Paneer butter masala recipe – Learn to make the best restaurant style paneer butter masala at home. Isn’t it fun to recreate restaurant style dishes at home? Years ago, I found this best paneer butter masala recipe in one of the cookbooks in a library. I tried it, tweaked it, then made this for years & my entire family got hooked to it. It’s creamy, flavorful & tastes super delicious!! It goes so well with butter naan, roti, plain basmati rice or jeera rice.
I love simple recipes and easy cooking that calls fewer ingredients and fewer steps to follow. This restaurant style paneer butter masala recipe is always a winner for its simplicity & amazing taste.
What is paneer butter masala?
Also known as butter paneer, it is a rich & creamy curry made with paneer, spices, onions, tomatoes, cashews and butter.
To make paneer butter masala, firstly onions, tomatoes & cashews are sauteed with spices. Then these are blended to a silky smooth puree which forms the curry base. This is further simmered with butter & spices to make the butter masala.
Lastly cubed paneer is added to it along with the cream which makes it creamy & amazingly delicious. Truly, a restaurant kind of paneer dish is ready in just 30 to 40 minutes!
1. If using store bought paneer, pour 2 cups of hot water to a bowl. Add paneer cubes & rest for about 15 to 20 mins. Later drain the water and set aside. This will soften the paneer. I use this homemade paneer, so I skip this step.
2. Pour 1 tablespoon oil to a hot pan. Add 2 green cardamoms & 1 cup cubed onions. Saute them on a medium flame till they turn transparent or lightly pink in color. This takes just 4 minutes.
3. Next add the following:
- 1½ cups finely chopped tomatoes
- ¾ teaspoon salt. Again saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Then cover the pan and cook till mushy.
4. When the tomatoes and onions are completely soft cooked & mushy, add the following:
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder (low heat variety)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
- 12 to 14 cashews
- ¾ teaspoon sugar (optional, to balance the flavors)
5. Saute this onion tomato masala on a low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. It should begin to smell good and aromatic. Turn off the stove.
6. Cool this completely and add to a blender. Pour 1 cup water. Blend this mixture to a super smooth puree.
Tip: To speed up the process, I pour ice cold water to the blender jar first and then transfer the warm mixture.
7. Blend to a very smooth & silky puree. If your blender is not powerful enough to make a fine puree, then strain it through a fine strainer to a bowl.
How to make paneer butter masala
8. Heat a pan on a low flame with 1½ tbsp butter. When the butter melts, add all of the following spices. You can skip them if you don’t have.
- 2 green cardamoms
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ inch cinnamon
- 3 cloves
9. When the spices begin to sizzle, add 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Saute for 1 minute or until you begin to smell it good. The raw smell should go away. Take care to cook this on a low to medium heat. Do not burn the paste.
10. Next pour onion tomato puree. I also added ¼ teaspoon red chili powder for deeper color. This is completely optional. Ensure the stove flame is at low otherwise the curry begins to splatter.
11. Immediately pour ½ cup water & mix well to bring it to a gravy consistency. If it is too thick you can add little more water.
12. Cover and cook on a medium flame until the gravy turns thick & flavorful.
13. When the paneer butter masala gravy is ready, you will see traces of fats over the gravy. This is the color you may get. Open the lid and cook until the gravy turns thicker. Taste test and add more salt if needed
14. Make sure the gravy reaches the desired consistency then add 200 to 250 grams paneer. Take 1 teaspoon kasuri methi in your palm and crush it between both your palms. Then add it to the butter masala. Avoid adding paneer when the gravy is still runny.
15. Stir well. On a low flame cook covered just for 1 to 3 minutes. Cooking for longer can make the paneer harder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cream and stir. You should get this thick creamy texture as you see in the picture below.
Transfer paneer butter masala to a serving bowl. Garnish with 1 tablespoon cream & 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve paneer butter masala with Jeera rice, chapathi, Paratha, roti, butter naan or even with plain basmati rice.
Tips to make the best paneer butter masala
1. Cashews impart a mild sweet & milky flavor to the butter masala. They also stabilize and thicken the gravy. So do not skip them. However you can substitute them with almonds. Soak them in hot water for an hour, peel off the skin and use them here.
2. Onions are the key ingredient in this recipe and is used to naturally sweeten the gravy. They also help to balance the tang from the tomatoes. If you prefer to skip onions, then balance the tang by adding more cashews or cream.
3. Ripe tomatoes not only enhance the color of the paneer butter masala but also add a slight tang to the curry. Always use red ripe tomatoes. Avoid them if they are even slightly unripe as they alter the flavor of the dish.
4. Silky smooth gravy is what makes this dish classic. So blend the cooked onion tomato mixture to a very smooth puree. If you do not have a powerful blender then pass the puree through a strainer.
5. Kashmiri red chilli powder imparts that deep color to the dish without making it extremely spicy or hot. Avoid using hotter kind. Use any other similar variety that is low in heat like byadgi chilli powder or paprika.
How to make paneer butter masala ahead?
Make the gravy or curry base without cream. Cool it completely. Refrigerate or freeze it in glass containers. Reheat it until bubbling hot, then add paneer. Cook for 2 mins and add cream.
How to make this recipe vegan?
This recipe can be made vegan easily by substituting paneer with extra firm tofu or any grilled veggies. Use vegan butter & vegan cream for butter and cream substitutes.
Can I use this recipe to make butter chicken?
Are paneer butter masala & paneer makhani same?
Though both are cooked in butter with similar ingredients they are not the same. But many restaurants use the terms interchangeably.
Paneer butter masala is a restaurant derived dish and there is no one particular way it is made across India. Each restaurant follows their own method & a set of ingredients.
Example – onions, poppy seeds, melon seeds, cream etc. That’s why no 2 restaurants serve the same tasting paneer butter masala.
Paneer makhani on the other hand is a dish made with specific ingredients tomatoes, cashews and cream. It does not make use of ingredients like onions, poppy seeds or melon seeds. You can check the recipe of Paneer makhani here.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
Ingredients for gravy or sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 1 cup onions cubed, 3 medium
- 1½ cups tomatoes finely chopped (3 large)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¾ teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 12 to 14 cashew nuts (or 12 almonds)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (kashmiri or any low heat kind)(adjust for best color)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder (daniya powder) (optional)
whole spices (skip if you don't have)
- 1 small bay leaf (tej patta)
- ½ inch cinnamon piece (dalchini) (optional)
- 2 green cardamom (elaichi) (optional)
- 3 cloves (laung) (optional)
For paneer butter masala
- 1½ tablespoon Butter
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (or ¾ inch ginger, 3 medium garlic cloves, refer notes)
- 200 to 250 grams paneer (2 heaped cups)
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 3 tablespoon cream (heavy cream, whipping cream or cooking cream)
- 2 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro finely chopped) (for garnish)
How to make the recipe
Preparation for paneer butter masala
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and add 2 green cardamoms.
- Then add 1 cup cubed onions & fry stirring often until they turn transparent to light pink.
- Next add 1½ cup tomatoes & ¾ teaspoon salt. Saute for 3 minutes.
- Cover and cook till the onion & tomatoes turns soft & completely mushy.
- Next add in ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 12 cashew nuts, ¾ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder & ¾ teaspoon sugar (optional).
- Fry this till the onion tomato masala turns aromatic. This takes 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn off the stove & cool this completely.
- Transfer to a blender with 1 cup water. Blend to a really silky smooth puree. If it is not smooth, then filter it through a strainer to another bowl. Set this aside.
How to make paneer butter masala
- Heat 1½ tablespoon butter in the same pan.
- Optional – When the butter melts, add ½ inch cinnamon, 3 cloves, 2 green cardamoms & 1 small bay leaf.
- Reduce the flame to low, saute 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste for 1 minute. It should begin to smell good and the raw smell should go away. Do not burn this as it will leave a bitter taste.
- Pour the blended onion tomato puree. (optional – At this step sometimes I add ¼ teaspoon more red chili powder to adjust the color).
- Pour ½ cup water & mix well. Cover & cook on a medium heat until the gravy thickens & traces of butter or oil is seen on top. Keep checking in between and give a good mix.
- When the gravy is done, it will turn thick and traces of fats will be visible on the gravy. Taste test the gravy and add more salt if needed.
- Lower the flame completely, then add 200 to 250 grams paneer. Take 1 teaspoon kasuri methi to your palm and crush it in between your palms. Sprinkle this.
- Mix & cook covered on a low heat for 2 minutes. Turn off and pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream & stir.
Video of paneer butter masala recipe
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- If making for kids, reduce the chilli powder to half teaspoon. Or add more cream to the kids’ servings to tone down the heat.
- you can skip using garlic and onion and make a no onion no garlic paneer butter masala recipe. But balance the tang by adding more cashews and more cream.
- If you do not have ginger garlic paste, you can saute chopped ginger garlic along with the onions.
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.