Recently I've taken a liking to Indian cuisine and am trying to replicate the curry experience at home. The biggest problem I'm having is with the paneer cheese, which is used in curries I like the most.

When I eat out at an Indian restaurant, their paneer is firm, squishy and kind of 'squeaky' on the teeth. The one I make is always crumbly and falls apart in the curry. I've tried all kinds of recipes from the net; at one point I even asked a friendly Indian chef about it and he told me that they buy the milk directly from a farmer, and that the low-fat, UHT shop variety just won't do.

I tried reinforcing 2% milk with cream before as per the advice of one recipe or other, but not "country-milk" so I got some milk from a friend who keeps cows and the result wasn't much better. The cheese still won't stick together and keeps falling apart, you just can't feel the chewy, curry-flavored bits of paneer at all, so it's pretty useless to even bother with it. Help please?

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    It's the same problem with poutine here in Canada; most people (including restaurants) just can't get the cheese curds right, they're supposed to squeak on the teeth. I don't really have any experience with paneer, but generally the squeak is an issue of freshness more than anything else.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 22:36
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    What is funny is that virtually every Indian cookbook I own has just a short passage on the topic. One said and I quote: 'This cheese is very easy to prepare'. Arrrgh! Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 19:22
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    When my mother makes paneer at home, or any of my Aunts in India, the texture is a bit more solid in consistency than cottage cheese. This leads me to believe that the factory made paneer and homemade paneer go through different processes. My mother everyone I know in India uses cow's milk to make paneer, I don't know if the usage of cow's milk is traditional or a modern thing though. I can't offer an answer, but my parents buy whole milk specifically for paneer (we use 2% for everything else in our lives). It turns out better if the milk is spoiled (it may sound bad, but it's going to be cook
    – Nil
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 5:03
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    @Nil: Surely you must mean "soured", not "spoiled"? ;) Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:33
  • @neuviemeporte sure, We never make a distinction in our house. If it's near the expiration date and has a notable change in taste and/or smell, then it's used for paneer. Milk doesn't really sit in out fridge too long to really go spoiled.
    – Nil
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 18:10

16 Answers 16


If you are using UHT milk, that is your answer right there. It won't make proper ricotta or mozzarella, so I'm not surprised it won't make good paneer either. Something about the heat treatment makes it so that it will only produce grainy, tiny curds. I made this mistake myself once, in my excitement to try my new cheesemaking kit. Here is some reference info, including pictures, from cheesemaking.com.

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    As I didn't fail to mention, I tried natural milk as well but no difference there. Interestingly, the results I get look exactly like the "fail" section at the website you provided. I must ask my friend if the milk was heat-treated in any way before he gave it to me. Also, I kept it in a fridge a couple of days before curdling, I'm wondering if it could have an influence. Also, now I'm wondering: what is the difference between paneer and mozarella? Commented Dec 21, 2010 at 1:57
  • @SripathiKrishnan UHT milk will never result in "not-so-good" paneer because it is impossible to make paneer from UHT milk. Cows milk makes excellent paneer, this claim that you panner is only made from buffalo milk in India, or that you need to use buffalo milk to make good paneer is honestly absurd.
    – hal
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 19:48
  • @HalCarleton - thank you for the correction, I have deleted my comment. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 5:40
  • @HalCarleton how very odd, considering I've made paneer from UHT milk a zillion times. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 23:00

Like all cheeses, to make it firm you need pressure. With Paneer you typically press it in your cloth and colander (make sure it's strong enough)

Paneer cheese needs 10:1 ratio of full cream milk to lemon juice (depends on lemon variety) to fully curdle

For 1 litre or milk full cream milk, try a 2Kg weight for the first 15 to 30 minutes, Then load up to 5Kg for a few hours


I'm giving you slightly contrarian advice axed on typical indian household recipe. A) if I understand right your main problem is that the paneer crumbles in your curry. B) unlike Indian restaurants in western countries, paneer which is tough and squeaks between teeth is not considered right! Paneer should be soft but firm and hold together. Follow my sister's recipe below. I use it and has never failed. C) apart from ingredients, having right tools is important. In this case you'll need a muslin cloth to hang your paneer.

Ingredients: use full fat / whole milk, slightly old yogurt beaten smooth (not Greek yogurt- plain danone yogurt) and very little citric acid.

Method: bring milk to a boil and set burner on simmer. Add a pinch of salt to the milk. Start stirring the milk. While stirring, pour your beaten yogurt into the milk. The ratio of milk to yogurt is 4:1 I.e. 250ml yogurt to a litre of milk. Add two tea spoons of citric acid. Your milk will start separating. Now in a pot, put the muslin cloth in the base such that the sides hang out. Pour the separated mixture in the pot. Pick up the cloth from the sides and bring the edges together and hang it like a knapsack for 10-15mins to drain all excess water. DO NOT PRESS THE PANEER WITH WEIGHT OR PRESSURE. As contrarian as it sounds, little moisture is required to retain softness and taste. Once drained, untie muslin cloth and cut your paneer into cubes.

Another thing- paneer should be added almost towards the end of the curry cooking and turned over just once. In our zest to coat all cubes evenly we often turn it too many times. Just let it rest, the gravy will take care of even coating. Another trick to ensure even coating is to cover the curry pan after putting in the paneer and simmer for 5 mins. The spicy steam which builds inside coats the paneer cubes.

Remember, paneer is not a melting cheese. It is more akin to tofu than it is to fresh mozzarella or cheddar. Don't treat it like a European "Cheese".

Best of luck and let me know the results !


Crumbly paneer that does not hold together well can be caused by premature addition of the coagulent (lime juice or vinegar or any other acidic substance). Adding the acid before milk starts boiling can cause paneer to be crumbly. Make sure milk is boiling well, after which add the acid. Also, as others have pointed out, use whole milk and as much pressure as possible to squeeze out the water.

  • Very important! :) I tried boiling before adding the vinegar, and I actually get cheese instead of liquid stuff. Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 23:43

Looking at the question, Why is my Paneer crumbly, the key is not to boil the milk, the milk should be floculated once the milk reaches 98 C, Acetic acid is best, a quick guide would be to heat the milk to 98 C add acetic acid 1/10, mix the floculated solids in the hot whey, drain in a colander and place in a cheese cloth, if possible apply 20 - 60 psi of pressure (if not tie the cloth up tightly to squeeze the excess liquid out. Keep the pressure on until cool, remove chop and add to curry. It should be rubbery and absorb the flavor of the curry.


Just run the drained paneer in microwave for 2-3 minutes (time depends on the quantity and water content in the crumbled cheese) before putting it in the fridge to set. Do press and assemble it in the desired shape before you put it in microwave. I use a rectangular glass container which helps.

Again - Test it once before you put it in your curry- Press between your fingers . If it is still crumbly, run it again in microwave for 2 mins. It will not fall apart in the curry. Will be chewy but still fresh and soft.


i have been into trying cheese making myself lately, and i've run into all the problems you listed. it all boils down to pasturization, or more specifically, OVER-pasturization. the two things i've read that are worth trying, in my opinion, are

1) if you live in california (where it's legal to do so), Whole Foods sells raw milk.

2) buy from a local dairy. if they have to deliver close by, the chance is that they will not over-pasturize their product.

  • Regarding the failure I had with raw milk, I was wondering if perhaps since the temperature is the problem, that actually bringing the milk to a boil before pouring in the acid can cause this as well in otherwise unaffected milk. Next time I'll try pouring it long before it boils. Commented Jan 3, 2011 at 11:38

Try goat milk, and most assuredly raw milk. I use about 2/3 cup of vinegar per gallon, and a friend saves the cream-heavy stuff for me. Heat to 180, add acid, curdle 10 minutes, then strain, ball, press, etc. I think boiling is a mistake - as soon as you hit 180F, add the acid and stop the heat. Also, once the block is pressed, soak in ice water for 3 hours before unwrapping - this GREATLY improves the texture. Using this method, I get paneer I can slice and add to palak no problem.


To make the paneer firm press the curdled milk between two flat plates, and keep some heave object over them. Let this stay for 1-2 hours. This make the paneer firm and solid.

In the restaurants usually they fry the paneer cubes in some amount of oil, which makes it chewy.

I usually prepare a large block of paneer and store it in the refrigerator.
And whenever i have to use it, i soak it in hot water for some time and it comes out as freshly prepared.

  • Plates are a great idea. They fit nicely in the fridge and you can use other fridge items to add weight easily.
    – aportr
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 9:06

You can purchase a Japanese pickle press (one of the world's great inventions)


and use it to press the paneer. They cost between $12-$20 online depending upon the size and are extremely versatile and dishwasher safe.

  • That looks very handy. I added the picture since I had never of a Japanese pickle press. Thanks for pointing it out!
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 3:14

I was born and raised in India and have loved Paneer all my life. I actually agree with vagabond 100%. Paneer in grocery stores and Indian restaurants in the US would not pass as acceptable in India. Good paneer should indeed by quite moist and soft and yet should never fall apart.

I have struggled myself quite a bit with getting the right texture - my homemade paneer tends to be harder and crumblier than i would like. Based on all the research that i have been able to find on the internet, it appears to be temperature related. Found a technical article on the following website. Please feel free to read, experiment, and share back the outcome.


Regards, AG


In order to get firmer paneer, you need to first squeeze out the moisture, and then knead the dough together with a small amount of all purpose flour.

Reference: http://showmethecurry.com/odds-ends/homemade-paneer-indian-cheese.html


Fry(shallow or deep) the paneer before use. This will prevent the paneer from melting into the curry.


Well.. a response now from India.. Cottage Cheese or Paneer is really easy to prepare at home. Here are the things you will need:

  1. 2 liters Full Cream Milk
  2. Ice Cubes
  3. 2 tsp vinegar

In a pan, head the full cream milk until boiling and bubbling. Reduce the flame and let boil for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir slowly until the milk starts separating and cuddling. When the milk stops cuddling which should be around in 2 minutes. Add the ice cubes and turn of the heat. Adding ice cubes instantly stops the cuddled milk to get more chewy and harder. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

In a linen cloth sieve the whole stuff of the pan. Save the water which was in the pan while you save. Now, squeeze out excess water from the cheese in the cloth and keep it on a flat surface of a sieve. Place a plate over the cottage cheese prepared in the cloth and then above it the water you saved in a pan over the plate. This will squeeze out excess water from the cheese in next 1.5 hours.

Diagram for after sieving in a cloth:

     |       |  <-- Pan
    ----------- <-- Plate
     |      |   <-- Prepared Cheese
   ------------- <-- Sieve

You will then be ready with the paneer or cottage cheese after 1.5 hours ready to be cooked. To use it for later purpose, you can keep it in your refrigerator for 2-3 days max.

You can find a number of recipes of paneer on my blog too @ http://recipesglobally.com


Once you add your cut paneer to the dish, you should not over cook it! That's the answer to your question. 1-2 minutes of cooking after addition of paneer. That's it. Over cooking it will make it crumble into the dish. I am an Indian talking from years of experience.


Just to give a little context, I stumbled over this post a while back as I was looking for the same answer. I live in US and have been making paneer since a year but my paneer never came out good. But i did find the answer after stumbling over a video on how to make Ras Malai Receipe. And it gave me something to try.

  • The reason panner can crumble is because of high fat content. So if you are trying to make paneer from milk like the whole milk, your panner will never come out good. I recently tried paneer with 2% reduced milk and it came out really good. firm and squishy.

  • If you still want to make paneer with whole milk, you have to boil and let it sit for few hours. It will develop a thick layer of fat. Remove that layer of fat. Repeat the process 2-3 time. And then curdle the milk. It will come out good. Do not throw away the removed layer of fat. You can do lot of things with that.

Deciding factor for the paneer's good binding is the fat content.
If the paneer is hard & brittle, that means the milk you are using has a higher fat than required for good binding.


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