How To Make The World’s Easiest Cheese Plus A Delicious Indian Recipe

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I always thought of cheesemaking as something similar to making your own wine – you needed all sorts of ingredients, a long complicated process, and then months of aging. Well, it turns out you can make a simple cheese at home with only 3 common ingredients, in about 2 hours! This is probably the easiest cheese recipe you’ll find!

Sometimes called “Farmer’s Cheese”, in South Asia it’s known as Paneer, and is made simply by adding an acidic ingredient to hot milk in order to separate the curds from the whey.

This recipe will make about a pound and a half of cheese for around $3-$4, depending on the cost of milk in your area.

You’ll need:

1 gallon whole milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
Salt to taste


Heat the milk to about 195 degrees in a non-aluminum pot.


Ideally you should use a thermometer, but if you don’t have one, just heat it until the surface gets a lot of foam on it. Remove it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.


Add the lemon juice, a little bit at a time, and stir. You probably won’t need the entire 1/2 cup, so you don’t want to add it all at once.


When the milk starts getting chunky (these are the curds forming), and the liquid gets more and more clear, you’ve added enough lemon juice. Let the curds sit in the pot for about 20 minutes.


Line a colander with a piece of cheesecloth, place it in the sink, and pour the mixture in. Once the majority of the liquid has drained off, you can place the colander inside a bowl (so you get your sink back) and let it drain for another 30 minutes.


After 30 minutes, sprinkle on a bit of salt, stir, and get ready to press the cheese.


The finally step is to press the last remaining liquid out. Lift the cheesecloth out and form the cheese inside it into a ball, squeeze it a bit to drain some more liquid, then flatten it out into a disk about 1/2″ thick. Open up the cheesecloth and re-wrap it so that the cloth is even over the top and bottom – if you leave any lumps or knots you won’t have a nice smooth block of cheese when you press it. Place an upside-down plate on a baking sheet (to catch any of the last bits of liquid), place another plate on top, then place something heavy (like a piece of cast iron) on top of that. Let the cheese sit for about an hour. If you can press your finger into the surface and have no liquid come out, you’re done!


You may notice some flecks of color in our cheese – these came from the milk starting to scorch on the bottom of the pot. You can avoid this by not stirring all the way to the bottom of the pot, or you could pick out the larger specks once the cheese is drained. We just left it in, it really doesn’t affect the taste.


You can cover and refrigerate this cheese for up to a week. You could slice and eat it at this point, but it’s pretty bland by itself; it’s best used when it takes on the flavor of other ingredients in a dish. So, let’s make a classic Indian dish!

Saag Paneer, also known as Palak Paneer, is a dish featuring cooked spinach, the paneer cheese, and traditional Indian spices. You’ll need:

1 16 ounce package frozen spinach
12 ounces paneer cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 T minced ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 serrano chili, finely chopped (keep the seeds in if you want HOT, otherwise remove them)
1 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t garam masala
1 t salt
4 1/2 T olive oil
1/2 c – 1 c plain yogurt (regular yogurt will work better than Greek)

Mix the turmeric, cayenne, salt and 3 tablespoons of oil in a large bowl. Add the cheese cubes and gently toss them until they’re completely coated. Be careful you don’t crumble them! Set this mixture aside.

Use your food processor to puree the thawed spinach. You can puree it until it’s the consistency of creamed spinach, or stop a bit before that for a more leafy mixture.

Put a large nonstick pan over medium heat, and add the paneer in a single layer (along with any of the remaining liquid). Check it after a few minutes, once it’s browned slightly on the bottom flip them all over to brown the other side. Again, careful not to break them! Remove them from the pan and set them aside when they’re done.

Add the other 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, then add the onions, garlic, chili and ginger. Stir-fry everything for 10-15 minutes – you want it to be a nice golden-brown color. You can add a little water if it starts to dry out.

Next add the remainder of the dry spices and a little more water. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, a little more salt, and 1/2 cup of water, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the yogurt a little at a time. If you want a very creamy dish, use the full cup, otherwise use a bit less.

Carefully stir the cheese into the mixture (no breaking!), cover and simmer over low-medium heat for about 3-5 minutes just to warm everything back up. Paneer cheese won’t melt, so you don’t need to worry about getting it off the heat in time, but you don’t actually need to cook it any further at this point.

Serve and enjoy! Let us know if you have any other interesting uses for this easy to make cheese!

  • Shaul says:

    I have a (cow) milk allergy, though milk products (cheeses, etc) are OK. Since the milk converts to cheese, can I still use cow milk or should/could I use goat’s milk instead?

    • Bill Osuch says:

      Since that’s a medical situation, we really can’t offer advice on it on whether cow’s milk would be safe. To be on the safe side, it’s probably best to stick with goat’s milk if you have no reaction to that.

  • Caylam says:

    I made this recipe for my sister and her family and it was suuuuch a hit!!! My only complaint was the cheese which I followed to a T and it came out in presentation but had the WORST flavor!! I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong in the cheese making field. Please help.

    • Bill Osuch says:

      If the ingredients are fresh and the utensils are clean, and you’re following the recipe, the cheese should come out with a nice, mild flavor. Maybe it scorched on the bottom of the pan and that’s what you’re tasting?

    • bina says:

      you need to wash off sour lemon by running though water few times in a strainer. at this point you can add salt per your test. then put it in cloth for draining.

  • Sharon says:

    I used skim milk. The process worked fine but my final product has small curds. It sort of holds together for slicing but is fragil. Is that due to using skim or how I processed it?

    • Bill Osuch says:

      That’s the skim milk – the fat is what makes the cheese soft, so without it you tend to wind up with a more grainy cheese.

      • larry says:

        Ever notice you can’t buy large curd cottage cheese in low fat formulation? Only small curd is available low fat. Same thing here. Use WHOLE milk, or better yet un-homogenized might work even better.

        It’s that evil fat stuff that gives us most of our delicious cheeses, even the large curd cottage types. { ;>)[>

    • bina says:

      i make it with 2% milk, have also made with 1%.
      after washing i let water drain. then
      i put cheese in food processor with pinch of salt process just for a bit which gives cheese smooth texture.
      allow this to drain again in cloth with pressure on top.
      this extra step will make cheese(paneer) smooth and sliceable.

  • Muqadas says:

    Can this cheese be used to make pizza?

  • Shoaib Ahmed says:

    Sum tips…. cos i kno ( i m indian).1. Bring milk 2 a boil n add the lemon juice wen its stil boiling. 2. Buffalo milk paneer sumhow tastes waayyy better( sorry). 3. U MUST boil the spinach leaves b4 pureeing them else the dish wil taste terrible. 4. U dont need 2 add so many spices…only chopped onions, salt n red chilly powder wil also make a great dish (try it) 5. Its saag paneer not saaq.6. I m surprised by the use of yoghurt. Most probably it wil spoil the taste. 7. Pls dont EVER thro the whey…u can make tons of tasty n healthy stuf!

  • Ellen says:

    Can this be frozen?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Ellen,

      Yes, it can be frozen. It might loose a bit of texture, but in a pinch it should be fine.

  • Ranya says:

    I make it very often. But instead of adding salt to the curdles, usually i put the final cheese in salted water in a well closed container and then refrigerate it. Cheese will last longer.
    BTW, you can add spices and flavors to curdles before Pressing them.

  • Laurie says:

    Is there anything you can do with the whey that is drained off?

  • Debbie says:

    Is this buttermilk cheese?

  • Sue says:

    Diet restrictions- can I use 2% milk?

    • Bill Osuch says:

      Yes. You probably wouldn’t want to use skim, you need a bit of fat in there, but it will work with 2%. Milk straight from the cow is only 3.5%, so there’s not much difference.

  • Diana says:

    For a snack finger food I love to pan fry paneer strips without marinating it. Then, when I put it on the plate I drizzle it with lime juice, sprinkle a little chipoltle powder on it and garnish with a shower of fresh cilantro. OMG

  • Jenni says:

    There’s an easier cheese, called Labna (I think that’s it). It’s made by straining yoghurt (with or without a pinch of salt added, depending on the recipe, and your taste). That’s it. Just strain it through cheesecloth for a few hours, or overnight.
    Another alternative you can use for cheesecloth, by the way, is Chux cloths, though I give them a boil first.

    • Shoaib Ahmed says:

      Labna may b easier but paneer is damn easy 2 as u can tel from the recipe. Labna is no where near paneer in taste n versatility. Paneer can literally b used for eastern or western dishes with ease!

    • ANN DORWARD says:

      I always thought drained yogurt was “greek yogurt” or alternatively, yogurt cheese. Different ingredients making yogurt than paneer.

  • Holly says:

    Thanks for the recipe(s)! I love palak paneer. I was wondering if you have tried freezing this cheese? I’m a single gal without kids to feed so I doubt I’d go through a pound and a half in a week, even if I convince my boyfriend to eat some! Making a full batch would save time and money but not if I have to throw half of it out. Thanks. 🙂

    • Bill Osuch says:

      Actually, we’ve never tried freezing it – with 5 people it goes pretty quickly! The only ingredient that you’ll be saving money on with a larger quantity is the milk; if you start with half a gallon rather than a whole gallon you really won’t wind up paying that much more per ounce when you’re finished.

  • Melissa says:

    Approximately how much salt do you use? Also, do you use cheese salt or a specific type of salt?

  • J'Marinde says:

    Can this be made dairy free using coconut or almond milk? thanks

    • Bill Osuch says:

      Unfortunately not – almond milk won’t curdle properly. If you’re not using animal milk you’d usually add some sort of starch (tapioca, cornstarch…) and/or agar to get it to thicken into a “cheesey” consistency.

  • Sheila says:

    Interesting recipe, and the cheese looks super simple. I need some cheesecloth, though! 😀

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