Paneer Butter Masala (Paneer Makhani)

4.99 from 88 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 88 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
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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!

Bringing you easy, delicious vegetarian & vegan recipes! Eating veggies can be fun, you just need to get creative in the kitchen with the right set of ingredients!


4.99 from 88 votes (29 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




188 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Really clear instructions, a straightforward menu and absolutely delicious. As suggested this will be best with home made paneer. Thanks very much for sharing these recipes.

  2. 5 stars
    Hello. My husband is paneer fan. And I am happy to say that I have tried all of your paneer recipes. Those are just amazing. And my husband love it. Thank you soo much for sharing them. Waiting for more recipes.

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! Our local spice shop had the special kashmiri chile and just basic fenugreek leaves – they didn’t say Kasuri methi. I love it. Definitely too spicy for some, but not me.

  4. 5 stars
    Hi , thank you for sharing your recipe . I am trying to up scale the recipe but the X2 and X3 options are not working on the recipes . I tried this function on a couple of you recipe this site without luck.
    I am not sure scaling it up would mean longer cooking time or baking time etc.

    1. it should work now, it was an issue that we fixed. however scaling up scales the ingredients, it doesn’t change the instructions. You would definitely need to cook for more time if there are more tomatoes, more onions etc.

  5. 5 stars
    After trying a few recipes this became our household favorite. I was just telling my husband I cannot find a recipe that gets close to our favorite restaurant that I crave so often. Well this is it! This is the one!

  6. 5 stars
    Awesome! I follow your food blog for most of the recipes. Your Punjabi Kadhi is my favorite and this paneer butter masala is my family’s favorite including my 9 year old who is a paneer gravy lover! 🙂

  7. Hi, excited to try this recipe. Is it possible to skip the fenugreek and cashews? simply cause I dont have them on hand. Thanks!

    1. you can skip the kasuri methi, cashews make the gravy thick and creamy. you can skip but the gravy won’t be thick enough. If you have almonds you can also use them in place

  8. 5 stars
    This is my go-to paneer butter masala recipe. It turns out wonderfully every time, even though I sometimes use canned tomatoes instead of fresh, or roasted cashews instead of raw. Thanks for the great recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    Super-hit recipe with the family! Made for dinner with store-bought lachha paranthas and jeera rice. Loved it! Just hits right with the creaminess and flavour. Yum.

    1. I don’t like frying paneer for this recipe, just a personal preference. You can definitely do it if that’s what you prefer.

      1. for some people frying adds to flavor of the paneer, I don’t find much difference and so skip the additional step.

  10. I’m making the recipe for the first time today with paneer and chicken so will double up sauce mix , how should I marinate the chicken ? Thanks Manali

    1. ahh sorry Margaret I don’t have any experience cooking with chicken but you can make it the same way , probably cook chicken first separately when use in sauce?

  11. Hi Manali, I love this butter paneer recipe and make it often. I’m a hero in the kitchen when I make it. I am vegetarian but have a chicken eater coming to visit. I was planning on making butter paneer for me and butter chicken for her. On-line recipes have a lot of different ideas on how to prepare the chicken. I’ll either make one large batch of sauce or two batches. Since I love your recipes I thought I’d ask your advice. How do you suggest cooking the chicken? Marinate and bake? Saute the chicken? Cook in the sauce? Thanks so much. Maggie

  12. This was so delicious but I think I made have made a mistake with the fenugreek part. It came out a little bitter. I used fenugreek pellets cause I couldn’t find leaves. Still so good!

    1. Oh no! Dried fenugreek is totally different in flavor, it’s exclusively used for it’s wonderful aroma and does not have any taste of it’s own as such. The seeds are not a substitute for the dried leaves.

    1. 5 stars
      Easy and just like restaurant. Already made twice and my daughter says mumma pls make it everyday she loved it so much. Thank you so much Manali for such an awesome recipe.

  13. Hi very nice and easy receipt; thank you for posting, I need help with measurement, actually I am having total 15 guests coming over to my house. So I wanna make this sabji but not sure how many tomatoes and onion should I take? Appreciate your time and effort

    1. triple the recipe if this is the only thing you are making. If you are making it for dinner along with 3-4 other things, then just double the recipe. all quantitates for onion and tomatoes are also mentioned in grams, so just double/triple them as needed

  14. It’s so delicious, I cooked it for myself and yes I can say I never had this Saurav paneer Butter masala ever.

    Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.

  15. 5 stars
    I wanted a meatless meal for a change and was also craving Indian food so I poked around and found this recipe. I’m glad I did. The term “better than take-out” is a bit over-used, but in this case it’s warranted. I served it with jeera rice. It was so good I had left-overs for breakfast the following morning! Will be checking out other recipes on this site in the near future. Thanks.

  16. 5 stars
    Hi Manali! Tried your recipe today, came out really nice, astonished after it tasted exactly as my favourite restaurant style, thank you.

  17. Made this for dinner tonight, it was fabulous! This recipe is as good as (if not better than) than the restaurant versions – thank you!!

  18. 5 stars
    Hi Manali, I tried this recipe today and it came out amazing!! I have tried many of your recipes and it comes out great each time! Thanks a ton for sharing!

  19. 5 stars
    I made this just now for dinner with naan bread…I try some of this recipe but I prepared this..thanks for this recipe.hope I can cook some of your recipe soon.have a lovely day ahead.

  20. 5 stars
    I make this just now for dinner with naan bread…thanks for this recipe.i made some paneer masala but I prepared this one…

  21. 5 stars
    hello! i want to make this for my friend but he is allergic to tree nuts. is there anything i can substitute for the cashews?

  22. Manali, your recipe if for 4 servings. If I want to make it for 20 servings, should I just multiply everything by 5? Thanks!

    1. yes but I have never really made it for that many people. So I hope it works well when you multiply it by 5.

    1. Hi
      I have a kid in the party that I am going to that has nut allergy.
      Is there a substitute for cashew?

      1. actually it will be good without cashews as well, maybe just increase the cream quantity a bit. Else try with poppy seeds

  23. Hi, if I want to eat this on a Saturday but can only cook it on the Wednesday, will it still be okay? So make it 3 days in advance? (I work anti social hours).
    How do I cook the paneer, fry or just add to the sauce and simmer? Thanks.

    1. I don’t fry paneer but you can do it.
      And cooking on Wednesday and eating on Saturday should be okay. Maybe not add the cream, make everything else. Add paneer and cream on Saturday.

  24. 5 stars
    I just tried this recipe and it came out so good. Everyone loved it. Thank you. I will be trying your different recipes. My first time ever commenting on recipe.

  25. Hi

    I have made this before and it was delicious. But i did stumble my way through thesteps.

    You refer to removing some items from the pot and then mention grinding to a paste and then you refer to masala.

    Is it the bay leaf etc that you must grind?

    I am new to this type of cuisine and need some guidance on these steps please.

    1. you don’t grind the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon. It’s mentioned in the recipe “Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves.”
      You grind the mixture after removing these whole spices.