Paneer Butter Masala Recipe

// Make the ultimate Paneer Butter Masala recipe: creamy, rich, and bursting with flavor. Perfect with naan or rice. Easy to make at home.



Paneer Butter Masala Recipe or Paneer Makhani is one of the most popular Indian paneer (Indian cottage cheese) dishes that is creamy, flavorful, and super delicious.

It has a mildly spicy and sweet taste that pairs well with garlic naan, tandoori roti, paratha, paneer pulao, jeera rice, or even plain fluffy Basmati Rice.

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A close-up of paneer butter masala garnished with ginger juliennes and fresh cilantro in a white bowl, with blurred naan and rice in the background.

Made using paneer, onion, tomatoes, cashews, cream, and butter, spices, it gets done in just 30 minutes.

On this page, I have shared a step-by-step picture and video recipe on how to make Restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala at home with all the tips, tricks, and variations!

About Paneer Butter Masala

Indian Paneer Butter Masala, also known as Paneer Makhani, is a rich, creamy, and buttery Indian cottage cheese curry. Paneer Butter Masala is cooked in butter (also known as makhan in Hindi), hence it is also called paneer makhani. This curry is not just a curry; this is pure deliciousness.

Here, soft paneer is dunked in a silky smooth, creamy, buttery, delicious, flavorful, and delicious sauce.

Prepared with paneer, onions, tomatoes, cashews, butter, cream, and spices, paneer butter masala is loved by all curry lovers.

Paneer butter masala is one of the most popular vegetarian curries served in Indian restaurants. If you have been to Indian restaurants, then you know that this particular Restaurant Style paneer dish is served in almost all the Indian restaurants.

Paneer is India’s first love, and so close to our heart that we can’t just get over it. There are endless paneer dishes we can make using paneer.

You make paneer curry with spinach gravy, you get Palak Paneer. You cook paneer tikka in gravy, you get Paneer Tikka Masala. Cook it with green peas, and you get Matar Paneer. Prepared paneer in special kadai masala, and your delicious kadai paneer is ready.

And if you fill your naan with paneer stuffing, then you get paneer stuffed naan. The paneer recipes list goes on. Each of the paneer dishes has its charm, and every single paneer dish is very different from one another.

I learned this particular paneer butter masala recipe from my sister, who is very famous for her Paneer Butter Masala. At most of the parties at her home, she prepares this Butter Paneer Masala on the demand of her guests, as they just love it.

Previously, I used to make paneer butter masala using onion paste, ginger-garlic, tomato puree, butter, cream, and spices. It required no separate base gravy.

Paneer butter masala in a white bowl on a wooden board, accompanied by naan and sliced onions, with a hint of rice and raita in the back.

But then one time I tasted it at my sister’s place, and I was in awe with the texture, color, and overall taste.

Then she gave me her recipe for this smooth, rich, buttery, creamy paneer butter masala curry. And I am telling you, that ever since I have tried my sister’s version, I have never tried any other recipe. All my friends and family just love it.

I am somewhat stuck with it because the unique charm this particular paneer butter masala has, none of the other versions possess.

Making this easiest paneer makhani at home is very simple and quick. If you have base gravy ready, then it gets done in just 15 minutes from start to finish. So, it is a perfect paneer curry to make when you are in a hurry.

Like most of us, I also love quick and simple recipes that can be made using simple ingredients, and this curry is certainly one of those. You can never go wrong with the taste of this recipe.

The great thing about this restaurant-style paneer butter masala recipe is that it is very simple to make and requires only some handy ingredients that are generally available in any Indian kitchen. I have also shared the recipe variation and substitutions on this page.

Making Creamy Restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala is easy to make at home. With my easy recipe, you can make butter paneer that tastes like the restaurant-style paneer butter masala, but it’s not heavy on the stomach.

Known for its simplicity & amazing taste, this simple paneer curry always comes out as a winner.

Once you try this recipe, you will never want to order it in a restaurant.

This Paneer Butter Masala

✓ has a super creamy and smooth texture

✓ tastes just like the ones from your favorite restaurant

✓ is easy to make

✓ can also be made vegan

✓ has a rich buttery taste

✓ goes well with naan

✓ can easily be customized

How to make paneer butter masala

To make paneer butter masala, you need to make the base gravy using onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, & cashews, whole and powdered spices. Then boil it until smooth, and later it’s blended into a smooth puree to make the curry base.

Once the base curry is done, it will only take 10 minutes to make restaurant style paneer makhani. Simply sauté some ginger-garlic paste in a butter and oil mixture. 

Then add some Kashmiri red chili powder and sauté for a few seconds. Add the base gravy and cook it with paneer cubes, garam masala, salt, and sugar.

Finish it off with butter, cream, and chopped cilantro, and it is ready. The whole process hardly takes 30-35 minutes.

Overhead shot of paneer butter masala in a white bowl, with naan and basmati rice on the side, set against a dark, marbled background.

Ingredients and Substitutes:

  • Paneer: This is the star ingredient of this recipe. If you don’t want to use paneer, you can swap it with firm tofu, tempeh, or halloumi. Tofu is an excellent vegan substitute.

  • Butter: It is the next important ingredient of this recipe. Butter is added for richness and flavor. Adding butter is essential to give this curry a buttery texture and taste. If you don’t eat butter, or you are into a vegan diet, use vegan butter for a dairy-free version.

  • Oil: You will need oil for making base gravy and final gravy. In this recipe, you can use any neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil. For a richer tasting, you can even use ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter.

  • Cumin seeds: They add an earthy and nutty flavor to this curry.

  • Whole spices: You will need whole spices such as cloves, green cardamom pods, black peppercorns, and bay leaf. These whole spices add depth to the overall taste of this butter paneer curry. If you don’t have whole spices, then use a pinch of ground cloves, cardamom, and black pepper as substitutes.

  • Onions: They add body and sweetness to the gravy. For this recipe, you can use any sweet variety of onions, just avoid using the red ones as they are more pungent and will give a darker shade to the curry.

  • Cashews: They thicken the gravy and add creaminess while adding a sweet, milky, and nutty taste. You can swap cashews with blanched almonds. If you have nut allergies, or don’t like to use nuts then swap them with melon seeds, poppy seeds, or pumpkin seeds as alternatives.

  • Tomatoes: They are added for acidity and color. Make sure to use tomatoes that are red, fresh, and ripe. They give the best flavor and texture. Instead of tomatoes, you can also use tomato puree.

  • Garlic & ginger: The two aromatics are essential to give flavor to any curry. Instead of fresh ginger garlic, you can also use ginger garlic paste as a convenient substitute. When using ginger-garlic paste, make sure to add it to the final gravy for more flavor and taste.

  • Powdered Spices: For this curry, you will need some essential spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, Kashmiri or Degi red chili, garam masala powders. All these spices bring warmth and color. You can adjust the chili powder according to your spice tolerance.

  • Water: Water is needed for cooking sauce and to adjust the consistency of the final gravy.

  • Roasted crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves): It adds a unique aroma and taste to this curry. You can easily find kasuri methi at any Indian store. If you do not find them, just skip as there is no substitute for this.

  • Fresh cream: Gives it creaminess and a mildly milky flavor. You can use fresh cream, whipping cream, heavy cream, cooking cream, or even homemade milk cream (malai) here. For a vegan curry, you can use coconut cream or cashew cream.

  • Fresh coriander: It is added for freshness contrast.

Storage Suggestions

To store, simply make the curry, cool it completely. Then refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days. Reheat it on a stovetop pan or in a microwave before serving. If the curry has thickened after storing, then you can adjust the consistency by adding water or cream.

Serving suggestions

Serve it with naan, roti, paratha, or any other flatbread of your choice. You can also pair it with pulao or plain basmati rice. For a complete Indian meal experience, serve it along with jeera aloo, dal makhani, naan, palak puri, cucumber raita, papads, pickle, walnut halwa, and mango lassi.

Paneer butter masala served in a white bowl on a dark surface, flanked by naan, rice, and sliced onions, with vibrant greenery in the corner adding a pop of color.

Tips & Tricks to make the best Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer butter masala is one of the simplest paneer dishes, but many times people can’t figure out what they are doing wrong that their curry doesn’t taste like the ones they get at restaurants. 

So here are some very useful tips for you to make the absolutely delicious paneer makhani just like one at restaurants.

  1. Cashews: Adding cashews to the base gravy is a must. It helps in giving it a thick and creamy texture while adding the typical mild sweet and nutty flavor. So using nuts is highly recommended. If you don’t use cashews, then you can go with blanched almonds. Make sure that you don’t over-add the nuts, or the curry will come out really heavy and thick. For about 450 grams of paneer, 2 tablespoons or about 20 cashews will be enough. You can also substitute cashew nuts with melon seeds or any other seeds of your choice.

  2. Blending: The base gravy should be smooth, as it gives the buttery texture to the gravy. So if possible, use a high power blender for pureeing the gravy.

  3. Straining: To get a really smooth puree, it is advised to pass it through a strainer. This step is entirely optional but highly recommended because it gives your paneer butter masala a restaurant style texture and look.

  4. Frying paneer: Butter paneer using raw paneer, but if you like fried paneer then you can pan fry them on medium heat until they are golden. Then add them to a bowl of water and let them soak for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the excess water and add the paneer to the gravy.

  5. Cream: Adding cream is highly suggested in this recipe as it helps in giving it a creamy texture.

  6. Butter: I like to use the combination of butter and oil for making base gravy and final gravy. But if you like, you can only use butter or even ghee for making it.

  7. Onions: Make sure to use yellow or white onions for making the gravy. They give the curry a velvety texture and mild flavor that goes well with the overall taste of this curry. Just don’t use red onions in this curry, as it will add a strong flavor.

  8. No onion garlic: Some people prefer to make it using just tomatoes. So if you are someone who doesn’t like onion and garlic, then feel free to remove them from this paneer butter masala or paneer makhani recipe.

  9. Spices: You can adjust the amount of spices to your liking. You can also skip adding whole spices if you don’t have some. But make sure to add the garam masala powder because it adds a really nice flavor to this curry.

  10. Final gravy: In the final gravy, I also add a little turmeric powder and Kashmiri red chili powder, and chopped garlic. These add a beautiful color and flavor to this curry.

  11. Paneer: I like to use homemade fresh and soft paneer for this paneer curry recipe; it tastes really delicious. However, I understand that making paneer from scratch is not possible every time. So you can also use store bought paneer. Store bought paneer is a bit hard, so just soak it in hot water for about 10-15 minutes. This soaking paneer step prevents them from being rubbery or chewy.

  12. Sweetener: Adding a bit of sweetener such as sugar or honey adds a mild sweet taste and balances the spicy flavors in the curry. However, adding sweetener is entirely optional here, so you can totally skip it.

  13. Chili powder: If you can’t find Kashmiri or Degi chili powder, then use a mild paprika mixed with a bit of cayenne pepper.

  14. Consistency: The texture of the gravy can be adjusted with water or cream, depending on your preference for thickness and texture.

FAQ

Why would you love paneer butter masala?

If you love paneer, then you will surely love this delicious paneer curry. This incredibly delish curry is a treat for paneer lovers. The gravy is thick, rich, and bursting with creamy and spicy goodness!! This curry goes so well with naan or any other flatbread.

How to make Vegan  Paneer Butter Masala?

If you want to make a vegan version of this curry, then, I have got you covered. You can make the vegan version of the same curry by swapping some ingredients:

Use vegan cheese instead of paneer. Also, swap butter with vegan butter or coconut butter, and use cashew cream instead of cream.

What is the perfect texture of Gravy for paneer butter masala?

It should be velvety, creamy, buttery, and rich. There is butter + oil, onions, ginger-garlic, tomato puree, spices, and lots of cream. 

If you want a dark red/orange color like you get in a restaurant, then add Kashmiri lal mirch instead of Degi mirch. It’s not very hot and gives a nice color.

Go crazy and don’t be afraid of cream! The more cream = More creaminess = Richer taste.

Can I replace paneer with some other cheese for the Paneer butter masala recipe?

Yes, you can. You can use Halloumi; it works well too. Sometimes when I don’t have paneer on hand, I make the same sauce with halloumi or tofu. 

Other times I use a combination of halloumi and paneer. I gotta tell you that halloumi tastes just awesome in spicy Indian gravy. YUM YUM!

This time, I only used paneer, but feel free to add halloumi to this curry. Oh well, the more cheese the better! That means spicier cheesy goodness for you and your family!

How to make your own paneer (cottage cheese) at home?

I love making paneer; it’s so satisfying! For me, making paneer is so much fun because it is super easy. Really, making your own paneer is as easy as cake. 

That’s why I prefer to use homemade paneer when it comes to curry or any other recipes made with paneer. Yes, this time also I made paneer at home. If you want to make your own paneer, then you can check out the video on ‘how to make paneer’.

Can I replace butter with oil for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe?

I guess, no. But you can surely add a combination of butter and oil. I also used some butter in this curry because there is no paneer butter masala without butter. However, I tried to healthify this curry by using a combo of oil + butter.

So I wouldn’t claim that this ranks high on a healthy recipes chart, but I would surely claim that this is a very delicious curry. You know what, I haven’t made this curry in a long time, but I love to have this curry once in a while. 

And I guess once in a long time, oily and buttery stuff is just fine. The problem comes when you are eating them every day. Isn’t it?

How to make one pot butter paneer?

To make one pot butter paneer, you can use an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. To makeinstant pot butter paneer, you can follow this instant pot version of butter paneer I have shared previously.

What is butter paneer?

Butter paneer is just another name for paneer butter masala curry. Since paneer is cooked in a buttery masala (masala that is cooked in butter), it is also called butter paneer.

Can we add milk instead of cream in paneer butter masala?

Adding milk is not recommended for this curry, as it doesn’t go well with the other ingredients in this recipe. But you can surely use thick coconut milk here.

What is the substitute for cream in paneer butter masala?

To get a similar taste and texture, you can swap cream with cashew cream.

Can we fry paneer?

Yes, you can surely fry the paneer before adding it to the gravy. For frying, you can either fry it in ghee/oil until golden & drop them into a bowl of water. Or, marinate the paneer cubes in salt, chili, oil, and ginger-garlic paste and then pan fry them and add directly to the sauce.

Why is my paneer rubbery?

If you use old or hard paneer, then there are chances that the paneer might turn chewy or rubbery. It can also happen sometimes when you cook it for a long time in thick gravy.

Can I make paneer butter masala ahead of time?

Yes, you can surely make this curry in advance. In fact, it is a lovely option when you are making it for a party.

You can also make the base gravy and store it, and make the final curry at the time of serving.

Can I use this recipe to make butter chicken?

You can definitely use the base sauce and final sauce of this recipe for making butter chicken.

Are paneer butter masala & paneer makhani the same?

These both are quite similar due to similar ingredients and similar cooking processes. Paneer butter masala is also called paneer makhani in many places. To me, they are the same.

Just like any Indian curry, there are so many ways to cook it. Every individual or restaurant has its own set of ingredients and cooking processes. Some like to add butter and cream at the beginning, while others keep it for the end.

This recipe was first published in August 2016. Updated & republished in April 2024 with new photos, new recipe video, lots of cooking tips, and tricks.


Paneer Butter Masala Recipe (Step-by-step photo instructions)

Preparing the Base Gravy

  1. In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom pods, and black peppercorns. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-1 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  3. Add sliced onions, and ook for about 2-3 minutes or until the onions turn slightly golden. Add cashews and mix well.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-2 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  5. Next, add sliced tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Then add cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder. Cook for 1 minute.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-3 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  7. Add chopped garlic, ginger, and mix. Add salt to taste and mix. Next, add hot water and mix.
  8. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-4 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  9. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 7-8 minutes or until the tomatoes are mushy.
  10. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-5 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  11. Let the mixture cool down a bit.
  12. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-6 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  13. Then transfer it to a food processor, or blender and blend it into a smooth paste. Strain the mixture for a smooth gravy.
  14. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-7 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe

Make Paneer Butter Masala

  1. In another pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter. Add the bay leaf. Then add turmeric powder and red chili powder, sauté for a few seconds on low heat.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-1 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  3. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a minute.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-2 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  5. Pour in the prepared base gravy into the pan and mix well.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-3 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  7. Cook for 2 minutes, then add garam masala powder, and kasuri methi. Mix again; at this point, you can also add water to adjust the consistency. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add cream, salt, sugar, butter, and mix well.
  8. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-4 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  9. Add the paneer cubes to the gravy.
  10. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-5 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  11. Cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes so the paneer absorbs the flavors and the gravy thickens.
  12. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-6 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  13. Add freshly chopped coriander leaves. Your paneer butter masala is ready.
  14. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-7 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
  15. Serve hot, garnished with fresh cream, chopped coriander leaves, and ginger juliennes. This Paneer Butter Masala pairs wonderfully with naan, roti, or rice, making for a comforting and delicious meal. Enjoy!
  16. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-8 for Paneer Butter Masala Recipe

Recipe Card


Paneer Butter Masala Recipe [Recipe]

Recipe Image
Make the ultimate Paneer Butter Masala recipe: creamy, rich, and bursting with flavor. Perfect with naan or rice. Easy to make at home.
★★★★★
(Rating: 5 from 45 reviews)

Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time 🕐
35 mins
Category ☶ Cuisine ♨ Serves ☺
Main Indian 5
Nutrition Info ⊛ Serving size ⊚
210 calories 1

INGREDIENTS

For Restaurant Style Paneer Butter Masala
For Base Gravy:
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 15-20 cashews
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri or Degi red chili powder
  • 1 cup hot water
For Final Cooking:
  • 400 grams paneer, cubed
  • 1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp roasted crushed kasuri methi
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 4 tbsp fresh cream
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Garnishing
  • Fresh cream
  • Chopped coriander leaves
  • Ginger juliennes

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preparing the Base Gravy
  1. In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom pods, and black peppercorns. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  2. Add sliced onions, and ook for about 2-3 minutes or until the onions turn slightly golden. Add cashews and mix well.
  3. Next, add sliced tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Then add cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add chopped garlic, ginger, and mix. Add salt to taste and mix. Next, add hot water and mix.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 7-8 minutes or until the tomatoes are mushy.
  6. Let the mixture cool down a bit.
  7. Then transfer it to a food processor, or blender and blend it into a smooth paste. Strain the mixture for a smooth gravy.
Make Paneer Butter Masala
  1. In another pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter. Add the bay leaf. Then add turmeric powder and red chili powder, sauté for a few seconds on low heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a minute.
  3. Pour in the prepared base gravy into the pan and mix well.
  4. Cook for 2 minutes, then add garam masala powder, and kasuri methi. Mix again; at this point, you can also add water to adjust the consistency. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add cream, salt, sugar, butter, and mix well.
  5. Add the paneer cubes to the gravy.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes so the paneer absorbs the flavors and the gravy thickens.
  7. Add freshly chopped coriander leaves. Your paneer butter masala is ready.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with fresh cream, chopped coriander leaves, and ginger juliennes. This Paneer Butter Masala pairs wonderfully with naan, roti, or rice, making for a comforting and delicious meal. Enjoy!

WATCH RECIPE VIDEO: Click the play button and video will load ...


NOTES:

  1. Adding cashews to the base gravy is a must. It helps in giving it a thick and creamy texture while adding the typical mild sweet and nutty flavor. So using nuts is highly recommended.
  2. If you don't use cashews, then you can go with blanched almonds. Make sure that you don't over-add the nuts, or the curry will come out really heavy and thick. For about 450 grams of paneer, 2 tablespoons or about 20 cashews will be enough. You can also substitute cashew nuts with melon seeds or any other seeds of your choice.
  3. Blending: The base gravy should be smooth, as it gives the buttery texture to the gravy. So if possible, use a high power blender for pureeing the gravy.


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