricia, just so you know!) and she requested that I share my recipe for Matar Paneer. And being a lazy bum that I am, I mulled over it for quite a while. Finally, I picked it up yesterday. As soon as I started working on it, I knew that I have to make paneer at home – because I know what store bought tastes like! I had attempted this a few times before and every time it had turned out “not so pretty”. My search for the paneer holy grail took me to Radhika’s blog where she had shared her own method. I tried it and that was the first time my paneer tasted like “paneer”.

Making Paneer

For those who are not familiar with paneer, it is a type of cheese very common in Indian cuisine and is a good source of protein. But unlike most of the cheeses it doesn’t need rennet for coagulation. Instead, a form of food acid is added to hot milk which helps in the curdling process. The common food acids used are lemon, vinegar or yogurt. The curdled milk is then collected in a cheese cloth, hanged for sometime for all the excess water to drip out and then also pressed under weight for a few hours to squeeze the remaining water out (this also gives a firm shape to paneer). This might sound like a lengthy process, but it is so worth it! Now, making paneer at home is not exactly rocket science but there are a few subtle things/tips that I’ve realized can make or break the deal. So let me list them real quick before sharing the actual recipe.

Deal breaker tips in the process of making paneer at home:

  1. Try stirring the milk with a plastic spatula while heating it. Stirring will prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom. But if some milk still sticks to the bottom and burns, a plastic spatula will not scratch the bottom and spoil the whole milk.
  2. Stop the cooking process as soon as the milk curdles. I add ice to the milk. This way your paneer won’t come out rubbery.
  3. Don’t hang your paneer for too long. Take it off as soon as water stops dripping.
  4. The fat % in the milk doesn’t really change the way it tastes, the type of acid used DOES. But the taste variance is so minute that I can’t really tell a difference.

Homemade Paneer


1/2 a gallon of milk (equals 1.8 liters)
3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

You will also need:
3-4 cups of ice
Cheese cloth


Boil milk in a thick bottom pan. Stir it from time to time to keep it from sticking at the bottom.
Once the milk is boiling, turn off the heat and add lemon juice while stirring it continuously.
It will take just a few seconds for the milk to curdle and that’s exactly the time you have to stop the cooking process, so add ice to the pot.
Let it sit for about a minute and then strain it through strainer lined with cheese cloth. Once again wash the collected cheese with cold tap water (this helps wash that extra lemony flavor).
Take all the sides of the cheese cloth and tie them together. Hang it somewhere to let the extra liquid drip off (place an empty bowl below it for the liquid to collect).
Once the liquid (or whey) stops dripping, take out the cheese and make a big ball of it. Wrap again with the cheese cloth. To press the cheese and give it a shape, place it over a chopping board and put a heavy pan or pot over it. (I usually use my wrought iron pan and to add more weight I put a few cans of beans on top of it).
Let it sit for an hour or so.
In an hour you’ll have your homemade paneer which you can use to make all kinds of things. I made Matar Paneer with mine!


  1. […] Paneer can be found in the supermarket cheese section. Homemade paneer can also be found in the chilled section of most Indian grocery stores. I use the Amul brand when I can’t find fresh paneer. It is a frozen pack of paneer cubes. The non-frozen fresh paneer I like to use is usually a large firm packaged slab that I can cut into cubes of desired sizes. When I am not so pressed for time, I like to make my own paneer at home. It is extremely simple and not very daunting. Prerna from Indian Simmer recently posted a process for making paneer at home. […]

  2. I too make paneer just like you but rinse the milk solids under water before putting a weight on it. I noticed that you didn’t do that. I am wondering if paneer sets better if you don’t wash the milk solids?
    BTW- Great pictures and lovely blog.

  3. Hello,
    We love your recipes, especially when its on Paneer.
    These are so delicious.
    I have always looked at your blog for the various pictures and the way you write.Just Love it!
    You have shared some nice information about to make Paneer in this post.
    The points you mentioned are genuine and perfect.
    The content completely describes about the topic you wanted to portray with us.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable post.

    VentairIndia Team

  4. In the US we call this “Farmer’s Cheese.” For those people who are lactos intolerant,use RAW goat/cow milk and you wont have any problems. Thanks for the tip about the ice and your pics are beautiful.

  5. thanks for the step by step!
    i just had one question – placing the weight doesnt make it hard or rubbery? whenever i do that at home, the paneer turns out hard. and if i just let it hand in the cheesecloth, its more crumbly but nice and soft!
    ive never added the ice before. so maybe thats the difference?


  6. For years I’ve been making paneer (I haven’t yet found a shop that sells it in Holland), but I never cooled the cheese down with ice. So yesterday I tried it and I had the softest and yummiest paneer ever. It took great self control not to eat it all, but to keep some cubes for my matar paneer!

  7. Wohoo! I am glad it turned out good Pragati πŸ™‚
    From the leftover whey you can either use it in making daal, knead your dough for bread from that and rotis and paratha will turn out to be softer than you would have ver eater, make rice with it or pulao. Whey is very high in protien so very good for kids.

  8. So I tried making panner for the first time in my life using this recipe. It turned out fantastic!! I was a surprise to realize 1/2 a gallon of milk makes so little panner. Any ideas on what to do with leftover water?

  9. I used to think making paneer at home was a next to impossible task. Seeing this makes me confident I can do it. Thanks for sharing!

  10. After spending 16 days in November in northern India, I am so happy to see this recipe! I fell in love with the food and even took a cooking class while I was there. I plan to go back and read your older posts now!
    So happy to have found you!

  11. I’ve just celebrated my first blog – anniversary and it really was a lovely day. I had some very kind comments including some that said ‘can’t believe you’ve only been posting for a year’. Well that’s what I’m saying right back to you – what a wonderful achievement …keep on doing what you’re doing so well.

  12. I come across so many great recipes starring paneer but I know I cannot get it where I live so this is perfect! I am kind of afraid of making cheese but I really want to try paneer! Great recipe!

  13. You are amazing and that is all there is to it. I love my cheese cloth, always use it to make my greek yogurt extra, extra thick! Homemade paneer needs to happen over here. Gorgeous pics!

  14. That`s it??? Milk, lemon, and ice?? Now I don`t have any reason not to make this. So excited here! By the way, how long can we keep the paneer?

  15. I have been making Paneer for about a year now! This is a very typical recipe for making it. For some variety, try adding some chopped chives or some Indian spice to the milk just as it starts to curdle.

  16. I always make my one ricotta, and this looks very similar. I had paneer in restaurants, but have never bought it at the store.
    Definitely worth a try:)

  17. I so agree that nothing can beat homemade paneer. I find it really easy to prepare at home. I always gobble down some chunks of fresh paneer. πŸ™‚

    what do you do with residue/whey water? You might know that it’s equally healthy and can be used in chapati dough, daal or anywhere in cooking. I store the leftover whey in refrigerator and use as needed. These are my suggestion though. πŸ™‚

  18. Prema, this recipe is very similar to a home-cooking version of ricotta. True ricotta is made from whey leftover from the making of other cheeses. But you can approximate it by heating milk with lemon juice (or vinegar or buttermilk). The only difference is that you don’t press the curds afterwards. This looks delicious, by the way.

  19. Yes! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this post, Prerna :). I was using lemon and lime juice before and let it stay hot for a while after curdling, so I’ll definitely have to try again with this method. Thanks!

  20. I’m making this TODAY! I’m so excited – it’s true, real paneer can’t be beat and store bought just isn’t it. Thank you so much Prerna!

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