Paneer Makhani Recipe (Easy & Tasty)

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This simple, easy to make paneer makhani recipe features succulently cooked cottage cheese cubes in a smooth tomato cream sauce that is lightly spiced with a hint of tang and sweetness. Learn how to make this delicious, buttery paneer dish with my easy step-by-step instructions!

overhead shot of paneer makhani in a white bowl with a silver spoon and grey and white napkin.

About Paneer Makhani Recipe

Paneer Makhani is a delectable, traditional Indian dish made with cubes of cheese cooked in a rich and creamy tomato based sauce.

The word makhani means “buttery,” and is derived from the word makhan which means “homemade butter.” This dish is the vegetarian version of Murgh Makhani, which is commonly known outside of India as “Butter Chicken.”

Butter Chicken was invented by Mr Kundan Lal Gujral in his Moti Mahal Restaurant in Delhi and has since become one of the most beloved Indian dishes across the globe. Turning the original recipe into one suitable for vegetarians by swapping in paneer, mushrooms or lentils is very common practice.

This creamy, tangy homestyle gravy is made mostly with tomatoes, cream and spices. While very similar to my Paneer Butter Masala and Paneer Makhanwala, this tasty recipe has a slightly different proportion of spices. I also believe that a traditional makhani gravy should be made without onions, which is how I make mine.

I should also note that in this recipe, I have avoided the use of cashew paste. While makhani gravies often include cashew paste (which gives these gravies a lovely consistency), I have received many requests to make traditional Punjab dishes without using expensive ingredients. This paneer makhani recipe is a result of those requests!

The recipe is easy enough to make on a weeknight and tasty enough to be made for a small party or get together. You can opt to use ready-made tomato purée and paneer to shorten the cook time. (That said, I always prefer to make paneer at home.)

Now let’s get cooking, shall we??

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Paneer Makhani


1. First rinse and chop the tomatoes (250 grams or 4-5 medium ripe red tomatoes).

tomatoes on a white cutting board after being diced for making paneer makhani recipe

2. In a blender or grinder make a smooth puree of the chopped tomatoes. No need to add any water while blending the tomatoes.

TIP: To make this easy dish even faster, simply use store bought tomato purée. But try to buy tomato puree without preservatives or make your own tomato puree.

tomato puree in spice grinder

3. In a mortar-pestle, crush the ginger & garlic to a paste (1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, or ½ inch ginger + 3-4 small garlic cloves).

ginger garlic paste in a silver mortar and pestle for paneer makhani recipe

Make Makhani Gravy

4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan. Add 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and then the crushed ginger-garlic. Sauté for some seconds or till the raw aroma of the crushed ginger-garlic goes away.

pan frying ginger garlic paste in oil with tej petta

5. Add the prepared tomato purée.

tomato purée added to aromatics for making paneer makhani gravy recipe

6. Stir well and add ½ teaspoon red chili powder (or cayenne pepper or paprika). Keep on sautéing till the fat leaves the sides of the tomato paste.

paneer makhani masala with chili spices added

7. Meanwhile chop 200 grams cottage cheese into bitesized cubes, squares or triangles.

paneer cubes in a bowl

8. After 15 minutes on a low flame, the tomatoes and spices have sautéed well and the fat leaving the sides of the mixture is clearly seen. The masala will look glossy, will leave the sides of the pan and will come together.

paneer makhani tomato-ginger masala paste in pan

9. Now add 1.5 cups water.

water added to makhani gravy paste

10. Stir very well and let the gravy/sauce come to a gentle simmer.

makhani gravy after adding water

11. Simmer the gravy till it reduces and thickens a bit.

preparing paneer makhani recipe by reducing gravy prior to adding cream

12. Add ½ to 1 inch ginger julienne and 1 to 2 slivered green chilies. Simmer for a minute.

adding ginger and chilis to makhani gravy


13. Stir and then add salt as required, ½ teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar. Also add the paneer cubes. Mix gently and switch off the heat.

No need to cook the paneer cubes as sometimes they become hard or chewy even after cooking for 1 to 2 minutes.

paneer cubes added to makhani gravy recipe

14. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cream. NOTE: I used Indian brand of amul cream, but any will do with 25 to 35% fat.

You can reduce the proportion of cream if you want.

cream being added to paneer makhani recipe

15. Stir gently but thoroughly, so that the cream is mixed uniformly with the gravy without breaking the paneer cubes. Switch off the flame.

NOTE: Some of my paneer cubes broke while stirring because I used homemade paneer whose milk I cooked for too long. Oh, well! If a few of your paneer cubes break, rest assured that it will still taste absolutely delicious.

simmering makhani sauce with cubes of paneer

16. Lastly sprinkle ¼ teaspoon garam masala and again stir gently. Check the seasonings and add more salt or sugar if required.

garam masala added to paneer makhani in pan

18. Serve paneer makhani hot with roti, paratha or naan, or with steamed rice or jeera rice if you’re avoiding gluten. Enjoy!

overhead shot of paneer makhani in a white bowl with a silver spoon and grey and white napkin

Paneer Makhani – Tips + FAQs

How should I serve paneer makhani?

I happen to believe that paneer makhani is best served with roti, paratha or with naan. I served with naan and a side veggie salad. You can also serve paneer makhani with jeera rice or steamed basmati rice if you’re avoiding gluten.

Is paneer makhani nut free?

While many recipes of paneer makhani use cashew paste in the gravy, mine does not. I use cream instead, making this a safe recipe for nut allergies!

What can I substitute for the cream?

For this recipe, I used amul (low fat) cream that is a light cream. Heavy cream or double cream can also be used. If you have neither on hand, you can opt to use curd, or swap in ½ to 1 tablespoon milk powder to replicate some of the creaminess.

Just be sure to taste as you add milk powder – it can sometimes make the gravy overly sweet. I also caution against adding milk as it can curdle from the acidity of the tomatoes.

Can I make a vegan version of this recipe?

Paneer can be swapped for firm tofu and you can use coconut cream in place of the dairy cream. Just note that the flavor will be a bit affected.

Want more Paneer Recipes?

Check out some of my other favorites:

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paneer makhani recipe

Paneer Makhani Recipe (Easy & Tasty)

Paneer Makhani is succulently cooked cottage cheese cubes in a smooth sauce of tomatoes and cream, which is lightly spiced with a hint of tang and sweetness.
4.84 from 49 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Cuisine North Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 3


  • 200 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
  • 250 grams tomatoes or 4 to 5 medium-sized
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons light cream (low fat 25%) or whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste or ½ inch ginger + 3 to 4 small garlic crushed to paste in a mortar
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or kashmiri red chilli powder or cayenne pepper or paprika
  • 1 to 2 green chillies slit or sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala or tandoori masala powder
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar – add as required* check notes
  • ½ to 1 inch ginger – julienned
  • ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves – kasuri methi, crushed
  • 1.5 cups water
  • salt as required


Making tomato puree

  • First rinse and chop the tomatoes. Use the tomatoes that are ripe with a sweet tangy taste and not overly sour.
  • In a blender or grinder make a smooth puree of the chopped tomatoes. No need to add any water while blending the tomatoes.
  • Keep the tomato puree aside.

Making paneer makhani

  • Melt butter in a pan. First add the tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and saute for a few seconds till aromatic.
  • Then add the crushed ginger-garlic paste and saute for a few seconds or till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away.
  • Add the tomato puree and stir well.
  • Now add the red chili powder and saute this mixture till the fat begins to leave the side of the tomato paste. Takes about 14 to 15 on a low heat. Keep on stirring often.
  • When you see the tomato mixture clumping together and the fat leaving the sides, then add water.
  • Stir and simmer till the gravy or sauce thickens a bit. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes on a low flame.
  • Then add the slit green chilies and ginger julienne. Stir and simmer for a minute.
  • Add sugar, salt as required and crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves).
  • Stir and then add the paneer cubes. 
  • Mix gently and switch off the heat. No need to cook the paneer as then they can get hard or chewy and won't taste good.
  • Lastly add cream and gently stir. Switch off the flame and then sprinkle with garam masala. Give a gentle stir again.
  • Serve the paneer makhani with roti, naan, paratha or jeera rice or saffron rice or biryani rice or plain steamed basmati rice.


  • * Addition of sugar depends upon your taste as well as the tanginess present in the tomatoes. Add more if required.
  • The recipe can be doubled or tripled.
  • Use tomatoes that are not sour. The tomatoes should be fresh, ripe and with a slightly sweet taste.
  • You can use whipping cream or heavy cream in place of light cream. But add as needed according to your taste preferences.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Paneer Makhani Recipe (Easy & Tasty)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 314 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 17g106%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 75mg25%
Sodium 475mg21%
Potassium 221mg6%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 1130IU23%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 8µg8%
Calcium 343mg34%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 13µg3%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 12mg3%
Phosphorus 30mg3%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This Paneer Makhani Recipe from the blog archives first published in March 2014 has been updated and republished on May 2021.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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  1. Hi Dassana, thank you for the recipe! I want to try it very soon. I am wondering if I need to use tomato puree how many ml would I need for the gravy? Thank you!

    1. Welcome! You could use ¾ to 1 cup of tomato puree, which would be about 177 ml to 236 ml respectively.

  2. Tried exactly like you had mentioned and it was JUST AMAZING!! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!5 stars

    1. Great to know Aditi and thank you for this super feedback and the rating.

  3. I like to make vegetarian Indian meals for our friends. This dish is always the star of the show. It is easy to make and so tasty.