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Goat Cheese vs Paneer – Which One Should I Buy?

Paneer is king when it comes to making Indian recipes. However, should you run out of Indian cottage cheese, can goat cheese be a substitute? Come find out as we discuss everything there is to know about goat cheese vs paneer. 

Is goat cheese the same as paneer?

Goat cheese is definitely not the same as paneer. Paneer, a form of cottage cheese, is made from buffalo or cow’s milk, whereas goat cheese is made from, well, you guessed it, goat’s milk. Apart from this fundamental difference, the two kinds of cheese have unique traits that separate them from each other.

Goat cheese is often used in grain bowls, crumbled over salads, or as a topping for pizzas. In contrast, paneer is used in quintessential Indian recipes like butter paneer, palak paneer, and paneer tikka masala.

Moreover, when you compare goat cheese vs paneer, you will also learn that while paneer is eaten fresh, goat cheese can be a fresh and aged cheese.

That said, there are a few similarities between the two kinds of cheese. Both paneer and goat cheese have excellent health benefits. They are rich sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Furthermore, goat cheese generally does not melt like mozzarella or cheddar when heated. This trait is similar to paneer, which softens but holds its shape when used in cooking.

Still, if you ask us: can paneer substitute goat cheese, our answer will traditionally be no. Yet, some people use the two kinds of cheese interchangeably in Indian recipes due to their firmer texture upon heating. 

Goat cheese vs paneer: The differences

There are several differences when you compare goat cheese vs paneer. Learning how each type of cheese tastes and how it can be consumed is essential when deciding which one to buy. 

Flavor

Paneer has a mild, slightly milky flavor, which may not be very exciting on its own but presents the perfect base for many spicy Indian dishes. Its almost, for the lack of a better word, bland taste provides for just the right canvas to star it in various Indian dishes. 

Goat cheese, in contrast, can be tart, gamey, and often even sweet. But, of course, it all depends on how it’s made and aged. If old milk is used to make the cheese, it will smell and taste “goat-ier.” Moreover, as the cheese ages and firms, the tangy and earthy notes also intensify. 

So, if you were pressed to use goat cheese instead of paneer, we recommend fresh goat cheese. However, farmer’s cheese, when unsalted, makes for a much better replacement for paneer. To find out more, read this article on paneer vs farmers cheese.

Texture

Paneer is a non-melting soft cheese that does not crumble very easily. You can readily cut into cubes which can be fired or simmered in various types of gravies. 

Goat cheese, when fresh, has a soft and spreadable texture, which grows firmer as the cheese ages. 

Nutrition 

Both goat cheese and paneer have great nutritional benefits. They are both said to curb hunger pangs and promote weight loss. Moreover, they are excellent sources of healthy fats.

While paneer is touted to boost your immune system, goat cheese has unique benefits to boast. First, it has low lactose levels, making it a better choice for lactose intolerant individuals than a type of cheese made from cow’s milk. Other than that, goat cheese also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. In addition, paneer’s high calcium content makes it great for your bones and teeth. 

Here are the key nutritional differences between goat cheese vs paneer.

per 100 grams Paneer Goat Cheese  
Calories   321 364
Carbs 3.57 g 0.12 g
Protein 25 g 21.58 g  
Fat 25 g29.84 g  
Calcium 407 mg298 mg  
Sodium 18 mg   415 mg
Potassium 71 mg158 mg

If you are worried about the high-fat content of paneer, you can opt for low-fat paneer, which makes this fresh cheese from skim milk. For more information, read this article on low-fat vs full-fat paneer

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Preparation Method

These cheeses can be made at home, but their traditional methods differ slightly. For example, paneer is made by adding lime juice or citric acid to cow’s milk, whereas goat cheese is made using starters and rennet. However, there is also an easy homemade version that makes goat cheese using acid coagulation. 

Paneer is a soft cheese suitable for immediate consumption. On the other hand, goat cheese can be made in varying forms, such as soft goat cheese, and its flavor intensity keeps increasing as it ages. 

One point to note is that you can substitute goat milk for cheese typically made with cow’s milk, so if you are wondering, you can make paneer with goat milk.

Goat Cheese vs Paneer: A Short History

Goat cheese has been eaten for thousands of years since goats were among the first animals used for producing food. In the Middle East and Mediterranean countries, the goat cheese was pretty famous, especially around areas with more goats than cows. But, the French Loire Valley is the most renowned region for goat cheese, which first accepted this delicious cheese as a delicacy.  

Originating from the Indian subcontinent, paneer cheese was initially made with a milk curdling process in the Indus Valley civilization until Aryans stopped it. The modern paneer recipe was then modified, using sheep or goat rennet as the coagulant in the 16th century by the Afghans and Persians. However, the Portuguese started the practice of splitting the milk with acid in the 17th century. 

Homemade Paneer: Here’s How to Make It Yourself

Making paneer is easier than you think. All you need is a few ingredients and a little bit of patience. 

You will need:

  • Whole milk – 8 cups
  • Lemon juice – 6 tbsp.
  • Colander 
  • Cheesecloth 

To make the paneer:

  1. Boil the milk in stainless steel or ceramic, occasionally stirring so it doesn’t stick at the bottom. 
  2. After the milk boils, add the lemon juice to form the curdles. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the split milk in a colander lined with cheesecloth over the sink.
  4. Run water over the cheese curds to wash off the lemon juice.  
  5. Pick the corner of the cheesecloth and twist out the moisture from the cheese curds.
  6. Once all the water is squeezed out, shape the paneer ball like a disc and weigh it down with something heavy. 
  7. Let the cheese rest for 2 hours, preferably in the fridge, then take out of the cheesecloth.
  8. Cut in cubes and use how you please!

If you are not up for making your own Indian cottage cheese and are still wondering where to buy paneer cheese, we have all the information here. 

Can paneer be substituted for goat cheese?

Since paneer and goat cheese have different flavor profiles, the former is milky and mild, and the latter is tart and earthy, it is best not to substitute them for each other in recipes. If you want to learn more about how paneer fares against different types of cheese, read our article on paneer vs feta cheese.  

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