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Paneer vs. Cottage Cheese — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 23, 2024
Paneer is a fresh, firm Indian cheese made by curdling milk with an acid; Cottage cheese is a soft, lumpy cheese made by curdling milk with an acid or culture, retaining some whey.
Paneer vs. Cottage Cheese — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Paneer and Cottage Cheese


Key Differences

Paneer, a staple in Indian cuisine, is made by curdling heated milk with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar, then draining the whey and pressing the curds into a firm block. Cottage cheese, popular in Western cuisine, is also made by curdling milk, but it is typically done with a bacterial culture, and the curds are not pressed, resulting in a softer, lumpy texture with some whey retained.
The texture of paneer is dense and can be cut into cubes or slices without crumbling, making it suitable for frying or grilling. Cottage cheese, conversely, has a creamy and moist texture, making it more suitable for spreading or adding to dishes like salads, pasta, or as a topping.
In terms of flavor, paneer has a mild, milky taste since it doesn't undergo aging or fermentation. Cottage cheese can range from mild to tangy, depending on the level of culturing, and often has a saltier flavor compared to paneer.
Nutritionally, both are high in protein, but cottage cheese is generally lower in fat and calories due to its whey content. Paneer, being more concentrated and having most of the whey removed, is richer in fat and calories.
Paneer is widely used in Indian dishes like Palak Paneer, Paneer Butter Masala, and Paneer Tikka. Cottage cheese is often eaten as is, or used in Western dishes like lasagna, omelets, and various health-conscious meals.

Comparison Chart


Firm and can be sliced or cubed
Soft, creamy, and lumpy

Preparation Method

Curdled with acid, whey is drained
Curdled with culture, retains whey


Mild and milky
Ranges from mild to tangy

Nutritional Content

Higher in fat and calories
Lower in fat, higher in moisture

Culinary Uses

Used in grilling, frying, Indian dishes
Eaten fresh, in salads, Western dishes

Compare with Definitions


Paneer is made by curdling milk with an acid.
I made paneer at home using lemon juice to curdle the milk.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is often eaten fresh and has a creamy texture.
For breakfast, I enjoy cottage cheese with fresh fruit.


Paneer is a source of protein in vegetarian diets.
I include paneer in my diet for added protein.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese retains some whey, making it moister than paneer.
I use cottage cheese in my smoothies for its creamy texture.


Paneer is a fresh Indian cheese made from curdled milk.
I used paneer to make a delicious Palak Paneer dish.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Cottage cheese is a great addition to lasagna for creaminess.


Paneer has a firm texture and doesn't melt easily.
Paneer cubes are perfect for grilling on skewers.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese can be made with different fat levels.
I prefer low-fat cottage cheese for a healthier option.


Paneer is a versatile ingredient in Indian cooking.
Paneer Butter Masala is my favorite curry.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a soft, lumpy cheese made from curdled milk.
I topped my salad with cottage cheese for extra protein.


A soft unsalted and unripened cheese made from milk that is simmered, curdled using lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or a similarly acidic substance, and then drained and pressed in cheesecloth.


A soft, non-matured, Indian cheese.
The spinach was mixed with paneer to make a satisfying meal.

Common Curiosities

What is paneer?

A firm, fresh cheese from Indian cuisine.

Can paneer be used in Italian cooking?

Yes, though it's not traditional, it can be a substitute in some dishes.

Can cottage cheese be cooked?

Yes, but it's commonly eaten fresh.

Is cottage cheese suitable for lactose-intolerant people?

It can be easier to digest but still contains lactose.

Can paneer be eaten raw?

Yes, it can be consumed without cooking.

Is paneer good for grilling?

Yes, its firm texture makes it ideal for grilling.

What is cottage cheese?

A soft, lumpy cheese made from curdled milk.

Can paneer be used in desserts?

Yes, it's used in Indian sweets like Rasgulla.

How is paneer made?

By curdling milk with an acid and pressing the curds.

Which is healthier, paneer or cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese is generally lower in fat and calories.

How is cottage cheese eaten?

Often fresh, in salads, or as a spread.

What's a good vegan alternative for paneer and cottage cheese?

Tofu is a popular vegan substitute for both.

Is paneer high in protein?

Yes, paneer is a good source of protein.

Does cottage cheese melt like regular cheese?

No, it retains its shape and doesn't melt smoothly.

Can you make paneer at home?

Yes, it can be made by curdling milk with lemon juice or vinegar.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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