Vegan Paneer Cheese Substitute (Made From Tofu)

Vegan Paneer Cheese Substitute (Made From Tofu)

The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 28 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
167 Calories
13g Fat
3g Carbs
12g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 167
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 186mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 12g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 326mg 25%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 178mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Every once in a while, we come up with something so good that it impresses us so much, and we just want to shout it from the rooftops. This vegan paneer substitute, made from tofu seasoned with a blend of nutritional yeast for savoriness, Dijon mustard for tanginess and a touch of onion powder, garlic powder, curry and salt to tie it all together, is one of those times. Seriously, it's pretty incredible. 

If you need a simple way of making a vegan paneer cheese substitute from tofu, here's how to do it. Paneer is a soft curd cheese frequently used in vegetarian Indian food recipes. Because its a soft cheese, it's much easier to replicate at home than other types of cheese, and, most Indian food recipes which call for paneer will cook it in a gravy or sauce, or at least add plenty of extra Indian spices, so the flavor of the paneer gets a little but hidden anyways. Here's how to make a yummy dairy-free paneer substitute from tofu.

Use your homemade dairy-free and vegan paneer substitute to make Indian palak paneer (spicy spinach and cheese), or try adding it to just about any of your favorite Indian vegetarian food recipe or vegetarian curry, or, try throwing it on the barbecue as in this grilled paneer cheese recipe


  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, or whole-grain mustard

  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, optional

  • 1 block tofu, firm or extra-firm, well-pressed and chopped into 1-inch cubes

  • 2 tablespoons oil, more or less as needed for frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Vegan Paneer Cheese Substitute (Made From Tofu) ingredients

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except for the tofu until smooth and creamy.

    ingredients in a bowl, except for tofu

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  3. Add the tofu, and coat well with the sauce. Allow marinating in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.​

    tofu and sauce in a bowl

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  4. Heat a bit of oil in a saute or frying pan. Add tofu, coating with any extra sauce, to make sure all the sauce is used, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden.

    tofu cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  5. Drain on a paper towel. Use your tofu paneer "cheese" as a substitute in any Indian recipe that calls for paneer.

    Vegan Paneer Cheese Substitute (Made From Tofu) on a paper towel lined plate

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

    Tip for Pressing Tofu

    Make sure your tofu is well pressed before beginning. Not sure what that means or how to do that? See this simple step-by-step guide for how to press tofu