Paneer is a fresh cheese commonly used in Indian cooking. It has a mild flavor and soft texture that work well in creamy curries, kebabs, and snacks. But what if you have leftover paneer that you want to save for later? Can you freeze paneer to extend its shelf life? The short answer is yes; you can absolutely freeze paneer for future use.
Freezing is an easy way to reduce food waste, so always have paneer on hand when a craving for palak paneer or other Indian dishes strikes. With a few simple preparation tips, your frozen paneer will retain its taste and texture for up to 3 months in the freezer. Read on to learn everything you need to know about properly freezing and storing paneer cheese.
Should you freeze paneer?
Paneer is best when fresh, with a soft and spongy texture. Freezing will slightly alter the taste and consistency of paneer by making it more crumbly when thawed. However, frozen paneer still works wonderfully in cooked dishes like curries and skewers, where the cheese gets heated through.
Freezing is not recommended if you plan to eat paneer raw or cold, such as in a salad. But for cooking, frozen paneer is a convenient, budget-friendly option. Preparing a large batch allows you to enjoy paneer recipes for weeks without having to make fresh cheese each time.
So if you find yourself with extra paneer from a recipe or you scored a good deal on a block of paneer from the Indian grocery store, go ahead and freeze the surplus to extend the shelf life. Frozen paneer prevents waste, so you can enjoy it later on.
How to Freeze Paneer
Freezing paneer is simple, but there are some guidelines to follow for the best results:
- Start with fresh paneer that is not past its expiration date. Freezing cannot improve the quality of old or sour paneer.
- Cut the paneer into cubes or slices. This makes it easier to remove only the desired amount from the freezer.
- Lay the paneer pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet or plate lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 1-2 hours until completely hard.
- Transfer the frozen paneer pieces to zipper freezer bags or airtight containers. Squeeze out excess air before sealing.
- Label the containers with the type and date of freezing. Store frozen paneer in the coldest part of the freezer, at 0°F or below.
- Avoid refreezing thawed paneer. Only refreeze if the paneer cubes are still hard and icy.
Follow these tips for the best results with frozen paneer. The key is freezing it quickly in individual pieces so you can take out only what you need.
How Long Does Paneer Last in the Freezer?
Properly stored frozen paneer will maintain good quality for 3 to 6 months.
The freezer time depends on a few factors:
- Freshness of the paneer before freezing: fresher lasts longer.
- Freezer temperature of 0°F is ideal. Higher temperatures cause a faster quality decline.
- Packaging that is airtight prevents freezer burn.
- Exposure: opening the freezer frequently decreases shelf life.
Monitor your frozen paneer and use it within 3 months for the best flavor and texture. Frozen paneer older than 6 months may become too dry and crumbly.
If you notice freezer burn, dry spots, or off smells, it’s best to discard the paneer. Trust your senses to determine if your frozen paneer cheese is still good to eat.
How to Use Frozen Paneer
Let’s look at some tips for handling and cooking frozen paneer:
- Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or leave the cheese on the counter for 1-2 hours. Avoid thawing at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Cook immediately after thawing; do not refreeze thawed paneer.
- Add frozen paneer cubes directly to simmering curries and sauces. There is no need to thaw first.
- Increase cooking time by 5–10 minutes when using frozen paneer in recipes.
- Handle gently when stir-frying with oil or making paneer tikka. Frozen, then thawed, paneer is delicate.
- Avoid grilling, broiling, or baking frozen paneer directly; always thaw first for these dry heat methods.
- Crumble over finished dishes instead of slicing if the paneer has become too crumbly after freezing. It works great over kadai paneer or shahi paneer.
With these guidelines, your frozen paneer should cook up just fine in your favorite Indian dishes. The texture may not be quite as soft as fresh, but the flavor will still be delicious. Now you can always have paneer ready when a paneer recipe calls for it!
Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Paneer
You may have some other questions about properly freezing and storing paneer cheese. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Can you freeze paneer twice?
You should avoid refreezing thawed paneer. Only refreeze paneer if it is still hard and icy after the first freeze. Any thawed paneer should be cooked and eaten within a day or two. Refreezing creates larger ice crystals that will make the texture too crumbly.
Does freezing paneer change the taste?
It can slightly alter the taste, especially in recipes where the paneer is not cooked. But for cooked curries and desserts, frozen paneer tastes quite similar to fresh when warmed through during cooking. Many people do not notice a major difference.
What is the best way to thaw frozen paneer?
Refrigeration overnight is ideal, giving the paneer time to slowly thaw. You can also leave frozen paneer cubes or slices on the kitchen counter for 1-2 hours until they are thawed enough to cut or crumble. Avoid thawing paneer at room temperature for much longer than 2 hours.
Can you freeze homemade paneer?
Absolutely! Homemade paneer freezes just as well as store-bought blocks. Freeze fresh homemade paneer within 1-2 days for best results. Follow the same tips for shaping, cooling, and storing the cheese.
Can I cook paneer straight from the freezer?
You can add frozen paneer pieces directly to simmering curries, stews, etc. There is no need to thaw first. Just be sure to extend the cooking time by 5-10 minutes so the paneer has time to heat through and absorb flavors.
Can you freeze saag paneer or palak paneer?
Freezing cooked dishes like saag paneer is not recommended, as the frozen spinach will turn the sauce watery once thawed. Cook paneer dishes fresh for the best texture and taste. But you can freeze paneer cubes separately to make future saag paneer batches quickly.
Let your frozen paneer defrost slowly in the fridge overnight before using it for best results. With proper handling, frozen paneer works well in most cooked recipes that call for fresh paneer.
Paneer is a versatile ingredient that freezes very well. Follow these simple steps to freeze paneer cheese:
- Cut into cubes or slices.
- Quick freeze on a parchment-lined pan
- Transfer to airtight bags or containers.
- Label with the date and type
- Store at 0°F or below.
- Use within 3-6 months for best quality.
Thaw overnight in the fridge before using frozen paneer. Then you can easily substitute it into curries, appetizers, and other Indian dishes. With paneer in the freezer, you’ll always have this tasty ingredient on hand whenever that craving for saag paneer or palak paneer strikes!
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.