Instant Pot Paneer

With two ingredients make your own homemade paneer in an Instant pot easily! This versatile ingredient can be used in so many popular Indian dishes. 
Paneer cubes made in Instant Pot.
  • Vegetarian, Gluten-free
  • Simple ingredients (only 2 needed)
  • Few minutes of active time
  • Easy recipe gives you fresh homemade paneer cheese

About Paneer

Paneer is a type of cheese used very often in Indian cooking, primarily North Indian dishes and found in some of the most popular dishes in Indian restaurants.  If you haven’t had paneer before it is often referred to as Indian cottage cheese, but it is a more versatile ingredient than cottage cheese.

It’s made traditionally by curdling full-fat milk with lemon juice or vinegar on stove top. In this method you have to keep a close eye on the milk and it takes some time. Best part of making paneer in an Instant Pot is that it saves you time.

  Some great things about paneer:

  • Does not melt the way other cheese do. 
  • Retains form and texture, it can be grilled and used in cube form
  • Absorbs flavor well, making it versatile  
Paneer block on a blue plate.

Testing Ways To Make Paneer in Instant Pot

I have tested 3 different ways to make paneer in Instant Pot.  I have used whole milk, half and half (half fresh cream, half milk) and heavy cream. Note, I only used organic varieties, with no added preservatives or junk for this Instant Pot recipe. 

All three options work, but as the amount of fat increases in the dairy used, the softer and creamier the paneer gets.

I have also tested the amount of time and tried to find the least amount of time needed.

Ingredients

Instant pot paneer ingredients.

Organic Half and half or whole milk – Per my notes above, half and half produced the best consistency of paneer that wasn’t too crumbly or too soft.  Half and half is made of half milk and half cream. 

You can optionally use whole milk or heavy cream.  Whole milk may be slightly crumbly, but it still works well.  Heavy cream produces very soft cheese that is hard to grill and may fall apart more easily.

Tips on whole milk: Do not use skim or fat-free milk. Try to use a good, clean brand of milk that does not have added ingredients such as carrageenan.

Vinegar – While you can use lemon juice here, I recommend vinegar because the consistency of the acid is greater than lemons.  This means you can get better consistent results. 

The acidity of lemons vary, so I can’t tell you an exact amount that works.  My guess is in most cases a similar amount of lemon juice will work.

How To Make Paneer in Instant Pot

It is so easy to make homemade paneer in an Instant Pot!

Simple add the half and half (or whole milk or heavy cream) to the inner pot.  Add vinegar and mix. Close the Instant Pot lid and secure the lid in its sealing position.   

Press high pressure cook and cook for two minutes.  Once done, hit cancel and do Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes.  Then do Manual Pressure Release (Quick Release) to let any remaining pressure out by pressing down on the pressure valve.

Note: Leaving the paneer in for too long may result in a little sticking to the bottom of the pot, so keep a timer handy.

 When you open the Instant Pot, you will see the dairy has separated from the whey.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out or pour into a colander with a cheese cloth to strain. 

Give a quick rinse with water.  Then, make a ball by folding up the cheese cloth around the milk solids.  Give 1 or 2 squeezes to help some of the excess water come out.  (Don’t squeeze too much)

Place the paneer into a colander and put a weight on it.  I use a small circle piece of marble I have and place a hand weight on it. 

In about 4-5 hours (can leave it overnight in cool temperatures) the paneer block will be ready.  You can cut it into paneer cubes. It is easiest to cut it at room temperature.

Tips:

Tip: Don’t squeeze too hard else the paneer will become dry and crumbly.  It needs some of the moisture to help it form into a block.

Tips: If you do not use a heavy enough weight, the paneer will be crumbly.

Tip: I like to use an extra cheese cloth to cover the area where pressure is released when I do manual pressure release.  This prevents any milk/water from spraying about the kitchen.

Tips on whole milk: Do not use skim or fat-free milk. Try to use a good, clean brand of milk that does not have added ingredients such as carrageenan. I only used organic brands.

Tip: You can add a pinch of salt or other spices to the paneer before setting a weight on it

Handy Tools

Instant Pot paneer can’t be made without an Instant Pot!

Fine mesh colander

Cheesecloth

Some type of heavy weight to press down on the paneer – If you do not use a heavy enough weight, the paneer will be crumbly.

Optional:  You can use a tofu press or a container like this to shape your block of paneer.  My preference is to keep it simple and use the outlined method of a cheesecloth and a weight.

Paneer in a cheese cloth being squeezed.

Homemade Paneer vs Store Bought Paneer

  • Fresh Homemade Paneer (Indian Cheese)
    • Fresh cheese can’t be beat and to make paneer you just need curdled milk using an acid. Post coming soon and will be linked here.
  • Store bought paneer
    • This works too, but sometimes it is hardened so it is not as easy to crumble. To soften store bought paneer, just soak the paneer in hot water for about 15 minutes.
    • Note: Ready made paneer blocks can be found at any local Indian grocery stores.  It is a common ingredient.
Paneer block in a cheesecloth.

How to use paneer

There are SO many dishes this can be used for, let me break a few examples down for you:

Traditional Dishes:    Most popular dishes that probably come to mind are the heavy North Indian dishes such as butter paneer masala.  Other options are matar paneer (green peas and paneer) or a healthier, lighter Paneer Sabzi.

Crumbled paneer can also be used to make Paneer Bhurji. You can also make paneer fried rice.

Grilled Paneer Dish:

 Paneer tikka is a VERY popular Indian appetizer and so delicious served with cilantro chutney.

 Garlic basil paneer is another creative use.

Fusion Dishes: 

Tandoori paneer tikka tacos is a fun way to get an Indian Mexican fusion dish.

Chili Paneer Noodles is a popular recipe on my blog and is an Indo-Chinese fusion dish.

Storing Paneer Cubes

Paneer is best used within two to three days of being made. 

You can also freeze it once cut into cubes in an airtight container.  My suggestion is to use it within 3-4 months.

Paneer cubes made in Instant Pot.

Easy Homemade Instant Pot Paneer

Shilpa Joshi
With two ingredients make your own homemade paneer in an Instant pot easily! This versatile ingredient can be used in so many popular Indian dishes. 
5 from 4 votes
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 people
Calories 212 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Instant Pot
  • 1 cheesecloth
  • 1 heavy weight
  • 1 fine mesh colander

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups half and half or whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Add the half and half (or whole milk or heavy cream) to the inner pot.  Add vinegar and mix. Close the Instant Pot lid and secure the lid in its sealing position.   
  • Press high pressure cook and cook for two minutes.  Once done, hit cancel and do Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes.  Then do Manual Pressure Release (Quick Release) to let any remaining pressure out by pressing down on the pressure valve.
    Note: Leaving the paneer in for too long may result in a little sticking to the bottom of the pot, so keep a timer handy.
  •  When you open the Instant Pot, you will see the dairy has separated from the whey.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out or pour into a colander with a cheese cloth to strain. 
  • Give a quick rinse with water.  Then, make a ball by folding up the cheesecloth around the milk solids.  Give 1 or 2 squeezes to help some of the excess water come out.  (Don’t squeeze too much)
  • Place the paneer into a colander and put a weight on it. 
  • In about 4-5 hours (can leave it overnight in cool temperatures) the paneer block will be ready. You can cut it into paneer cubes. It is easiest to cut it at room temperature.

Notes

Tips
Tips:If you do not use a heavy enough weight, the paneer will be crumbly.
Tip: Don’t squeeze too hard else the paneer will become dry and crumbly.  It needs some of the moisture to help it form into a block.
Tip: I like to use an extra cheese cloth to cover the area where pressure is released when I do manual pressure release.  This prevents any milk/water from spraying about the kitchen.
Tips on whole milk: Do not use skim or fat-free milk. Try to use a good, clean brand of milk that does not have added ingredients such as carrageenan. I only used organic brands.
Tip: You can add a pinch of salt or other spices to the paneer before setting a weight on it.
Storing Paneer Cubes
Paneer is best used within two to three days of being made. 
You can also freeze it once cut into cubes in an airtight container.  My suggestion is to use it within 3-4 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 212kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 5gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 98mgPotassium: 213mgSugar: 7gVitamin A: 571IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 173mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword easy homemade paneer, instant pot paneer, paneer made in instant pot
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