palak paneer

Palak Paneer Recipe (Indian Spinach Paneer)

Updated: May 5, 2023, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Palak Paneer is a popular Indian Vegetarian Dish consisting of paneer (Indian cheese) in a smooth, creamy and delicious spinach gravy. Learn to make the BEST Palak Paneer at home, all without blanching spinach and not over loading your dish with tons of spices. This is simply delicious, rich, absolutely flavorsome & tastes better than in any restaurant. Serve this Palak Paneer with fluffy Basmati Rice, Paratha, roti, Butter naan, Jeera rice, or Ghee rice.

palak paneer



If you are new to Indian cuisine and wondering what is it..

About Palak Paneer

Palak paneer is a classic curried dish from North Indian cuisine made with fresh spinach, onions, spices, paneer and herbs. ‘Palak’ is a Hindi word for ‘Spinach’ and ‘Paneer’ is ‘Indian cottage cheese’. So Palak Paneer translates to paneer simmered in a smooth spicy and delicious spinach gravy or sauce. The dish is more popular in the restaurants than in the households.

The conventional method of making palak paneer is to blanch the spinach leaves and then puree it. This spinach puree is later cooked with spices, onions and tomatoes until a thick curry like consistency is achieved.

Lastly paneer is simmered in that sauce. For a restaurant touch usually some cream is added to this. A lot of people also add some milk for a unique flavor.

My Recipe

If you have never loved your Palak Paneer before it is most likely for the way you cooked it. Not anymore because my recipe will help you master cooking the perfect Spinach Paneer.

Growing up we never liked Palak Paneer anywhere, even in the best restaurants for the way it tasted and looked. Later I always had a tough time getting even my toddlers to eat it in restaurants. After trying different ways of making Palak Paneer I finally arrived at this version that is always an huge hit with everyone around.

This palak paneer is the best, you are ever going to make. The best results are achieved just by not blanching your spinach and not overcooking it. So to avoid blanching we saute the spinach first and then puree.

Don’t worry about your palak paneer tasting bitter it won’t really, because we clean, saute the leaves until wilted & avoid overcooking similar to the way we do in a lot of other recipes like dal palak, spinach paratha, palak rice, aloo palak and many more.

A lot of people also ask if palak paneer and Saag Paneer are the same. I answer it here:

palak paneer made with spinach, paneer and spices

Palak Paneer vs Saag Paneer

Palak paneer is an authentic Indian dish originated in India, while Saag Paneer is what is invented by the chefs in Indian restaurant abroad, outside India. We would usually never find saag paneer on any restaurant menu in India. But we do find it outside.

Since palak means spinach, palak paneer is made with spinach. But saag typically refers to many different greens like mustard greens, radish greens, fenugreek leaves and few others. So usually saag is made with any or all of these. So if you order for a saag paneer in a restaurant, you are more likely to eat any or all of these in it.

There many different ways a saag paneer is made so it tastes totally different in every restaurant. The saag paneer I have eaten is made with spinach, coriander leaves and methi leaves (fenugreek leaves) which is far different from the palak paneer.

More Paneer Recipes
Paneer butter masala
Malai kofta
Paneer makhani
Easy paneer bhurji
Shahi paneer
Paneer tikka masala

How to Make Palak Paneer (Stepwise photos)

Preparation

1. This recipe needs about 4 cups loosely measured or 2 cups tightly packed (100 to 120 grams) palak leaves. Use only young and fresh spinach. Avoid using large stems or stalks, especially from mature spinach/ palak as they make the gravy bitter. If using baby spinach keep the tender stalks.

Rinse cleaned palak thoroughly in a large pot filled with water. I also spray some vinegar and salt to remove the pesticide residue first. Rinse a few times more. Drain off the water completely. If you are on a low oxalate diet then you can blanch the spinach by following the steps mentioned in the recipe card.

cleaning palak in water to make palak paneer

2. Add half tablespoon oil to a pan. then add 1 to 2 chopped green chilies. There is no red chilli powder used in this recipe. So use enough green chilies to give that heat. Adjust accordingly.

frying green chilies

3. Add palak and 8 to 10 cashew nuts. Saute on a medium heat until the palak wilts off completely. This takes only 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcook, spinach takes only 2 to 3 mins to cook.

sauteing palak and cashews in a pot

4. Ensure the raw flavor from the leaves has gone. If there is any stock (moisture) of spinach left, you can use up to blend. You need not evaporate it.

wilted spinach in a white clay pot

5. Cool it completely. Transfer these to a blender jar. Pour ¼ cup clean water to the blender.

adding sauted ingredients to a blender

6. Blend this to a smooth puree. It has to be thick and smooth. Keep this aside.

making spinach puree in a blender

Making gravy

7. Heat the same pan with 1 tablespoon butter and half tablespoon oil . Add 2 whole cardamoms, one inch cinnamon piece, 2 cloves and 1/8th teaspoon cumin seeds. If you do not have whole spices you may skip them. But we are not going to use much garam masala in powder form so I use them.

frying spices in butter for palak paneer

8. Add ¾ cup fine chopped onions or boiled onion paste. Fry until the onions turn golden. Then add ¾ teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Saute for 1 minute or until the aroma of ginger garlic comes out.

sauteing onions for palak paneer

9. Then add deseeded fine chopped half cup tomatoes or tomato puree and half teaspoon salt. Saute them well.

sauteing tomatoes with salt to make palak paneer

10. When the tomatoes turn fully mushy, add ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala. Please use a good flavorful garam masala. Saute until the masala smells good for 2 to 3 mins. (Optional if you don’t like chunky curry, remove the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and add back to the pan. Blend the onion tomato masala as well separately with ½ to ¾ cup water.)

adding garam masala to make onion masala

12. Pour ¾ cup water and cook covered on a medium heat until the onions are completely soft cooked. After cooking, onion tomato masala has to be thick yet should have some water. (check video for consistency) Take half teaspoon kasuri methi in your palm and crush it. Add it here.

adding kasuri methi

Making palak paneer

14. When the gravy thickens, lower the flame completely. Next add the palak puree. Mix it well and cook until it begins to bubble just for about 2 mins. I do not suggest cooking for long at this stage as it discolors the gravy. If you prefer your curry slightly thin, then you may stir in a few tablespoons of hot water at this stage. Taste test and add more salt.

making palak paneer in a clay pot

15. Add cubed paneer – (150 grams (5.5 ounces, 1¼ cups))

adding paneer to prepares palak

16. Give a good stir. Switch off the stove. If using cream pour it now. You can skip cream is you have used cashews while pureeing the spinach. Honestly this recipe does not need cream & I don’t use on a regular basis. I only used for garnishing in the pictures below.

making thick creamy and delicious palak paneer

Serve palak paneer with Basmati Rice, butter naan, jeera rice, ghee rice, roti or plain paratha.

palak paneer recipe swasthis recipes

Pro Tips

1. Blanched Vs unblanched spinach: I would recommend blanching, if you have been on a low oxalate diet and do not consume spinach without blanching in any other foods like dal palak or any spinach curry.

To make palak paneer, always spinach is blanched prior to making a puree. But if you are trying to make the best palak paneer, give it a try without blanching.

I am sure you will wonder how good this tastes and completely different from the one made with blanched spinach.

2. Preserving the color of palak: To get the best color, keep garam masala to minimum in this recipe and also prevent overcooking spinach which darkens the dish.

3. Smooth creamy texture: I have used few cashews to give a slightly creamy texture to the palak paneer gravy. However you can just skip them and use about 3 to 4 tbsps cream. You can also use blanched almonds.

4. Paneer: Do choose good quality paneer as it is the key ingredient in this palak paneer recipe. I use this homemade paneer which is soft with a melt-in-the-mouth texture.

If using frozen store bought paneer then soak it in slightly hot water for 15 to 20 mins. Drain and use. This helps to keep it soft.

You can check more palak recipes here which I have shared on the blog.

Faqs

What is the difference between saag paneer and palak paneer?

Saag refers to different kinds of greens like mustard greens, spinach, fenugreek, amaranth and a few others. Saag paneer can be made with any of these greens but palak paneer is made with palak (spinach) alone.

Why does my palak paneer taste bitter?

Bitter taste in palak is due to the high concentrations of oxalic acid present in old, mature, large dark green spinach. To prevent your palak paneer from tasting bitter, simply use young spinach which is more tender and sweeter in taste and flavor. Also overcooking spinach makes it more bitter. It only requires a few minutes to cook.

Can you freeze palak paneer?

Yes you can freeze palak paneer for a month. Once the onion tomato masala is ready, turn off the heat and cool it completely & immediately. Later mix the spinach puree and transfer to air tight glass freezer safe container. When required, thaw it and heat on a low heat until bubbling and hot. You can also heat it in an instant pot.

How to Choose Palak

  • Always choose tender palak that is light to medium green in color. Dark leaves are usually less tasty.
  • Do not use the stalks or stems of palak as it makes the palak paneer bitter. It also leads to metallic taste.
  • I have not made this recipe with frozen spinach anytime. But a few readers have had positive results even when made with frozen spinach.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

palak paneer recipe

Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Paneer)

4.99 from 1399 votes
Palak paneer recipe – Indian cottage cheese simmered in onion tomato spinach gravy. This palak paneer is one of the best you can make at home. Tastes simply delicious, creamy and easy to make. Serve with roti, basmati rice or naan.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings2 to 3
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 150 grams (1¼ cups) paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
  • 3½ to 4 cups (100 to 120 grams) palak (spinach)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (or half oil & half butter)
  • 2 green chilies (deseeded) (less spicy kind)
  • ¾ cup ( 90 grams, 1 small) onions (fine chopped)
  • ½ cup (2 small) tomatoes (deseeded & chopped or pureed)
  • ¾ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (read notes for substitute)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (use as per your taste)
  • 8 to 10 cashewnuts (read notes for substitutes)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (skip if you don't have)
  • ¼ cup water to blend spinach
  • ¾ cup water to cook the gravy
  • 3 tablespoons cream (optional)

(Optional) Whole spices for palak paneer

  • teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera) (optional)
  • 2 green cardamoms (elaichi) (optional)
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini) (optional)
  • 2 cloves (laung) (optional)


Instructions

Preparation

  • Pluck only the young & tender spinach leaves and discard the stems as they may leave a bitter taste. If using baby spinach you can use the stems as well.
  • Add them to a large pot of water. Rinse them well few times & drain to a colander.
  • Allow the water to drain completely otherwise it will let out lot of moisture while cooking.
  • Heat half tablespoon oil in a pan. Saute green chilies, cashews and spinach for 3 to 4 mins until the leaves wilt off thoroughly & raw smell of spinach has gone away. [OR another option is to blanch the palak in 4 cups of hot water with ¼ tsp salt for 2 mins. Then immerse in ice cold water. Drain completely.]
  • Cool this completely. Blend this along with water to a smooth puree. The puree should be smooth and thick. You may add 1 to 2 tbsps more water to help in blending.

How to make Palak Paneer

  • Heat 1 tablespoon butter and half tablespoon oil to the same pan, Once they melt, add cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves & cumin seeds.
  • When the spices begin to sizzle, add onions and fry till they turn transparent to golden.
  • Next saute ginger garlic paste for 1 to 2 minutes or until you begin to smell it nice.
  • Then add tomatoes with salt. Saute until they break down and turn mushy.
  • Add garam masala & saute until the masala smells good. This may take 2 mins. (for a smoother curry refer notes)
  • Pour water and cook covered until onions are completely soft. There should be some water left in the pan. (for consistency check video)
  • Lower the flame, add kasuri methi and pureed spinach. Mix well and cook until it begins to bubble for about 2 to 3 mins. If the curry is too thick you may add a few tbsps of hot water.
  • Avoid overcooking. Add paneer & mix well. Turn off and remove to a serving bowl. Optionally garnish with cream.
  • Serve palak paneer with naan, roti, Basmati rice or Jeera rice.


Notes

  • This recipe can be doubled. 
  • Substitute ginger garlic paste with ½ teaspoon minced  ginger and ¾ teaspoon minced garlic.
  • Substitute cashews with 7 blanched and soaked almonds or 2 tablespoons almond flour. The taste is different with almonds.
  • For a smoother gravy, after sauteing the onion and tomatoes with garam masala, cool it. Remove the cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon, keep them aside. Blend the onions tomatoes to a smooth puree with ½ to ¾ cup water. Add back the spices to the pan along with the puree. Cook this until you see traces of oil. When the gravy thickens add the palak puree.
  • If using baby spinach, stems can be used. If using mature spinach, avoid using stalks & stems as they may lend a bitter taste. Cut off each stem from the leaves. Overcooking palak can leave a bitter taste.
  • You can use more spinach if you like.
  • Whole spices are optional. But they do add a lot of flavor to the dish. However you can skip them and add more garam masala to suit your taste.
  • Optional: If using store bought paneer, then cube them and add to 2 cups hot water. Keep these immersed for 10 mins. Drain and use.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

Video

Watch Palak Paneer Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Paneer)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 350 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Fat 30g46%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Cholesterol 54mg18%
Sodium 739mg32%
Potassium 388mg11%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 3831IU77%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
Calcium 303mg30%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Palak Paneer Recipe (Indian Spinach Paneer)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Recipe Rating




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5 stars
Love this palak and so does everyone else I make it for! Even “foodies” who have traveled the world. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

Question:
Is it possible to make a double batch and freeze half?

5 stars
Perfect restaurant style flavor. Mine was a little more spicier than it should have been but that’s my fault cos I did not reseed the chilies 🙁

5 stars
blanched vs non blanched. I’m still confused what you recommend.

4 stars
Is there a way we can have your recipes shared so we can print and keep them.

5 stars
Finally my son said “it’s good” to Palak Paneer..
“I thought because it is Palak it will not be good.. but this is really good.”

I followed the recipe exactly as you detailed out.

Thank you very much.

5 stars
I cooked this dish today and I have only one word to describe it:
DIVINE !!!
I made my own paneer and garam masala, following recipes from this website. Will definitely make it again!!!! And will check out more recipes. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes with us!

5 stars
It was absolutely delicious. I really enjoyed how you included the amounts of ingredients in the step by step. So much easier for me then scrolling up and down.

5 stars
Followed your recipe to the tee except skipped the whole spice (cinnamon, cardomom etc) The flavor is perfect,just like my favorite restaurant! THANK YOU so much for the excellent description and measurements by cup made it so easy to follow. You have a new fan follower 🙂

5 stars
So delicious and easy to make. Thank you so much. I’m not Indian and I usually I have to go to a restaurant to have palak paneer.

5 stars
Thank you for this recipe Swasthi it was absolutely delicious!

5 stars
excellent. One step is unclear for me though “if you dont like chunky, remove the … and add back to the pan” what should be added back exactly?

5 stars
Big fan. Perfect recipe!

5 stars
Thank you for a beautiful recipe. I had leftover paneer tikka from another meal which I added to this palak paneer. Didn’t have cream so left out that. My God! it is amazing and I am sure will be making it again and again.

5 stars
Tried it with frozen spinach and it still turned out restaurant style taste-wise but overall more healthy. Great recipe, would recommend!

5 stars
Awesome taste !

5 stars
Amazing palak paneer! Turned out great like all of your other recipes. I started with frozen spinach and made 3x. Didn’t have cashews so used heavy cream. Despite the changes it was the best palak paneer I ever made.

5 stars
Hi, if using frozen spinach do I still need to blanch? Thank you

5 stars
Thank you Swasthi, i always refer to your recipes for everything. You are truly a MasterChef. And you make it easy for non-cooks. I really love it. Your recipes are my to go place for nearly 3 years now. Thank you

5 stars
Great dish in perfect balance and super easy to make.

Perfect. Tastes just like our favorite versions from the local Indian restaurants. We tried a half dozen other recipes, and this one is definitely the match. Thank you Swashti!

5 stars
I adore this recipe! The end result is always delightful. I prefer pan-frying the paneer in a touch of olive oil until it achieves a golden brown perfection on both sides before incorporating it into the gravy. It’s truly a fantastic addition!