Palak Paneer|Saag Paneer (Instant Pot /Stove)

A clay bowl with palak paneer

Palak Paneer, or Saag Paneer, is a popular north-Indian curry made by simmering soft paneer cubes (Indian cottage cheese), in a flavorful spinach gravy. Try this simple one-pot recipe and enjoy this vegetarian restaurant favorite in under 30 minutes.

Traditionally, Palak Paneer is made with large spinach leaves, that come in bunches. They are dark green in color and have an earthy taste. In this recipe, I take a shortcut and use pre-washed baby spinach.

The taste is phenomenal, and I save myself the time it takes to triple wash the large spinach bunch. This recipe can also work with frozen spinach, but in my opinion, fresh spinach makes a tastier curry. If using frozen spinach, increase the pressure cooking time to 1 minute.

This is my mom’s family-famous recipe! She always makes it on the stove, but I have adapted it to my pressure cooker, Instant Pot, to make this more hands-off, with minimum baby-sitting.

Palak paneer served with sliced onions.

What is the Difference Between Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer

Sarson ka Saag, Indian spiced Mustard Greens
Saag in Instant Pot

These two recipe names confuse a lot of people. Even though restaurants use these names interchangeably, there is a small difference between the two.

Saag, refers to a variety of green leafy vegetables, including Spinach (called Palak in Hindi), Mustard Greens, Fenugreek, Collard Greens, and other similar varieties. The availability of the kind of greens largely depends on the region and weather. Typically in northern India, Saag refers to a combination of spinach and mustard greens, whereas Palak is the Hindi name for spinach.

The main difference between the two is that Saag Paneer can be made with any leafy greens or a combination of greens, but, Palak Paneer refers to a curry made with spinach leaves only.

Here is a Recipe for Saag made with Mustard Greens and Spinach

How to Make Palak Paneer, Saag Paneer in Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

I have to admit, this recipe took me some time to get right. The taste was great each time, I just wasn’t happy with the color and consistency. After a few trials, I finalized this recipe, and it’s a keeper for sure. Here’s how I make it:

Step 1: Pressure Cook. I start by sautéing the onions, fresh ginger, garlic, chilies for a couple of minutes. Then I add a little water, spices and all the baby spinach. Turn off Saute. Close the lid and pressure cook for ‘0’ minutes. This time was key in retaining the gorgeous color of spinach.

What does ‘0’ Minutes Pressure Cook Time Mean

What this zero minutes cook time does is essentially steam the vegetables (or anything), in the time it takes to build pressure. This works great for steaming vegetables, or cooking thin filets of fish, without over-cooking them.

Step by step instructions on how to make Palak Paneer in Instant Pot

Step 2: Release Pressure (QR). After pressure cooking is done, and the cooker switches to the ‘keep warm’ mode, I manually release the pressure (QR), by turning the knob to ‘Venting’ position in DUO model, and pushing down the pressure valve in an ULTRA.

Instructions showing how to make Instant Pot Palak Paneer

Step 3: Blend.Using an immersion blender, I blend the spinach till I reach my desired consistency. Add water if needed. Traditionally, this curry has a silky smooth texture, but you can leave it a bit chunky if you like. (you may want to read the section about avoiding spinach splatters while pureeing).

Steps showing how to make one-pot palak paneer

Step 4: Add Paneer and Simmer. Turn on Saute on medium setting. The reason we do that is that spinach puree tends to create large bubbles when simmering. They are super tasty, but trust me, you don’t want them landing on your hands 🙂 Add the cubed paneer pieces, a teaspoon of butter, and simmer everything for 1 minute, till the paneer becomes tender.

Adding paneer cubes to spinach curry to make Palak paneer curry

Variations: Palak Tofu (Vegan)

A bowl of 15-Minute Kadai paneer, made in Instant Pot
Another terrific paneer dish: 15-Minute Kadai Paneer

Palak Tofu

You can make this recipe Vegan by swapping out the paneer with Extra-Firm Tofu.  Follow the recipe exactly, just switch out the paneer with cubed tofu pieces.

Stove-Top Recipe for Palak Paneer, Saag Paneer

✅Heat a deep sauce pan on medium high heat.  Since spinach puree tends to splash when simmering, using a deep sauce pan prevents it from messing the cooktop.

✅Add oil and cumin seeds.  When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add crushed ginger and garlic.  Sliced onion and green chili go in next, sauté for a minute. 

✅Add salt, spices and stir well.   Then, add 3/4 cup water, stir, cover the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat.

✅Open the lid and add 1/2 bag of baby spinach and stir to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and wilt for around 2 minutes.  Saute for another 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Using a hand blender puree the spinach mix.

✅Turn the heat back on to medium, add paneer cubes and simmer for 1 min, till paneer cubes become soft.  Turn off the heat.   Stir in butter, this adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine.

Bowl of paneer cubes in spinach curry, served on a green napkin

Tip for Pureeing Spinach Without Painting your Kitchen Green 🙂

Hand Blenders are great when you want to puree a sauce and get a velvety smooth finish. But, unless the quantity is enough to submerge the blender-head in the sauce, they tend to splash the sauce all over.

To avoid that, I tilt the pot a bit till the blender is completely submerged in sauce and that does the trick.  Alternatively, I transfer the spinach mix to a tall measuring cup, or the jar that came with my hand blender set.  I puree the spinach in that and there are no splashes at all.

Enjoy a Delicious Indian Vegetarian Meal!

Here are some popular pairings with Palak Paneer.  Usually, we have Palak Paneer with Cumin Basmati Rice or Naan. You can pair it with Brown Jasmine rice as well.

One of my favorite comfort meals is Palak Paneer with Dal Tadka , Cumin Rice and Cucumber Raita. It’s one of those meals that I long for when I’ve been away from home traveling.

Some more Popular Paneer Recipes

Instant pot paneer butter masala or paneer makhani is vegetarian variation of Butter Chicken. Start with paneer, Indian cottage cheese, and simmer it in tomato puree, season with toasted and ground garam masala and finished with a touch of heavy cream #cooking #food #recipe #recipes #foodphotography #foodblogger #yummy #delicious #foodie
Paneer Butter Masala
Paneer Tikka masala- Instant pot
Paneer Tikka Masala

★ Have you tried this recipe? Click on the stars ★ in the recipe card to let us know your feedback!

A clay bowl with palak paneer

Palak Paneer | Saag Paneer in Instant Pot

30-minute Instant Pot recipe for Palak Paneer, or Saag Paneer, a popular Indian curry made with soft paneer cubes simmered in a flavorful spinach gravy.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Discuss Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 195kcal
Author: Spice Cravings

Ingredients

Pressure Cook

Add After Pressure Cooking

  • 10 oz. block of paneer cubed in 1/2 inch pieces (Costco or Indian grocery store)
  • 1 teaspoon butter (optional)

Instructions

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

  • Prep: Coarsely chop or slice onions, ginger and garlic.  Chop paneer cubes in 1/2 inch cubes. Wash the baby spinach, if not pre-washed. 
  • Turn on the Instant Pot on SAUTE (high). When it displays ‘hot’, add oil and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add onions, ginger, garlic, chili, and sauté for about 1 minute, till onions turn translucent. 
  • Add salt and spices and stir well. Add 1/2 cup water and use it to deglaze the pot.  Add baby spinach with 1/2 cup water and close the lid.  Hit ‘cancel’ and set pressure valve to SEALING position. Cook on Manual or Pressure cook for 0 minutes.
    Adding Spinach to the Instant Pot
  • After pressure cooking is done, release the pressure manually (QR). Using an immersion blender, puree the spinach mix.  If the quantity is less for blending, tilt the pot a bit.
    Releasing the pressure manually by pushing down the pressure valve
  • Turn on SAUTE (medium). Stir in paneer cubes and simmer for 1 minute, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn off the Instant Pot.  Stir in butter. This adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine. Serve hot with cumin rice or naan. Enjoy!
    Adding paneer to spinach curry

Stove-Top Recipe

  • Heat a deep sauce pan on medium high heat. Since spinach puree tends to splash when simmering, using a deep sauce pan prevents it from messing the cooktop. 
  • Add oil and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add crushed ginger and garlic.  Add sliced onion and green chili, and sauté for a minute.
  • Add salt, spices and stir well. Then, add 3/4 cup water, stir, cover the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
  • Open the lid and add 1/2 bag of baby spinach and stir to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and wilt for around 2 minutes. Saute for another 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Using a hand blender puree the spinach mix.  Add a little water if needed. 
  • Turn the heat back on to medium, add paneer cubes and simmer for 1 min, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn off the heat. Stir in butter, this adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine.

Video

Notes

Note: This recipe has been tested in 3qt and 6 qt Instant Pot DUO and ULTRA models.  
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Estimated Total time: Prep: 10 mins, Saute: 2-3 mins, Pressure Build-up time: 10 mins +/-, Pressure Cooking Time: 0 mins, Saute: 1 min,  Total time: 25 mins. 
Recipe updated in February 2019 to make it a one-pot recipe.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 472mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 90.7% | Vitamin C: 20.4% | Calcium: 28.9% | Iron: 10.5%
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Curry, Paneer, Spinach
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30-minute Instant Pot recipe for Palak Paneer, or Saag Paneer, a popular Indian curry made with soft paneer cubes simmered in a flavorful spinach gravy.
#spicecravings #indianfood #instantpot #curry #vegetarian #glutenfree

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Linda
    June 24, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    I’m so delighted I discovered your page through the Instant Pot group! My eyes lit up when I saw Palak Paneer —- a favorite of mine. BUT – I’ve always had the version WITHOUT tomato – and finished off with a fair amount of CREAM – so it is very creamy. After many trials, I finally found a recipe that was ‘almost’what I remembered enjoying in the Haveli Restaurant in Houston, TX. I did discover that one thing that added a ‘familiar’ flavor was the chick pea flour that was used as a flavoring and slight thickening. I remember it had cinnamon stick and cardamon pods. I don’t remember much of a cumin flavor, but there was fresh ginger and probably a little garlic. Is there any way that you might be able to find a recipe that is similar? I’ll be doing flip flops over my Instant Pot if you can suggest a recipe that might work! ;D Meanwhile, I’ve signed up for your newsletter and really looking forward to it! Thanks!

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      June 25, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Linda, I am so glad you like my blog. Hope my recipes go above and beyond your expectations!
      The dish and flavors you’re describing sounds like a restaurant variation of Saag- Spiced Mustard Greens, and I do have a recipe for that 🙂 Here it is: https://spicecravings.com/sarson-ka-saag-spiced-mustard-greens.

      You’ll see that there is no tomato in that, the seasoning is Garam masala and coriander powder and I use fine ground cornmeal to thicken it, but you can toast some chickpea flour and use that too. The cream is a restaurant addition to this recipe, so you can add 1/4 cup towards the end and adjust the creaminess to your taste. Hope this helps- would love to hear how you like it!

      • Reply
        Linda
        June 26, 2018 at 6:18 pm


        Thank you soooo very much for your reply and the recipe! I can hardly wait to get to the grocery store and get some ‘greens’ – and probably some paneer. My paneer never firms up so it will stay cut in cubes, when I make it. Any suggestions? Thanks again!!!

        • Reply
          aneeshasg
          June 26, 2018 at 10:13 pm

          You’re welcome Linda! Hope you love it! With paneer, if it’s not setting, it’s probably not drained well. I have recently started using a “tofu Press” and that works well. It’s <$10 and does the job of draining and setting the paneer. I git it from Amazon incase you want to look it up!

          • Linda
            June 27, 2018 at 6:14 pm

            I’ll check amazon now. Thanks for the tip! Paneer is so easy to make…. but I guess if I can’t make it to ‘cube’, I can always rinse it well and add it at the end like cottage cheese…… which makes me wonder…. if I don’t have paneer, couldn’t I rinse large curd cottage cheese very well and add it just before serving? Thanks again.

          • aneeshasg
            June 29, 2018 at 3:09 am

            I’ve never tried using cottage cheese in this recipe, so can’t say. If you do try it out, would love to hear how it worked out.

        • Reply
          aneeshasg
          June 26, 2018 at 10:17 pm

          Thank you so much for rating the recipe! Made my day 🙂

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    June 25, 2018 at 8:22 am

    I am excited to make this tonight! Do you know how I could add potatoes to it? This is my first time using my IP!

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      June 25, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Lindsey, My apologies for the late reply, I was traveling so missed your comment. Potatoes sounds like a delicious combination in this dish. I would add the cubed potatoes and pressure cook them with the tomato onion mix. Then, remove the potatoes and keep aside. Add the spinach and follow the pureeing step and add the potatoes back in the dish. Would love to hear how you like it!

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    June 25, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Good thinking!!! Thank you!

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      June 25, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      You’re welcome! Enjoy!

    We would love to hear from you. Please leave a reply.

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