Homemade paneer recipe – How to make soft paneer at home

Paneer is a fresh cheese which is a very common ingredient in the Indian cuisine.  It is made  by curdling milk with a fruit or vegetable acid like lemon juice, vinegar or curd. It is then pressed with a heavy weight to set and then cut into pieces. Making paneer at home is a lot more easy and also it is free from preservatives and additives which are not good for health at all.  Also the paneer is more fresh and tastes much better than the store bought ones.  The whey water which is left after making the paneer is rich in nutrients.  Hence do not discard the whey water.  It can be used for making the dough for chapatis, fruit smoothies or in any gravy or curry.

In this recipe I have used lemon juice to curdle the milk.  Since the lemon juice gives a lemony flavor, the chenna has to rinsed well.  Now for the recipe..

Prep Time : 10 mins

Cook Time : 20  mins

Yield :  200 gms of paneer

Indian cuisine


Full fat or full cream milk – 1 litre

Lemon juice – 4 teaspoons

Muslin cloth or a thin cotton napkin

A heavy weight to set the paneer


Take a clean vessel and add 4 to 5 tablespoons of water to it.  Then add the the milk and allow it to boil.  Keep the flame on a low to medium flame.  (Adding water first, does not allow the milk to get stuck at the bottom or get burnt.)

Meanwhile, take a vessel or pan and place the strainer over the vessel.  Line the strainer with a clean muslin cloth or cotton napkin.

Keep the lemon juice ready in a small cup.  Boil the milk on a low to medium flame. Let the milk come to a full boil.

Once the milk comes to a full boil and starts rising, lower the flame and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice first and mix it well.  Then add another 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and stir well.

Finally add the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and mix well.   The milk will start to curdle by now.  The milk has to curdle completely.  If not, add another 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice and stir.  You can see the greenish colored whey in the milk and chenna getting separated from the milk.  Switch off the flame immediately.  Do not overboil once the milk has curdled.  Else the paneer tends to become chewy and hard.

Pour the entire mixture in the strainer lined with the thin cloth.  Gather the edges of the cloth together to strain off the excess water from the mixture.

Now open the muslin cloth and gently spread the mixture.  Pour some fresh cold water over the spread paneer mixture.  This will remove the smell of the lemon.  And cold water helps stop it from getting cooked further.

Gather the edges of the muslin cloth once again tightly or with a rubber band.  Wring the muslin cloth gently to discard the excess whey and place it on a plate or tray.  Keep a heavy weight (approx. 500 gms) over it for 30 minutes.  Some more whey water will be drained from the paneer mixture.

Any heavy object can be kept to set the paneer.  Collect the whey water and keep it aside.

This whey water is full of rich nutrients and can be used in various other recipes.  After 30 minutes, open the muslin cloth and you will get a soft and firmer block of paneer.

If you are using it immediately,  cut the paneer block into small equal pieces.  Otherwise, if planning to use it later, keep the block of paneer immersed in water in an airtight container.  It stays good for 2-3 days when refrigerated.

Soft and homemade paneer pieces are now ready to be used for any paneer dishes.


Always use full fat or full cream milk for making paneer.  Avoid using skimmed milk and low fat milk as it gives less paneer.

Buffalo milk has got lot of fat and hence ideal for making paneer. Only ensure that the milk is stirred continuously while boiling, as the fats gets stuck to the bottom.

Add acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar or curd, only after the milk comes to a full boil. 

Check if the milk has curdled, otherwise add another few drops of acid ingredient till it gets curdled completely.   Once the milk has curdled completely, immediately switch off the flame.  Do not overboil as the paneer tends to get hard and chewy.

Always add the acid ingredient little by little in batches and stirring continuously, till the milk is curdled completely.  Do not add the acid ingredient at one go or all at once.

Do not keep the weight over the paneer for more than 30 minutes.  Otherwise it becomes more hard and you will not get soft paneer.  

If you are not using the paneer immediately for cooking purpose, you can immerse them in water in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for later use.  This way the paneer stays soft for 2-3 days.

The green coloured whey water which is left after making paneer is full of rich nutrients.  It can be used in a variety of recipes.  You can a use to knead the dough for making chapatis or add to a curd based recipe or just have it plain.



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