Paneer is an Indian soft cheese made from cow’s or buffalo’s milk. It is also known as Indian cottage cheese, and it is used in various dishes such as Palak Paneer, Mattar Paneer, Paneer Tikka, and more.
Used across the Indian Subcontinent, and with dozens of recipes that use Paneer, it is an essential ingredient in South Asian cooking.
In this article, we’ll explore some excellent substitutes for Paneer. No matter what reason you might need a different soft cheese, we’ve got you covered.
Halloumi is another cheese that doesn’t melt and can be used for various types of cooking, such as grilling, frying, and more. This loved cheese is made from sheep and goat milk, giving it a unique and distinct flavor. However, people should be aware that Halloumi also uses Rennet, so it isn’t vegetarian-friendly.
You can use Halloumi in place of Paneer in most dishes, even salads since the cheese can be sliced and layered. However, both of these cheeses have a delicious saltiness, which means you should be careful not to add additional salt to dishes unless the recipe specifically calls for it. Because Halloumi has a unique flavor, this is the only thing that goes against it as a substitute for Paneer, which has a more mild flavor and is why it is used in so many dishes.
Halloumi is perfect for anyone who has issues with cow’s milk specifically. In addition, if you are a vegetarian, you can find vegetarian-halloumi as an alternative which would still allow you to use it in place of Paneer.
You can use Ricotta in place of Paneer in recipes such as Palak Paneer – a delicious vegetarian dish made from pureed spinach in a thick paneer paste. Ricotta and Spinach Canneloni is a somewhat similar Western dish that shows the versatility of Ricotta as a Paneer substitute. You can use it in any dish where it calls from a creamy paste or a thick sauce.
Tofu is the perfect vegan and vegetarian substitute for Paneer. While it is not real cheese, they are similar in flavor as neither has a robust flavor. Therefore, tofu can be used as a replacement for Paneer in any dish. If you are not either vegan or vegetarian, there are better subs you can choose from on this list.
Queso Panela is a Mexican cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Panela is a suitable alternative for Paneer because it does not completely melt. It works excellently as an ingredient in Mattar Paneer, a dish containing Paneer and Peas in a Tomato-based sauce.
Mozzarella is an excellent Paneer alternative, but only in certain dishes. Much like Paneer, it is a soft cheese with a mild flavor that means it pairs well with many dishes. However, it does melt, which means it should only be used in salads and atop breads. Note that you may want to add a sprig of salt to dishes using Mozzarella as a sub since it isn’t as salty as Paneer.