Paneer Tikka Masala (with Homemade Paneer!)

This easy paneer tikka masala recipe features homemade paneer and red bell pepper. This is a simple vegetarian Indian recipe the whole family will love! 

paneer tikka masala on white plate next to box of tikka masala sauce and homemade paneer cheese

What is Paneer Tikka Masala?

You’re probably very familiar with two popular Indian dishes, saag paneer and mattar paneer, both of which showcase the delicate, milky taste of fresh curd cheese. However, paneer tikka masala is slightly different from these two dishes in that it’s made with a spiced tomato-based sauce. Paneer tikka masala is a wonderful vegetarian alternative to chicken tikka masala, and is so much easier to make yourself since there’s no chicken to be cooked or marinated.

Of course, you can buy paneer at the store, but consider making it at home this one time. Making homemade paneer — by simply adding a bit of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to milk — is super easy! And by just adding one of Sukhi’s Curry Sauces, like Tikka Masala, you can have one of your favorite restaurant dishes at home in under an hour.

How to Make Paneer

Homemade paneer sounds scary to make, but it’s actually a fairly straightforward process that takes less than an hour to complete. To make paneer, you’ll need whole milk, buttermilk, and white vinegar, as well as a cheesecloth. First, bring the whole milk to a gentle boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning. Add the buttermilk to the saucepan and let the mixture sit until milk solids begin to form. Then stir in the vinegar to achieve the final separation.

Next, carefully pour the milk mixture into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Twist the cheesecloth to squeeze out any excess whey, then let it drain over your kitchen sink for a few minutes. Once properly drained, place the cheesecloth onto a plate and put another plate on top of the ball of paneer. Stack heavy items (such as cans and cookbooks) atop the plate, and let the paneer rest for 20 to 45 minutes on your countertop. Note that the longer you let the paneer rest, the firmer the cheese will become.

Tips for the Best Paneer Tikka Masala

This vegetarian tikka masala recipe is incredibly easy to make, but there are a few things to keep in mind while making this dish:

  • Whole milk and real buttermilk are key when making homemade paneer. You can’t substitute a lower fat milk in this recipe!
  • Diced bell pepper adds a pop of fresh flavor to this dish and keeps this recipe simple. However, you’re welcome to add in additional chopped veggies as well.
  • If you don’t have time to make homemade paneer, feel free to buy pre-made paneer at the store instead.

More Vegetarian Indian Recipes:

Homemade Paneer

This easy paneer tikka masala recipe features homemade paneer and red bell pepper. This is a simple, vegetarian Indian recipe the whole family will love! 

Course Main Course, Vegetarian
Cuisine Indian
Keyword paneer, tikka masala
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


Homemade Paneer

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 tsp plain white vinegar
  • cheese cloth

Paneer Tikka Masala

  • 1 packet Sukhi's Tikka Masala Sauce (+ water and cream, as package instructs)
  • 1 red bell pepper , diced


  1. To make paneer: Pour milk in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from burning. Add buttermilk and wait for milk solids to start separating; add vinegar to get the final separation. The final mixture will have a lemony yellow color with a tinge of green.

  2. Remove pot from heat and carefully pour milk mixture into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist the ball of cheese to squeeze out the excess whey. Tie the cheesecloth to your kitchen faucet and allow the cheese to drain for about 5 minutes.

  3. Twist the cheesecloth to form a compact ball, place it on a plate with the twisted part of the cheesecloth on the side (so your block of cheese is smooth) and set another plate on top. Place heavy dishes or cans of food to weight it down. Set aside on kitchen counter for about 20 minutes (for softer cheese) and up to about 45 minutes (for a firmer and more condensed texture). Unwrap paneer and cut into cubes to toss into your favorite sauce.

  4. To make Paneer Tikka Masala: Sauté 1 diced red bell pepper in a little bit of canola oil. Stir in 1 packet of Sukhi's Tikka Masala Sauce with water and cream (according to package directions). Let simmer a few minutes until peppers are soft but not mushy. 

  5. Add paneer and stir to combine. Serve with naan, rice, and garnish with fresh cilantro.


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