Paneer Cheese Substitutes: 5 Popular Options

Paneer is a mild-flavored protein and calcium-rich cheese from India. We considered these aspects, as well as prospective availability, while making our suggestions for paneer cheese substitutes.

We investigated dietary limitations and the function of paneer in many recipes, and we detailed these elements so you can make the best selection for which paneer substitute is best for you!

What is Paneer Cheese?

Paneer is a fresh, white cheese with a strong and crumbly texture, chewy texture, and a milky taste that dates back 8000 years!

Despite its stiffness, it is a soft, non-melting cheese. Because it does not melt, seasoned and fried or grilled cheese is a fantastic way to enjoy this basic cheese. Paneer is historically used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, curries, and sandwiches.

Paneer cheese generally has 14-25 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, making a portion as rich in protein as two to three eggs. Paneer also contains 33% of the daily calcium requirement!

Dietary Restrictions and Paneer

Unlike hard cheeses, which are often prepared with rennet, paneer is formed by adding acid to heated milk, causing curds to develop. Because it is not manufactured with rennet, it is naturally vegetarian, halal, and Kosher.

Paneer is not vegan since it is manufactured using buffalo milk, cow milk, or a combination of the two (but we will discuss a vegan version in this post!).

The 5 most common cheese like paneer cheese:

  • Halloumi Cheese
  • Panela
  • Fresh, well drained Ricotta
  • Feta Cheese
  • Extra-firm Tofu

Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi is a creamy semi-soft white cheese with a salty, acidic taste. It’s similar to brined feta.

What’s Similar?

Halloumi, like paneer, is firm and chewy with a high melting point that makes it ideal for frying or grilling. Cooking it reduces the salinity, bringing it more in line with the paneer taste palate. It contains over 25 grams of protein per 100-gram meal and almost 70% of the necessary daily amount of calcium!

What’s Different?

Halloumi is produced without the use of acids, much like paneer. It has a chewier and springier texture than paneer, and its salty, tangy, and savory taste is more powerful and robust than paneer. Some describe the flavor and texture as beefy. As a Cypriot cheese, it is manufactured from cow, sheep, or goat milk.

Dietary Restrictions

Because halloumi is prepared using rennet, it is only vegetarian when manufactured with vegetarian rennet and halal when made with halal or vegetarian rennet. There are Kosher choices available. Most grocery shops will not have halloumi, but specialized grocers such as Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and your local Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets should.

How to Substitute Halloumi Cheese for Paneer

In most dishes, Paneer may be replaced with Halloumi in an equal quantity. The only notable change will be in the taste, which will be more savory and rich than in a meal prepared with paneer.

Panela Cheese

Queso Panela is a fresh, firm white cheese from Mexico. It is also known as queso canasta or queso de la canasta.

What’s Similar?

It has a similar creamy, milky, and mild taste like paneer. When cooked, it softens but does not melt like paneer cheese. It may be crushed or minced to meet the demands of your recipe.

Panela has around 21 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, making it an excellent substitute for paneer if you want to keep the protein content high. The same serving size also contains roughly 40% of your daily calcium requirement, making it somewhat more calcium-rich than paneer.

What’s Different?

Panela is made with rennet.

Dietary Restrictions

Because it is created using rennet, vegetarian panela must be prepared with vegetarian rennet, and halal panela must be made with either vegetarian or halal rennet. We couldn’t find any Kosher panela on the market.

How to Substitute Panela Cheese for Paneer

This paneer substitute works well in soups, curries, sandwiches, and salads. Replace the paneer with the same amount of panela cheese, diced, sliced, or crumbled, as called for in the recipe. Panela is the closest alternative for paneer and should work well in most recipes.

Fresh, Well Drained Ricotta

Ricotta is a fresh, soft white cheese from Italy.

What’s Similar?

Ricotta has a creamy texture and a creamy taste.

What’s Different?

Unlike paneer, ricotta has a natural sweetness as well as a frothy and gritty texture. Fresh ricotta offers just around ten grams of protein per 100-gram serving, making it a significantly less satisfying replacement for paneer. It also only contains 10% of your daily calcium need. Ricotta has half the fat of paneer.

Dietary Restrictions

Ricotta is inherently vegetarian and halal since it is not prepared with rennet. There are kosher choices available. Ricotta should be easy to obtain in a grocery shop near you.

How to Substitute Fresh Ricotta for Paneer

Ricotta may be substituted for paneer in an equivalent proportion. Drain well and consider straining it with a cheesecloth. We prefer fresh ricotta for meals that call for crumbled paneer, but not for soups or curries.

Can’t locate ricotta but want something similar? Check out popular cheeses like ricotta.

Feta Cheese

Feta is a soft, white brined Mediterranean cheese. Because feta is such an important element of Greek cuisine, the EU has granted it protected status, therefore only feta manufactured in Greece is considered feta in Europe!

What’s Similar?

Feta cheese has a crumbly, creamy texture that complements salads and may be used as a topping. When heated, it does not melt, but rather softens and becomes mushy. This is due to the high acid levels in paneer. Feta and paneer are both high in fat.

What’s Different?

Feta is usually prepared from a combination of goat and sheep milk, however there are variations manufactured from simply one of these or cow milk. It’s full-flavored and strong, with a tangy and salty edge from the brine. Feta cheese has a gritty and porous texture that lends itself to crumble rather than slicing. It provides around 10 grams less protein per 100 gram meal than paneer.

Dietary Restrictions

Rennet is used to make feta cheese. Vegetarian choices, as well as halal equivalents, will be produced using vegetarian rennet unless acquired from a halal butcher. There are kosher feta cheese choices available. Feta should be available at your local food shop.

How to Substitute Feta Cheese for Paneer

Because of its rich taste, feta is an excellent alternative for paneer in meals that benefit from its briny bite. Because it does not melt like the other paneer cheese substitutes we’ve explored, you may simply substitute it for paneer in curries and soups. Replace the crushed paneer with equal parts crumbled feta cheese.

Extra-Firm Tofu

Extra-firm tofu is a kind of tofu, a soy milk curd, that is very solid and compact for a thick texture. It is said to have been originated during China’s Han era and is currently a major protein source in many Southeast Asian nations.

What’s Similar?

It has a mild taste and a firm texture that lends itself nicely to crumbling, slicing, and cutting and excellently replicates paneer cheese. When cooked, its taste is most similar to paneer. Tofu, like paneer, does not dissolve when heated.

What’s Different?

Tofu is not a cheese and does not melt much when cooked. It has less protein than paneer, with around 17 grams per 100-gram meal. Tofu, on the other hand, has 53% of your daily calcium need! It’s also higher in iron and potassium, and has about a third less fat.

If you’re searching for a more complete supply of nutrients, this is a great substitute for paneer.

Dietary Restrictions

Tofu is vegan, vegetarian, halal, and kosher by nature. You should be able to purchase it prepackaged in your preferred grocery store’s food area, but you may be able to get it fresh at your local Asian market.

How to Substitute Extra-Firm Tofu for Paneer

It’s a great paneer substitute since it keeps its form nicely in soups and curries and can survive cooking. To use, drain your tofu and compress it gently to eliminate any extra moisture. Then, treat the tofu like paneer and use an equivalent quantity to replace the paneer in your dish.


What is an alternative to paneer cheese?

What Is the Best Paneer Substitute? In a 1:1 ratio, the finest paneer replacements are queso panela, queso blanco, and firm or extra-firm tofu (for a vegan option). Ricotta cheese may be used in place of paneer in various Indian sweets.

What is a good substitute for paneer protein?

While paneer is high in healthy fats and protein and is popular among many, substituting it with tofu has its own set of advantages. “Both paneer and tofu are high in protein and healthy fats.”

Is feta cheese same as paneer?

Is feta cheese comparable to paneer? No, feta cheese is not the same as paneer. Feta cheese is substantially more flavorful and salty than paneer. Paneer is a milder, softer cheese, while feta has a crumbly texture and a salty flavor.

What is the English equivalent of paneer?

Paneer, also known as Indian cottage cheese, is said to have originated in India. The mild flavor of paneer may remind you of American cottage cheese.

Is paneer and queso fresco the same thing?

When ingested in appropriate proportions, fresh cheese, also known as paneer in India, queso fresco in Latin America, wagashi in Ghana, or farmer’s cheese in Europe, is considered a light and reasonably digestible kind of cheese for most people.

Is mozzarella cheese and paneer same?

The most noticeable distinction between paneer and mozzarella is how the cheese’s milk curds are created. Heat and acid are used to make paneer, which is an extremely hard cheese. Mozzarella is made using whey and rennet to produce an elastic, soft cheese.

What is alternative for paneer in USA?

Halloumi cheese is a unique sort of cheese manufactured from a combination of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk, however it is sometimes made from either one or the other. It is a good paneer alternative since it has many of the same proteins and vitamins as paneer, as well as a high fat content.

What is the difference between ricotta and paneer?

To make ricotta, the proteins in residual whey are heated, coagulated with food acids, or curdled with rennet, while curd is made by heating cow or buffalo milk and paneer is made using just food acids and no rennet. It’s the distinction between ricotta and paneer.

Is paneer cottage cheese?

Paneer, often known as ‘Indian cottage cheese,’ is a mild, white cheese that is commonly served sliced into cubes and fried in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

What is a vegan substitute for paneer?

Tofu. Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is the best vegan equivalent for paneer. Tofu, on the other hand, does not taste like paneer, but it has a similar crumbly texture and is faintly flavored.

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