This Butter Paneer  is treasured family recipe in our house and is easily better than any restaurant version you’ve tried. Serve it with a batch of warm, buttery homemade naan and prepare to fall in love.

Also known as Shahi Paneer, Paneer Makhani or Paneer Butter Masala, Butter Paneer is a rich North Indian curry packed with paneer cubes in a tomato cream sauce with traditional Indian spices.

If you are a fan of creamy Indian dishes, you should definitely give a try to my amazing recipes for Chicken Korma, Butter chicken, Shrimp Korma, Madras Lentils and Malai Kofta. Additionally, for more delectable paneer recipes, don’t miss my almost-famous saag paneer recipe!

Homemade butter paneer in a bowl.

Butter Paneer is a popular vegetarian curry dish from the Indian subcontinent. It is made with paneer (a type of Indian cottage cheese), which is cooked in a creamy tomato-based sauce. The sauce is typically made by blending together tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and a blend of Indian spices such as garam masala, cumin, and turmeric. The sauce includes cream and butter, which gives the dish its rich and indulgent flavor. Butter Paneer is often served with naan bread or rice and is a beloved dish in Indian cuisine.

It is a vegetarian version of Butter Chicken. Most Indian restaurants even use the same rich, creamy tomato-y sauce for both dishes.

Filled with sumptuous aromas of fresh ginger and the fabulous flavor of cinnamon and mild spices, this is one Indian dish that will have you coming back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. To make this meal extra special, start with a batch of crispy homemade potato samosas (or my favorite chicken samosa recipe, if you’re not vegetarian).

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Is there a more comforting Indian meal? This is arguably is one of the most delicious vegetarian Indian recipes
  • It is quick, easy and can be easily prepared at home with simple ingredients.
  • My recipe includes ground almonds, which impart richness and flavour (and even a pleasant texture). 
  • The paneer pulls in the rich, buttery sauce and makes the world a better place. It melts in your mouth.
Ingredients on a countertop for the Paneer Butter Masala.

Ingredients you’ll need

Paneer – If you’re feeling adventurous, homemade paneer is the way to go! It’s not that to make, and it tastes so yummy than store-bought paneer. Plus, it’ll make your dish that much more impressive to your guests.

Butter – It doesn’t matter if you use salted or unsalted – a few tablespoons make this recipe silky and lush.

Tomatoes – Red, ripe tomatoes not only make the paneer butter masala more visually appealing with their vibrant color, but they also add a slightly tangy flavor to the curry. Always use red, ripe tomatoes in this dish; unripe tomatoes will change the flavor of the curry for the worse, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Substitute canned tomatoes if you can’t find good fresh tomatoes.

Onions – Onions are the star ingredient in this Paneer Butter Masala recipe, but you don’t even know they’re in there. They cook down to golden and mild and provide a natural sweetness to the sauce. They essentially melt right down and become the sauce itself.

Heavy Whipping Cream – Heavy whipping cream has a lush texture and can quickly thicken a sauce. It also adds a decadent richness, making it a key ingredient in this delicious recipe.

Herbs and Spices – I have used a spice blend of ginger, garlic, garam masala, coarse salt, and chopped cilantro for topping. The garam masala is a blend of spices that replaces the need to source individual coriander powder, turmeric, cinnamon, etc. You can also add red chillies or red chilli powder for a spicy kick.

Frying the onions until golden.
stirring the spices with the onions.

How to make Paneer Butter Masala

Making this homemade Paneer Butter Masala really only requires a few simple steps. Cooking is sure to be a breeze with this tried-and-tested recipe.

  1. Caramelize onions in a saucepan or dutch oven over a medium flame. This is where an important part of the flavour is developed, so take your time.
  2. Stir in garlic, ginger and some Indian spices. Warming the spices gently for a few moments develops them more deeply and makes them more fragrant.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and almonds and simmer. This step allows them to soften and the flavours to meld.
  4. Add cream and blend the mixture. Puréeing the sauce creates a creamy, dreamy smooth and rich gravy.
  5. Add sauce back to pan to simmer and add paneer. It only takes a few minutes to simmer gently and before you know it, the paneer will be full of creamy rich flavour.
Homemade paneer being strained in a colander with cheesecloth.

Where to Find Paneer

Paneer is simply a fresh Indian cheese very similar to strained ricotta. It’s also called Indian cottage cheese. It is chewy, milky, bouncy, and super addictive.

Paneer is quite easy to make at home – it’s made simply by adding lemon juice to boiled milk, then straining and pressing.

If you want to DIY, you can hop on over to my homemade paneer recipe here – How to Make Paneer at Home: My Foolproof Step-by-Step Guide.

If you’re looking for a quicker option, not to worry – it’s pretty easily accessible in most well-stocked grocery stores, and definitely any Indian grocer.

If not making it myself, I look for a package with minimal additives (like carrageenan, guar gum, etc.).

Stirring cream with the butter paneer mixture.

What to serve with Paneer Butter Masala

Roti or chapati (Indian flatbread), fluffy naan, or simple basmati rice (cooked according to my viral video on how to cook rice) are both an excellent choice for dipping in this yummy masala sauce.

Tandoori chicken, saag paneer, or any favourite Indian meat dish with more sauce would complement butter masala well, if you’re hosting a bigger dinner.

Serve with Yogurt cucumber salad for a complete meal.

Adding almonds and tomatoes to butter paneer masala.

Make ahead instructions

Make this entertaining-worthy dish ahead of time with this time-saving tip:

  • Prepare the sauce up to 3 days in advance without adding cream or paneer and refrigerate it in an airtight container.
  • On the day of serving, reheat it until it comes to a gentle simmer then add the paneer cubes and heavy whipping cream.

Variations and substitutions

  • To make a vegan-friendly Paneer Butter Masala recipe, substitute paneer with tofu. Extra firm tofu is similar to paneer in taste and texture, making it an excellent replacement for a plant-based option. Swap the cream and butter for your fav vegan alternatives.
  • For a lightened-up or dairy-free recipe, you can replace it with coconut milk to achieve richness and consistency.
  • The restaurant-y flavor can be enhanced even more by adding a whole spices like a few cardamom cloves, a bay leaf, and a few cloves.
  • Adding bit of Kasuri methi made from dried fenugreek leaves lends additional authentic flavor to this paneer butter masala recipe.
  • Use cashews in place of almonds if you like.
Adding paneer to the paneer butter masala mixture.


What is Paneer Butter Masala made of?

Paneer Butter Masala is a delicious and popular Indian dish. It is a combination of paneer (cheese) and butter curry. Paneer butter masala is a rich & creamy curry made with paneer, spices, onions, tomatoes, and butter.

Would it be okay if I used canned tomato puree?

Yes, indeed. Canned tomato purée is usually thicker than fresh tomato puree so it even imparts a preferred consistency to the sauce. If it’s too tangy for your taste, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the sourness.

Why does paneer break while cooking?

Paneer breaks when the dairy’s protein bonds unravel. It can happen because of heat, cooking acid, or overstirring. Keep the heat low, stir minimally and just heat through once the paneer is added to the sauce.

What is the difference between Paneer Butter Masala and Paneer Tikka Masala?

Paneer Butter Masala is a creamy, saucy dish whose sauce is prepared using butter and tomatoes and enriched with melt-in-your-mouth paneer. Paneer butter masala is usually accompanied by plain rice or naan. Paneer Tikka Masala is a spicier, lighter dish whose sauce is prepared using crushed tomatoes, onions and paneer cubes that were pre-marinated with yogurt and spices.

Can you freeze Paneer Butter Masala?

You can freeze this paneer butter masala recipe with no problem at all. Cool it thoroughly and then transfer it to an airtight container. You can store the paneer butter masala in the freezer for up to six months. When you’re ready to reheat it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then microwave it until heated.

More Vegetarian Indian Recipes

If you haven’t noticed, love vegetarian Indian food.  You know this already if you’ve been hanging around here for a while (and if you have, thank you! I <3 you!).  My hubby is Indian, so exploring India and Indian food has been a long-time passion. To that end, here are a few more of my love-filled, and flavour-packed creations I think you may like:

Homemade butter paneer in a bowl.

Butter Paneer

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Keyword Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Makhani


  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup blanched almonds plus more for topping
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 400 grams paneer cut in cubes
  • cilantro optional, for garnish


  • Heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onions and slowly cook until golden, about 20 minutes, reducing heat if they are getting crispy or browning quickly. This is an important flavour-building step, don’t rush it!
  • Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in garam masala, paprika, cinnamon and salt; cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and almonds; cook 2 minutes, then add cream and carefully puree using an immersion blender (or standing blender, but do it in batches or the steam will blow the top off).
  • Return sauce to saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Gently stir in paneer and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Top with cilantro and additional almonds, if desired.



  • To make it ahead: Prepare the sauce up to 3 days in advance without adding cream or paneer and refrigerate it in an airtight container. On the day of serving, reheat it until it comes to a gentle simmer then add the paneer cubes and heavy whipping cream.
  • For a lightened-up or dairy-free recipe, you can replace it with coconut milk to achieve richness and consistency.
  • You may substitute the paneer with cubed halloumi or firm tofu.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


Calories: 657kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 20gFat: 58gSaturated Fat: 33gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 1311mgPotassium: 469mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1652IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 591mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Makhani

Last Updated on June 13, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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11 years ago

I am holding my dachshund Basil SO TIGHT right now, as I read this story. I am so glad you are all safe! the unwavering and instant help from a stranger gives me hope.

11 years ago

that is one adorable dog you have. I’m glad it all turned out okay. 

Jennifer Pallian
11 years ago

Thank you, Laura!

Jennifer Pallian
11 years ago

Thanks Megs XOX

11 years ago

Wow, that must have been so scary! I’m glad everything turned out all right in the end!

11 years ago

What a touching story! Kind people always warm my heart. There aren’t that many of them left. I also lol’d at 
his head bobbling in the peaceful Indian gesture that means “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, “hello”

Is that the ambiguous head nodding “outsourced” described?

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