An easy step-by-step recipe to make homemade paneer in your Instant Pot!
I used to make paneer on the stove. It failed miserably half the time and I never knew what I was doing wrong. And even when it worked I burned the milk into the bottom of my pot so badly that it was almost impossible to clean. Enter the Instant Pot! Paneer that works every time, doesn’t require stirring, and doesn’t burn if you start with a squeaky clean pot! Success!
What is Paneer?
Paneer is a fresh cheese common in Indian food. It’s a soft cheese made by curdling milk with an acid, like vinegar to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in a cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out.
Common paneer dishes include palak paneer (paneer with spinach), mattar paneer (paneer with peas), and my favorite, paneer tikka masala. Paneer can be purchased from international or Indian grocery stores, but is harder to find in standard grocery stores.
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To make Instant Pot paneer, you’ll need an Instant Pot, a cheesecloth, and a large colander. I made this recipe with the Instant Pot 6 quart Duo, but other Instant Pot models should work well. You’ll also need something heavy to press the paneer. I used a cast-iron skillet, but anything you have in your kitchen should work well.
How to Make Instant Pot Paneer
Instant Pot paneer is so simple to make! Start by making sure your stainless steel pot is super clean. If you have anything stuck on the bottom, it’s more likely to burn (not the end of the world, but harder to clean!).
Put the stainless steel pot in your Instant Pot then pour a gallon of milk and 1/4 cup of vinegar into the stainless steel pot. Lock the lid in place and pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. Note that it will take about 30 minutes to come up to pressure before it starts counting down.
After the Instant Pot is done, leave it alone for 10 minutes (natural release). When it says “L00:10” release any remaining pressure by opening the pressure release valve. After the pressure is released, carefully take off the lid. Note that the mixture should look cloudy and chunky. If it still looks smooth like milk, add an additional 1/4 cup of vinegar and stir.
Press “Cancel” to turn off the Instant Pot. Then carefully take the stainless steel pot out of the Instant Pot using potholders and slowly pour the mixture into the colander with the cheesecloth. After most of the whey has drained out, rinse the mixture in the colander with cold water. The water will help to remove the vinegar flavor and also cools the paneer so you can squeeze out the rest of the moisture.
Once the paneer is cool to the touch, sprinkle some salt into the mixture. Then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the paneer ball to squeeze out the excess liquid.
When you’ve squeezed out all you can by hand, put the paneer ball in the cheesecloth on top of several kitchen towels. Put some more towels on top and press it with something heavy (I use a cast-iron pan). Leave it to press for an hour or two. Then unwrap and cook or refrigerate to cook with later.
If you try this recipe for Instant Pot paneer, leave me a rating and review below and let me know how it worked out for you!
Instant Pot Paneer
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- salt (to taste)
- Place the stainless steel pot inside the inside pot. Pour the milk and vinegar into the pot.
- Lock the lid in place. Close the pressure release valve and press the "Pressure Cook" or "Manual" button until it's on "Normal" and press the "Pressure Level" button until it's on "High" (skip this if your Instant Pot doesn't have a "Pressure Level" button). Press the +/- buttons until the display says 00:04 for 4 minutes. The Instant Pot will say "On" until it's up to pressure (takes about 30 minutes with this much cold liquid), then will start counting down.
- While the Instant Pot is coming up to pressure, prepare a large colander by lining it with a folded over cheesecloth. I use a large cheesecloth folded into quarters for this step. Place the prepared colander in a sink with a drain.
- When the Instant Pot is done cooking, naturally release for 10 minutes. This means that you just need to leave it alone while it starts counting up. When it says "L00:10" release any remaining pressure by opening the pressure release valve. Take off the lid when the pressure is released. The mixture should look cloudy and chunky. If it still looks smooth like milk, add an additional 1/4 cup of vinegar and stir.
- Press "Cancel" to turn off the Instant Pot. Using pot holders, carefully take the stainless steel pot out of the Instant Pot and slowly pour the mixture into the prepared colander.
- Once most of the whey has drained out, rinse the mixture with cold water to remove the vinegar flavor and cool the paneer so you can squeeze out the rest of the water and whey.
- Once the paneer has cooled down significantly, sprinkle some salt into the mixture. Then carefully gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the ball of cheese to squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Once you've squeezed out all the liquid you can by hand, place the cheesecloth ball on top of several kitchen towels. Put some more towels on top and weigh it down with something heavy (I use a cast iron pan). Leave it sit for an hour or two.
- Then you can unwrap and cook with the paneer. If you won't use the paneer right away, refrigerate in the cheesecloth covered in a kitchen towel so it doesn't dry out.