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Easy Palak Paneer, Indian Spinach Cheese Curry

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Palak paneer in a black kadai with cutlery on the side.

I’m an Indian cuisine enthusiast, specifically vegetarian food (Hello, Oh My Veg!). The real star for me? Paneer dishes — a perfect fusion of both these culinary worlds. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a selection of them on the blog: royal shahi paneer, Indo-Chinese sticky chili paneer, and creamy malai kofta, to name only a few. However, the honor of the first paneer recipe I shared goes to this easy palak paneer back in 2021. Since then, it’s gained quite a following, becoming a favorite among my close family and my readers’ community! While the recipe was fantastic — Don’t worry, I haven’t changed even a single thing — I’ve updated the photos to reflect how delicious homemade palak paneer really is. 

It’s easy to understand why this palak paneer recipe is so beloved. The paneer, a hard Indian cheese, is rich, golden brown, and oh-so-creamy. And that sauce — It’s nutrient-dense, yes, but it’s also irresistibly good. Packed with punchy chili, earthy spinach, and warming spices, sautéed buttery garlic runs through the dish, while cream finishes it off on an indulgent note. 

The best part is that homemade palak paneer is a 30-minute recipeYou get all the scrumptious flavor without much time investment. Also, it’s an easy recipe — a one-pot dish with no fancy techniques, just basic cooking skills. Every time I whip this up, I can’t believe how good it tastes … especially paired with my pillowy, fluffy garlic and coriander naan

Palak paneer in a black kadai, with onion on the side, on a black background.

What is Palak Paneer?

Palak paneer is a beloved Indian curry made from paneer (a firm, non-melting variety of cottage cheese) and a creamy, velvety, nutrient-packed spinach-based curry.

Thanks to its impressive flavor profile and wholesome, filling ingredients, palak paneer has become one of the most popular vegetarian curries worldwide. Despite the complex spicing, the meal is simple: sautéed chunks of caramelized, golden-brown paneer simmered in a curry sauce made from onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, spinach, and spices.

Palak Paneer vs Saag Paneer

You’ve likely seen saag paneer listed on British Indian takeaway menus. To say saag paneer is widespread in the U.K. is an understatement — In fact, it’s probably the most popular of all paneer dishes. It’s also sometimes called paneer saagwala.

But what’s the difference between the two dishes? 

Both dishes originate from India, so let’s delve into the etymology. In Hindi, “saag” means a mix of green leafy vegetables (commonly including spinach, along with mustard, fenugreek, etc.) On the other hand, “palak” explicitly means spinach alone. Therefore, saag paneer can technically be made from any leafy greens, while palak paneer is always made from spinach. Furthermore, saag paneer is more rustic — chopped greens — while the sauce of palak paneer is silky smooth and puréed. 

The confusion arises because, in the U.K., BIR (British Indian Restaurants)-style saag paneer is made from spinach, not mixed greens. Still, each has a distinctive appearance and flavor. This curry I’m sharing today is authentic and traditional Indian style.  

Where is Palak Paneer From?

Palak paneer, saag paneer, and paneer saagwala all originate in India. More specifically, the dishes are a specialty of North Indian cuisine, which typically embraces thick, creamy, and aromatic curries like chana masala and vegetarian butter chicken. 

Close up picture of Indian palak paneer in a black bowl.

Palak Paneer Ingredients

  • Neutral oil is used to fry the paneer before it’s added to the curry. This step gives a lovely caramelized buttery taste to the cheese. 
  • Paneer is the star of this dish. Known as “Indian cottage cheese,” homemade paneer is easy to make at home. It has a mild taste and rubbery texture, but perhaps most uniquely, it doesn’t melt when cooked. Replace paneer with homemade tofu to make vegan palak paneer. 
  • Butter and ghee give a rich butteriness to this easy palak paneer curry. However, if you’re following a plant-based diet, replace it with sunflower oil.
  • Green chili is surprisingly fragrant, with herbal undertones. It adds depth to the curry. 
  • Garlic is my favorite combination with spinach. It lends a soft and buttery flavor with nuanced notes of punchy spiciness. 
  • Onion adds body to our curry sauce and provides subtle sweetness. This sweetness complements the spicier flavors. 
  • Ginger-garlic paste is a must-have for Indian curries, this one included! I always use homemade ginger-garlic paste.
  • Tomato is a source of natural umami, adding depth to this homemade paneer.
  • Nutmeg powder is my secret ingredient! It adds a nutty, earthy, and slightly sweet flavor profile to the curry. 
  • Spinach provides that gorgeous green color, essential vitamins, and the robust savory flavor we all love. 
  • Spice powders like coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and cumin powder all build up the depth of this recipe. 
  • Salt is a must for any recipe. It heightens all the flavors you’ve built up.
  • Sugar acts to enhance and balance out the seasonings. 
  • Garam masala is a finishing touch, adding warmth, fragrance, and layers to our plate. 
  • Kasuri methi, known as dried fenugreek leaves, is my second secret ingredient, and they are ESSENTIAL! The hint of earthy, bitter, and nutty herbs is perfect to finish.  
  • Double cream adds so much richness and indulgence. It also thickens our silky curry gravy and mellows the spice levels. If you have a lower spice tolerance, you can add more cream. Replace with cashew cream or non-dairy cream for a vegan version. 
Spoon taking out a piece of Indian paneer cheese in spinach sauce.

How to Make Palak Paneer

  1. Fry the paneer. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and gently cook the paneer cubes until golden on all sides. Set aside. 
  2. Sauté the curry ingredients. Heat butter and ghee in a kadai. Gently sauté onions, garlic, green chilis, tomatoes, homemade ginger-garlic paste, spinach, and powdered spices.* Turn off the heat and wait to cool.
  3. Purée the curry gravy. Using a handheld immersion blender (or blender of your choice), purée the curry sauce with water until it’s smooth.
  4. Season to finish. Add the sauce back into your kadai and season with salt, sugar, garam masala, kasuri methi, and cream. Simmer to heat through, then serve. 
Heart Icon.

Quick tip!

This method — sautée the spinach as opposed to blanching it — is my number one game-changer for the best palak paneer. Sautéeing removes excess water from the spinach but maintains that gorgeous deep green color. It’s also faster. Plus, sautéeing additional ingredients like onions, garlic, and tomatoes together with the spinach saves prep time and cooking time. 

Variations on this Paneer and Spinach Curry

  • Palak paneer with frozen spinach is an economical and accessible way to make effortless spinach curry if fresh spinach isn’t available. Chopped or whole frozen spinach is suitable; use the same quantity, or slightly more, than fresh spinach. It can be cooked directly from frozen or thawed in the microwave. 
  • Palak paneer with tofu is an excellent vegan alternative to the traditional curry. Tofu is similar to paneer — it’s mild and actively absorbs the intense flavors of the sauce. Opt for extra firm tofu (homemade tofu is best!). 
  • Palak paneer with yogurt is how I make my dhaba-style palak paneer. It’s a delicious variation with slightly tangy notes. 
  • Palak paneer with canned spinach/ tinned spinach is another affordable way to make this recipe.
  • Palak paneer without cream will taste spicier. Are you following a vegan lifestyle? You can replace cream with cashew or dairy-free cream for vegan palak paneer. 
  • Palak paneer without onion and garlic is perfect for Jains or fasting days when you need meals without onion and garlic. Skip both ingredients and add a pinch of asafoetida when frying off the powdered spices. The gravy will be slightly thinner, as it lacks the body of the onions. 
  • Palak paneer without tomato is a simple adjustment. Leave out the tomato and replace it with a small spoon of yogurt to replace the sour flavor.
Palak paneer spinach curry in a black kadai.

What to Serve with Palak Paneer

  • Palak paneer and roti is the ultimate comfort-food combination for households across North India. Using the steaming hot, buttered roti to scoop up the rich chunks of paneer and creamy, spinach-packed gravy is heavenly. 
  • Palak paneer and rice is my go-to when I don’t feel like making roti, paratha, or naan. Sometimes, I make both bread and rice! Steamed rice will taste wonderful with this Indian spinach and paneer curry (I like to use sona masoori rice or ambe mohar rice), but the best combination is palak paneer with jeera rice (cumin fried rice). The aroma of the cumin seeds and ghee is unbeatable. 
  • Palak paneer and naan is true restaurant-style food. My homemade garlic and coriander naan is one of my most beloved recipes on the blog, and for good reason. Nothing beats mopping up curry with a fluffy, pillowy, slightly charred fresh naan. 
  • Palak paneer with paratha is yet another mouth-watering combination. The multi-layered flatbreads allow the rich flavors of this recipe to sing. I recommend triangle parathas for beginners (it’s the easiest method) and lachha parathas for enthusiasts. 

Is Palak Paneer Healthy?

Yes! When eaten in moderation, palak paneer is a healthy dish. How is palak paneer good for your health?

Firstly, paneer is a good source of calcium and vegetarian protein. It’s also affordable and highly accessible for most communities.

Secondly, spinach is a powerhouse of a vegetable. A superfood! Spinach is rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and folates. Most famously, spinach is high in iron, a mineral that aids brain development and hormone health.

Ultimately, cooking at home is likely much healthier than ordering takeout or buying ready meals from the grocery store. When you cook at home, you can control the salt levels, amongst other things. However, health is a personal journey — the key for most people is to practice a balanced diet and active lifestyle.

Spinach curry with Indian cheese, palak paneer in a black bowl.

Can Spinach Curry with Paneer be Reheated?

Absolutely! Although this curry tastes best fresh, there’s no harm in reheating the dish. You can refrigerate palak paneer in an airtight container for up to three days, then reheat it on the stovetop.

However, overcooked spinach can taste bitter — so heat the dish gently, and if you’re cooking the the curry ahead of time, undercook the spinach first.

I don’t suggest reheating palak paneer in the microwave because the sauce can become too dry. If you choose this option, add extra water to the dish before reheating to loosen it up.

Can Palak Paneer be Frozen?

Yes! Palak paneer freezes exceptionally well — Meaning that freezing compromises neither the taste nor texture of the curry. Wait for the curry to cool completely, then use a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to three months.

You can heat the curry directly from frozen or leave it to thaw. When reheating on the stovetop or the microwave, stir the dish frequently and ensure it’s piping hot before serving.

This Recipe Is…

  • Vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free
  • Easily adaptable to be vegan-friendly
  • Nutritious, healthy, and wholesome
  • Authentic and traditional
  • Ready in less than 30 mins
Easy Palak Paneer, Indian Spinach Curry with Paneer Cheese

Easy Palak Paneer, Indian Spinach Curry with Paneer Cheese

Yield: 3-4 Portions
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Indian Palak Paneer is a delicious, quick, and easy curry recipe. With a creamy, nutritious, and delicious spinach puree, plus fried paneer cubes, it's a real crowd-pleaser.



  1. Fry the paneer. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and gently cook the paneer cubes until golden on all sides. Set aside. 
  2. Sauté the curry ingredients. Heat butter and ghee in a kadai (or the same non-stick frying pan) over medium flame. Gently sauté onions, garlic, and green chilis until they smell aromatic. Next, add the ginger-garlic paste and mix well.
  3. Now add the tomatoes and nutmeg to the pan. Cook until the tomatoes are slightly softened, before adding the chopped spinach, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, and cumin powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has wilted and the spices are no longer raw. Be careful not to burn the dry spices — add a splash of water if necessary. Turn off the heat and cool.
  4. Purée the curry gravy. Using a handheld immersion blender (or blender of your choice), purée the curry sauce with water until it’s smooth.
  5. Season to finish. Add the sauce back into your pan and season with salt, sugar, garam masala, and cream. Simmer to heat through, but don't overcook*. At the last moment, crush kasuri methi between your palms and add to the finished dish, then garnish with freshly chopped coriander and extra cream to serve.


* Overcooked spinach can become bitter, so it's essential you only heat the curry through, not cook it further.

If this curry is too spicy, please add extra cream to the pan and reduce the quantity of chili powder.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 315Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 651mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 13g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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