Vegan Palak Paneer

vegan palak paneer with naan on a grey plate

Vegan palak paneer recipe that uses crispy, cheesy tofu and coconut milk. Delicious and filling.


tofu paneer:

  • 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

palak paneer:

  • 14 ounces (about 11 cups) fresh spinach
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • poblano or serrano chili, seeds removed and diced (use poblano for less spicy, serrano for more spicy)
  • yellow onion, finely chopped
  • tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon garam masala
  • teaspoon ground cumin
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • cup Basmati rice, for serving (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro for serving (optional)


  1. To prepare paneer, wrap tofu in paper towel, press between two plates or cutting boards, and cover with cast iron skillet or heavy book. Leave for at least an hour, up to overnight. The goal here is to drain the liquid and create a chewier texture. After sitting, remove paper towels, pat tofu dry, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. Place them in the bottom of a flat, airtight container (it’s OK if the tofu cubes stack up and aren’t fully submerged — occasionally shake the container while it’s marinating. Whisk together the lemon, water, salt, onion powder, and nutritional yeast. Pour this mixture over the tofu cubes and cover the container. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
  2. When the tofu is ready, preheat your oven to 400 F and lightly oil a baking sheet. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes, or until the cubes are golden brown, flipping them halfway through. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and fill a second large bowl with ice water. Submerge the spinach in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes (until tender). Transfer spinach to the cold water to stop cooking further. When the spinach leaves are cool, drain and squeeze-dry. A lot of water will come out of the spinach during this process – you don’t have to squeeze until all the water is gone but try to get most of it out.
  4. Transfer the spinach to a food processor or Vitamix and process into a thick paste (see photo). If you prefer a completely smooth palak paneer, you can add additional water (1/3 cup to 1/2 cup) until mixture is smooth.
  5. Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the pepper and onion for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato, salt, garam masala, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, lime juice, spinach purée, and coconut milk. Cook mixture for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thickens up. Stir in the tofu paneer. Season to taste with additional salt and red pepper flakes.
  6. Serve the palak paneer with Basmati rice or naan. Top with cilantro if desired.
  7. Store in covered container in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Palak paneer’s bright green color will be less vibrant over time but the flavors will meld more.


*Recipe is a guide. Adapt ingredients and measurements as desired. Adapted from Food52’s Palak Paneer.

*If you prefer a saucier palak paneer that is less tofu heavy, either double palak ingredients (spinach, chili, onion, ginger, garlic, tomato, spices, coconut milk) or use less than a full block of tofu.

Keywords: palak paneer, Indian food, vegan palak paneer, naan, basmati rice