This Slow Cooker Saag Paneer is a satisfying spinach dish comes together in just a few minutes, then a slow cooking session intensifies its flavors and creates a delicious vegetarian meal you will make all the time.
This slow cooker saag paneer is a satisfying Indian spinach dish that comes together in just five hours-perfect for meal prep! Cooking this saag paneer recipe in a slow cooker helps intensifies its flavors and creates a delicious vegetarian meal you will make all the time for a healthy lunch or dinner.
I've recently been experimenting with making healthy versions of classic Indian dishes, and I've genuinely been having a blast! So, a couple of weeks back, I decided to include this healthy saag paneer recipe in my shared vegetarian meal plan. And, after getting some positive responses, it seemed like the perfect thing to share with you all this weekend!
Saag paneer is made with spinach (or any greens of your choice), coconut milk, and seasoned with garam masala used in many classic Indian recipes. After it is done cooking, chunks of salty paneer cheese are added. Though instead of cooking it on the stovetop, I have adapted this recipe so you can make it in the slow cooker!
Packed with vegetables, fiber, and protein, this delicious Indian dish is a great vegetarian (or vegan) meal. If you prefer to eat this alongside a meat protein, this recipe also tastes awesome over chicken thighs or beef.
Key Ingredients For Spinach Saag Paneer Recipe
Don't let the name intimidate you; this slow cooker meal is so easy to make! Here's what you'll need from the store to make it.
- Spinach: I have found that using frozen spinach has the best texture for the saag’s base. I like to add a few handfuls of fresh spinach at the end of cooking to give the saag paneer a bit of freshness and crunch.
- Coconut Milk: For this recipe, I used canned lite coconut milk, and it was perfect! You can also use refrigerated coconut milk as well.
- Aromatics: Try to use both fresh garlic and ginger. The powdered versions can work in a pinch, but they won't give the recipe the same pop of flavor as fresh garlic cloves and minced ginger.
- Tomato Sauce: I used canned tomato sauce for this saag paneer recipe. You can also dilute tomato paste (add one cup of water to 3/4-cup of tomato paste) to make your own tomato sauce.
- Garam Masala: You can usually find a jar of this Indian spice in the ethnic or international food section.
- Spices: In addition to the garam masala, add some coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add more cayenne if you want it to be spicier!
- Paneer Cheese: If you can't find paneer cheese, try using halloumi or mozzarella. For a vegan option, tofu makes an excellent substitute for paneer cheese.
Note: For a complete list of ingredients and detailed instructions on how to make this slow cooker saag paneer recipe, take a look at the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!
What to Serve With Indian Saag Paneer
Slow cooker saag paneer tastes fantastic with a side of basmati rice or brown rice and a slice of naan bread. You can also make a batch of this Slow Cooker Chana Masala and Slow Cooker Butter Chicken for a full Indian feast/takeout at home.
Have any leftovers? Serve it on flatbread to make an Indian-inspired pizza!
Recipe Tips and Ideas For Saag Paneer
- This Indian spinach recipe is delicious on its own, but it also makes a super side dish. Try it on top of grilled tandoori chicken, over some slices of lean, grilled sirloin steak, or alongside a baked cod fillet.
- Add some sauteed potatoes and onions. If you plan to serve your saag like this, consider leaving out the paneer. This will make the dish more like a traditional Indian side called saag aloo, and I think the potatoes give it plenty of substance without the cheese.
- Add cooked cauliflower and potatoes. This transforms the trio into another veggie variation -- aloo gobi saag.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spinach Saag Paneer
Here are some questions I frequently get asked about by some readers…
What is saag?
Although many Americans might think saag refers exclusively to a type of cooked food, saag is also the name used for raw, leafy greens that serve as the backbone of this Indian spinach recipe. So saag might be the moniker for spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, or any other dark green, leafy veggies.
Likewise, the cooked dish called saag can be made with a wide variety of greens. The prepared dish might also include meat, seafood, or other vegetables -- such as potatoes or cauliflower.
Where can I buy the ingredients for saag?
When you refer to the raw ingredients, spinach and some other dark, leafy greens, including kale, are easy to find fresh and frozen in just about any supermarket. Different exotic varieties, such as fenugreek, may also be available at international groceries or other specialty stores.
So, if you’d like to experiment with greens other than spinach, there are plenty of combinations to try. Just keep in mind that this slow-cooker saag paneer recipe won’t work with more delicate salad-type greens, so select something that will stand up well to hours of cooking.
You can also use more fresh greens and fewer frozen ones if you’d like, although it could change the texture of the finished dish. So, if you play around with the ratio of fresh to frozen or substitute another leafy green for the spinach, you might need to experiment with some aspects of this recipe before settling on the saag recipe you like best.
How do you make this a vegan recipe?
Some saag paneer recipes call for cream, but I find substituting it for lite coconut milk adds creaminess and a subtly sweet flavor with far fewer calories and less fat. (By the way, be sure to buy unsweetened coconut milk.)
Coconut milk is also non-dairy, which is excellent for folks with food sensitivities. And, simply substituting tofu for the paneer makes this Indian spinach recipe vegan-friendly, too!
If you use tofu instead of cheese, be sure to start with firm tofu and press out as much water as possible. Then, cube it up and give it a quick fry in a bit of oil before adding it to the slow cooker.
What do I do if I can't find paneer cheese?
If you can’t find paneer cheese, try some of the substitutions I mentioned above. And if not, make your own!
Paneer is surprisingly easy to make at home. All you’ll need is whole milk, lemon juice, cheesecloth, and a little patience. There are plenty of paneer recipes out there, and I’d love to hear how your homemade cheese turns out if you give one of them a go.
More Delicious Indian Recipes You'll Love:
Slow Cooker Saag Paneer - Indian Spinach
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- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1.5 cups canned tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 14 oz canned lite coconut milk
- 30 oz frozen spinach, thawed
- 8 oz fresh spinach
- 12 oz paneer cheese
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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