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Cheese vs. Paneer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 25, 2023
Cheese is a dairy product derived from milk and produced in a wide range of flavors and textures, while paneer is a fresh, unsalted cheese popular in Indian cuisine.

Key Differences

Cheese is a broad term that encompasses a variety of dairy products made from the curdling of milk, often aged to develop flavor and texture. Paneer, on the other hand, is a specific type of cheese prevalent in Indian cooking, known for its fresh and soft consistency. The process of making cheese involves adding rennet or bacterial cultures to milk, leading to curd separation, and then aging the product for flavor development in many cases. In contrast, paneer is made by curdling milk using food acids like lemon juice or vinegar, and it isn't aged or fermented.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023
Both cheese and paneer offer unique culinary experiences. Cheese, due to its diverse range, can be soft like brie, hard like parmesan, or crumbly like feta. Paneer possesses a distinct mild flavor and retains its shape even when cooked, making it a staple in dishes like 'paneer tikka' or 'palak paneer'. Cheese, being a global product, has found its way into numerous cuisines, from Italian pizzas to French quiches. Paneer, though rooted in South Asian cuisine, has started gaining popularity worldwide as a vegetarian protein source.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023
Another distinguishing feature is the presence or absence of salt. While many cheeses have salt added for flavor and preservation, paneer is traditionally unsalted. This characteristic allows paneer to be a versatile ingredient, fitting into both savory and sweet dishes. The nutritional profiles of cheese and paneer also differ. Cheese, depending on its type, can be high in fats and sodium. Paneer, being fresh, generally has a simpler nutritional profile with protein and fat from milk.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023
In essence, while both cheese and paneer originate from milk, their preparation methods, taste profiles, and applications in cooking are distinct, making each unique in the dairy world.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Comparison Chart

Origin

Global
Indian
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023
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Making Process

Often uses rennet/bacterial cultures, can be aged.
Uses food acids, not aged.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Texture and Flavor

Varies widely (soft, hard, crumbly); can be salty and strong.
Soft, crumbly; mild flavor.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Culinary Uses

Diverse, used in many cuisines.
Common in South Asian dishes.
Janet White
Oct 25, 2023

Salt Content

Often contains added salt.
Traditionally unsalted.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Cheese and Paneer Definitions

Cheese

Cheese is made using various methods and ingredients.
Blue cheese is distinctive due to the mold veins running through it.
Sara Rehman
Oct 25, 2023
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Paneer

Paneer is a fresh cheese used in Indian cuisine.
Paneer butter masala is a rich and creamy dish.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 25, 2023

Cheese

Cheese can be aged to develop different flavors and textures.
Aged cheeses like cheddar have a stronger taste than fresh ones.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Paneer

Paneer retains its shape during cooking.
She added cubes of paneer to the spicy gravy.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Cheese

Cheese is consumed worldwide in diverse forms.
In France, cheese is often enjoyed with wine and bread.
Sara Rehman
Oct 25, 2023

Paneer

Paneer is made by curdling milk with food acids.
Adding lemon juice to boiling milk will yield paneer.
Harlon Moss
Oct 25, 2023

Cheese

Cheese can be made from the milk of various animals.
Goat cheese has a tangy flavor distinct from cow milk cheese.
Harlon Moss
Oct 25, 2023

Paneer

Paneer is unsalted and has a mild taste.
Paneer can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 25, 2023

Cheese

Cheese is a dairy product made by curdling milk.
She loves adding cheese to her sandwiches for extra flavor.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 25, 2023

Paneer

Paneer is a rich source of vegetarian protein.
Many vegetarians consume paneer for its protein content.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Cheese

A solid food prepared from the pressed curd of milk, often seasoned and aged.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 01, 2021

Paneer

A soft unsalted and unripened cheese made from milk that is simmered, curdled using lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or a similarly acidic substance, and then drained and pressed in cheesecloth.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 01, 2021

Paneer

A soft, non-matured, Indian cheese.
The spinach was mixed with paneer to make a satisfying meal.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 01, 2021

FAQs

Why doesn't paneer melt like other cheeses?

Paneer's protein structure, due to acid-set curdling, doesn't allow it to melt like aged cheeses.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Can I make paneer at home?

Yes, by curdling boiled milk with food acids like lemon juice, then draining the whey.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Is paneer a type of cheese?

Yes, paneer is a type of fresh cheese popular in Indian cuisine.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Why is paneer not aged like other cheeses?

Paneer is meant to be consumed fresh and isn't processed for aging.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Is paneer healthier than cheese?

Both have nutritional benefits, but paneer is often lower in sodium and fats than aged cheeses.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 25, 2023

Is there lactose in cheese and paneer?

Both contain lactose, but some aged cheeses have lower amounts than paneer.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Is there a vegan version of paneer?

Tofu is often used as a vegan alternative to paneer.
Harlon Moss
Oct 25, 2023

Why is paneer so popular in Indian vegetarian dishes?

Paneer offers a substantial protein source for vegetarian diets and adapts well to various flavors.
Harlon Moss
Oct 25, 2023

Are there flavored versions of paneer?

Traditional paneer is plain, but some modern versions might include spices or herbs.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Can I use cheese in Indian dishes as a substitute for paneer?

While possible, it will alter the dish's flavor and texture.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

Are cheese and paneer good sources of calcium?

Yes, both are dairy products and naturally rich in calcium.
Janet White
Oct 25, 2023

How long can I store paneer and cheese?

While paneer should be consumed within a few days, some cheeses can be stored longer, depending on their type.
Sara Rehman
Oct 25, 2023

Is feta cheese similar to paneer?

Both are crumbly, but feta is saltier and tangier than paneer.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 25, 2023

Why do some cheeses smell strong?

The aging process and specific bacterial cultures can give some cheeses a strong aroma.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 25, 2023

Can I use cheese as a substitute for paneer in recipes?

While they are different, firm tofu or halloumi can be closer substitutes for paneer than other cheeses.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 25, 2023

Can I use paneer in Italian dishes as a cheese substitute?

Paneer's mild flavor allows it to be versatile, but its texture and taste will differ from traditional Italian cheeses.
Sara Rehman
Oct 25, 2023

Can I eat paneer raw?

Yes, paneer can be consumed raw, cooked, or even grilled.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 25, 2023

How do I know if my paneer or cheese has gone bad?

Both will develop an off smell, sour taste, and possibly mold when spoiled.
Harlon Moss
Oct 25, 2023

Can I use paneer in salads?

Absolutely, paneer can be added to salads, grilled, or even eaten raw.
Janet White
Oct 25, 2023

Which cheese is closest in texture to paneer?

Firm tofu or halloumi cheese can resemble paneer's texture.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 25, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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