The 6 Best Substitutes For Paneer Cheese

If you have heard of it before, paneer is a type of cheese that originates in India. This cheese has a pretty unique flavor, and because of this, a lot of Indian cuisine has been designed to utilize this specific flavor.

As well as this paneer cheese also has a unique texture as well.

The texture can vary too, sometimes it is soft and it crumbles, and sometimes it is more firm and a little easier to slice instead.

There are a lot of Indian dishes that include paneer, so having access to it is important for these recipes.

The 6 Best Substitutes For Paneer Cheese

However, depending on where you are based, getting access to paneer can be difficult, especially if you are working with a budget and do not want to pay hefty import fees.

Unfortunately, getting paneer outside of India can simply just be too expensive.

However, luckily, there are plenty of different substitutes you can use that will work well instead of using paneer.

In this article we will go over some of our favorites so you know which will suit you best when cooking Indian cuisine.

We have mainly focused on paneer substitutes that are either incredibly close to the original, or ones that are close, but also much more accessible in different parts of the world.

Some of these substitutes are ingredients that you might already have in your home! Because of this, reading this article will be useful if you are planning to make a recipe that uses paneer.

So if you want to cook with paneer cheese, but cannot find it, keep reading to get some great suggestions!

What Is Paneer Cheese?

Similarly to a lot of other cheeses, paneer cheese is made by curdling milk, and then the whey will be separated from the curds.

This will result in a cheese that is soft and slightly sweet tasting. You can use paneer as a substitute for most other cheeses, so if you do have access to it, then you can use it this way.

One dish that paneer is often added to is a paneer butter masala, this dish is creamy and rich and a delicious curry.

It is one of the best tasting Indian dishes, and being able to make it with paneer will give you the best results if you have never made it.

Paneer cheese can also be added to Indian dishes where it is not traditionally used to give a new spin on the classic but still keep it traditional.

Paneer is a great ingredient to know how to use in a variety of different recipes and dishes!

What you should keep in mind is that paneer does not always act like other cheeses. For example paneer cheese will not melt like a more traditional cheese would.

Because of this, we recommend adding your paneer cheese to your dish near the end of the cooking so it can soak up the flavors of what you are cooking! Doing this is a great way utilize the unique aspects of paneer!

Best Paneer Cheese Substitutes

It is worth keeping in mind that not all substitutes for paneer cheese are equal. For example, some will simply have a much closer taste or texture.

Also, since paneer cheese is used in a wide variety of recipes, some of these substitutions will work better in some recipes than others.

Because of this, we recommend reading through our descriptions of the substitutes available so you know if the substitute cheese will work for the recipe you plan to use it for!

1. Halloumi


Halloumi does have a signature taste, however, you can find it often being used as a paneer substitute. It is made using a mix of both sheep and goat milk, and it has gained quite a lot of global recognition.

It has a much harder texture than other cheeses, however, similarly to paneer, it is not easy to melt, meaning you can cook it in a similar way to paneer.

Furthermore, it also takes on the flavor of the ingredient you cook it with just like paneer does. Since halloumi is so easily accessible, it is one of our top options.

2. Feta


Feta is a cheese that has been around for centuries, however, it is still quite popular and because of this is one of our top options.

It has quite a strong tangy and salty taste, and this is why we can not always recommend it as a substitute for paneer since this has a much more mild taste by comparison.

This cheese is a lot more accessible than paneer tends to be and you can find it in a wide variety of different stores and supermarkets.

You can also find feta in a variety of different textures, with the most common being crumbly, however, if you want to use it as a substitute for paneer, then we recommend finding soft feta.

3. Mascarpone


If you are looking for a cheese that has a soft texture just like paneer does as well as a slightly mild flavor, then we have to recommend using mascarpone.

It is worth noting that mascarpone is not as widely accessible as some of the other options like feta or halloumi, however, it is still relatively easy to find. It is soft like paneer is, however, it will not keep its texture as well, especially when heated and it will melt.

4. Ricotta


Ricotta is made in a way that is pretty similar to paneer, and it also has a flavor that is pretty comparable making it another strong choice for a substitute for paneer.

It is usually made using a mix of sheep and cow’s milk, and it is often used in desserts as well as savory dishes. The texture of this cheese is also similar to cottage cheese which is also compared to paneer as well.

5. Queso Fresco

Queso Fresco

A cheese that you also might not have heard of is queso franco that is also made from cow’s milk like paneer is. This is an ancient cheese that has been used since the Aztec times and it is used in a variety of Mexican dishes.

It has a mild taste like mozzarella, however, it will keep its texture and absorbs other flavors like a good paneer substitute.

6. Queso Panela

Queso Panela

Another Mexican cheese that is commonly used as a paneer substitute is queso panela, this is a semi-soft cheese that is made using milk. It is pretty similar to paneer, only being slightly saltier.

However, the flavor is quite similar, so if you want something you can cook in a similar way to paneer, this is a good choice!


Hopefully this guide has given you some good recommendations for ingredients that you can use instead of paneer.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, not all paneer substitutes are made equal, and knowing which will work best in different situations will ensure that you get the best results.

To understand which paneer substitute will work best, we recommend reading the recipe you plan to use, and see how the paneer is used, and what the desired result is.

This will ensure that the substitute is as close to paneer as possible!

Frequently Asked Questions

Best Substitutes For Paneer Cheese?

You can substitute paneer cheese with a variety of other dairy based cheese as well as other vegan alternatives as well. For example, if you want a dairy substitute, then we recommend queso blanco or ricotta as some of our top choices for how similar the texture and the flavor is.

It is also common for vegans to use different types of tofu as a paneer substitute, this will soak up the flavor and will have a similar texture.

Is Feta Similar To Paneer?

Depending on the circumstances, you could use feta as a paneer substitute since feta crumbles in a similar way to how paneer occasionally does. However, the flavor of feta is pretty unique and not similar to paneer at all. The flavor of feta is much more salty, while paneer is a lot more mild and is usually a bit more soft than feta.

English Paneer Equivalent?

If you wanted to compare paneer to an English cheese, then the best choice would likely be cottage cheese. This is because they both have a slightly similar texture, however, paneer is a bit more soft than cottage cheese. The flavor of paneer is also a bit more mild, while cottage cheese has a noticeable signature tangy flavor.

Is Paneer Healthier Than Dairy Cheese?

Compared to some dairy cheeses, you can actually find quite a few health benefits from paneer cheese in comparison. For example, paneer cheese is a lot lower in fat. It does not contain any cholesterol, and it does have a high protein and calcium content, making it very nutritious.

On top of this, paneer also has probiotics, which help with digestion. You also get some great vitamins and minerals from paneer, including magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin A and B12 too.

The 6 Best Substitutes For Paneer Cheese

Recipe by AubreyCourse: SidesCuisine: Halloumi, Feta, Mascarpone, Ricotta, Queso Fresco, Queso Panela


Prep time


Cooking time






  • Halloumi

  • Feta

  • Mascarpone

  • Ricotta

  • Queso Fresco

  • Queso Panela


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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