Saag paneer is a classic north Indian dish that is made up of fried paneer cheese and a creamy spinach sauce. You can find on just about any Indian restaurant menu, but it has way better flavor when you make it at home.
saag paneer

Part of my birthday involved a pan of slightly overzealous hot oil, a few unfortunately exposed areas of my body, and a kitchen floor that now feels like someone poured lube all over it.

All in the name of fried cheese.

Needless to say, it was worth it.


By which I mean, on Monday morning you might have found me curled up in fetal position in a corner of the kitchen, shrieking for The.Boy to come rescue me, even at the risk of his own skin and extremities.

I would like to say that he obliged, but mostly he just stood there, amused by my antics, watching from a “safe” distance as I used the longest spoon we own to push the paneer cubes around in the pan. Classy.


If you’ve ever had a bowl of saag paneer at an Indian restaurant, though, then you’d understand my obsession dedication.

It’s creamy on the outside and full of iron-rich spinach on the inside so that even though you know you’re eating something crazy decadent, you can totally justify it  to yourself.


Plus this recipe is especially a no-brainer because TEN INGREDIENTS OR LESS INDIAN FOOD. That’s near impossible. Practically a miracle. And definitely something you need in your weeknights.

Just avoid the hot oil. Trust me.


One year ago…Spice-Roasted Squash with Walnut-Green Harissa

Two years ago…Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Blue Cheese

Four years ago…Southwestern Focaccia Pizza with Poblanos and Blue Cheese

Five years ago…Curried Lentils and Caramelized Onions with Indian Cardamom Rice

Saag Paneer
Saag paneer is a classic north Indian dish that is made up of fried paneer cheese and a creamy spinach sauce. You can find on just about any Indian restaurant menu, but it has way better flavor when you make it at home.
Yield: 4 servings
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ lb paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 fresh green serrano chile, stems discarded, coarsely chopped (don't remove the seeds)
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 lb baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup half and half
  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the paneer in a single layer and cook until starting to brown, then flip over and repeat on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.
  2. Place the onion and chile into a food processor and pulse until minced. Add them to the skillet and saute over medium heat until the onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the curry sauce and the salt, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Pour in the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the spinach by the handful, allowing it to wilt before adding more. Repeat until all of the spinach has wilted.
  5. Stir in the half and half and the paneer. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm over rice or with naan.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ of recipe


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69 Responses to Saag Paneer

  1. Von says:

    I’ve never had fried cheese before….it sounds amazing! And looks it too! Well worth the effort huh?

  2. I’ve actually never had saag paneer but I’m pretty sold on the fried cheese (and I’d probably burn myself too!).

  3. Monica says:

    Happy birthday! I’ve seen saag paneer but never truly tried it. And I love watching paneer snap and pop in the pan on TV…guess it is a bit more harrowing in real life but I’m happy to know it’s worth it. It looks so good in that creamy sauce and all that spinach!!

  4. You had me at fried cheese! Holy cow does this look amazing.
    Hope you’re having a great birthday week!

  5. Kelster says:

    Love saag paneer. I got ambitious enough to actually make my own cheese once. Good stuff.

  6. UGH! I broke an entire glass liter of olive oil over my kitchen floor this past weekend–I cursed a lot when it happened and now my entire floor is like an ice rink. I’ve been meaning to make homemade saag paneer for years!! This looks so good Joanne! Hope you had an amazing birthday!

  7. This is my go-to order at Indian restaurants! Love this – and the pictures are beautiful.

  8. I just made some paneer for the first time ever this Monday! I’m scared of curry smell in my apartment, but my guy loves paneer so I decided to be nice and make it for him. But now that I got over that hump, I absolutely need to try your recipe!

    I had one of those hot-oil moments last night. I didn’t realize there was some water on my hand and I went to go stir something. The water dripped off into the pan and sent oil flying up everywhere and I dashed out of the kitchen until it stopped.

  9. I love saag! I just had it for lunch yesterday and was a happy girl all afternoon. I’d love to make my own, because I’m a whimp with spice and they always glare at me when I order it “as un-spicy as possible”

  10. I love your writing Joanne! And you’re totally right – an Indian recipe under 10 ingredients is in fact miraculous 🙂 Pinned!

  11. Ouch! Saag Paneer is one of my favorite favorite Indian dishes – I almost always order this when we go out to an Indian restaurant. I’ve tried making it at home but it doesn’t ever turn out as good – will have to give your recipe a try. Thanks!

  12. Saag paneer is one of my favourites – I’ve never had it in a creamy sauce though. Will have to give this version a go.

  13. Splattering oil is the worst! I used to have splatter screens, but last time we moved I think Paul got rid of them (to save space? because they’re so big? *rolls eyes*), and I’ve never replaced them. Ebi and Ginger used to stand by my feet and lick it up. But, alas, I don’t even have that option anymore. This is one of my absolute favorite Indian dishes. So, thanks for taking one for the team.

  14. Umm – yum!! Sadly I was first introduced to saag paneer via a frozen meal (and it was even good then.) Can’t wait to try to make it at home – will avoid the hot oil burns if possible 🙂

  15. The curry gravy looks so good! Gorgeous colour and amazing flavours.

  16. This is one of my favorite Indian dishes. Your pictures are so pretty and I love how simple this recipe is!

  17. oh girl, you had me at fried cheese. let’s be real. I hadn’t had Indian food for like, the first 24 years of my life and then BOOM. obsessed once I had the good stuff, which was admittedly, only recently. had I known there would be fried cheese involved I would’ve been on the boat wayyy earlier. this looks AMAZING!

  18. bellini says:

    I absolutely love paneer and always order it in all shapes and forms in our local restaurants. I have even made it at home but was disappointed in the small quantity….did I mention I love paneer.

  19. danielle says:

    I have actually never tried this dish -it sounds like something I would love!

  20. Gosh this looks so delicious! We have never eaten Indian food, nor never made any either.
    Also, we never heard of paneer cheese – but hey- why not try some -right? Looks so yummy!

  21. Abby says:

    I love Saag Paneer! That and chana masala are my go to orders, gotta try this! But I feel your pain though, popping oil is terrifying! I’m not above wearing super long pot holder gloves when I fry stuff, all in the name of fried cheese.

  22. Kinsey says:

    I love that this comes together so quickly! I adore Indian food, but when a recipe takes hours of simmering and a whole lot of paraphernalia (food processor, spice grinder, mixer, oven etc…), I ‘m much less likely to make it. This is going on my must make list!

  23. I ADORE Indian dishes and now that the restaurant down the street from us closed, I’m going to have to start making more at home. Love this!

  24. “TEN INGREDIENTS OR LESS INDIAN FOOD. That’s near impossible.”

    So true. I grew up eating saag paneer basically once a week, but I have never once tried to make it on my own. Now I might have to!

  25. I definitely need to try this! Anything that looks THAT mouthwatering has my full attention.

  26. This looks insanely good. You had me at fried cheese. I can’t tell based on your posts when your actually birthday is, so i will just go out on a whim – HAPPY BIRTHDAY! If it’s tomorrow, I’ll say it again 😀

  27. Trisha says:

    I need to not look at your blog during lunchtime. DYING over these photos! I love Indian food, but my hubs isn’t a fan of all the spices. I think this would be perfect though!

  28. gloria says:

    Joanne look really delicious!!

  29. Kate says:

    This is my favorite Indian dish!

  30. sorry about the hot oil incident..and saag paneer, I have never made it at home but your version looks delicious.

  31. hehe! Sorry to laugh, but I have had some unfortunate areas of my body burn due to fry oil. This is how you know you love to cook 🙂

  32. Juliana says:

    I love this dish and it is a must order every time we go to an Indian restaurant…I never made it at home but I can understand why frying the paneer must taste even better…
    Thanks for the inspiration Joanne and hope you are having a lovely week 😀

  33. I have never tried this! And with only 9 ingredients, you can count me in 🙂

  34. I have made this before and totally sympathize! But if it’s any consolation it looks absolutely amazing and worth the stress, pain and injury! 🙂

  35. I always order paneer of some sort when I go for indian! This recipe is totally a must try!! I love how creamy it looks!

  36. debbie says:

    Never had this before but it looks delicious and I definitely want to try it. I love the smell of curry. Ah….Hope you are having a great birthday week!

  37. Hello, Joanne! I love the short ingredients list! I’ve actually never tried paneer but it looks and sounds a little like Cypriot halloumi. Have you ever tried that? It’s quite spongy and salty raw but deliciously crispy when pan-fried!

  38. Teffy says:

    I’ve never tried to make it at home! Yours look so so good though… better than I’ve ever seen at any restaurant!
    Hopefully the oil didn’t cause too much damage. Oh the things we do in name of cheese!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  39. Eileen says:

    Saag paneer (or palak paneer, let’s be real, because I am definitely using spinach) is the BEST, hands down. Now I need to go find some paneer immediately! Or make homemade, I suppose, but I don’t have an adequate cheese pressing setup. Still! It’s not going to be not delicious. 🙂

  40. Mmmm…can never resist saag paneer. Its so comforting and easy to make!

  41. cheri says:

    Never had this before, but it looks and sounds delicious! Fried cheese on a bed of rice with all those yummy ingredients. Sign me up.

  42. Haha oh my gosh you poor thing. Especially since I know exactly what you mean and have used the longed utensil I could find to do the very same thing. I have never heard of paneer but from the looks of it I am missing out!

  43. I not only love saag paneer, but love that it is so easy to make too!

  44. I love Indian food!
    This Saag Paneer looks so creamy and flavoursome, I would be so happy to have a plateful now! Thanks for the recipe… I can’t wait to try it!

  45. When I eventually get around to making Paneer I shall try this recipe 🙂

  46. This paneer looks fantastic my friend, so full of incredible flavour 😀
    One of my favourite Indian dishes!

    Choc Chip Uru

  47. Kathryn says:

    So good, I love saag paneer. Who’d have though cheese in a curry would be so good?!

  48. Lynn says:

    Ooh – I don’t like the popping oil, but it might be worth it for this. Looks so good!

  49. That is why I avoid deep frying!! I am quite terrified of what consequences and injuries I could end up with. I understand that some things just draw you in though 🙂

  50. Fried cheese? How come my dinner today wasn’t this? I want it.

  51. my mom makes them at home, its been sometime i had, feel like ruining to kitchen to cook it up!

  52. rika@vm says:

    I love Madras curry powder – I use it for everything from curried potatoes to asian curries! After looking at this beautiful curry dish, I am eager to make something similar!

  53. I love saag paneer but haven’t made it at home – good thing I still have my super long kitchen tongs. Sounds like I’ll need ’em for this one!

  54. tigerfish says:

    I enjoy saag quite a lot and of course saag paneer. So good with steamed rice or naan!

  55. Johanna GGG says:

    looks amazing – happy birthday joanne – I think this looks like perfect birthday food – though I would prefer someone else do the frying because it isn’t my idea of fun either

  56. Reeni says:

    I feel like a complete idiot because I never had this before and it looks so insanely delicious I want to go make it right this very second! Definitely tomorrow! For lunch.

  57. Lisa says:

    One of my favorites for sure. Lovely pictures Joanne.

  58. iscribbler says:

    That’s my absolute most favorite dish! I love everything about it and it’s marvelous to see it so beautifully and simply presented! I can’t wait to try it. I have been wanting to give it a go but I have been just succumbing to the dish at my local Indian restaurant. 🙂 Thank you for presenting the recipe! Hope the birthday went well. 🙂

  59. Shannon says:

    awww man, fried cheese is always worth it 🙂 this looks fantastic!!

  60. Catherine says:

    Hello! 🙂 In your ingredient list, you put half and half as your last ingredient, can you explain to me what it is? Thank you so much!

  61. Lisa Dreisigmeyer says:

    So I just realized this post is really old, but I’ll leave a comment anyway. This recipe rocks. I’ve made it twice and it turned out fantastic. I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil because that’s what I had. Also the second time I tried frying the paneer in just 1 tablespoon of oil and I didn’t have the splattery burn inducing nightmare that I had the first time (glad I was warned 😉 ) I also used my immersion blender to puree the whole thing (except the cheese) when I was done, mostly because I have kids and I knew they would prefer that texture. Thanks again for the recipe! My kids are super excited to be having it again.

  62. That Saag paneer recipe so extravagant:) I’m afraid I will not find the ingredients for this recipe! Thanks, Joanne for sharing!

  63. Millifa Jack says:

    This is my favorite dish, my full! I love it all and it’s great to look at it so nicely and clearly! To try it, I can’t wait. I tried to give it a try but in my local Indian restaurant I never resorted to it. Upon introduction, thank you for your recipes! The birthday has gone well, hopefully. ?

  64. Alyssa says:

    This recipe is FANTASTIC! I have made this three times since I found it and every time, I find it even more delicious. Thank you so much for sharing this and I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  65. Danielle says:

    Simple, but really good. I’ve been making this recipe for several years and it never fails. Thanks for sharing! For anyone having a hard time finding paneer or do not want to make their own, I use Halloumi cheese which you can find in most grocery stored. In fact, I use the one from Aldi! It’s not exactly the same as paneer in both texture and taste, but it still works with this dish IMO. If using Halloumi, fry the entire brick and then cut it into pieces afterwards so it doesn’t melt all over in pan.

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