What Is Halloumi?

Halloumi is a delicious and versatile cheese made of sheep's and goat's milk. It handles well under high heat which means you can cook it directly on your grill!

Have you ever come across a cheese that you’ve never heard of before? It doesn’t happen often, I’ll be honest. But I recently found a package of halloumi and wondered, what is halloumi? I’ve seen a lot of recipes that include grilled Halloumi cheese but never had tried it for myself.

What Is Halloumi?

It’s a versatile Greek cheese. 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 and sheep milk. The cheese is characterized by white, flaky layers, similar to mozzarella cheese. It’s a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese with a high melting point, allowing it to be fried or grilled. In fact, many people use this cheese as a meat substitute! Halloumi has a firm texture, much like feta, and can be found in many grocery and specialty stores.

How Is Halloumi Made?

To make Halloumi, the milk is heated and rennet is added. Once the mixture is cooled, the curds and whey begin to separate. Then, after the curds cool, they’re poached again 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 can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year if it’s unopened.

How to Cook Halloumi

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 Appetizer: 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; then 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 tomato salad prepared with mint and parsley.
  • Halloumi and 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.
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April Preisler
April is a food and travel lover, wine enthusiast, ice cream obsessed and the vision behind the blog, Food n' Focus. Her favorite cuisine is Italian and loves to cook international recipes.