Slow Cooker Vegan Saag Paneer

By Alexandra Caspero on March 5, 2018

Slow Cooker Vegan Saag Paneer using Tofu Paneer! If you love Saag Paneer or Palak Paneer, you’ve gotta try this healthy, crockpot version! A delicious way to eat your vegetables, with 12g plant-based protein per serving.

Ugly delicious. That’s exactly what this meal is and, considering I spent most of Saturday night watching David Chang’s Netflix documentary of the same name, the description seems fitting.

This slow cooker vegan saag paneer may not be pretty, but it’s so delicious.

I love Indian food so much and even though 23 and Me assures me that most of my ancestry comes from Europe, I swear I’ve got a little bit of Indian in my blood. With as much as I make it, that’s gotta be somewhat true. I suppose the beauty of being an Italian/Danish gal trying to cook Indian cuisine is that I’m not beholden to any family traditions.

Most of my recipes come from cookbooks and my friend Harnoor’s family that I’ve put my own spin on. This saag paneer is a healthier take than what you would find at most restaurants; it’s ghee free and the richness comes from canned coconut milk.

close up of vegan and glutenfree slow cooker tofu saag paneer

When we were living in Sacramento, I ordered Saag Paneer at least a few times a month. We had an Indian restaurant just a few blocks away from our condo and it was my favorite treat on nights I didn’t feel like cooking. Which, after an hour commute home, was most weeknights. Our order was almost the exact same every time: a vegetable biryani for BL, saag paneer for me and extra naan for both of us.

This recipe couldn’t be easier; almost as simple as ordering takeout. Saute the onion, ginger, garlic and spices until toasted and fragrant. I like my saag paneer slightly spicy, so I’m using both cayenne pepper and a thai chili pepper. Feel free to omit or cut down as needed.

Place the spinach in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. This is a lot of spinach and, that’s a good thing. As flavorful as this is, can you imagine a better way to eat a ton of spinach? Skip the pre-bagged baby spinach as you will need a few bags and that can get expensive. Instead, head to the fresh lettuce area of the grocery store and grab mature spinach leaves. Or, for a heartier version, use some mustard greens for the spinach.

vegan crockpot saag paneer using tofu paneer

Of course, this is a vegan saag paneer so we are using tofu instead of actual paneer. If you love paneer, you’ve gotta try this dairy-free version. I promise it tastes so much like paneer, you won’t notice the difference.

For extra crispy tofu, I am using the same trick I always do- coat in cornstarch and then lightly fry until golden. The cornstarch adds a crispy layer and prevents the tofu from becoming soggy as it cooks in the saag sauce. I know some of you don’t like cornstarch, so you can skip this step if you’d like, though I’d still recommend lightly frying it to give it texture before adding to the sauce.

It’s a very rainy day in St. Louis and I’m so glad that I’ve got this saag paneer simmering in my slow-cooker for dinner this evening. What are your favorite slow cooker recipes? Anything you want to see more of?

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!

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vegan crockpot saag paneer using tofu paneer

Slow Cooker Vegan Saag Paneer

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main, dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian, Glutenfree, vegan, vegetarian

Description

Slow Cooker Vegan Saag Paneer! If you like saag paneer or palak paneer, you will love this vegan version using tofu instead of paneer. Made effortless in the slow cooker for healthy weeknight dinners. Gluten-free.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main, dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian, Glutenfree, vegan, vegetarian
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main, dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian, Glutenfree, vegan, vegetarian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 thai chili, seeded and chopped
  • 2 pounds frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • rice and naan, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the garlic, ginger, spices and thai chili and cook another 1-2 minutes until spices are toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and place in the base of a food processor.
  3. Add the spinach leaves to the food processor and pulse to chop the spinach.  You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor; I do it in two batches.
  4. Place the chopped spinach and spice mixture to the base of a slow cooker along with the coconut milk, tomato sauce and salt. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
  5. 30-60 minutes before serving; dice the tofu and toss with the cornstarch until coated. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Add the tofu to the spinach mixture and cook. Season to taste, as needed, and serve with rice and naan.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6 recipe with 1/2 cup rice
  • Calories: 290
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 266 mg
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 36 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 12 g

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slow cooker vegan saag paneer

 

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Joan C
      September 18, 2021 AT 7:58 am

      A new family favorite.

    2. Lulu
      April 17, 2021 AT 12:24 pm

      Skipped the sautéing and the blending step, basically threw everything except the tofu into the slow cooker and let it do it’s thing. Came out delicious!

      1. Alex
        April 19, 2021 AT 11:39 am

        So glad to hear, thanks Lulu!

    3. Kristina
      March 30, 2021 AT 6:39 pm

      This vegan Saag Paneer was delicious! However, it was far too spicy for the rest of my family (kids 15 & 11years old). When I make it next time I will either cut out the cayenne pepper completely or only use 1/4 teaspoon. Thanks for the delicious recipes Alex !

    4. Martin Simon
      March 14, 2021 AT 5:16 am

      It’s delicious ! I don’t have a slow cooker so I used a cast iron pan and cooked it for 40 minutes before adding the tofu and it came out great. And I’ve add the juice of an half lemon to balance the sweetness. Than you for this recipe, will make it again !

    5. Christine
      March 8, 2021 AT 6:23 pm

      Look forward to making this! Quick question…what are your thoughts on using reduced fat coconut milk instead of the real stuff? Do you think it won’t turn out right? Thanks!

      1. Alex
        March 9, 2021 AT 11:54 am

        Hi Christine, it will still turn out, but it won’t be as creamy as the regular milk. Still tastes great though! Thanks, Alex

    6. Sonal
      January 28, 2021 AT 10:30 pm

      Will this work with fresh spinach?

      1. Alex
        January 31, 2021 AT 7:15 am

        Yes, you can though I used frozen to keep cost down as the spinach shrinks SO much when cooking.

    7. Kimberly Webb
      February 26, 2020 AT 3:31 pm

      Do you know the calories without the rice?

      1. Alex
        February 27, 2020 AT 6:31 pm

        Hi Kimberly, there are ~110 calories in a 1/2 cup of cooked rice.

    8. Maddie
      February 4, 2020 AT 5:11 pm

      This was so good! It tasted restaurant quality, and the tofu worked really well in place of the paneer. I used a chili and cayenne and I was happy with the spiciness. Definitely ugly delicious!

      1. Alex
        February 6, 2020 AT 9:48 am

        Ugly Delicious! Love that. So happy you liked it- thanks Maddie!

    9. Camille
      November 12, 2019 AT 1:41 pm

      Hi! I’m so excited to make this- do you mean 2 lbs of frozen or fresh spinach?

      1. Alex
        November 12, 2019 AT 2:32 pm

        2 pounds frozen! Thanks.

    10. Holly
      November 1, 2019 AT 5:53 am

      Can’t wait to give this a try. I live in St. Louis too. Where did you get the Thai chili? Also, have you ever tried this with the lower fat coconut milk?

      1. Alex
        November 4, 2019 AT 1:34 pm

        Hi Holly, I found the thai chili at Dierbergs. I haven’t tried with lower fat coconut milk, but it should work the same, just a little less rich.