What Is Halloumi?

Halloumi is typically made with sheep's and goat's milk. This cheese is known for its ability to crisp up over high heat!

I recently came across a package of “grilling cheese” at the grocery store and had to wonder, what is Halloumi? I don’t often come across cheese that I’ve never heard of before.

I’ve seen plenty of recipes that include melty Halloumi cheese but had never tasted it myself—until now.

What is Halloumi?

Sliced halloumi cheese with mint on wooden board in perspective.etiennevoss/Getty Images

It’s a versatile cheese with a firm texture, much like feta. Halloumi tends to be higher in fat than other cheeses and crisps up beautifully when grilled.

Halloumi originated on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, and has traditionally been made of goat’s and sheep’s milk. The cheese is characterized by white, squeaky layers, similar to mozzarella. It’s a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese with a high melting point, allowing it to be fried or grilled. You can even make Halloumi bites in the air fryer.

How is Halloumi made?

To make Halloumi, cheesemakers heat milk and rennet to help form cheese curds. Once the mixture is cooled, the curds and whey separate. Then, after the curds cool, they’re poached in the original whey along with salt. While this cheese is high in protein, it is also high in salt and fat. It’s a good alternative to meat, but should definitely be eaten in moderation.

Halloumi has a long shelf life and will last up to a year in the refrigerator if unopened.

Where to Buy Halloumi

Look for Halloumi in most grocery and specialty stores. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both carry the cheese, though at some stores it’s considered a seasonal summer item.

How to Cook Halloumi

Pumpkin, grilled halloumi, beet, and lentil bowlistetiana/Getty Images

While Halloumi can be eaten raw, there are many ways to cook this cheese to create beautiful appetizers and meals. Here are a handful of Mediterranean-inspired ideas:

  • Fried Halloumi: Brush Halloumi cheese slices with olive oil and pan-fry for one to two minutes on each side. Plate the cheese along with grape tomato halves; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and oregano.
  • Grilled Halloumi: Cube the cheese and thread it onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water. Brush the cheese with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with black pepper. Grill for five to ten minutes, turning frequently.
  • Halloumi shawarma: Grill Halloumi slices sprinkled with shawarma spices. Serve with warm flatbread and a cucumber salad prepared with mint and parsley.
  • Greek salad wrap: Pan-fry Halloumi slices and serve in warm pita bread with Greek olives, tzatziki sauce and a fresh green salad.
  • Halloumi fajitas: For a new spin on veggie fajitas, skewer chunks of red pepper and red onion along with cubes of Halloumi and grill for five to ten minutes. Then, wrap Halloumi and vegetables into warmed tortillas and serve with fresh cilantro and sour cream.

April Preisler
April is a food writer and photographer who launched her food blog, Food n' Focus, after a trip to Paris in 2011. She ran it from 2012 to 2021, developing recipes, writing about her travels and photographing both. She eventually relocated to Paris, where she told the stories of local chefs and wrote about local markets, foods and products unique to the regions where she traveled. Now, April lives in California with her family and works in marketing and sales. For Taste of Home, she writes about food and develops all kinds of recipes, from healthy pancakes to copycat cookies.