Homemade Paneer and Ricotta, and an Indian Food Blog Hop

Homemade Paneer and Ricotta

If I had realized how easy it is to make paneer at home, I would have started doing it long ago. I’d made ricotta (or, technically, farmer’s cheese) many times and loved the simple process and fresh taste. Turns out homemade paneer is just an extra step away. Two ingredients and minimal equipment – does it get any easier than that?It all comes down to curdled milk. You need a big, clean pot, cheesecloth, full fat milk (not ultra pasteurized), and an acid. A thermometer is helpful, but not strictly necessary. For the acid you can use lemon juice as I have here, or buttermilk, which I’ve used before to great success (use 4 parts milk to 1 part buttermilk). Lime juice works too!

Homemade Paneer and RicottaAll you do is heat the milk and add the acid, which separates it into curds and whey. Then you strain it through a cheesecloth and voila! If you want ricotta, strain it for 15 to 30 minutes, until it’s the consistency you like. If you want paneer, strain it for 30 minutes then press it under something heavy for another hour or two.

Seriously. That’s it.

Homemade Paneer and Ricotta

Then you can use either in any recipe you like! I love to serve fresh, still warm ricotta on crostini with honey. And I used my paneer to make one of my favorite Indian dishes, malai kofte – get the recipe over at TreeFree Food – it’s in my meatball article there!

Homemade Paneer and Ricotta

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Homemade Paneer and Ricotta
Making your own ricotta or paneer takes only two ingredients, limited equipment, and a little time. It couldn't be easier!
  • 2 liters whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth (I take one big piece and fold it). Set over a large bowl if you wish to reserve they whey, or just in the sink if you are discarding it.
  2. Put the milk in a large, non-reactive pot and heat until just boiling, but not rapidly boiling (about 205F). Stir occasionally to prevent a film from forming or any from sticking to the bottom.
  3. Add the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring in between each addition. The mixture should separate into curds and whey as the acid from the lemon juice curdles the milk. Remove from the heat and let sit for another minute to allow the curds and whey to fully separate.
  4. Carefully pour into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Allow to drain for a few minutes. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth to form a bundle. Hang the cheesecloth bundle over a bowl or sink (I like to put a wooden spoon through the opening of the bundle and rest it over the strainer, which I leave over a shallow bowl.
  5. To make ricotta, strain it like this for 15 to 30 minutes, until you get the consistency you’re looking for. Less time will result in a very soft cheese, while more straining will give you a denser cheese. I like it somewhere in the middle. It’s amazing served right away (I love it still warm over some toasted bread drizzled with honey) but it can also be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
  6. To make paneer, strain for 30 minutes then place the cheesecloth bundle on a plate and top with something weighted, like a cast iron pan, or another plate with a few cans on top. Let it hang out like this for another hour or two.
  7. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use, then cut as desired (refrigerating it will make it easier to cut cleanly as well). Use immediately or store for a few days in the fridge.
Gluten free, Kosher dairy, Vegetarian

To celebrate making your own paneer, I want to see your  best Indian recipes! They can be old or new, North or South Indian – or even just Indian inspired! Let me see what  you’ve got!

30 thoughts on “Homemade Paneer and Ricotta, and an Indian Food Blog Hop

  1. Stacy

    Wonderful, Katherine! I’ve done the same with goats’ milk to make a lovely soft chèvre to which I added some herbs and a little salt. I never thought to let it get drier to use as paneer. Definitely going to give this a try!

  2. JJ @ 84thand3rd

    Delicious and simple! Ricotta is one thing I really miss trying to avoid cow milk and while goat milk using this process does render a wonderful spreadable cheese it just isn’t the same… may try the pressing method next time though!

  3. Julia {The Roasted Root}

    Indian food is one of my favorites and unfortunately we don’t have an Inidan restaurant in town. The upside of this is I get to make it at home using recipes like this! I’ve never made paneer or ricotta so this post is definitely going to come in handy. looks wonderful, Katherine!

  4. john@kitchenriffs

    I so have to make my own ricotta and paneer. I’ve started making my own butter, which means I have plenty of buttermilk for the paneer. This is so going to be happening in my kitchen, and soon! Thanks for this.

  5. Eileen

    Isn’t home cheesemaking fun? I’ve made paneer a few times, and can’t get over how cool it is to actually make cheese in my own kitchen. 🙂 I love how clearly firm & sliceable your paneer turned out too.

  6. Mikey

    So cool – I contemplated making paneer years ago and somehow got discouraged. Coming back for it soon, now.

  7. Miriam Kresh

    This looks so easy and so good, Katherine. The nearest thing to whole milk that I can conveniently get is goat’s milk, so that’s what I’m going to use for my ricotta. Thanks for this!

  8. Miriam Kresh

    In the end, I used 2 liters of plain 3% cow’s milk. 3 tablespoons of lemon juice didn’t provide enough acidity for this batch.After much stirring and re-heating,there was about 1/2 cup of curds, and almost no separation. Rather than throw out 2 liters of lemony milk, I added 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and heated yet again, stirring as the curds formed – and this time, they did form, leaving the translucent whey. I believe that next time – and there will be many – I’ll stick with vinegar. Going to do a bunch of experiments now, thanks for the inspiration!

    • Katherine

      Thanks for reporting back Miriam! Sorry the 3 tablespoons lemon juice wasn’t acidic enough – I guess every batch is a little different, and every lemon has a different amount of acidity? In either case, I’m glad you stuck with it and that the vinegar ended up working out. Isn’t it cool? Feels a bit like alchemy.

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  10. Richard

    Hi, great blog.
    I’m looking around for a new pizza recipe (seekh kebab pizza) and found your site about Paneer..
    My Italian mother uses the white sap from the stem of a freshly picked fig to make her version of Ricotta..
    Not sure where that idea comes from..but I always though it could be dodgy?
    But after reading this I will have to tell her that her cheese making process is more like she’s making Paneer..

  11. Nicole

    I heard that this was an absolutely delicious dish, and I am curious. Isnt it wonderful that there are so many ways in the world to make food. Is your recipe hot? meaning you put red pepper or hot palak? This Indian dish combines fresh spinach and ricotta in a creamy palak paneer. Use paneer if you can find it! It is absolutely wonderful with basmati rice or naan.

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