Homemade Healthy Palak Paneer Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Homemade Healthy Palak Paneer

40 reviews / 4.7 average

Today I'm telling you about my most craved all-time favorite Indian dish.

Palak: spinach. Paneer: cheese. Healthy Palak Paneer.

It's coincidentally also the ugly duckling of all food that ever existed. Niiice.

Please, I beg you, I PLEAD with all my food-loving heart. Do not leave based on first impressions or on looks. I know it's easy to judge that greeny-mushy part, but I'm telling you right now: this dish has the power to change your life, making you a creamy spinach lover and a paneer seeker and an all-around Indian food lover. Plus it will decrease your monthly Indian food takeout bills. Just me? Alright then.

The night that I made this, Bjork just happened to be hanging out in the kitchen with me, which is kind of a big deal. I don't know what your men do while you cook (or maybe they cook? or maybe you are a man? hi.) but mine is rarely in that hot little kitchen with me. More like on the couch with an iPhone in one hand and a laptop in the other and a Mountain Dew dangerously close to both. Love you babe.

Man taking a photo.

So this was a special dual-cooking night, except instead of cooking, he photographed. We had a heck of a good time. I'm referring to the heck of a good time that starts with cute smiles and high hopes, continues with a few snappy remarks about someone being in the cook's way and a large photography light falling into a pan of spinach, and ending with a big plate of our all-time favorite dish.

All's well that ends well.

So while I don't often do the step-by-step thing, I want to do it today to help you ease into the making and eating of the spicy green Indian food. And to give justice to this recipe that I've always, always wanted to make on my own. If I can do it, I pinky promise you can too.

Saute Your Aromatics.

That sounds fancy; it's not. It's onions, garlic, a spicy pepper, some canned tomatoes, and a palmful of spices getting all juicy and smell-goody.

Food cooking in a skillet.

Wilt The Spinach.

I have a weird aversion to frozen spinach, so for this I used half frozen and half fresh. But the first time I used it I bit the bullet and used all frozen. You can use any kind, in my opinion. Just toss it in and let it get soft, and if you have a little cilantro that can join the gang, all the better.

Homemade Healthy Palak Paneer - Skillful Cook


Notice I did not say blend and I definitely did not say puree until smooth like silk. Gross. It's a personal preference thing, but the restaurant that has fostered my love of palak paneer serves a version that has a very textured spinach gravy, so that's what I love and that's how I make it. It doesn't have to be chunky, but leave some yummy veggie flecks to keep things interesting.

Homemade Healthy Palak Paneer - Skillful Cook

Add The Paneer (Cheese) and Simmer.

Chop, stir, and let it all get tasty together for a while. Go put your feet up and let your neighbors wonder what the heck you're cooking for dinner because I promise you - it smells like spicy heaven.

One thing I want to tell you: paneer is delicious and you should try it, but if you don't frequent a grocery store that sells paneer, use firm tofu instead. The texture is really really similar and that's what I'm using here. I like to think of it as the suburbanite's paneer.

Food in a pan.

No more steps, cause now it's time to eat.

Get your hungry self some naan, some basmati rice, and a big ol' fork. You just made palak paneer that is not only homemade, but totally healthy. Well, I mean, there are big pieces of cheese that make up about half of the dish, but you know what I mean. That other kind of healthy.

Palak paneer with rice on a plate.
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Homemade Healthy Palak Paneer - Skillful Cook

Homemade Healthy Palak Paneer


This healthy palak paneer is low-calorie and low in fat! So creamy, spicy, and full of flavor. Perfect with warm naan and basmati rice.


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 chili pepper, minced (I used a serrano pepper and left the ribs and seeds in for medium spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger (I had a ginger paste)
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 14 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with garlic, drained
  • 1 17 ounce bag frozen spinach
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (optional, to taste)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cubed paneer


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion and chili pepper until soft. Push the onion and chiil pepper to the side of the pan and add the cumin seeds. Stir the cumin seeds around in the middle for about a minute so they can crackle and pop and little bit on their own.
  2. Add the garam masala, ground coriander, bay leaves, fresh ginger, and minced garlic. Saute everything together for 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavors. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and saute until everything is well mixed and the flavors are blending together, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Thaw the spinach in a large bowl in the microwave. Press all the excess liquid out. Add the spinach and fresh cilantro to the skillet. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaves. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until you get the desired consistency (smooth, but not pureed). Return the mixture to the skillet, and stir in the yogurt and water. Add the salt and paneer; cover and simmer for 10 minutes to help the flavors continue to develop.
  5. Serve with basmati rice and naan.


Traditionally (and deliciously) palak paneer is made with cream instead of yogurt. In this recipe, I swapped the cream for yogurt to try to keep things on the lighter side.

The nutrition information below is for 1/6th of this recipe and does not include rice or naan.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: healthy palak paneer, paneer recipe, indian palak paneer

Simple & Healthy Homemade Palak Paneer - A delicious take on a favorite Indian dish.

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    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      No, I just buy it from the bakery at the grocery store and pop it in the oven for a bit, but I hear it’s pretty easy.

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I always cast a dubious eye upon palek paneer – the textured spinach gravy thing kind of threw me off before!- but ok- you have me- it sounds pretty good, actually. Also way impressed with your dark kitchen, non-natural light photos that turned out so well!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have never had any Palak Paneer, but oh my gosh I have no idea why! I love you pretty and well lit step by step photos and the final dish looks amazing! Even in its green state! I am loving it and cannot wait to try it!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG this my absolute FAVOURITE Indian dish. I was just searching for a recipe for it the other night and I wanted to use tofu instead of paneer so this is perfect!! I love the step by step directions! One question – where do you find garam masala? Couldn’t find it at my local bulk foods store.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I make two changes to this recipe. I use two bags of fresh baby spinach and I also use cream instead of yogurt. It is an amazing and simple recipe and I’ve been making it for years now. So much better than a restaurant, even. Thank you!

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          I too make my own garam masala! I used to buy it in bulk but because I used it so infrequently the lovely aroma would fade. I finally got around to making my own and it was SO easy. Now I make a small batch of it and it stays fresh.

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            I don’t, but it’s really simple:

            1 tbsp cardamom seeds
            1 tsp black peppercorns
            1 tsp black cumin seeds
            1 tsp whole cloves
            1/3 whole nutmeg
            cinnamon stick (2-3 inches long, cut into pieces)

            Grind ingredients in a clean coffee grinder. Store in an airtight jar and use as needed 🙂

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love Indian food! I have never tried this dish though, it looks so delicious and honesty you make it look easy enough to make at home. We have some Indian markets by us that sell paneer in freezer section, will have to try this!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    this post just made me laugh since my husband is never to be found in the kitchen either. glad that you had a helper this time! 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    You could try roasting the paneer. No oil needed as paneer has its own fat. Thaw the frozen paneer and saute it till it becomes brown outside. Roasted outside and soft inside.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks great! I think that if you used fat free Greek yogurt, you will reduce the calories even more. I also put half paneer and half tofu (to mimic to paneer) and that cuts down the calories too, not to mention healthy!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I used Greek yogurt and it separated. I love palak paneer, found this recipe just ‘ok’

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    BEST DISH EVER!!! I could totally be ill on this and go back for more…over and over again! Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I really want to make this because it looks delicious and I love how you describe it but…. I must admit I struggle with paneer…. I could make the spinach base and then add an alternative I suppose. Great photographs too!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Sometimes I just eat naan smeared with the spinach part. It’s so so good. Totally doable without paneer (although paneer is awesome).

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is my favorite Indian dish but I never knew what it was called because I opt for the buffet (since I don’t know what most dishes are called anyway). I will definitely try this. Thank you!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I loooove the saag paneer at my local indian restaurant. I bet palak paneer would be great too, as I’m a pretty big fan of spinach (and really have no idea what other greens they’re throwing into the saag) – this sounds so good.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the step by step photos! One of my goals for the fall & winter is to experiment with more Indian cooking at home. I love eating it, but for some reason never think about making it. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks amazing! Any recommendations for another cheese that would substitute well for the paneer? I’m afraid my grocery stores won’t have it, and I’m not a huge fan of tofu 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      you can make your own paneer, its very easy just bring milk to a boil turn off add lemon juice or vinegar, let satnd till seperates, drain in a cheese cloth and sit in fridge for a few hours and you have paneer :’)

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I actually use Haloumni (Greek hard cheese), it works extremely well, has similar characteristics and even budget supermarkets in Europe (for insiders for example the Lidl) have it in almost every store.

        Btw Haloumni is also great with some spices on the bbq!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Palak paneer is my all-time fav! Thanks for the step-by-step photos, I can’t wait to try this at home!!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Mutter paneer is my person Indian favorite, but if it has paneer in it, honestly, how can you go wrong?

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am so excited about this recipe! I absolutely love palak paneer but don’t get to have it these days as my husband never wants to order Indian food (crazy, right?). All I needed was a good recipe — and then I can eat the whole thing myself!

    BTW, I loved your post about using Pinterest. You described your concerns about it so eloquently.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    One of my favorite Indian dishes is aloo gobi, and it isn’t the prettiest thing either! But anything with that much green from spinach is absolutely gorgeous in my book. (Because it has to be healthy!)

    My guy is the exact same way too. His idea of cooking is boiling a pot of water for spaghetti or throwing a frozen pizza into the oven. And no WAY would he even want to photograph any of his (or my) food!! So happy that you and Bjork can share that!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh my gosh, I totally recognized the two of you tonight after the Michael Buble concert but I was too afraid to say hi for fear of coming across as a maybe-a-little-bit-creepy-girl who recognizes food bloggers from the internet. But now I’m kicking myself because I should have just told you how much I love Skillful Cook! Maybe you’re even used to it? Maybe you get recognized often?
    I’m not sure, but I do know that if I ever run into you guys in the twin cities again in the future, I’ll be sure to come up and say hi 🙂

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I do think this is one ugly dish but I kind of think most Indian dishes are like that with all of the sauce. Good thing they taste so good. Easy to forgive their ugliness. Man, that sounds mean. I will be bookmarking this for later, it is one of my favorites at Indian restaurants.