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Palak Paneer Instant Pot is a Punjabi dish that’s widely popular in North India. This authentic unblanched version of Palak Paneer is a blend of creamy spinach flavored with aromatic spices along with sauteed paneer. Utilizing sour cream instead of heavy cream enriches the dish’s texture and adds a slight tang which is irresistible.

A large spoonful of palak paneer over a serving bowl of palak paneer.
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3 Tips for the Best Palak Paneer

My aunt – Bimi Masi – makes the best Palak Paneer. Whenever she hosted a party, it was guaranteed that Palak Paneer would be on the menu. That was her specialty and the dish I looked forward to the most.

  1. Fresh Spinach – Since she would make this palak paneer for a large crowd, she opted for frozen spinach over fresh. As you know, fresh spinach cooks down to virtually nothing so using frozen is convenient and saves time.
  2. Sour Cream – The other trick my aunt used was using sour cream instead of heavy cream. This substitution not only imparted creaminess and richness but also added a delightful tanginess without excessive fat content, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
  3. Saute Paneer – Furthermore, she sauteed paneer instead before adding it to the creamy spinach base which adds so much flavor.

I hope you give this unblanched, Punjabi-style Palak Paneer recipe a try, as it is truly exceptional. Alternatively, for a vibrant green variation, check out my Palak Paneer (Blanched Version), where the spinach is first boiled.

More Punjabi Recipes

If you love Punjabi food, you’ll love my Dal Makhani (no cream), Paneer Makhani (no butter, no cream), Punjabi Chole, Punjabi Rajma Masala, and Butter Chicken.



What is Palak Paneer?

Palak means spinach and paneer is a type of Indian cottage cheese, hence this dish is spinach and paneer curry. This Punjabi dish is widely popular in North India and is enjoyed during the winter months.

For my version of Instant Pot Palak Paneer, I used fresh spinach that is added to a traditional masala mixture consisting of ginger, garlic, green chilies, onions, and tomatoes.

Cook the spinach on high pressure and then use an immersion blender to pulse the spinach until creamy and slightly chunky. Then add sour cream for richness along with sauteed paneer cubes. Enjoy palak paneer with Jeera Rice and/or roti.

What is the difference between Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer?

Palak means spinach, whereas saag is a combination of leafy greens.

Palak Paneer is made with just spinach leaves and paneer. Saag Paneer can be made with spinach leaves, mustard greens (sarson), methi leaves, broccolini, and any green leaf combination.


What kind of spinach leaves should I use?

I’ve made palak paneer a bunch of times and have tested this recipe using fresh spinach, baby spinach, and frozen spinach (just like my aunt made it.

Here are my recommendations –

  • Fresh Spinach Leaves Bunch – I highly recommend using fresh spinach leaves bunch (not the kind you get in a packet), the actual bunch. Wash and roughly chop the spinach leaves and set aside. Palak Paneer tastes best with fresh spinach leaves.
  • Baby Spinach – Alternatively, you may use baby spinach which is the next best option. You don’t need to chop the baby spinach. This tastes good too and baby spinach is easily accessible.
  • Frozen Chopped Spinach – Lastly, you may use frozen chopped spinach just as my aunt did – especially if you’re cooking for a large crowd. My recommendation is to leave the spinach out and let it thaw. Remove excess water before adding it to the instant pot. Palak Paneer does taste good with frozen spinach, but not as good as fresh. I would increase the spice quantity slightly if using frozen spinach to add more flavor.

Should I saute paneer or leave it raw?

In my opinion, this version of palak paneer tastes amazing when using sauteed paneer, and it’s also a more traditional way of making Punjabi-style palak paneer. This is the version I grew up eating and it tastes incredible with rice. On the contrary, using raw paneer works too – it’ll be creamy, soft, and just as delicious.

A white bowl consisting of jeera rice with palak paneer, and a silver spoon.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Mouthwatering – My Palak Paneer is AMAZING! I don’t say that lightly. It’s creamy, delicious, and just hits the spot.
  • Health Benefits – Palak Paneer is packed with nutritious ingredients. Spinach is rich in iron, and vitamins C and E, while paneer is a good source of protein and calcium.
  • Meatless Vegetarian Option – This dish is a great meatless option for vegetarians who are looking to add more protein to their diet.
  • Easy to Make – A convenient and easy recipe that can be made in the Instant Pot. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for Palak Paneer.
  • Spinach – You will need 1 pound or 500 grams of spinach for this recipe. I highly recommend using fresh spinach leaves for this recipe. Please see my recommendations in the section above.
  • Paneer – I use store-bought paneer – I love Gopi brand. For most brands, you need to soak the paneer in boiling water for 20 minutes so the paneer is soft. First cube the paneer then soak it in hot water. Drain the paneer completely before sauteing it in oil. Feel free to use homemade paneer if you prefer.
  • Sour Cream – In many restaurants, palak paneer is generally made with heavy cream, and you don’t need it. Many homestyle versions of palak paneer consist of yogurt, whole milk, or even blended cashews. As mentioned above, my aunt used sour cream which is a cross between cream and yogurt. Sour cream adds a tang and richness which tastes amazing.
  • Masala Mixture – You’ll need ginger, garlic, green chilies, red onion (or yellow/white onions work), and tomatoes.
  • Spices – You’ll need the standard Indian spices such as Cumin Seeds, Turmeric Powder, Coriander Powder, Cumin Powder, Red Chili Powder, Kashmiri Red Chili Powder, Salt, Garam Masala, and Dry Fenugreek Leaves (Kasoori Methi).
  • Water – You’ll need a tablespoon or two of water to deglaze the pot especially after the tomatoes are done cooking. I also added a tablespoon of water when adding the powdered spices to prevent them from burning.

*See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities.*


Substitutions

  • Sour Cream – Instead of sour cream, you may opt to use 2-4 tablespoons of heavy cream, 1/4 – 1/3 cup of whole milk, 1/4 cup of blended cashews with water to form a paste, or 1/4 cup of whole milk yogurt. If using milk or yogurt, first temper them with a little spinach gravy to prevent the dish from curdling.
  • Paneer – Feel free to use raw cubed paneer instead of sauteed paneer.
  • Vegan Palak Paneer – For a vegan option, you may substitute firm tofu for paneer. Press the tofu to remove the excess liquid and then proceed to saute in oil.

How to Make Instant Pot Palak Paneer?

1. Prepare Masala – Press SAUTE mode on the Instant Pot. Once the pot is hot, add oil, and once hot, add cumin seeds. Saute the cumin seeds for 30 seconds. (Image 1)

2. Now add green chilies. Saute for 30 seconds or so. (Image 2)

3. Add onions and season with a little salt. Stir and cook the onions down for 5-6 minutes until lightly brown. (Image 3)

4. Now add ginger and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds. (Image 4)

Saute spices, onions, ginger, and garlic.

5. Add tomatoes and season with a little salt. Stir and cook for a minute or two. (Image 5)

6. Add ground spices – turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. (Image 6)

7. Add a tablespoon of water to prevent the spices from burning and stir. (Image 7)

8. Cover the Instant Pot with a lid and cook the tomatoes down for 3-4 minutes. (Image 8)

Add tomatoes, powdered spices, and cook down the tomatoes.

9. This is what you should have. (Image 9)

10. Now add another 1-2 tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan. Press CANCEL on the Instant Pot. (Image 10)

11. Add Spinach – Add a pound of fresh spinach. Season with salt. Gently stir. You don’t need to combine the masala mixture with the spinach at this time. (Image 11)

12. Press HIGH PRESSURE for 2 minutes. Allow the steam to naturally release for 10 minutes and then manually release the remaining steam. This process will take about 20 minutes. (Image 12)

Deglaze the pot with a little water, then add spinach and salt, then cook on high pressure.

13. Saute Paneer – While the spinach cooks, heat a nonstick ceramic pan on medium heat, once hot, add half a tablespoon of oil followed by cubed paneer that has been cubed, soaked, and drained. (Image 13)

14. Saute the paneer until golden for 5 minutes at the most, anything more, and you’ll end up with a tougher texture. Turn off the stove and transfer the paneer to a bowl. (Image 14)

Saute the cubed paneer until golden brown.

15. Open Instant Pot / Blend Spinach – Open the Instant Pot. This is what your spinach will look like. (Image 15)

16. Stir the spinach with the masala mixture. (Image 16)

17. Use an immersion blender to blend the spinach. We want to keep the texture so don’t overblend, rather pulse it. (Image 17)

18. This is what you should have. (Image 18)

Stir the spinach and use an immersion blender to pulse until thick and creamy.

19. Add Sour Cream – Press SAUTE on the Instant Pot again. Add sour cream, garam masala, and dry fenugreek leaves. (Image 19)

20. Stir it. The spinach will slightly lighten and become creamy. (Image 20)

21. Add the sauteed cube paneer. Stir and cook for a minute or two. (Image 21)

22. Press CANCEL on the Instant Pot. Your palak paneer is ready. (Image 22)

Add sour cream, garam masala, fenugreek leaves, and sauteed paneer.

Expert Tips

Spinach – Use fresh spinach leaves bunch for the best results followed by baby spinach and then frozen spinach.

Prevent Sticking – Add two tablespoons of water once the tomatoes have cooked to deglaze the pan. This will prevent the BURN sign on the Instant Pot later on.

Serving Suggestions

→ Palak Paneer is best enjoyed with Jeera Rice, Naan, or hot Roti. My personal favorite is Jeera Rice.
→ Serve a kachumber salad made with onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and cilantro along with palak paneer.
Instant Pot Toor Dal would pair perfectly with palak paneer.


Recipe FAQs

Is this dish gluten-free?

Yes, palak paneer is completely gluten-free.

How long can I store palak paneer in the fridge?

Place palak paneer in an airtight container and it will last in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.


A serving bowl of creamy palak paneer with green chilies and white flowers in the background.


Tried this recipe? If so, please leave a comment & rate this recipe. That would mean so much to me. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. I’m happy to share and mention you. Thank you!


5 from 12 votes

Palak Paneer Instant Pot (Authentic, Unblanched, Punjabi-style)

By: Nisha
Palak Paneer Instant Pot is a Punjabi dish that's widely popular in North India. This authentic unblanched version of Palak Paneer is a blend of creamy spinach flavored with aromatic spices along with sauteed cubed paneer.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 

FOR SAUTEED PANEER

  • 200 grams paneer, cubed & soaked in hot water
  • 1/2 tbsp oil

FOR PALAK PANEER

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 green chilies, sliced
  • 1 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tbsp water, to prevent spices from burning
  • 2 tbsp water, to deglaze tomatoes after cooking
  • 1 pound fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, more if desired
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp dry fenugreek leaves
  • Add sauteed paneer
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Instructions 

  • Prepare Masala – Press SAUTE mode on the Instant Pot. Once the pot is hot, add oil, and once hot, add cumin seeds. Saute the cumin seeds for 30 seconds. Now add green chilies. Saute for 30 seconds or so. Add onions and season with a little salt. Stir and cook the onions down for 5-6 minutes until lightly brown. Now add ginger and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and season with a little salt. Stir and cook for a minute or two.
  • Add Ground Spices – turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add a tablespoon of water to prevent the spices from burning and stir. Cover the Instant Pot with a lid and cook the tomatoes down for 3-4 minutes. Once done, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan. Press CANCEL on the Instant Pot.
  • Add Spinach – Add a pound of fresh spinach. Season with salt. Gently stir. You don't need to combine the masala mixture with the spinach at this time. Press HIGH PRESSURE for 2 minutes. Allow the steam to naturally release for 10 minutes and then manually release the remaining steam. This process will take about 20 minutes.
  • Saute Paneer – While the spinach cooks, heat a nonstick ceramic pan on medium heat, once hot, add half a tablespoon of oil followed by cubed paneer that has been cubed, soaked, and drained. Saute the paneer until golden for 5 minutes at the most, anything more, and you'll end up with a tougher texture. Turn off the stove and transfer the paneer to a bowl.
  • Blend Spinach – Open the Instant Pot and stir the spinach with the masala mixture. Use an immersion blender to blend the spinach. We want to keep the texture so don't overblend, rather pulse it.
  • Add Sour Cream – Press SAUTE on the Instant Pot again. Add sour cream, garam masala, and dry fenugreek leaves. Stir it. The spinach will slightly lighten and become creamy. Add the sauteed cube paneer. Stir and cook for a minute or two. Press CANCEL on the Instant Pot. Your palak paneer is ready.

Video

Notes

  • Spinach – Use fresh spinach leaves bunch for the best results followed by baby spinach and then frozen spinach.
  • Paneer – Feel free to use raw cubed paneer instead of sauteed paneer.
  • Sour Cream – Instead of sour cream, you may opt to use 2-4 tablespoons of heavy cream, 1/4 – 1/3 cup of whole milk, 1/4 cup of blended cashews with water to form a paste, or 1/4 cup of whole milk yogurt. If using milk or yogurt, first temper them with a little spinach gravy to prevent the dish from curdling.
  • Prevent Sticking – Add two tablespoons of water once the tomatoes have cooked to deglaze the pan. This will prevent the BURN sign on the Instant Pot later on.
  • Vegan – For a vegan option, you may substitute firm tofu for paneer. Press the tofu to remove the excess liquid and then proceed to saute in oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 319kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 866mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 11232IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 406mg | Iron: 4mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Mention @honeywhatscooking or tag #honeywhatscooking!

Hi, I'm Nisha!

I'm a foodie who is passionate about healthy-ish living and mindful eating. You'll find a bit of everything here. I use mostly organic real ingredients and incorporate seasonal produce in my cooking. I believe food is medicine. Join me on this soul-searching journey as I share my love for good food, and I hope I inspire you to eat better somewhere along the way.


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