Paneer Butter Masala (Paneer Makhani)

4.99 from 83 votes

This creamy Restaurant Style Paneer Butter Masala is rich, creamy and has pieces of paneer tossed in a tomato and cashew based curry. Goes so well with naan or rice!

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Creamy Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala is easy to make at home. This creamy curry is made with onion, tomatoes, cashews, cream and butter (of course!). t has a mild sweet taste and pairs beautifully with garlic naan or jeera rice.

bowl of paneer butter masala served with a piece of naan and garnished with cilantro and cream

You can never have enough of paneer. Can you?

There are just so many ways to cook with it. You cook it with green peas you get matar paneer, you cook with spinach you get palak paneer.

And you cook it with butter and cream, you get Paneer Butter Masala.

Each of them is delicious but my favorite is this paneer butter masala. You can say I have a thing for creamy sauces and that’s why this version has my heart.

Sometimes, it is also known as Paneer Makhani. It’s one or the same thing.

Of course, few ingredients might be different here and there but both do have a creamy sauce and so I like to club them together under the same recipe.

This Paneer Butter Masala

✓ tastes exactly like the one at your favorite restaurant

✓ has a creamy tomato-based sauce

✓ has a rich curry made with butter, cashews and cream

✓ pairs well with naan or rice

To make this paneer butter masala recipe, we start with boiling the tomatoes, onion, cashews, ginger and garlic.

This forms the base sauce. Once the ingredients are boiled, they are pureed and then rest of the ingredients (including paneer) are added to the dish.

A lot of people use only tomatoes for making paneer butter masala or paneer makhani. You can do the same if you like.

I like adding some white/sweet onions to my curry for the extra flavor but it will taste just as good with the tomatoes too.

Remember to not use red onions here. A lot of times they have a very strong flavor and that will affect the final taste of the dish.

So, stick to the white or sweet onions for this dish.

a plate of naan served with paneer butter masala and sliced onions along with a spoon

Ingredients

Paneer: you can buy paneer from any Indian grocery store, it’s usually in the cold section along with yogurt, milk etc. You can also make paneer at home, which tastes much better than any store bought paneer.

Onion-tomatoes: the base of the curry is made with onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic. I like using white onion for this recipe for its subtle and sweet flavor. Using tomato paste is optional but it enhances the tomato flavor further.

Cashews: to thicken the gravy and make it creamier, we use cashew in this recipe. For this paneer butter masala recipe, we need raw, unsalted cashews. If you don’t have cashews you can also use almonds but blanch them before using.

Spices: whole spices like cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves and ground spices like garam masala, Kashmiri red chili powder, cardamom are used in this recipe for flavor and aroma.

Butter and cream: since this is a creamy curry, butter and cream are added to make it thick and rich. They also help in balancing the flavors and giving the dish that sweet touch.

ingredients for making paneer butter masala arranged on a board

Tips to Make the Best Paneer Butter Masala

Okay, I have heard this so many times – that my paneer butter masala doesn’t taste like the one at restaurants.

Here’s what you need to do to make it absolutely perfect!

Use nuts in the gravy: yes, it makes the sauce thick and creamy and so you need to use nuts in the recipe.

Cashews and almonds both work, you can even use a combination of both.

However, do not use a lot of nuts because then the final curry will be super thick and I wouldn’t recommend that.

I suggest using 10-15 cashews for 250 grams of paneer.

Be generous with cream and butter: I am not asking you to use 1 cup of both but don’t use ½ teaspoon either!

This is an indulgent dish and so you need to little generous with fat if you are looking for that restaurant style taste.

Use minimal spices: this recipe doesn’t need a lot of spices. A bit of garam masala and cardamom powder is plenty.

I also add little chili powder and Kashmiri red chili powder (mainly for the color).

The flavors of this dish come from fresh tomatoes, cashews, ginger, garlic, butter and cream!

Homemade paneer makes its even better: I know it’s not always possible but if you can, use homemade paneer.

It really makes so much difference. Here for this recipe, I have used store bought paneer but I often make it with homemade paneer and you can tell that it’s way better.

Add sugar to balance the flavors and for that subtle sweet taste: paneer butter masala should have a little sweet taste to it and you get that from adding cream and sugar.

I don’t use a lot of sugar, only 1 teaspoon but that helps in balancing the flavors.

TIP: If using store bought paneer, soak it in hot water for 20 minutes before using in the recipe.

It makes a lot of difference. Also remember to not over cook your paneer else it will become rubbery and chewy.

Hope you guys enjoy this recipe of paneer butter masala or paneer makhani, whatever you may call it.

Method

1- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and saute for few seconds.

Then add the the onion, garlic, ginger and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.

2- Add the tomatoes and cashews and mix.

3- Then add 1 cup of water.

4- Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.

step by step picture collage of making paneer butter masala at home

5- After 15 minutes, remove the pan from heat. Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves.

6- Let the mixture cool down a bit and then transfer to a blender. It’s important to let it cool down a bit else it will all blow up from the mixer.

7- Grind the masala to a smooth paste and set aside.

8- To the same pan now add 2 tablespoons butter along with remaining 1 teaspoon oil on medium heat.

step by step picture collage of making paneer butter masala at home

9- Once the butter melts, add the red chili powder and the Kashmiri red chili powder and fry for few seconds. This will give the curry a nice red color.

10- Then add the ground paste back into the pan along with the garam masala (start with 1/2 teaspoon and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon at the end only if you feel like the curry needs that extra bit of garam masala), cardamom powder, sugar, salt and tomato paste (if using).

Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

11- Then add the cream and mix.

12- Add in the paneer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat. Finally add crushed kasuri methi.

step by step picture collage of making paneer butter masala at home

Garnish paneer butter masala with cilantro and serve hot with naan or rice!

bowl of paneer butter masala garnished with cilantro

Notes

  • The curry thickens considerably as it cools down. While reheating, you would need to add some water to thin it out.
  • If you don’t have cream or are out of cream, you can either skip the cream or add some coconut milk for that richness. You can also reserve some of the cashews and blend it with milk and add that to the curry later on.
  • Use a good quality Kashmiri red chili powder to get that nice color of the gravy. Frying the red chili powder in butter for few seconds is important for that bright color of paneer butter masala.
  • This recipe can be easily doubled, you would just need to double all the ingredients in the recipe.

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This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in 2013.

Paneer Butter Masala

4.99 from 83 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
This creamy Restaurant Style Paneer Butter Masala is rich, creamy and has pieces of paneer tossed in a tomato and cashew based curry. Goes so well with naan or rice!

Ingredients 

  • 2 teaspoons oil 10 ml, divided, I used avocado oil, use any flavorless oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 6-7 large garlic cloves 25 grams, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 inch ginger 15 grams, roughly chopped
  • 1 large white onion 180 grams, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 large tomatoes 460 grams, roughly chopped
  • 10-15 whole cashews raw
  • 1 cup water 8 oz
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala + 1/4 teaspoon, if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste optional
  • 3-4 tablespoons cream 45-60 ml
  • 250 grams paneer cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons crushed kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves
  • chopped cilantro to garnish

Instructions 

  • Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and saute for few seconds.
  • Then add the the onion, garlic, ginger and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes and cashews and mix. Then add 1 cup of water. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the pan from heat. Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves.
  • Let the mixture cool down a bit and then transfer to a blender. It’s important to let it cool down a bit else it will all blow up from the mixer. Grind the masala to a smooth paste and set aside.
  • To the same pan now add 2 tablespoons butter along with remaining 1 teaspoon oil on medium heat. 
  • Once the butter melts, add the red chili powder and the Kashmiri red chili powder and fry for few seconds. This will give the curry a nice orange-red color.
  • Then add the ground paste back into the pan along with the garam masala (start with 1/2 teaspoon and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon at the end only if you feel like the curry needs that extra bit of garam masala), cardamom powder, sugar, salt and tomato paste (if using). Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Then add the cream and mix.
  • Add in the paneer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat. Finally add crushed kasuri methi. 
  • Garnish paneer butter masala with cilantro and serve hot with naan or rice!

Video

Notes

  1. If you want to make this vegan, use vegan butter in place of regular butter, coconut milk or cream in place of heavy cream and tofu in place of paneer. 
  2. You can add water or milk to thin down the curry and adjust as per the consistency you prefer. 
  3. Use a good quality Kashmiri red chili powder to get that nice color of the gravy. Frying the red chili powder in butter for few seconds is important for that bright color of paneer butter masala.
  4. This recipe can be easily doubled, you would just need to double all the ingredients in the recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 365kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Sodium: 494mg, Potassium: 452mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1655IU, Vitamin C: 23.3mg, Calcium: 338mg, Iron: 0.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
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Hi, I’m Manali!

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Recipe Rating




184 Comments

    1. cream imparts creaminess and a little sweetness too which is what works best for paneer butter masala. Sour cream will make it tart, I wouldn’t recommend but up to you if you want to use it

  1. 5 stars
    A great recipe with authentic flavours that we keep coming back to. Super simple too. Using a hand blender also simplifies things.

    Haven’t ventured to make my own paneer. Once cut, I soak the paneer in hot water for 10 mins. Seems to keep it nice and soft.

  2. 5 stars
    My first time making PBM and it came out amazing! Love the recipe! Is there a reason you saute the tomatoes and onions first? Would it be okay to make a puree first and then saute it?

  3. 5 stars
    This is the easiest and tastiest paneer gravy I ve done after a long time.. other recipes were a bit time consuming.. but this is bliss… tasted yummy….❤

  4. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I made it for Diwali and my whole family thought that it tasted like it was from a restaurant. I did use more chili powder since I prefer spicy masala and I added a bit more water to make it less thick. Overall, this recipe is amazing! Thank you 🙂

  5. This recipe looks amazing. I’d love to try it but my son is allergic to all nuts except almonds and hazelnuts. Is there a substitute for the cashews?

    1. Green, to think of it I have actually never seen black cardamom powder. I have only used them whole in recipes.

  6. Hello Manali! In one of the comments you mentioned your book which is based on using the instant pot. I was wondering if those recipes can be adapted for pressure cooking? If so, how?

    1. Hi Shanaya, unfortunately the book is written specifically for an electric pressure cooker (instant pot is an electric pressure cooker). It has no directions in it for stove-top pressure cooker. If you want to buy it, you can but you will have to use your own judgement and experience for the recipes as there are no instructions for stove-top.

  7. 5 stars
    Made this last night with tofu and it was incredible! My husband and I usually try to split meals where we eat half for dinner and safe the other half to bring for lunch the next day. It took so much restraint not to eat the entire batch because it was just that good! And it’s not time consuming at all! Thank you so much for this new staple in our meal rotation!

  8. Randomly jus tried this today, turned out superb! I coated paneer cubes with tandoori masala and jus tossed in oil for 5 min , then added it to the gravy..it enhabced theflavor..

  9. 5 stars
    Made this with dhania pooris and raita for independence day lunch – the recipe turned out fabulous!!! Thanks the paneer was better than restaurants- God bless you.

    1. I don’t have a recipe for that, it thick concentrate tomato paste. I use store bought tomato paste.

  10. 5 stars
    I made this last week with store bought paneer. It was absolutely gorgeous. I think soaking the paneer first helped, it was only slightly rubbery. I did substitute macadamias for cashews, because I had some at hand. I think they worked great.

  11. Thank you for the recipe. I want to try it, but without the creme. Will it still be as delicious without the cream?

    1. I would not recommend skipping cream here since it’s Paneer Makhani and needs that butter and cream 🙂 Rest is your choice! 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    This is a winning recipe. I love Indian food, this was my first time attempting to make it homemade. It was not challenging, as the instructions are very clear– I am not a super chef but I managed this one. My whole family loved this. I will definitely make this again and I’ll add in some chicken for some added protein. Thank you Manali!

  13. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I have tried paneer butter masala many times and thought this is the last time I was trying if it didn’t turn out well. And it was amazing. I can’t thank you enough for this. Just one question. If I had to substitute Paneer with Chicken how many grams of chicken can be used for the above recipe?

    1. Hi Christina, I am glad you like the recipe! I am sorry but that’s difficult for me to answer. I have never cooked chicken in my life so I have no idea about the replacement amount. You can try exact measurement as paneer that is 250 grams. Sorry can’t be of more help here.

  14. I’m cooking for a family who is not vegetarian. Is this recipe okay with chicken instead of paneer?

    1. maybe? you can use the same sauce. I have never cooked chicken in my life, so hard for me to answer how long to cook etc. But I think the sauce will be fine as a base.

  15. Thanks Manali for your recipes . I recently started cooking. All if your recipes tuned out well . Thanks.
    Do you have any special recipes for diabetics ?
    Lata

  16. 5 stars
    Hi Manali,
    Your recipes have been buddy for me… Thanks for all the recipes with steps that are easy to go with.. cooking was never a fun earlier.

  17. 5 stars
    Just stumbled across this site today looking for sabhudana vada recipe and ended up making this paneer makhani and no-yeast naans. Both were absolutely delicious.. I’m so impressed with the no nonsense explanations, step by step pictures and beautiful photography. My new favourite food blog.. I look forward to trying more recipes and particularly this one again.. it’s just sooo good. Thank you!

  18. 5 stars
    After a disappointing delivery, I decided to make this and we loved it! I am sure I will make it again 🙂

  19. We had a fabulously scrumptious paneer butter masala with phulkas that’s worth memory and repetition. Even the little ones enjoyed seconds. Thanks for sharing from the bottom of our burps.

  20. 5 stars
    Just made it. It is my second ever cooking experience after your Punjabi chole recipe which was first.
    Both turned out absolutely delicious (in my wife’s words).
    Looking to try some more recipes. So easy to cook when it is explained like you have. Many thanks.

  21. 5 stars
    Dear Manali,
    Great recipe. I made it for the first time and it came out really well. Thank you for your quick and easy recipes. I try and follow them when I want to try out something new (Indian curries).

      1. Just made it. It is my second ever cooking experience after your Punjabi chole recipe which was first.
        Both turned out absolutely delicious (in my wife’s words).
        Looking to try some more recipes. So easy to cook when it is explained like you have. Many thanks.

      1. discard it, whole spices infuse the flavor to the masala and then while grinding I discard them

  22. 5 stars
    Wow! What a fab recipe. I didn’t have any tomatoes so I had to use passata but it still turned out great. Thanks for this!

  23. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight. It was so-o-o-o good. I will be making this again. Finally found paneer in my local H-E-B. Yay!!

  24. 5 stars
    Thanks so much! I made it vegan with tofu for 25ish servings and it was delicious. I appreciated the explanation of why we would do each step too – that helped adapt it.

  25. I would really like to try your recipe, but my husband is allergic to nuts. Is there something you could recommend in place of the nuts, or would it be better to just forget about them entirely? Thank!

  26. Hi Manali!
    This is my husband and I favorite dish of yours… I could have sworn some where it said to soak the paneer for as long as you can but now I cannot find it… if I were to leave it soaking, what could I soak it in? (Spices, cream, etc.)

    1. Hi Emily…you just soak in warm water so that it becomes softer..here’s what is mentioned in the recipe “If using store bought paneer, soak it in hot water for 20 minutes before using in the recipe.” hope this helps 🙂

  27. 5 stars
    Easy to follow recipe and delicious! I doubled the amount of paneer (because you can never have enough) and it was still incredible! Exactly what I’ve been craving. Thanks!

  28. 5 stars
    Tried this out today and it turned out ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!!! Never happened to me before!! So pleased I came across your blog!!! ☺️☺️☺️

  29. delicious recipe! Just curious what is the reasoning for frying the two chili powders in butter and oil? I like to stream line recipes so i just used an emulsion blender and keep it in the pot . does it bring out extra flavour or is it okay to just add the spices the the masala paste? thanks again

    1. it’s for the color, frying the chili powder in oil brings out the color. If you don’t care about that, you can definitely add it to the masala paste.

  30. Wonderful recipe — thank you!

    I wanted to ask — can this be frozen? Would I do it before or after adding the butter, cream and paneer?

  31. 5 stars
    I made this earlier this week and it was AMAZING! I used the instant pot recipe from the cookbook. Didn’t change a thing. This is one of my favorite recipes hands down, LOVE IT! Thank you so much for sharing and keep these recipes coming!

  32. Hi Manali,
    Recipe looks interesting one question though which cream do you use in your cooking? Can you share a link where I can buy it?

    1. Hi Manasa, I have used heavy cream here. You can find it at any grocery store in the milk aisle. I usually use the organic valley heavy cream. You can even use half & half which is 50% milk and 50% cream!

      1. I have the same question. In stores I have only seen heavy whipping creams. Is that the one you use? Thank you.

      2. 5 stars
        Loved by all the family and thats an achievement. So tasty and can add green chilli on top for the spice lovers

  33. Hi Manali ! In your recipe you have mentioned the use tomato paste – is it the same as tomato purée ?

    1. No, Archana tomato paste is different than tomato puree. It’s very concentrated compared to puree and that’s why you only need a little to bring in the flavor. Skip if you can’t find it.

  34. This recipe looks wonderful and I will be making it soon.
    Have seen pictures of your cookbook and am wondering if the recipes could be readily adapted to stove top cooking.
    I really hope so!

    1. Hi Mary, the book is specifically written for the pressure cooker. But you can most definitely adopt most of the recipes to stove-top, would just need to adjust the amount of water here and there and use your own adjustment. Why don’t you try some of the recipes from my book which are available online and see if you can make them on stove top and then decide whether to buy the book or not 🙂 Hope that helps!

  35. 4 stars
    I loved it. The colour and taste came out very well just like restaurant paneer butter masala. I really like your recipes, they are detailed and almost like my mom’s 🙂

  36. Hi Manali
    I really liked your recipe . PBM is one of my favourite I was just googling and landed on your website. I also have cooking blog where I have also written PBM
    But your recipe description and presentation is appreciable. All the best.

  37. 5 stars
    hii…. Manali.. i tried it just now.. It came out very well.. I can say this is the best PBM recipe as compared to other recipes. Thank you very much.. N i love ur blog. i visit ur blog nw and then to see what u bought..:) but this is the first time im commenting.. keep going.. good luck.. 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        This is the best paneer butter masala recipe. I have made it a couple times now. Every time it comes out as best. Thank you Manali. My son simply loves it.

        Satya