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Paneer vs. Malai Paneer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on March 11, 2024
Paneer is a fresh, non-melting cheese used in South Asian cuisine, while malai paneer is a creamier, softer variant, often with a higher fat content.

Key Differences

Paneer is a type of fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine, known for its firm texture and ability to retain shape when cooked. Malai paneer, on the other hand, is a softer and creamier version of paneer, often made with added cream (malai) for a richer flavor.
In terms of preparation, paneer is made by curdling milk with a food acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, and then pressing it to form a block. Malai paneer involves a similar process but includes cream in the milk, resulting in a more tender and rich texture.
Paneer has a mild, milky flavor, making it versatile in absorbing spices and flavors from dishes. Malai paneer, with its creamier texture, adds a rich, luxurious element to dishes, enhancing the overall taste.
The texture of paneer is denser and firmer, making it suitable for grilling or frying without falling apart. Malai paneer is softer and more delicate, often used in gravies and dishes where a softer cheese is preferred.
Nutritionally, paneer is high in protein but lower in fat compared to malai paneer, which has a higher fat content due to the added cream.

Comparison Chart


Firm and dense
Softer and creamier

Preparation Method

Curdled with a food acid and pressed
Made with added cream for a richer texture


Mild and milky, absorbs other flavors well
Richer and creamier taste

Cooking Uses

Suitable for grilling, frying
Used in gravies, prefers gentle cooking

Nutritional Content

High in protein, lower in fat
Higher in fat due to added cream

Paneer and Malai Paneer Definitions


Made by curdling milk and pressing the curds into a firm block.
He made paneer at home by curdling milk with lemon juice and then pressing the curds.

Malai Paneer

It has a higher fat content due to the cream, making it richer in taste.
The creamy texture of malai paneer made it a favorite in her creamy curry recipes.


Known for its ability to retain shape and texture when cooked.
Paneer was the perfect choice for the barbecue, as it held its shape on the grill.

Malai Paneer

Less firm than regular paneer, ideal for gentle cooking methods.
She gently simmered the malai paneer in the sauce to maintain its soft texture.


Paneer has a mild, versatile flavor that pairs well with various spices.
The paneer absorbed the flavors of the masala, making the dish delicious.

Malai Paneer

Adds a decadent, creamy element to traditional paneer dishes.
Swapping paneer with malai paneer in the saag paneer recipe enhanced its richness.


A nutritious option, high in protein and essential nutrients.
For vegetarians, paneer serves as an excellent source of protein in their diet.

Malai Paneer

Malai paneer is a softer, creamier variant of paneer with added cream.
The malai paneer added a luxurious richness to the butter masala gravy.


Paneer is a fresh, unaged cheese popular in South Asian cuisine.
She added cubes of paneer to the spinach curry for a protein-rich meal.

Malai Paneer

Perfect for dishes requiring a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth texture.
Malai paneer was the star ingredient in his signature paneer korma dish.


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.


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


Is malai paneer good for health-conscious individuals?

It's higher in fat due to the cream, so it may be less suitable for those watching fat intake.

Can paneer be eaten raw?

Yes, paneer can be consumed raw and is often enjoyed in salads.

What is paneer?

Paneer is a fresh, unaged cheese commonly used in South Asian cuisine.

Can paneer be used in sweet dishes?

Yes, its mild flavor makes it suitable for sweet dishes like rasgulla.

Is paneer suitable for frying?

Yes, its firm texture makes it ideal for frying.

How is malai paneer different from regular paneer?

Malai paneer is softer and creamier than regular paneer, often made with added cream.

Does malai paneer melt when cooked?

It's softer than regular paneer but doesn't melt like other cheeses.

What dishes are best made with malai paneer?

It's great in creamy gravies and dishes where a softer cheese is preferred.

Can malai paneer be used in salads?

Its soft texture is less ideal for salads; regular paneer is a better choice for that.

Can lactose-intolerant individuals consume paneer?

Paneer contains lactose, so it may not be suitable for those with lactose intolerance.

How long does malai paneer last compared to regular paneer?

Malai paneer typically has a similar shelf life to regular paneer when stored properly in the refrigerator.

Is malai paneer higher in calories than regular paneer?

Yes, due to the added cream, malai paneer is higher in calories.

Does paneer have a strong flavor?

No, paneer has a mild, milky flavor that absorbs other flavors well.

Can paneer be used in vegan diets?

No, paneer is made from milk and is not suitable for a vegan diet.

Can malai paneer be grilled like regular paneer?

It's softer and less suitable for grilling; regular paneer holds up better to grilling.

Is paneer a good source of protein?

Yes, paneer is high in protein, making it a popular choice among vegetarians.

How should malai paneer be stored?

Keep it refrigerated and consume it within a few days for the best quality.

Can I make malai paneer at home?

Yes, you can make it by adding cream during the paneer-making process.

How do I know if paneer is fresh?

Fresh paneer should have a mild aroma and should not taste sour.

Is paneer a type of cottage cheese?

Paneer is similar to cottage cheese but is not exactly the same, as it's firmer and doesn't contain added salt.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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